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  1. #321
    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    This meandering brain-fart of mine is mostly irrelevant to the ~women~ discussion and is mostly rehashed stuff from prior writings that I'm more or less constantly mulling over. Just a warning.
    Well, wherever we've ended up, it seems a worthy and interesting discussion to me. I'm sure the internets will forgive us a little off-topic musing. I have no prior writings to rehash on this subject, so this is entirely off the top of my head. As such, I reserve the right to revise my views based on available evidence and/or rational argument! Just a warning in return :)


    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    Right, there's a basic problem of kind here. Our genetic template is as much a part of "the environment" as a quasar or a single photon or other people's templates. The supposed dichotomy of nature and nurture doesn't really seem to be a dichotomy but rather two different perspectives on one thing. In a sense this is self-annihilative, which doesn't bother me.
    Sure, but I feel this has become to some extent a matter of semantics. Everything is "nature" and everything is "the environment," in general terms. The intent with the nature/nurture distinction is to attempt to separate what we would consider inherited traits and those which are a consequence of the external environment (or as is more likely the case, to what extent traits are influenced by each), not to remove ourselves from the environment or to consider the effects of genetics and "the world" as being completely unrelated. It isn't a dichotomy, I agree. The two are not completely deconvolved. It is just useful in some fields of study to distinguish between you having brown hair because your DNA codes for it, and you being short because you didn't get enough vitamin D when you were growing up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    There's scope in our understanding for decision making to be both probabilistic and illusory. Our consciousnesses seem to be downstream of – i.e. they only congeal after – biological processes, most of which we don't control and most of which we have little or no insight into. Since I've no reason to believe minds can retroactively alter the physiology on which they ride, I don't see where any meaningful "freedom" of the will can come from. In so many words, "we can do what we will but cannot will what we will." Put another way: our minds seem to be witnesses, not authors.
    What is meant by "no reason to believe minds can retroactively alter the physiology on which they ride"? If a person suffers damage to one part of the brain, its functions may be adopted elsewhere. Is there not a physical implication to this repurposing? We form new memories - surely there is a physiological explanation for this? Perhaps I'm taking you too literally here. Either way, are minds not shaped and altered by experience - is "will" not in flux, whether as a result of conscious control or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    Countless people over the years (both religious and non) have pointed out that this is trivially easy to notice if one just closes one's eyes for a bit and pays attention to what it's like to "be". Get to a quiet space and just let "whatever" come to mind, then take that experience itself as an object of attention and let it recede, and do this with each new thought or sensation. The critical thing to notice is that thoughts and sensations just arise in consciousness, and one never causes them to arise – they just do. That is true of anything one can ever think or feel. If consciousness is just a constant process of noticing thoughts and feelings that well up from beyond our control, whence freedom? Also notice that all external events (e.g. these words) were not "caused" by a mind, either; they simply "are".
    I feel like I'm in the slightly difficult position here of arguing for the neutral rather than the opposite case. That is to say: I'm not arguing for the existence of such a thing as freedom of thought or behaviour. Rather, I'm arguing there is insufficient evidence to settle the question one way or the other. On that note, the experiment you describe above would seem to prove that there is an unconscious source for some spontaneous thoughts and ideas, rather than disprove the existence of such a thing as directed thought, or willful thought. I for one am certainly suffering under the impression that I can, to some extent, will what I think about. For example, after reading your post I went to make some lunch. Whilst cooking, I chose to mull over and consider its contents and to attempt to formulate some sort of coherent description of my own thoughts and ideas. There is a dialog in my head and my impression is that I'm "speaking" those words willfully.

    In other words, the extrapolation of the experiment to the general case ([from your post] "that is true of anything one can ever think or feel") is, in my opinion, not inevitable.

