Right, but what does any of that mean? Clearly soul isn’t what animates matter, since even patently soulless matter is animate, like wind, rain, the planets, etc. (The Greeks had a notion of a “motor soul”, that might be what you’re getting at, but it’s very much pre-modern. It depends on pre-Newtonian notions of momentum).

Yes, the soul of wind is blowing. Matter doing what it does. Or how it’s better described, the soul of an eye is sight.

You’re also right that there’s an element of pre-modern vitalism there; though again, even patently soulless things like plants have life.

The basic question here is what the heck we need a ‘soul’ for. It plays no useful theoretical role.

Well perhaps none, just useful to see how a word starts out being used to describe an abstract however completely natural concept evolves to having supernatural, imaginative ideas attached to it.

Small point: actually, we know from quantum mechanics that technically there is randomness: the laws of micro physics are statistical in character, not deterministic. To take a simple example, when a radioactive atom decays, it does so randomly. There is no deeper explanation of why it decays now rather than before or after. (Though there is a law that says what the percentage chance of it decaying over a given period of time).

hmmmm maybe there is freewill. I guess that gives one point to the Christians then.

Random fluctuations have nothing to do with free will. Free will is directed action; it is paradigmatically not random. Also the randomness that goes on at the quantum level are several orders of magnitude too small to have any effect at the neural level. Neurons are, for all intents and purposes (that is, to an extremely high level of accuracy), deterministic systems. There are several very lengthy discussions of this in the Philosophy folder ...

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, because there’s one thing that’s been bothering me and until now I think I know why. People put statistics to things that they don’t have all the information for such as weather. Just because they have to do this doesn’t mean that the weather is in any sense random, but doesn’t this also go the same for quantum mechanics. The reason why science puts a percentage to an atoms radiocative decay is because they lack all the information they need, so they give it a statistic. I don’t see how lack of information to an end result can make something random. Unless you want to bother trying to better explain, I still think that “random” is only a perception due to lack of information.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, because there’s one thing that’s been bothering me and until now I think I know why. People put statistics to things that they don’t have all the information for such as weather. Just because they have to do this doesn’t mean that the weather is in any sense random, but doesn’t this also go the same for quantum mechanics. The reason why science puts a percentage to an atoms radiocative decay is because they lack all the information they need, so they give it a statistic. I don’t see how lack of information to an end result can make something random. Unless you want to bother trying to better explain, I still think that “random” is only a perception due to lack of information.

The randomness of quantum mechanics is not epistemic, it has nothing to do with our lack of knowledge of the relevant variables. For more on this I’d suggest checking out some competent primers on QM. (I think Richard Feynman has some good stuff on this somewhere).

There’s a difference between probabilities based on samples and quantum behavior. Polls taken in Calif. predict that the marijuana initiative will lose. But we aren’t sure because they didn’t sample everyone who will vote. After next Tuesday, we’ll know for certain. That’s simple arithmetic. However, mathematicians and theoretical physicists analyzed things like radioactive decay looking for the reasons. As they examined the very complex mathematics they found that it was, and could be proved, mathematically and physically impossible to predict when a specific atom would break down. That’s totally different from statistical randomness which just needs more information.

There’s a difference between probabilities based on samples and quantum behavior. Polls taken in Calif. predict that the marijuana initiative will lose. But we aren’t sure because they didn’t sample everyone who will vote. After next Tuesday, we’ll know for certain. That’s simple arithmetic. However, mathematicians and theoretical physicists analyzed things like radioactive decay looking for the reasons. As they examined the very complex mathematics they found that it was, and could be proved, mathematically and physically impossible to predict when a specific atom would break down. That’s totally different from statistical randomness which just needs more information.

Occam

we know how fast it travels, but not where it is (kinda), or we know where it is, but not how fast it travels (kinda).
but this is every instant of quantum, and would it not follow that, if we have means to determine future trends, but they do not hold at quantum, that the odds at that fundamental level must be relatively equal. Unless thay process is influenced or reinforced by additional external influences. There is no evidence to the contrary.

There’s a difference between probabilities based on samples and quantum behavior. Polls taken in Calif. predict that the marijuana initiative will lose. But we aren’t sure because they didn’t sample everyone who will vote. After next Tuesday, we’ll know for certain. That’s simple arithmetic.

I’m not at all sure it’s simple arithmetic. Yes the maths maybe but understanding what kind of world we live in, in which the maths works, is not. Why does this kind of probability theory work? Is it because there are really alternative possibilities beyond the epistemic kind? And how do we assign a probability to each possibility and why?

However, mathematicians and theoretical physicists analyzed things like radioactive decay looking for the reasons. As they examined the very complex mathematics they found that it was, and could be proved, mathematically and physically impossible to predict when a specific atom would break down. That’s totally different from statistical randomness which just needs more information.

