Essentially if all things have a cause (quantum counts) then everything we do and/or are is hypothetically possible to trace back to either the Big Bang or a consequence thereof. This means that we are not people making decitions but physical reactions in a biological framework.

What are the implications of this if true?
Is it true?
How would it be falsifiable?
What are the contrasts to the deterministic view?

Tags: determinism, fate, philosophy

Views: 551

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I think it is worth considering what is meant by determinism. This may seem outrageous, but is anyone suggesting that every rain drop and gust of wind and every word I am typing now was encoded in the singularity prior to the Big Bang? Personally, if that is what anyone believes, I totally do not. I think reality is in a sense inventing itself as it goes, including in the fluctuations of our thoughts and feelings and decisions and actions. There are tendencies, just like with weather, but as with weather nothing really seems to be simple predictable causality. I believe that everything is in flux and that everything is shifting as it goes along and that nothing is set or fixed. As for chaos theory, there is a lot there to learn about. Anyway to each their own. I think I will exercise my free will and ponder whether this is worth pursuing indefinitely. =P

Even if the universe is completely pre-determinable, no inside intelligence exists that could comprehend it all, much less affect it all.

I think that where this is more of an essential topic is in religious discussions. Free Will given to us by God/Whoever is the justification to punish us for ignoring Him (or the Pope, and so on). Free Will is an assertion necessary for enforcing faith/belief in others.

I'm a determinist, not a predeterminist, predestinationist, or preordinationist.

A determinist simply maintains that everything happens for a reason, at least in the gross physical world, and that includes human behavior, and that behind everything happening in this world are the laws of physics and chemistry.

Determinism as I see it does not say that the future is set or fixed but only that whatever does happen happens for a reason having to do with natural laws. This leaves room for randomizations such as quantum events.

Randomization, however, does not salvage free will. If what I do is randomized, that doesn't seem to salvage free will any more than pure determinism does.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I believe in determinism.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I believe in free will.  On Sundays I'm confused.

Understand it simply like this:

How you make decision = How your brain works (both consciously and subconsciously) = Physical reactions in your biological framework.

This implies that, since physical reactions are all under causality, if we had a gigantic super computer system with infinite computing power, we could simulate the entire universe and thus could also determinedly simulate your life.  However, since such computing is impossible in the reality, our perceptions and thoughts are all limited to extremely superficial level.  We can't even see, for instance, very physical existence like ultraviolet rays.  Our perception thoughts are highly limited and skewed.  Therefore, such ideas like "free will" can easily slip in.  In daily life we feel like as if we make our decisions freely based on our own thoughts and perception.  But it is not true.

Why the necessity for simulating the entire universe? In order to understand the causes leading to a drug-related murder in Detroit, do we need also to know everything that goes on in the Horsehead Nebula?


That appears to be a reply to the original post. If so, which of his questions are you answering?

The logical implications of both Newton’s laws and quantum theory lead to the inescapable conclusion that the universe must be deterministic.  However, such complications as chaos theory and the inability to ever be able to know what the starting conditions were mean that predictability will never be possible; no computer will ever have the power to either retrace the past or predict the future ad infinitum.  Even if, theoretically, an algorithm could be created that could follow the progress (or regress) of time, it would require knowledge of the starting conditions of the universe (“The Big Bang”), which is impossible.  Besides, chaos theory would throw such a monkey wrench into the machinery along the way that prediction would be a fool’s errand.  

It follows, then, that, since the full sequence of events throughout time can’t be followed, the theory is unfalsifiable. That being the case, determinism can’t really be considered a scientific theory - only a philosophical hypothesis that can never be either confirmed or disproved.  For that matter, even hypothesizing would be a fruitless endeavor.  The best we can do is conjecture and go on about our business.

The standard contrasting paradigm to determinism is free will.  But it, too, runs into a theoretical conundrum.  If all the theories of mathematicians and physicists are true from the first to last collision between atoms from the beginning to the end of time, the universe must be considered deterministic, which means that free will cannot exist.  

That being said, it would be the height of foolishness for human beings to throw up their hands, surrender to the fates, whether mechanistic or Calvinistic, and never get out of bed.  Whether or not free will exists, we must live our lives as if it does, since it will never be possible to either intuit or control the deterministic course of universal time.  To attempt to do so would be a prime example of reducto ad absurdum. 

There is a philosophical escape clause, however.  If one follows the idea of determinism to its logical limits, it could be said that even our thoughts and emotions are pre-determined.  If that’s the case, why worry?  Free will, even if it is an illusion, works just fine.  And even if it doesn’t, there’s not a damn thing we can do about it if the universe is purely deterministic.  The question is existentially moot.

My advice?  Accept the notion that determinism is real, then forget about it and let your free will take you where it will.  

I think free will is one of those things people get obsessed with. As you seem to be saying, however, accept determinism and get over it. You can't change it so live with it (you really have no choice...literally).

I've been a determinist for a long time, but I still open the refrigerator and make a choice between Coke and iced tea even though the decision was made in my unconscious brain a few microseconds before I was aware of it. I feel it's a conscious choice though intellectually I recognize it can't be.

The more serious problem, of course, comes when you consider holding people responsible for their acts. Of course we will, and we'll feel good about it and we'll feel that it's necessary. However, add in determinism and it all seems rather pointless and unnecessary. Everyone does what they do because of who they are. Yes, they have choices before them but they can't really choose what to choose. That is governed by the laws of the universe where there are no miracles.

I just figure that I am as free as I mosty need to be. Having the occasional quantum event in my head that flips a bit, or more, just keeps it interesting.

Interesting isn't the same as being free.


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