eight bits on Jul 2 2008, 03:29 PM, said:
Hi eight bits, I was secretly hoping you might pop up at some point in this thread I'm not sure I can even manage the half-lotus I'm afraid - how about I just lurk at the back with an air of tranquility?
I am actually comfortable with the idea of a transient, illusory or constantly redefined self - I have always had trouble trying to get across what I just tried to get across in that last post, but whatever it was I was trying to say wasn't supposed to include assumptions about the nature of selfhood - rather, simply that the notion of free will seems itself to have implicit assumptions about the nature of the self which don't make sense.
Still, abiding or Markovian self, neither has chosen its own nature at any given point, which means that any decisions it makes are not 'free'.
I'm not so sure that that's what most people mean by free will - I think there is an implication of agency in there. Nobody or nothing else choosing for me could be achieved through randomness, which still wouldn't be free will.
But more than that, if an entity makes a decision, and that decision is based on properties of that entity which were not chosen by the entity itself, then the decision was not made by that entity but ultimately by whatever it was that did choose those properties. Since this applies to any decision-making entity, the search for agency or ultimate responsibility for that decision is a (not infinite, but lengthy) regression until you come back to forces which don't have any agency to start with.
To put it another way (or perhaps the same way but in slightly different words), all decisions are made according to criteria not chosen by the decision-maker, which leaves no room for free will anywhere.
Putting it yet another way (because I'm trying to get across a fairly ill-formed thought that for some reason I think is true), there are only deterministic and random processes in the universe. The concept of free will seems to assume a third type of process - one which is neither deterministic nor random - but makes no suggestion as to what, or how.
I deny that I choose; and it's true that nobody else chooses for me; ultimately, no-one does. If no-one chooses, it's not free will.
Or, to put it another way still, you can't blame me for anything, especially the dumb stuff I've done.