But just because it’s impossible to predict, does it mean there is more than one possible outcome given the situation? Clearly not, so what is the reason to believe quantum physics is telling us there is?

Here is one philosophers opinion ” (You may also know, contrary to popular opinion, that current science gives us no more reason to think that determinism is false than that determinism is true.)”

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, because there’s one thing that’s been bothering me and until now I think I know why. People put statistics to things that they don’t have all the information for such as weather. Just because they have to do this doesn’t mean that the weather is in any sense random, but doesn’t this also go the same for quantum mechanics. The reason why science puts a percentage to an atoms radiocative decay is because they lack all the information they need, so they give it a statistic. I don’t see how lack of information to an end result can make something random. Unless you want to bother trying to better explain, I still think that “random” is only a perception due to lack of information.

The randomness of quantum mechanics is not epistemic, it has nothing to do with our lack of knowledge of the relevant variables. For more on this I’d suggest checking out some competent primers on QM. (I think Richard Feynman has some good stuff on this somewhere).

Doug I think it would have just been easier if you had just said “This is all beyond you and I don’t want to spend the time trying to explain it” rather than offer me to read every book Richard Feynman trying to find some relevance to his theories and the concept of randomness at the QM level.

First, Stephen, I was just kidding. I guess my smilie wasn’t enough to show that.

Sorry, E-M. I have to agree with Doug’s post. He 1) recognized that it would take many pages to go into quantum mechanics, and he probably couldn’t do it the justice that Fenyman would do, 2) He gave a good reference if you were interested. It was up to you to decide whether or not you wanted to bother with it. 3) I didn’t see Doug’s post as a put-down as you may have.

FWIW I believe it was one of Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces, though I’m not sure. Feynman has a relatively small number of popular books out, so it’s not going to be a matter of looking at every book he ever wrote.

Also see physics and chance in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (The relevant theorem is Bell’s Theorem. While there are some interpretations of QM that deny Bell’s Theorem, they are not mainstream).

First, Stephen, I was just kidding. I guess my smilie wasn’t enough to show that.

Sorry, E-M. I have to agree with Doug’s post. He 1) recognized that it would take many pages to go into quantum mechanics, and he probably couldn’t do it the justice that Fenyman would do, 2) He gave a good reference if you were interested. It was up to you to decide whether or not you wanted to bother with it. 3) I didn’t see Doug’s post as a put-down as you may have.

Occam

It was not so much as a put down as just a blow off statement. Almost one that you’ll hear from the Christians. Such as,

“Just read the Bible. All your questions will be answered in there”

I felt like the response lacked honesty hence came my reply. I’d rather the bluntness of a person telling me something to the effect of.

“QM is extremely complicated and to truly understand the concept of Random QM, you’d have a base of information regarding the issue that would help me better explain my point. If interested, you should read X which could help you understand the groundwork of what I’m talking about.

Anyways Doug, I appreciate you at least posting a book to look in to.

First, Stephen, I was just kidding. I guess my smilie wasn’t enough to show that.

Oh, Ok.

Just had a quick look at the link Doug posted about chance and physics and came across this:

” Carnap (1945) distinguished between two conceptions of probability, arguing that both were scientifically important. His ‘probability1’ corresponds to an epistemic notion, nowadays glossed either (following Carnap himself) as evidential probability, or as credence or degree of belief. This is contrasted with Carnap’s ‘probability2’, which is the concept of a non-epistemic objective kind of probability, better known as chance.”

What I think is we have three concepts of chance or the probability.

If we take a coin toss and firstly imagine the probability of a head is one in two, just to keep it simple, I think there are two senses in which we might believe in this.

1) Is simply subjective, epistemic, so this disappears completely once we know the outcome.

2) Is objective, we think it really was a 1 in 2 chance.

I think these are Carnap’s probability1 and 2.

A third sense is randomness but this shouldn’t be confused with 1) and 2). Say the coin lands on heads, what was the chance of it landing on tails at random? 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000? I don’t know but the point is it isn’t 1 in 2, cleary randomness is something different.

I think I’m interested in how we know what 1) the epistemic probability is and why?

How would having a soul make any difference to whether or not you had “choice”? This is something I’ve never understood, though it is taken as a given within certain theistic circles.

Yep. What difference would a soul make? We would get all the philosophical problems again, shifted from ‘ghosts in the machine’ to ‘meta-ghosts in the ghost’, ad infinitum.

How would having a soul make any difference to whether or not you had “choice”? This is something I’ve never understood, though it is taken as a given within certain theistic circles.

Yep. What difference would a soul make? We would get all the philosophical problems again, shifted from ‘ghosts in the machine’ to ‘meta-ghosts in the ghost’, ad infinitum.