Does non-belief in free will makes you a better person ?
#1
Its been quite sometime (maybe 3 years) since I stopped believing in such a thing. One direct inference I made was that since there is no free will, there is no point in blaming someone or taking pride in ones own achievement. These both things hugely decreased the feelings of jealousy, ego and hatred.
This obviously does not mean that I dont correct anyone if they do something stupid or illogical. Since I am their environment, whatever input their brain will take from my actions, there is always a chance that some brain circuits might change(This is how one can be reasoned out of belief in God).
Sam Harris recently articulated those implications brilliantly in his Caltech talk on free will.(Its so much fun when someone you admire, comes to same conclusions as your brain did ! )

Has anyone else experienced freedom(maybe even a little) from these negative emotions since they realized about this fact ?
Reply
#2
(02-Apr-2012, 12:29 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: ....Its so much fun when someone you admire, comes to same conclusions as your brain did ! )

Has anyone else experienced freedom(maybe even a little) from these negative emotions since they realized about this fact ?

Here are some some excerpts from some other prominent thinkers which seem to share this conclusion.

Prof. Jerry Coyne here reiterates how a rejection of free will facilitates empathy.

Quote:There's not much downside to abandoning the notion of free will. It's impossible, anyway, to act as though we don't have it: you'll pretend to choose your New Year's resolutions, and the laws of physics will determine whether you keep them. And there are two upsides. The first is realizing the great wonder and mystery of our evolved brains, and contemplating the notion that things like consciousness, free choice, and even the idea of "me" are but convincing illusions fashioned by natural selection. Further, by losing free will we gain empathy, for we realize that in the end all of us, whether Bernie Madoffs or Nelson Mandelas, are victims of circumstance — of the genes we're bequeathed and the environments we encounter. With that under our belts, we can go about building a kinder world.

Aside: Prof. Jerry Coyne posted this on his blog on April 1 2012.

Tom Clark here explains how a rejection of free will has led to him 'cutting conservatives some slack' and how it can have a policy implications in areas like criminal justice. The talk, incidentally, quotes from the Moral Landscape here.



Reply
#3
(02-Apr-2012, 12:29 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: One direct inference I made was that since there is no free will, there is no point in blaming someone or taking pride in ones own achievement.

It does really help to reduce resentment against wrongdoers. But I want to caution that one should not stop taking pride in ones own achievement. The reason is as simple as what you have already quoted, you are a part of an environment and hence you affect yourself as well. Also absence of free will might reduce your "total" take in your achievements, it doesn't nullify it. You are still a causal agent.
Reply
#4
(02-Apr-2012, 12:29 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: Has anyone else experienced freedom(maybe even a little) from these negative emotions since they realized about this fact ?

Yes, certainly! At the risk of sounding spiritual, I must admit that I can very easily handle the 'negativity' of emotions and actions now that I am a freethinker and a non-believer. It has helped liberate me from those niggling concerns one has when one cares too much about being a self-righteous, holier-than-thou religious nut-case. I no longer experience an upsurge of savage hatred when I see conventions being flouted. In its stead, I find a sufficiently reasonable voice demanding a circumspect analysis of the situation. As a result, I feel pretty calm and composed even without wrapping my person in yards of drapery and affecting a monastic demeanor.
I think religion annexes its own layer of unpleasant attributes to the existing, complex framework of anxieties and banalities that attend the human condition. This layer usually makes things worse and must be dispensed with.
نوشیروان
[+] 1 user Likes Naushirvan's post
Reply
#5
"The reason is as simple as what you have already quoted, you are a part of an environment and hence you affect yourself as well."
Affect myself how ? I ended up reducing my ego, which is a useless emotion anyways now. I enjoy doing fun stuff, coming up with new ideas, without thinking "I came up with an idea !" with an emphasis on "I".

"Also absence of free will might reduce your "total" take in your achievements, it doesn't nullify it. You are still a causal agent."
How is it not nullifying it ? Thats the whole point, isnt it ?
Reply
#6
(02-Apr-2012, 08:51 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: "The reason is as simple as what you have already quoted, you are a part of an environment and hence you affect yourself as well."
Affect myself how ? I ended up reducing my ego, which is a useless emotion anyways now. I enjoy doing fun stuff, coming up with new ideas, without thinking "I came up with an idea !" with an emphasis on "I".

