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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 22 April 2012 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 196 ]
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GdB - 22 April 2012 08:50 AM

Is acting in way that you know that people abhor of your action a lottery?

Yes. There are causes but not causes that are responsible for being what they are. What you are and therefore what you do is a lottery in this very important sense.

It always worries me that you seek to question this.

Accepting this and then focusing on what to do for practical reasons, seems to be the best thing to do.

Stephen

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Posted: 22 April 2012 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 197 ]
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GdB - 22 April 2012 08:50 AM

Maybe you should tell me how bad. I am certainly inclined to take consequence of the thought that people are not responsible for who they are, but I do not see this as an excuse for consciously wrongdoing.

Firstly forget the justice system. It’s about every family etc etc. it’s about every situation at work etc etc.

Blaming, very, very often is not the best response. By being mindful of that and so not doing it, or at least reducing and shorting it’s affects, helps us get on with dealing with what ever the problem is and it’s a much nicer way to carry on.

It’s these everyday interactions, and I’ve just focused on blame, which would be altered tremendously for the better, producing happier healthier humans, solving problems better.

How influencial would dropping deserved blame and praise be in creating more empathetic, happy, cooperative humans?

Obviously I think enormously influencial, which is why I argue for it and try to put it into practice in my day to day life.

Stephen

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Posted: 22 April 2012 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 198 ]
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GdB - 22 April 2012 08:50 AM

If you like: but I do not see how somebody can make moral considerations without being conscious.

And yet we do. Sometimes we become conscious of doing it and sometimes we don’t.  I’d guess usually we don’t.

Stephen

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Posted: 23 April 2012 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 199 ]
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StephenLawrence - 22 April 2012 09:47 AM
GdB - 22 April 2012 08:50 AM

If you like: but I do not see how somebody can make moral considerations without being conscious.

And yet we do. Sometimes we become conscious of doing it and sometimes we don’t.  I’d guess usually we don’t.

Stephen

We can act according to rule governed “moral” behavior without thinking about it, but we had to be conscious and aware at some point to have learned the “moral” rules.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 23 April 2012 09:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 200 ]
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TimB - 23 April 2012 04:44 PM

We can act according to rule governed “moral” behavior without thinking about it, but we had to be conscious and aware at some point to have learned the “moral” rules.

I dunno Tim. I guess consciousness is performing a function.

But I don’t believe we make conscious choices or have conscious intentions, or conscious beliefs or conscious desires, or conscious thoughts, or conscious will any more than I believe we have conscious pain, or conscious feet, or a conscious external world.

These things can all become contents of consciousness or not.

Stephen

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Posted: 24 April 2012 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 201 ]
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StephenLawrence - 23 April 2012 09:57 PM
TimB - 23 April 2012 04:44 PM

We can act according to rule governed “moral” behavior without thinking about it, but we had to be conscious and aware at some point to have learned the “moral” rules.

I dunno Tim. I guess consciousness is performing a function.

But I don’t believe we make conscious choices or have conscious intentions, or conscious beliefs or conscious desires, or conscious thoughts, or conscious will any more than I believe we have conscious pain, or conscious feet, or a conscious external world.

These things can all become contents of consciousness or not.

Stephen


I can’t make sense of what you are saying here.  Your text itself is evidence of your conscious choice to express your thoughts and beliefs.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 24 April 2012 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 202 ]
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I don’t think it’s as clear as you may think, Tim. Maybe it’s the other way around: maybe we are conscious because of the thoughts and beliefs we are expressing. There is, for example, some evidence suggesting that we acquire our moral understanding long before we become conscious. A few-months-old baby will react with a frown on his face to a simple animation of a big circle bouncing on top of a small circle (while the small circle is trying to escape) and with a smile when the small circle manages to run away from the larger circle. We are not sure when exactly we become conscious (i.e. aware of ourselves) but some studies suggest it doesn’t happen until around the age of between two and three. The only thing we can say with certainty regarding consciousness is that we know very little about it.

[ Edited: 24 April 2012 12:25 PM by George ]
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Posted: 24 April 2012 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 203 ]
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George - 24 April 2012 11:37 AM

Maybe it’s the other way around: maybe we are conscious because of the thoughts and beliefs we are expressing. There is, for example, some evidence suggesting that we acquire our moral understanding long before we become conscious.