    It is also probably necessary to distinguish between choosing what to think about, and choosing/deciding what the contents of a thought will be. The latter seems to create a problem of infinite regression to me. If we define free will to be the ability to consciously decide not just what to think about, but also what precisely to think about it, then we cause it to be impossible by definition. Why do I say this? Because decision making requires criteria, and criteria, in this context, are thoughts and ideas themselves. In other words, you require a different conscious entity, with pre-existing thoughts and ideas, to decide upon the specific thoughts and ideas of the conscious entity in question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    One could conceptually reduce any possible justification for any possible behavior all the way back to the singularity (or, if one craves a touch of woo, back to quantum fluctuations). But even if a random quantum event was the absolute, irreducible origin of some thought or behavior, one still wouldn't have "chosen" or "caused" the event. So we're not authors of our consciousnesses, we simply are our consciousnesses. The notion that we're authors of our minds is (apart from being logically incoherent) not even necessary, and thus, again, Occam's Razor minces it into irrelevance.
    Agreed. There is no description in natural science of a mechanism which would support the framework of conscious decision making. It would seem necessary that at some point, such a mechanism would violate pre-existing laws of causality - the ability to arrive at different effects given the same cause. My earlier point about quantum "woo" was simply that sometimes, that's allowed. (my last paragraph above I think probably discuses in more detail the issue of authorship)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    I don't think association of ego with free will is a conflation; like with nature/nurture, they seem to be differently-worded perspectives on the same phenomenon. Descriptions of free will are subjective, yes? So they're of, as opposed to extrinsic to, egos. When people say "free" they tend to mean something like "unbounded" or "uncoerced", and the conception of ego is the same (it's something like "a self as distinct from other selves and the wider world"). Alas, again, nobody exists in a vacuum; none of us are perfectly uncoerced or distinct. Much of philosophy is overlapping and circular fluff of this caliber.
    I think I was taking, for the purposes of the discussion, a much less "free" definition of free will when I talked about the conflation of ego and free will in my original post. In other words: is it possible for a mind to be probabilistic (if not deterministic) but at the same time be possessed of an awareness of self? And that's how I'd describe ego, in this context, simply as an awareness of one's own existence. I find that a difficult phenomenon to explain. Would I be right in thinking that your view is that there is really no such thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    Conceptually: if I locked you in a room and let you do whatever you want inside that room, would you be "free"? I don't think so. I think the universe is this room, and we can't not be in it (our minds themselves are part of it). I think a lot of nature/nurture talk is people trying to say "there's not really a room/spoon" or whatever via handwavy vagueness. I think (in the west, anyway) this is generally because individualism is so strongly embedded in culture and many people don't like the idea of fate; they like to think they're "more than mere iterative nature" or whatever. I don't have a problem with fate, though, I just don't think it entails fatalism (an important difference). One could use woo to bring pretty much any conceptual framework in line with various populist idealizations of humans as neatly-discrete forces-unto-themselves, but again, I like Occam's Razor.
    I would be free to an extent. Isn't this just a semantic point again? Is "free" absolute unconstrained freedom? Or is it some sort of freedom of choice?

    I think a lot of the nature/nurture talk is people trying to reconcile the impression that they're a free mind shackled by some sort of natural predisposition. From your point of view (correct me if I'm wrong) a human being IS a natural process, and so the distinction between so-called freedom of thought and genetic predisposition is irrelevant - whatever our beliefs about the way our minds work, thinking/acting is simply a natural process within a natural world, and it has a natural explanation and origin.

    I'd be really interested to hear your views on fate, actually. Do you believe in it? If so, what form of it do you believe in? And in what way does it not necessarily lead to fatalism? Belief is perhaps an inadequate word here; it implies choice. I suspect you view belief in similar terms to myself - it's a compulsion born of current understanding rather than a decision.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    The probabilities defense of free will is like saying "we're rolling dice, and the dice might come up differently if we could reroll!" That's true but it's beside the point: even if one could reroll (we'll suppose that for purposes of argument), one would still just be rolling dice; one wouldn't have magicked the dice into dreidels or something. The point is that there's a bounded system there – a game with rules, so to speak – and we don't "choose" anything about the bounds/rules, we just inhabit the universe/play the game.
    I wasn't offering it as a defence, I was asking for a definition. I was arguing for some extrinsic way to establish free will; what would constitute evidence of free will at work? Different decisions given the same circumstances? Intrinsic thought experiments are interesting, but to establish anything scientifically, we would need empirical evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    I think this distinction is apropos and important: the world seems causal but hard determinism doesn't seem true (i.e. there seem to be no hidden variables). So, for example, "smoking causes lung cancer" is true. Nonetheless smoking doesn't always cause lung cancer; it isn't a "hard determinant". It clearly needn't be, though, in order for us to make meaningful and useful scientific and moral judgements about smoking.
    I take the point, but the explanation for why smoking doesn't always cause lung cancer isn't quantum indeterminism (the thing hidden variables were hypothesised to explain away). It's just because there are a variety of other natural factors at work which influence the ultimate outcome. It's probably more chaotic, or just complex, rather than indeterminant. Either way, probabilistic judgements about likely outcomes certainly have utility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    Anyway, that's a roundabout way to say I think the questions you asked are irresolvable because they're innately moralistic (that was probably your point, but I can't be sure).
    It was! Which seems to be an argument for apathy, although I didn't necessarily intend it as such. I think the problem is that equality is poorly/subjectively defined.

    I'm not sure how coherent any of this post is - I'm writing this in between bits of work (and eating lunch!) so I probably don't have time to do it justice. Additionally, this is not really my area of expertise, so much of this is simply "as it occurs" to me.
    Last edited by RandomTangent; 22-05-2013 at 03:42 PM.

  2. #322
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    I like what Vince over at Filmdrunk.com had to say about sexism regarding Alice Eve's performance in Star Trek.

    "The “issue” of Alice Eve’s gratuitous T & A in Star Trek is a complicated one for me, because on the one hand, I’d really like to see better developed female characters in movies (better developed characters in general, really), but on the other, I quite enjoy seeing Alice Eve in her panties. It’s also hard to draw a line between not “exploiting” while simultaneously wanting people to lighten up about skin in general and accept the fact that deep down we’re just dumb animals that are engineered to want to rub genitals with each other, and part of that process is naturally objectifying. Is it really so much more enlightened to want to screw someone because they like the same crap as you and dress cool than it is because they have a hot bod? I’m not totally convinced. We all objectify each other a thousand times a day, just try to be polite about it."

