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#495539 - 04/21/14 06:47 PM The discussion of free will.
Equinox Online


Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Loc: Minnesota
Since my arrival here, I've been able to dedicate small pieces of my time between research and class to reinvestigate the Satanic philosophy from a more mature perspective. I've noticed, both on the Church of Satan website and in the Satanic Bible, that free will is advocated in the Satanist philosophy. (A wonderful thing, of no doubt.)

However, I seem to have stumbled upon a mental thought that's thrown me for a loop, and I am genuinely curious to how a response from a Satanic perspective may be initiated. Allow me to illustrate what I mean:

Human beings instinctively believe that they have some degree of control over their lives, and are free to influence at will events of the external world. But if they are part of the world, they are subject to deterministic laws, and their belief in free will is an illusion.

Either we have no free will - we are puppets - and are not responsible for the things we do, or we truly have free will according to principles not yet accessible to rational inquiry. Even if we believe in a rational spiritual realm (I personally do not), we cannot escape the dilemma of either free will in an indeterministic world, or no free will in a deterministic world.

A very interesting quote I found online may perhaps further demonstrate my line of thinking.

"Only two possibilities exist: either one must believe in determinism and regard free will as a subjective illusion, or one must become a mystic and regard the discovery of natural laws as a meaningless intellectual game."
~ Max Born, "Man and the atom", 1957.

Have I merely found a false dichotomy in my thinking, or is there more to this than what it seems?

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#495546 - 04/21/14 08:04 PM Re: The discussion of free will. [Re: Equinox]
Kenaz Offline


Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 66
We have choices, despite being limited and determined by our external conditions. For instance, I may have different choices or directions than others due to my socio-economic status, where I am born, to whom, and so forth. But there is a choice.

Now, that said, many people are very much unconscious -- much more than they would like to believe themselves to be. In this regard, I very much enjoy what Gurdjieff had to say concerning Man:

Quote:
Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave (...) Awakening is possible only for those who seek it and want it, for those who are ready to struggle with themselves and work on themselves for a very long time and very persistently in order to attain it.


It takes real effort and self knowledge. Even realizing how mechanical and deterministic we are, we become more aware of such and can become less mechanical in that we put ourselves in situations that will lead to greater success towards our determined goals or aspirations.

Of course this topic has been argued and philosophized over for centuries and centuries, and I doubt that this thread will put a final answer on it that satisfies all involved.

I guess what is more useful -- telling yourself you have no control over your life and being not critical of oneself and others or realizing that we are responsible for our actions and holding a critical eye to ourselves and others?

Who decides that we have free will or not. If not us, then who? Since it is obviously us, how can we even say that we have or do not have free will? We have no choice in the matter! coopdevil
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#495549 - 04/21/14 09:50 PM Re: The discussion of free will. [Re: Kenaz]
Equinox Online


Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 6
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Kenaz
Now, that said, many people are very much unconscious -- much more than they would like to believe themselves to be.


I completely agree. Your quote by Gurdjieff rings very much true to me.

Originally Posted By: Kenaz
I guess what is more useful -- telling yourself you have no control over your life and being not critical of oneself and others or realizing that we are responsible for our actions and holding a critical eye to ourselves and others?


Without any shadow of a doubt, the latter. My mindset more approaches the issue entirely from a scientific perspective.

The idea made me curious, concerning that determinism can be achieved (within a certain degree of approximation, namely due to quantum mechanics). Since this applies to large bodies where the size of the object is larger than the Debroglie wavelength - it too applies to us. Hence, the reason why you don't look like a traveling wave when you're walking or when stationary!

For the last several years, my mind has been resculpted to be entirely mathematical and physics-driven. While this all just may be bullocks, philosophical thinking can be entertaining from time-to-time, at the very least.

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#495551 - 04/21/14 10:09 PM Re: The discussion of free will. [Re: Equinox]
Nemo Offline
CoS Magister

Registered: 10/06/02
Posts: 12416
Loc: Point Nemo s48:52:31:748, w123...
This is a pragmatic religion.