Good that it helps you to reduce your egoism. But it shouldn't be complete reduction. Ego can help you feel good and motivated. Nothing wrong about that. And here is the catch, you DID come up with the idea. If you define yourself as your brain+body, then it is indeed you who did come up with that idea. Ofcourse the point is that there was no other option. But still that doesn't change the fact that you did do it.

(02-Apr-2012, 08:51 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: "Also absence of free will might reduce your "total" take in your achievements, it doesn't nullify it. You are still a causal agent."
How is it not nullifying it ? Thats the whole point, isnt it ?

Nope. Its not nullifying it. You are the causal agent and hence you are the cause. Although your cause can be further reduced to other causes but you are still there. Think about it like this, if a machine, e.g. computer, calculated some output. Its the computer which is doing the calculations, although the program etc might be coming from somewhere else.
Reply
#7
(02-Apr-2012, 09:52 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote:
(02-Apr-2012, 08:51 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: "The reason is as simple as what you have already quoted, you are a part of an environment and hence you affect yourself as well."
Affect myself how ? I ended up reducing my ego, which is a useless emotion anyways now. I enjoy doing fun stuff, coming up with new ideas, without thinking "I came up with an idea !" with an emphasis on "I".

Good that it helps you to reduce your egoism. But it shouldn't be complete reduction. Ego can help you feel good and motivated. Nothing wrong about that. And here is the catch, you DID come up with the idea. If you define yourself as your brain+body, then it is indeed you who did come up with that idea. Ofcourse the point is that there was no other option. But still that doesn't change the fact that you did do it.

(02-Apr-2012, 08:51 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: "Also absence of free will might reduce your "total" take in your achievements, it doesn't nullify it. You are still a causal agent."
How is it not nullifying it ? Thats the whole point, isnt it ?

Nope. Its not nullifying it. You are the causal agent and hence you are the cause. Although your cause can be further reduced to other causes but you are still there. Think about it like this, if a machine, e.g. computer, calculated some output. Its the computer which is doing the calculations, although the program etc might be coming from somewhere else.

Ok, lets consider the case of Newton. His brain came up with laws of motion. Imagine we can somehow upload his infant brain on a PC. If we give it the same conditioning that it got inside newton's body(environmental factors from newton's actual history in the form of inputs), it wont be surprising if that computer in future comes up with newton's laws as outputs. The outputs in this case are basically all the ideas that brain is producing. So basically, we wont need newton's body, his face
or any of his physical feature in order to come up with newton's laws from scratch.
Actually if we know his DNA, we can come up with same exact infant in-vitro without needing any parents. So you see his whole identity extinguishes and what remains is some neural circuitry which comes out with same achievements as he did. In the light of this fact how am I supposed to take pride in my "achievements" if I am just like an audience seeing the process of achievement happening. You can say that Newton was very lucky that he got free ticket to watch this awesome show consisting of deep mathematics and physics.

Assumption in above example : His brain will be provided with some extra tools from PC's hardware because their is no body.
Reply
#8
(03-Apr-2012, 01:40 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote:
(02-Apr-2012, 09:52 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote:
(02-Apr-2012, 08:51 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: "The reason is as simple as what you have already quoted, you are a part of an environment and hence you affect yourself as well."
Affect myself how ? I ended up reducing my ego, which is a useless emotion anyways now. I enjoy doing fun stuff, coming up with new ideas, without thinking "I came up with an idea !" with an emphasis on "I".

Good that it helps you to reduce your egoism. But it shouldn't be complete reduction. Ego can help you feel good and motivated. Nothing wrong about that. And here is the catch, you DID come up with the idea. If you define yourself as your brain+body, then it is indeed you who did come up with that idea. Ofcourse the point is that there was no other option. But still that doesn't change the fact that you did do it.

(02-Apr-2012, 08:51 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: "Also absence of free will might reduce your "total" take in your achievements, it doesn't nullify it. You are still a causal agent."
How is it not nullifying it ? Thats the whole point, isnt it ?