  3. #323
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    The fact that there's something rather than nothing is entirely arbitrary, isn't it? It follows that being itself is arbitrary, too, let alone being human or black or female or phenylketonuric. And that's before you consider all the "doing" phenomena of behaviors and social networks (which seem exactly as arbitrary, and which don't seem meaningfully separate from "being"). Again, I think recognizing this arbitrariness, this fundamental absurdity, can engender compassion.
    In that you have no control over how you're born, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    In any case, it's not as if there exist non-causal frameworks which do a better job of explaining culture than causal frameworks (I'm not aware of any, anyway). Consider any scenario in which we must explain "why she did it". How does positing souls or final causes or any other such Cartesian woo explain things better than physical observations? (e.g. she had parents of a-f characteristics, peers of g-p qualities, genetic configurations q-t, educational experiences u-z, etc)
    Sociology has a lot better time explaining cause and effect over distributed social networks than biology at this juncture, but even then it's a statistician's work, not so much an individual guideline.

    You say causality, I see determinism, and there-in may lay a disconnect in our discussion, but I still say searching for tenuous strings instead of testing stronger theories on the other end leads to bad results, and worse: Politically advantageous bad results.
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  4. #324
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    Sure, but I feel this has become to some extent a matter of semantics. Everything is "nature" and everything is "the environment," in general terms. The intent with the nature/nurture distinction is to attempt to separate what we would consider inherited traits and those which are a consequence of the external environment (or as is more likely the case, to what extent traits are influenced by each), not to remove ourselves from the environment or to consider the effects of genetics and "the world" as being completely unrelated. It isn't a dichotomy, I agree. The two are not completely deconvolved. It is just useful in some fields of study to distinguish between you having brown hair because your DNA codes for it, and you being short because you didn't get enough vitamin D when you were growing up.
    It's non-trivial semantics. People often treat e.g. ethnicity and gender as fixed quantities, with sometimes ugly results. I'm not saying people shouldn't identify as this or that ethnicity or that they shouldn't study DNA or nutrition. I'm saying: when moralizing, we should appreciate the fundamental absurdities of those ideas lest we take ourselves too seriously (i.e. dogma's dangerous).

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    What is meant by "no reason to believe minds can retroactively alter the physiology on which they ride"? If a person suffers damage to one part of the brain, its functions may be adopted elsewhere. Is there not a physical implication to this repurposing? We form new memories - surely there is a physiological explanation for this? Perhaps I'm taking you too literally here. Either way, are minds not shaped and altered by experience - is "will" not in flux, whether as a result of conscious control or not?
    With "retroactive" I was saying one cannot loop one's will back on itself to author a thought or feeling; we're witnessing our wills, not creating them. This seems as true in "feeling like I've made a choice" as it does in "feeling like my shoulder itches". Yes, wills are in constant flux in one direction: with the flow of time. Brain damaged Jambe != suddenly-acausal Jambe.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    I feel like I'm in the slightly difficult position here of arguing for the neutral rather than the opposite case. That is to say: I'm not arguing for the existence of such a thing as freedom of thought or behaviour. Rather, I'm arguing there is insufficient evidence to settle the question one way or the other. On that note, the experiment you describe above would seem to prove that there is an unconscious source for some spontaneous thoughts and ideas, rather than disprove the existence of such a thing as directed thought, or willful thought. I for one am certainly suffering under the impression that I can, to some extent, will what I think about. For example, after reading your post I went to make some lunch. Whilst cooking, I chose to mull over and consider its contents and to attempt to formulate some sort of coherent description of my own thoughts and ideas. There is a dialog in my head and my impression is that I'm "speaking" those words willfully.

    In other words, the extrapolation of the experiment to the general case ([from your post] "that is true of anything one can ever think or feel") is, in my opinion, not inevitable.

    It is also probably necessary to distinguish between choosing what to think about, and choosing/deciding what the contents of a thought will be. The latter seems to create a problem of infinite regression to me. If we define free will to be the ability to consciously decide not just what to think about, but also what precisely to think about it, then we cause it to be impossible by definition. Why do I say this? Because decision making requires criteria, and criteria, in this context, are thoughts and ideas themselves. In other words, you require a different conscious entity, with pre-existing thoughts and ideas, to decide upon the specific thoughts and ideas of the conscious entity in question.
    "Choosing the contents of a thought" produces the same infinite regression as "choosing what to think about".

    It seems you're using "directed thought" and "willful thought" as a stand-in for "acausal thought"; if not, what else do you mean? In those cases, what's "willing" and what's "directing"?

    There is an unconscious source for all thoughts and sensations, not merely the spontaneous ones. The words you're reading right now are an unconscious source of your consciousness (hey, how's it going in your mind?). When you're utterly absorbed in a movie, its visual and aural content dominate and almost entirely constitute your consciousness. When you're just thinking in a dark and quiet space, it becomes obvious that your running inner monologue itself wells up from unconscious biology even, and especially, your "choices" (unless you want to posit acausality of the will). If the source of your consciousness is entirely made up of unconscious phenomena, whence freedom? There is none!

