FREEDOM/DETERMINISM : Revisited

Freedom and Determinism
are conceptual perspectives (human constructs)
in a relationship of complementarity.

The application of these perspectives to the hypothetical functioning of an objective, material (matter/energy | particle/field | substance/qualia) reality is primarily by metaphor. Humankind is far from agreement on the “nature of reality”, in spite of claims by the “knowledge elites” of each culture and era.

Often ignored: the opposite of strict determinism is pure randomness. If a person wants “totally free” choice (free-will) they must resort to a coin-toss for each decision. Their “choice” is to assign the decision to another “process”: a coin-toss or the pattern of tea leaves, interpreted by a “shaman”. What most humans mean by free will, is that they want authority to make a determination based of their personal knowledge and beliefs. They aren’t opposed to determinations; they want to be the determiner.

The “contemporary” “scientific concept” of “causal determinism” is far from “comprehensive” of the many variations of “conceptual schemes” to “explain” “process”. To unpack the prior sentence would require unpacking all the terms in quotes, a process that would lead to a circular/endless regression. So-called “psychic phenomena” is one example of variation. I have proposed another, I call “holistic determination”. Considering “time” to be multi-dimensional or textural opens the options further. I have proposed a process I call “feedpast bootstrapping” that involves “determination” from a duration/time-interval and not a point moment. Within this duration, the “momentary present” can influence its “past”. I hypothesize that living systems have this feature, which distinguishes them from non-living systems.

The Copenhagen Interpretation (Bohr) of Quantum Theory also adds a new take on determinism. A quantum measurement doesn’t measure the state of the system at the moment (just prior) to the measurement operation. Rather, the measurement interaction (between quantum system to be measured and quantum measuring instruments) “selects a state” (from a probability distribution of potential states), often characterized as the “collapse of the wave function”.

Strict determinism for quantum reality requires the “select a state” choice being constrained only statistically, so that the many similar transitions/measurement over a (hypothetical) “ensemble” of similar systems would agree with the theoretical probability distribution. “Ensemble” is a hypothetical collection of “similar systems” in “similar circumstances”; but not a real collection in space-time. I should be noted that quantum phenomena are never observed by human senses. Humans observe changes in the “classical” reality of material objects/instruments. The patterns in observed data often agree with theoretical predictions.

You may have noticed the term “consciousness” was not used in the above explication. This term is the cause of endless confusion and controversy because it is used (indiscriminately) with three different fundamental meanings.

In the same way, tackling the real problem of consciousness depends on distinguishing different aspects of consciousness, and mapping their phenomenological properties (subjective first-person descriptions of what conscious experiences are like) onto underlying biological mechanisms (objective third-person descriptions). A good starting point is to distinguish between conscious level, conscious content, and conscious self. Conscious level has to do with being conscious at all – the difference between being in a dreamless sleep (or under general anesthesia) and being vividly awake and aware. Conscious contents are what populate your conscious experiences when you are conscious – the sights, sounds, smells, emotions, thoughts and beliefs that make up your inner universe. And among these conscious contents is the specific experience of being you. This is conscious self, and is probably the aspect of consciousness that we cling to most tightly.

It is this to this”conscious self” we wish to attribute “agency” or “choice”. Given the above complexity of the concepts labeled freedom and determinism, the reality of human freedom must remain controversial. The article, quoted from above, makes a strong case that “conscious experience” is hallucinatory, a matter of selection and creativity, and not direct perception. A “wrld” emerges in the mind/brain of every person during their life, living among stimuli and action. Humans are wired to confuse their experienced “wrld” with an external, objective “WORLD”, that is “clearly there”! This process was survival selection value for tribal times when there was only the material, biological and social; complex societal levels had not yet emerged.

Today, this confusion of “wrld” for “WORLD” blocks the emergence of a viable, sustainable, “organically integrated” HUMANITY from the current, highly dysfunctional, suicidal, “civilized” HUMANKIND.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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