That is an interesting thought. I think thoughts and beliefs on the one hand, and consciousness on the other, go hand in hand. At least it is difficult to imagine one without the other. But maybe we should add feelings to thoughts and beliefs: for me it does not make sense to understand the behaviour of babies and animal when we do not assign feelings, and therefore consciousness to them.

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Posted: 24 April 2012 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 204 ]
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Consciousness seems to be related not to what we are thinking as much as to how much effort we put into our thinking. I imagine a seven-year old child is a lot more aware of what he’s doing while calculating 2 x 3 than me. Since we are doing a lot of thinking while we are awake, we are also conscious most of the time (except perhaps for the time when we are daydreaming) while we are awake. That’s why I suspect these two go together.

As far as babies and animals are concerned, I often wonder if animal can be either conscious or not conscious, or if it’s more like a spectrum with, say, chimps (or a two-year old human) being “kinda” conscious.

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Posted: 24 April 2012 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 205 ]
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George - 24 April 2012 11:37 AM

I don’t think it’s as clear as you may think, Tim. Maybe it’s the other way around: maybe we are conscious because of the thoughts and beliefs we are expressing. There is, for example, some evidence suggesting that we acquire our moral understanding long before we become conscious. A few months-old baby will react with a frown on his face to a simple animation of a big circle bouncing on top of a small circle (while the small circle is trying to escape) and with a smile when the small circle manages to run away from the larger circle. We are not sure when exactly we become conscious (i.e. aware of ourselves) but some studies suggest it doesn’t happen until around the age of between two and three. The only thing we can say with certainty regarding consciousness is that we know very little about it.

We are born with a template of potential respondant behavior.  The baby’s reaction to the circles is an interesting example of that. It could well be that this sort of an inborn bias effects the eventual establishment of morals.  It may even be that we are born with an intrinsic template of some of the things that we eventually come to think of as “right” or wrong”.  But I think that consciousness is learned after birth.

I think that we are conscious because of the thoughts that we express (or listen to inside our own skin).  That we become aware of ourselves between the ages of two and three, is significant in that this is when our verbal behavior is developing to a relatively sophisticated level.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 24 April 2012 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 206 ]
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I am not sure I understand what you mean by consciousness being “learned.”

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Posted: 24 April 2012 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 207 ]
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TimB - 24 April 2012 12:29 PM

We are born with a template of potential respondant behavior.  The baby’s reaction to the circles is an interesting example of that. It could well be that this sort of an inborn bias effects the eventual establishment of morals.  It may even be that we are born with an intrinsic template of some of the things that we eventually come to think of as “right” or wrong”.  But I think that consciousness is learned after birth.

I think that we are conscious because of the thoughts that we express (or listen to inside our own skin).  That we become aware of ourselves between the ages of two and three, is significant in that this is when our verbal behavior is developing to a relatively sophisticated level.

I am not all that well read on the subject, but this rings true to me.

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“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”—Edith Sitwell

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Posted: 24 April 2012 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 208 ]
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TimB - 24 April 2012 11:21 AM


I can’t make sense of what you are saying here.  Your text itself is evidence of your conscious choice to express your thoughts and beliefs.

I’m conscious of typing now. But what you mean by it being a conscious choice, I don’t know. I’d be really, really, interested if you can put that into words.

My belief is we become conscious of what we choose, rather than we make conscious choices.

Stephen

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Posted: 24 April 2012 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 209 ]
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George - 24 April 2012 12:57 PM

I am not sure I understand what you mean by consciousness being “learned.”

More precisely we learn the behaviors that comprise consciousness or self awareness.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 24 April 2012 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 210 ]
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StephenLawrence - 24 April 2012 01:01 PM
TimB - 24 April 2012 11:21 AM


I can’t make sense of what you are saying here.  Your text itself is evidence of your conscious choice to express your thoughts and beliefs.

I’m conscious of typing now. But what you mean by it being a conscious choice, I don’t know. I’d be really, really, interested if you can put that into words.

My belief is we become conscious of what we choose, rather than we make conscious choices.

Stephen

I think we do a lot of things (if not most things) without thinking about it or reflecting on it.  So, if our definition of “choosing” does not necessarily include aware reflection, then much of what we do, is, as you say, done before we become aware of what we have “chosen”. 

But certainly you must, from subjective, experience recognize times in which you did reflect and were aware before making a choice.  An example could be choosing to submit a text that you have written or choosing instead to hold off and edit first.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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