    Nobody can argue neutrally about will; we cannot separate consciousnesses from bodies to study them neutrally. We can study how stimuli affect consciousness; for example, we can predictively recreate (with eerie accuracy) a human's visual perception by mathematically correlating video exposure with fMRI data. We're doing all sorts of neat stuff like that and we're getting more and more accurate, but we can't cut a consciousness out of a person to dissect and study and "know" it like we could a kidney.

    The basic problem with "free will" is that there is no formulation of "free" which does not imply acausal phenomena. Thus I reject "free" altogether. Even my most spontaneous thoughts and behaviors and choices are merely inexplicable; inexplicable != acausal and inexplicable != free. Wills might be acausal or free, sure, but there's no good reason for me to believe that; acausal explanations of wills and behaviors don't jibe with the arrow of time and they gain me absolutely nothing morally or scientifically.

    I experience "speaking" words in my head, too, but I have no evidence that I'm causing or "forcing" that experience; I'm just having it. Try this thought experiment: tell yourself to do something in the next few seconds, then do it. "I will say 'fnord' ten seconds from now," or whatever. Notice that whatever you come up with was not "caused" by your mind. You might have an explanation for whatever you did, and it might be correct. For instance, you might say, "Well, I told myself to stretch my leg in 12 seconds, and I did that because I was reading about stretching the other day." You can search for causal explanations for any thought. The thing to notice is: why did you choose to do what you did as opposed to anything else you might have chosen to do at that point? What "decided" that you'd do that and not, say, twiddle your thumbs? It was not your consciousness; the notion simply welled up from the same deep source as all your other thoughts.

    afaict, concrete person-bound irreducible "choices" are illusions brought on by the combination of being bound to time and being limited in our causal understandings of the current state of the universe. The social systems we're trying to figure out (like the weather) seem too complicated to grok in their entirety (and given the butterfly effect, it may be fundamentally impossible). However, despite that, we are temporal and subjective and we thus need closure for certain events in our lives. Therefore, for pragmatic purposes we pretend certain categorizations have super-duper extra-special "causal buck-type" finality (even though they clearly do not). For instance: "Jambe killed a person. Jambe is a murderer. Jambe did a bad thing and society would benefit if Jambe was punished." (I've never killed a person; just an example)

    Law and order isn't dumb, childish semantics! Punishment may indeed have a deterrent and/or reformative effect. However, I think institutionalized punishment is dangerous, and I think viewing Jambe as having been merely or discretely or irreducibly a murderer (as opposed to a murderer and other things) is uncompassionate. I think attuning oneself to the causal nature of existence is necessarily to attune oneself to suffering and to extenuating circumstances. We can pervert any notion into a justification of evil, of course; causality isn't immune from that! But I still think it's generally good in ethical situations to err on the side of broad views more than on the side of narrow, quantized views. I guess in that sense I'm a filthy socialist.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    I think I was taking, for the purposes of the discussion, a much less "free" definition of free will when I talked about the conflation of ego and free will in my original post. In other words: is it possible for a mind to be probabilistic (if not deterministic) but at the same time be possessed of an awareness of self? And that's how I'd describe ego, in this context, simply as an awareness of one's own existence. I find that a difficult phenomenon to explain. Would I be right in thinking that your view is that there is really no such thing?
    Minds seem probabilistic to me, yes, and we seem to have awareness of self, but how does freedom factor into that? It doesn't, afaict, so fuck it, I say! It seems we're just witnessing stuff, and we're assigning praise and blame to ourselves and others because we always need to "move on" to the next thing despite not having finished the puzzle of the last thing. Praise and blame are, in that sense, stopgap coping mechanisms necessitated by lack of omniscience. We don't need to pretend we're unmoved movers to have laws and loves and egos.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    I would be free to an extent. Isn't this just a semantic point again? Is "free" absolute unconstrained freedom? Or is it some sort of freedom of choice?

    I think a lot of the nature/nurture talk is people trying to reconcile the impression that they're a free mind shackled by some sort of natural predisposition. From your point of view (correct me if I'm wrong) a human being IS a natural process, and so the distinction between so-called freedom of thought and genetic predisposition is irrelevant - whatever our beliefs about the way our minds work, thinking/acting is simply a natural process within a natural world, and it has a natural explanation and origin.

    I'd be really interested to hear your views on fate, actually. Do you believe in it? If so, what form of it do you believe in? And in what way does it not necessarily lead to fatalism? Belief is perhaps an inadequate word here; it implies choice. I suspect you view belief in similar terms to myself - it's a compulsion born of current understanding rather than a decision.
    It's not "just" semantic! Yes, humans seem to be natural, causal processes as far as I know; I have no better way to conceive of them.

    wrt fate & fatalism: things appear causal, but we cannot say we are "doomed" to perfectly-fixed future events because there are so many chaotic systems at play. Also, our conscious minds aren't the "final deciders" or "irreducible causes" of any our thoughts or actions. So: we are bound by probabilistic causality but we cannot know everything it entails. We can make highly-accurate predictions but they can never be perfect. Fate is, in this context, a perfect, unknowable ideal: the complete account of particle positions from the singularity to now.