Nope. Its not nullifying it. You are the causal agent and hence you are the cause. Although your cause can be further reduced to other causes but you are still there. Think about it like this, if a machine, e.g. computer, calculated some output. Its the computer which is doing the calculations, although the program etc might be coming from somewhere else.

Ok, lets consider the case of Newton. His brain came up with laws of motion. Imagine we can somehow upload his infant brain on a PC. If we give it the same conditioning that it got inside newton's body(environmental factors from newton's actual history in the form of inputs), it wont be surprising if that computer in future comes up with newton's laws as outputs. The outputs in this case are basically all the ideas that brain is producing. So basically, we wont need newton's body, his face
or any of his physical feature in order to come up with newton's laws from scratch.
Actually if we know his DNA, we can come up with same exact infant in-vitro without needing any parents. So you see his whole identity extinguishes and what remains is some neural circuitry which comes out with same achievements as he did. In the light of this fact how am I supposed to take pride in my "achievements" if I am just like an audience seeing the process of achievement happening. You can say that Newton was very lucky that he got free ticket to watch this awesome show consisting of deep mathematics and physics.

Assumption in above example : His brain will be provided with some extra tools from PC's hardware because their is no body.

My friend I think just gave maybe a better analogy than "free-ticket" one. Its like newton is playing a video game and he is watching the events in that game as a 3rd person but is made to feel that he is actually playing some role in the happening of those events. This sounds better because "free-ticket" one excludes body movements by the player.
Reply
#9
(03-Apr-2012, 01:58 PM)rdbcasillas Wrote: My friend I think just gave maybe a better analogy than "free-ticket" one. Its like newton is playing a video game and he is watching the events in that game as a 3rd person but is made to feel that he is actually playing some role in the happening of those events. This sounds better because "free-ticket" one excludes body movements by the player.

Let me explain myself again in Newton's context.
Newton is NOT a passive observer in this scheme. He is the causal agent. You have to get that.
I agree that it couldn't have been any other way. Newton "not coming up with the idea of gravity" is not a possibility in context of contra-causal free-will. But his actions aren't nullified by this fact. He still was the agent who came up with the idea of gravity.

I will repeat the computer example. The computer does the calculation. It does it only when I give it a command. But still it is the computer that does the calculation right? The computer can be easily replaced by another machine that can handle the input I am providing and that can emulate computer's actions. The computer also can't do it otherwise. Once I have given the command, it HAS TO CALCULATE. But still that doesn't remove it from the causal chain. It is the one that is doing the calculation.

You need to realize that you are not a passive observer of events unfolding, but active causal agent.
Reply
#10
maybe our definitions of "You" are different. You are seeing "you" as the total package including all body organs and consciousness. I am seeing it as just the consciousness.
Sounds like how compatibilism and incompatibilism differ.
Reply
#11
(04-Apr-2012, 10:08 AM)rdbcasillas Wrote: maybe our definitions of "You" are different. You are seeing "you" as the total package including all body organs and consciousness. I am seeing it as just the consciousness.
Sounds like how compatibilism and incompatibilism differ.

Not really. Even if you just put consciousness as "you", equate it with the computer in the computer example. The computer program is written by "genes and environment" in our case. The enter button are "trigger events coming from environment and inside your brain". Thus you are not "really in control" of your actions in the contra-causal free will sense, but you are still the one doing the actions (just like the computer is still the thing that does the calculation).

May be we disagree on the "DID" part smile
Reply
#12
Non-belief in free will has a myriad consequences. One is acknowledging that one couldn't help but behave the way they have. The emphasis then is on working towards changing the behaviour and not simple ridiculing them. As a result I had to seriously reconsider my position on ridicule (For the record, I've failed at it more often than I would have liked to).
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Dan Dennett reviews Sam Harris' book Free Will Lije 3 7,598 01-Mar-2014, 10:03 PM
Last Post: Kanad Kanhere
  Free will vs Choice mohankarthik 33 24,960 18-Sep-2013, 08:43 PM
Last Post: sadbarrett
  Free Will a joke objectivecdeveloper 0 3,257 14-Apr-2012, 10:32 AM
Last Post: objectivecdeveloper



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)