GdB, if you are going to unpack what I have said here, do so methodically, precisely, and above all, politely. You seem to think that this is a pissing contest, or a ‘my book is better than yours’ argument. It is nothing of the kind.
Listen, you start by the title of your thread: it implies that all compatibilists are too stupid to see the truth. Then you say ‘Seriously. There is no free will, get over it.’ Quite demeaning, isn’t it? Then you suggest ‘it is obvious that some members here (GdB et al) have entrenched views regarding this subject that miss the subtlety required to understand the implications of ‘awareness without free will’. And then you say ‘is English your first language? Admittedly this is a very difficult subject to describe directly.’ And the only thing you do is repeating Hofstadter’s view from ‘I am a strange loop’. Is that polite?
So my suggestion: read Dennett’s ‘Consciousness explained’ and the ‘Ellbow room’, if you were able to read German read “Das Handwerk der Freiheit” of Peter Bieri (Bieri shows very clearly how we are enchanted by the words we use to describe determinism, that there would be no free will anymore). Contrast what you find there with Hofstadter, and if you have clearly fleshed out the differences, then tell us what they are, and then take your stand. Then we can discuss.
Two points I want to stress:
1. Epiphenomenalism is BS. If you look at it precise and subtle enough, you will see that epiphenomenalism presupposes a dualist world view. See, in a funny way, “An Unfortunate Dualist”, with a comment from Hofstadter:
When asked to say more, dualists divide into two schools: those who hold that the occurrence or existence of a mental event has no effect whatsoever on subsequent physical events in the brain, and those who deny this and hold that mental events do have effects on physical events in the brain. The former are called epiphenomenalists and the latter are called interactionists. Smullyan’s fable nicely disposes of epiphenomenalism (doesn’t it?), but what of interactionism?
Since Dennett’s convincing argument against epiphenomenalism (in ‘Consciousness explained’), no serious philosopher can defend this position anymore.
And see Hofstadter’s comment on ‘Is God a Taoist?’:
Toward the end of this dialogue, Smullyan gets at issues we have been dealing with throughout this book – the attempts to reconcile the determinism and “upward causality“ of the laws of nature with the free will and “downward causality” that we all feel ourselves exerting. His astute observation that we often say “I am determined” to do this” when we mean “I have chosen to do this” leads him to his account of free will, beginning with god’s statement that “Determinism and choice are much closer than they might appear.” Smullyan’s elegantly worked out reconciliation of these opposing views depends on our willingness to switch points of view – to cease thinking “dualistically” (i.e. breaking the world into parts such as “myself” and “not myself” ), and to see the entire universe as boundaryless, with things flowing into each other, overlapping, with no clearly defined categories or edges.
2. Do you think natural laws force us to do what we do? Or do they just describe how the world runs, i.e. shows the regularities that obviously exist. From IEP:
In the Regularity theory, the knotted problem of free will vs. determinism is solved (or better, “dissolved”) so thoroughly that it cannot coherently even be posed.
On the Regularists’ view, there simply is no problem of free will. We make choices – some trivial, such as to buy a newspaper; others, rather more consequential, such as to buy a home, or to get married, or to go to university, etc. – but these choices are not forced upon us by the laws of nature. Indeed, it is the other way round. Laws of nature are (a subclass of the) true descriptions of the world.
Bold by me. It seems you are enchanted by the idea that natural laws prescribe what nature, and therefore we are also forced by them to do what we do. That’s a silly view, don’t you think?