    Fatalism, then, is realizing that we're fated and becoming a mopey pubescent child about it. Eventually we move past fatalism rather like we move past puberty; we accept the growth of our pubes and our new hormones and feelings and we just keep being. I do, anyway. I don't want to rocket myself to the moon and live the rest of my life apart from society because "what's the point, man?" I'd do so to have new and interesting experiences, to make the future better for the next generation, and so on. The universe is pointless; I'm a pretty stereotypical nihilist wrt ultimate truth. But we never fixate on ultimate truth for long; we keep moving, and in so doing we temporarily ignore the fact that we're inventing all our truths as we go.

    I'm idle with some cool Tennessee Honey so I'll dive into this a little more. (I've whittled this into a rhetorical question and some anecdotes; apologies for the lot of it)

    Rhetoric: consider feeling compelled to blame the most heinous criminal or praise the most magnanimous benefactor. Couldn't we always gain some insight if we stepped away from that localizing blame/praise mode to take the causal view? Could we not want to rehabilitate the criminal and critique the benefactor? To consider the parties involved not as ultimate causes or "final choosers" but as incredibly complex systems? To ponder that they are great admixtures of biology, emotion, circumstance, memory, and so on? And to realize that they weren't even aware of most of those things, and thus couldn't have even felt like they "chose" them?

    There's always more to a story, thus I think it's good to consider the causal view. I don't always do it; I'm a troublesome and judgemental bag of dicks sometimes. I don't expect us to always consider causality, I just expect us to try, especially when the stakes are high. I'd say taking the causal view is an ethical prerogative, and if we're going to peddle such prerogatives, it must be the first. Aphoristically: "I think therefore I am; I'm a complex system within systems".

    I'm not saying there need be no consequences or punishments! I'm saying: let's take our animalistic desire for vengeance and retribution and blame and shackle it up, and let's put it in the corner of our minds and societies. Let's unleash that part of us in the most measured and critical ways. Let's make our laws and judgements as compassionate as practicable, our social norms as inclusive as possible, our wars as short and bloodless as we can, etc.

    Detached anecdote about pride: I was asked by people I respected a bunch to pick a maquette's color scheme from swatches. I picked, and after the thing was painted they said I made the best choice. I felt like hot shit for a bit! Now, looking back on that event, how do I conceive of it? Was it that Jambizzle McBigstuff Happeningpants, Captain of Color and Sharp Eye of the West, was the root, final, and ultimate cause or "owner" of that choice?

    No. It's not worth my time or effort to suss out the causal basis for my having picked the color and I don't believe I was the ultimate "chooser" there. If I believed that, I would be puffing up my chest for no good reason. I picked a color and I felt like I chose, but I wasn't the irreducible progenitor of the choice. I was the nexus of the choice, but not its creator. I was not free, I was just me. In that contextual framework, pride was silly. I can think about any decision in that way, and I can judge them as having been good, bad, silly, profound, etc, and I can use those judgements to train myself to behave differently in the future.

    Personal and super-subjective anecdote about my worldview: I'm depressive. I often want my inner monologue to stop for a while so I can stop worrying, fussing, learning, making a fool of myself, etc. Even the most beautiful things in my life loves, friends, family, the joy of art and landscape, etc are often so potent and overwhelming that I want to escape them. But I never really could; I'd even wake up worrying rather frequently.

    Then a secular acquaintance of mine introduced me to meditative mindfulness (Lard be praised, I found Cheesus!). I bounced off it innumerable times but eventually the frequency with which thoughts and sensations emerged began to decrease and the periods of nothingness in between began to grow to appreciable length. Thus I've found (intermittent) peace. During thoughtlessness I feel no love or hate, no joy or suffering, and really, no worrying or calmness just nothing, which I've come to equate with peace. I've also had a few weird experiences when meditating but that's totally beside my point here... Being able to reliably retreat to thoughtlessness has been transformational for me so I try to apply the experience to the wider ethical framework by which I live day-to-day (hence my association of absurdity and self-annihilation with compassion).

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    I wasn't offering it as a defence, I was asking for a definition. I was arguing for some extrinsic way to establish free will; what would constitute evidence of free will at work? Different decisions given the same circumstances? Intrinsic thought experiments are interesting, but to establish anything scientifically, we would need empirical evidence.
    I do not think "free will" is falsifiable. I can't come up with a testable definition of a will that is meaningfully free, because I cannot come up with a testable definition of will itself. I cannot pull a will out of something to look at, study, and define it, let alone tell if it is "free" of other things.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    I take the point, but the explanation for why smoking doesn't always cause lung cancer isn't quantum indeterminism (the thing hidden variables were hypothesised to explain away). It's just because there are a variety of other natural factors at work which influence the ultimate outcome. It's probably more chaotic, or just complex, rather than indeterminant. Either way, probabilistic judgements about likely outcomes certainly have utility.
    Oh, yes, probabilistic judgements have much utility! I'd say virtually all judgements we can make about human behavior are inherently probabilistic because human behavior seems such a complex and sensitive phenomenon. With lung cancer I was just poking at common tropes. It's fashionable to appeal to quantum indeterminacy as the mechanism via which "spooky freedom" arises in human wills. "Choices are something in your brain being quantum funny" and suchlike. I often want to reply to those claims with "your mother is quantum funny" but I generally don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomTangent View Post
    It was! Which seems to be an argument for apathy, although I didn't necessarily intend it as such. I think the problem is that equality is poorly/subjectively defined.

