Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

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Wed, 7 Apr 1999 03:29:52 EDT

From: <>
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 03:29:52 EDT
Subject: Re: A more "sciency"-sounding mysticism.

<< I find your distinction between control and cause enlightening, but to
redefine determinism in terms of control leaves a semantic gap. What do you
then call the doctrine that every event has a cause?<<me

<<For most purposes "determinism" works just fine. But it you wish to make
distinction, and you wish to emphasize that *every* even has a cause, as
opposed to just our general ability to determine them, you might try "strict

So let me get this straight, we agree there are two ideas here:

1) The doctrine that *every* event has a cause and

2) The assertion that sufficient events have been observed which have a cause
to allow the assumption of causality to be a reliable method of prediction
(and control).

Hmm (thinking aloud), I wonder if you can really observe a "cause". The
observation may be a coincidence, in which case you are actually imposing
your premise that *every* event has a cause. I'm not sure if it is "just
fine" to use the term "determinism" to encompass both of these ideas. I have
a nagging suspicion that 2 actually contains 1 as a premise. But if I
haven't defined the second idea correctly and they are indeed independent
then surely the two ideas are too different to come under the same major
heading of *determinism*.

>>What do you call the process of making an undetermined choice if not
"free will"?<<me


You know I am.

<<- in otherwords supernaturally
or non-materially caused - I would call that "supernatural free will", or
maybe "dualistic free will". I don't accept that, but that is what I would
call that position.>>Jake

By the standard definition, there can be no other kind.

>>I would prefer to leave the term "free will" to the dualists and define
something new, such as "self control" to describe the experience.<<me


Ah, ha! I think I am beginning to understand you emotional attachment to the
term "free will". It seems to be as a result of the parochial imbalance
between the "personal freedom" meme and the "social responsibility" meme in
your neck of the woods (I say this with tongue in cheek ;o) The problem is I
have just as strong an emotional detachment to the term "free will" due to
it's association with dualism and mysticism.

In my mind, in order to have true "free will" a thing must be free of all
material causation, not simply have the ability to process input from the
environment (of which it is a part) for it's own benefit (due to the action
of the evolution algorithm). If you want to convince me that your definition
of "free will" is acceptable, you will have to explain to me what exactly a
thing which has "free will" is *free* from. As you have said you are trying
to define a process of control not freedom.

<< Imagining the self to be an illusion can at best be treated as a mystical
metaphysical performance - certainly not a mode that can be maintained for
any adaptive purpose - and indeed I have known none to do so. I can
appreciate people wishing to redifine "self" for greater understanding and
accuracy, but denying it as an illusion is as big a farce to me as watching
people who claim to be "speaking in tongues".>>Jake

I don't think you are doing your cause any good by accusing those who define
"free will" and "self" differently than your of mysticism. It seems to me
you are essentially on the same side. The debate is purely a semantic one.
I don't deny that I too experience the things which you describe. I would
just prefer to use different words. The old one are tainted with mysticism.
Having said that, I won't deny that Lloyds rephrasing of your position
created a chink in my armour.

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