In the mid last century behaviorism dominated psychology and people like Skinner pretended that you were not conscious.

Now we have other areas of today's "science" that are suggesting that you have no free will.

My reply?

Use your "non-existent" free will in your "non-existent" own mind and...

...decide for yourself! grin
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#495558 - Yesterday at 05:47 AM Re: The discussion of free will. [Re: Equinox]
Quatermass83 Offline


Registered: 04/18/14
Posts: 5
Loc: England
Does "responsibility to the responsible" make sense in a deterministic world?

Even if free will is an illusion, Nietzsche's idea of eternal return gives us a way out - perform every action as if you knew you had to repeat it for eternity.

Ultimately, it really doesn't matter of free will exists or not. The question is not falsifiable, and hence, meaningless.


Edited by Quatermass83 (Yesterday at 07:15 AM)
Edit Reason: Dyslexic fingers.

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#495562 - Today at 12:08 AM Re: The discussion of free will. [Re: Equinox]
NapalmNick Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 08/23/08
Posts: 2128
Originally Posted By: Equinox
Either we have no free will - we are puppets - and are not responsible for the things we do, or we truly have free will according to principles not yet accessible to rational inquiry.

I see this as being a false dichotomy, and it's bothersome how much of this subject gets muddled under sloppy semantics. If all someone means by "free will" is to affirm the observation that humans make choices and decisions, and are held responsible for them, it's a non-issue, and something Daniel Dennett would call a "deepity." (Ironically, I find Dennett's view of free will to essentially be that particular deepity.)

The problem is in how these choices, decisions, and modes of responsibility are put together at smaller scales. Most people will have no use in ever pondering these things, but our notions of free will can be gravely dismantled by damages to the brain. This has several pragmatic implications for law, science, and of course, philosophy.

Satanism is materialistic; we reject spiritual pipe-dreams. You do not pilot the meat Gundam, you are the meat Gundam. The meat Gundam is a mechanical device wound up at birth and discarded, forever unconscious, at death. Our choices and decisions are the end of a chain of events, most of which we don't perceive. In the sense that "you" can't stop time and choose from an infinite set of "next moves", you have no free will.
_________________________
"Logic is the beginning of wisdom, Valeris; not the end." --Leonard Nimoy as Captain Spock in The Undiscovered Country

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." --George Carlin, Playin' With Your Head

"[There is] no contradiction between saying 'evolution has no purpose' and 'organisms have purposes'; just different vocabularies for different levels of description." --Sean Carroll

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#495567 - 31 minutes 16 seconds ago Re: The discussion of free will. [Re: Equinox]
Bill_M Offline
CoS Reverend

Registered: 07/28/01
Posts: 11465
Loc: New England, USA
Originally Posted By: Equinox
Human beings instinctively believe that they have some degree of control over their lives, and are free to influence at will events of the external world. But if they are part of the world, they are subject to deterministic laws, and their belief in free will is an illusion.

Here's the analogy that I personally use:

Consider rolling a pair of dice. We'd normally say that the outcome is "random". A quantum physicist (an actual quantum physicist that is, not some new-ager who's read a few Deepak Chopra books) may argue that the outcome was not truly random. When you consider items like the surfaces and densities of both the dice material and the table material, the air pressure in the room, the angle and force the dice were thrown at, the biological processes that led to the thrower choosing that angle and force, the dice hitting themselves, etc., then in theory the tossed result was a result of all of these factors.

Of course, there are so many of these little factors to consider, and such a strong effect that they can each have on the results, that there are just too many things that a human would be able to calculate and factor in time to determine what the result of the dice. We can consider the result "random" for all practical purposes, because the different permutations happen with enough equal probability, and it's too impractical to predict what will come up on a given roll.

Similarly, one's life is full of so many daily interactions, learned behaviors, etc., that even if it may all be predetermined by a set of previous "cause" events, then for all practical purposes it makes sense to model it all as a case of us having free will to make our own decisions. So seeing humans as animals with free will is still an accurate enough model to do a lot in life.
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