    I'm not sure how coherent any of this post is - I'm writing this in between bits of work (and eating lunch!) so I probably don't have time to do it justice. Additionally, this is not really my area of expertise, so much of this is simply "as it occurs" to me.
    Oh god, don't worry about coherence; you speak well, and cogently (as do Nalano and most others on this forum, thankfully). I'm no expert in this stuff.

    I agree about poor definitions and would take that further; the problem seems to be that nothing about nature is perfectly equal. If everything reduces back to the singularity, which itself was one thing, then ultimately, everything is 1. Not 2, or 3, or 7,118,651,667 (as of that very second), but 1. Somehow, though, our 1 our universe seems to have become more than 1 (in multiple senses), and it just kept growing.

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    Network Hub Jambe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Sociology has a lot better time explaining cause and effect over distributed social networks than biology at this juncture, but even then it's a statistician's work, not so much an individual guideline.
    Quite right, and sociology is more abstract than biology... but it's no less causal. Sociologists don't pop out of the universe to work then pop back in to tell us about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    You say causality, I see determinism, and there-in may lay a disconnect in our discussion, but I still say searching for tenuous strings instead of testing stronger theories on the other end leads to bad results, and worse: Politically advantageous bad results.
    Causality is: events have causes. Determinism is: we can know all causes, we should despair and commit suicide because choices seem illusory, some sentient entity crafted causality just for us, etc. I think causality is basic honest observation, and determinism is causality + self-aggrandizing woo tacked on to bulwark the self against it.

    You're right that there's lots of pseudoscience and woo peddled vis-a-vis social sciences, but that's inevitable with any science (plus, as you said, there may well be paradigm shifts which drastically change what and how we think about behavior). You're also right that such endeavors – even if they are earnest and conservative and not especially woo – are often bastardized and co-opted by populist wretches and other such schemers. However, again, that's inevitable; we are as creative in sourcing apathy and evil as in sourcing proactive concern and good. My desire to highlight causality is a call to concern, a call to notice and appreciate change and difference instead of categorically rejecting them or being reactively scared of them.

    I think you latched onto something I said unnecessarily; probably that we're discretely reducible to biological factors or something. I don't actually believe that, though (and I don't think I said it, but I may've in haste). We're clearly not so neatly reducible; we're also shaped by abiological systems (for instance, the water cycle, plate tectonics, solar flares, etc). I think what I may've pointed out is that it doesn't make sense to think of social systems as abiological in origin, because without biology there'd be no sociality. Of course, if we assume abiogenesis wasn't acausal magical woo, then biology is ultimately abiological in origin and reduces backward from there to star and planet formation and thence to the singularity, so by that same logic I could say "it doesn't make sense to think of biology as biological". I think these absurdities are delightful and worth pointing out.

    I would add that conceiving of humans "from the other end" – as distinct quanta – actually seems to be the source of dangerous political machination and bigotry. Here's a common racist trope: "they're just white, and we're just black; we're like oil and water!" Well, fine, if various ethnicities are "just" water and oil, then they'll never be miscible, so we'd better reinstitute anti-miscegenation laws! Eh. Where do xenophobia and exclusivity and bigotry come from? Do they come from thinking too much about how we've all emerged from the same singularity or how we're all made up of the same particles or how we're all interwoven in the tapestry of causality? Maybe, in some cases; as I said, we're creative fuckers! But not usually, I don't think. Groupthink phenomena seem to emerge from the other side of the spectrum – from the quantizing, labeling, defining part of perception.

    In reality, humans aren't "just" water and oil. Nobody is "just" black or "just" a woman or "just" a female, and if we think in those terms so much that we actually begin believing they're perfectly discrete, we've bullshitted our way into a philosophical and ethical prison. It's definitely not meaningless to say "I'm black" or "I'm a woman", but those notions are not absolute; they are not irreducibly-finite. And they needn't be irreducibly finite for us to predict them or move towards better understandings of them! Systematic models, for instance, become better because they account for more complexity, not because they account for less, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    I think you latched onto something I said unnecessarily; probably that we're discretely reducible to biological factors or something. I don't actually believe that, though (and I don't think I said it, but I may've in haste).
    Oh good, I was beginning to believe I was going crazy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    I would add that conceiving of humans "from the other end" – as distinct quanta – actually seems to be the source of dangerous political machination and bigotry. Here's a common racist trope: "they're just white, and we're just black; we're like oil and water!" Well, fine, if various ethnicities are "just" water and oil, then they'll never be miscible, so we'd better reinstitute anti-miscegenation laws! Eh. Where do xenophobia and exclusivity and bigotry come from? Do they come from thinking too much about how we've all emerged from the same singularity or how we're all made up of the same particles or how we're all interwoven in the tapestry of causality? Maybe, in some cases; as I said, we're creative fuckers! But not usually, I don't think. Groupthink phenomena seem to emerge from the other side of the spectrum – from the quantizing, labeling, defining part of perception.

    In reality, humans aren't "just" water and oil. Nobody is "just" black or "just" a woman or "just" a female, and if we think in those terms so much that we actually begin believing they're perfectly discrete, we've bullshitted our way into a philosophical and ethical prison. It's definitely not meaningless to say "I'm black" or "I'm a woman", but those notions are not absolute; they are not irreducibly-finite. And they needn't be irreducibly finite for us to predict them or move towards better understandings of them! Systematic models, for instance, become better because they account for more complexity, not because they account for less, right?
    From the other end, I mean, as sociological phenomena and working from there, which is effectively looking at the system abiologically: Applying experimental principle without assuming that the cause is biological. The question, "Why does Group X to Y to Group Z" is malleable based on the definition (self- and otherwise) of Group X and how that inevitably evolves, what Group X stands to gain by action Y, and how Group Z is defined, and can be framed in a way as to accept, as you say, all parameters. Sure, if the solution hints at a biological answer we can go from there - such as the correlation between maximum size of egalitarian cohorts and the Dunbar number* - but such should not be assumed and should always be tested.

    And here lies the issue: It's not in the act of quantifying or labeling, it's the quality of quantifying and labeling. Shit parameters + proper methodology = Shit results. We're asking the wrong questions and going from there. The right studies basically ask "why aren't women participating in STEM concurrent to their portion of the population?" Others, however, seem to be asking "what is it of women that causes this lack of participation in STEM?" where the latter clearly assumes a certain causality, resulting in distorted "women aren't naturally competitive" results. It's when I see ostensibly neutral scientists asking the wrong questions that riles me, and I see that most in certain fields.

    *The number is an interesting and testable theory, though the neuropsychology is at best a work in progress, but even if true is a limiting factor human societies have circumvented for a very long time - either through trade and trade representatives, arranged inter-marriage and arranged distributed social connections, extensions on the definition of family and overlapping cohorts, and hierarchical forms of various effectiveness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    We're asking the wrong questions and going from there. The right studies basically ask "why aren't women participating in STEM concurrent to their portion of the population?" Others, however, seem to be asking "what is it of women that causes this lack of participation in STEM?" where the latter clearly assumes a certain causality, resulting in distorted "women aren't naturally competitive" results. It's when I see ostensibly neutral scientists asking the wrong questions that riles me, and I see that most in certain fields.
    I don't think it's an either/or situation. The former is worth asking, and the latter would be more worth asking if reworded like: "does anything of femaleness contribute to societal disadvantages for females?" (because the notion of gender muddles things). We should ask whether anything of maleness contributes to females' societal disadvantages, too, though. And there may actually be worthwhile things to learn about males' disadvantages, but they're clearly the dominant sex in our culture so I think "fuck the MRAs" is generally a safe thing to say.

    This is more about moralizing than science. I believe peculiarities of sex elicit behavioral tendencies and that those tendencies produce positive and/or negative results when abstractly scaled up into cultural norms. However, such explanations are inchoate, and in any case they're beside the point, it being: we shouldn't blame people for their sex or gender! We can rightly blame them for how they conceive of sex and gender, though; iow, the more abstract a characteristic the more one can be justly blamed/shamed for it. So a person's body and guardians aren't aren't proper things to blame them for, but their attitudes, worldview, and prejudices may be (depending on the situation and desired result).

    We can find and make judgements about correlations between physiology and behavior without dogmatically treating either as irreducible, absolutely-fixed and/or universally-blameworthy phenomena. If scientists suss out more granular correlations between e.g. testosterone and aggressiveness, we can develop more specific iterations of fluffy truisms like: "there are aspects of our biological nature which we should behaviorally counteract for society's benefit".

    That's yet more self-annihilation: fighting against things that are natural parts of individuals such that groups thereof get along better. Again, I'm clearly a pinko devil, rhetorically subsuming the glorious maverick tendency of the ego into the samey Borg-like trundling mass of the crowd. I am to be hated. Rand be praised, etc.

  8. #328
    Jambe:

    Thanks for the detailed response! I have every intention of responding, I'm just a bit busy this week. I'll probably get around to it on Sunday when I have the necessary free time to do the topic/your post justice. 'Til then, peace out! :)

  9. #329
    Why are there people out there who feel it is their personal crusade to make me feel guilty for enjoying fantasy women in my fantasy entertainment?
    I think they don't have anything to do that is why they will talk about you or make you guilty on what you are doing. The bottom line is they are jealous with you.

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    Network Hub Jambe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gleedaniel13 View Post
    I think they don't have anything to do that is why they will talk about you or make you guilty on what you are doing. The bottom line is they are jealous with you.
    We're jealous of people who like fantasy women? lol!

    "Aw shit, look at that alpha up there ogling the Red Sonja cosplayer. He's ogling her so hard! They'll probably fuck tonight. God damn. My manhood has shriveled up."

    :|

    ---

    I like fantasy women and men, and I like sex and sensuality and bawdy flirtatious nonsense and outright smut in all forms of media. I just want said stuff to be more diverse. I like Vallejo and Bell's stock in trade, for example, but I'd also like more interesting and provocative fare to coexist with en pointe she-warriors, stiletto hobbling boobplate priestesses and Conan clones.

    I don't know why one would think a desire for broader and more varied characters and stories would be about jealousy of all things. I might suggest investigating the false-consensus effect.

  11. #331
    Jambe,

    I don't know why one would think a desire for broader and more varied characters and stories would be about jealousy of all things. I might suggest investigating the false-consensus effect.
    I really think you were jealous since you are over reacting there. That was a sign of defense mechanism but the true story is that you were really jealous man. Then try to look more for fantasy women. It is all up to you so don't get jealous. LOL

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    Network Hub Jambe's Avatar
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    Oh no, I'm being psychoanalyzed! I need an adult, I NEED AN ADULT!

    ... but do go on, you steaming bag of sexy. Tell me, what else lurks in my psyche?

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jambe View Post
    Oh no, I'm being psychoanalyzed! I need an adult, I NEED AN ADULT!

    ... but do go on, you steaming bag of sexy. Tell me, what else lurks in my psyche?
    I think he wants you.

    I think he wants you ​bad.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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    Quote Originally Posted by vagabond View Post
    That was an odd non sequiter. Charming nonetheless...

    Found this while I was surfing about before:
    http://metagearsolid.org/2013/04/evi...lante-justice/

    It's the only blog post response to John that I've come across other than the one that accused him of being a "nature denier"
    My god, thats hilarious.

  15. #335
    Nalano,

    I think he wants you.

    I think he wants you ​bad.
    Maybe you are the one that wants me..LOL..

    Anyways, the bottom line is we need to behave sometime.

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    Very few men ever get introduced to interesting female personalities so the only two respectable offerings the game world has provided us so far are GLaDOS and Princess Zelda.

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    I'd like to say this hammering on about feminism as a humanist has made me disgusted with RPS as a whole for its complete lack of any responsibility towards the issue while also flying a flag of triumph. Bitching on the internet solves absolutely nothing. These diatribes are not cathartic, nor are they productive. Preaching to the choir would be putting it lightly. In fact, it's downright fetishistic, much like the 24 hour coverage of current disasters and tragedies like the school shooting several months ago. It's rather telling that despite spending hours of research into this, I still can't find what the current "feminist" stated goals are. There doesn't actually seem to be any other than whining about complaining about perceived (real or not) injustices with no effort made to rectify them other than to tell others to fix them.

    This is not the website I came to enjoy and rely on for game news for a span of several years. I am not going to defend obvious inequality, I said I'm a humanist. But I find it downright intolerable that anyone would find any of the discussion around this acceptable when it's nothing more than high school realpolitik with no actual effort to fix the problems. This will probably be my last post on the matter, or at all, here. All effort to have a real dialogue on the subject is wasted on the echo chamber that RPS has become.

    But by all means, bury this under more praise of Anita Sarkeesian for her "courage" and complete lack of ability to string together a coherent argument or use editing beyond a high school level. I think it's rather telling that her videos are considered to be the best that a woman can put out by you people. And you people disgust me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantoon View Post
    Really dull whine
    you're a boring troll, and if you can't figure out what the stated goals of feminism are, a pretty lousy humanist to boot.

    'equality'.

    But it's pretty typical, because the loudest whiners about feminism on the internet are those wah wah wahing about how it's ruining everything and how complaining on the internet solves nothing. There's a phrase about pots and kettles and so on but as a humanist that can't figure out what feminism stands for I don't think there's much chance your braincells would bang together regularly enough to figure it out.

  19. #339
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantoon View Post
    I'd like to say this hammering on about feminism as a humanist has made me disgusted with RPS
    Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out
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  20. #340
    Network Hub Jambe's Avatar
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    Well, I read Phantoon's post. I'll be right back; gonna get some whiskey.

    ... needed that. Welp, that's about all I have to say about Phantoon's post.

    Gleedaniel13's latest contribution is more curious to me. Nalano, what do you make of it? Are we to suppose that Gleedaniel13 feels you are jealous of his impressive nether-region, or of his (presumed) capacity to simultaneously like "big ol' titties" and yet not conceive of women merely as same?

    You're pathetic, Nalano. When you chat with women all you hear is, "blah blah blah blah nipples on adipose tissue blah blah blah" and you make amends for this by hurfing all manner of blurf about equality and generosity and such. Pa-thet-ic.

    I'm offended. I know in my heart that you're super-jelly of me. Because me, me me me, me. Me.
    Is not a leg.
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