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Aaron
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PostSubject: Meaning and purpose   Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:21 pm

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Just as much as the spiritual dimension creates meaning in the physical, the physical gives purpose to the spiritual.

Any thoughts on this?

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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:43 am

I disagree with that. I don't see how the physical can give purpose to anything. If the materialistic atheistic believe system is correct and all that exists is the material world then there is no meaning or purpose. We are either an accident or we are on purpose. Only one gives purpose and meaning to life.

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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:47 am

Greetings schiz. I am a Deist but I don't believe there is any purpose to the world except that which we create for ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:15 am

stretmediq wrote:
Greetings schiz. I am a Deist but I don't believe there is any purpose to the world except that which we create for ourselves.

I think that's an example of how the physical can give purpose to the spiritual.

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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:34 am

Aaron wrote:
stretmediq wrote:
Greetings schiz. I am a Deist but I don't believe there is any purpose to the world except that which we create for ourselves.

I think that's an example of how the physical can give purpose to the spiritual.

Well they say great minds think alike! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:06 pm

It just seems to me that if the Big Bang was an accident then all the causes and effects after it would be accidents. So, even if I gave myself purpose that purpose would really be an accident.

I believe that in a universe that was created with purpose all things happen for a reason and on purpose. The things we do on accident would only appear so for us but on a cosmic scale they happened for a reason.

I believe that in an accidental universe all things don't happen for a reason and are all accidents. The things we do on purpose would only appear so for us but on a cosmic scale they happened for no reason.

When I think of cause and effect I think of dominoes. The first domino that falls is the Big Bang and every effect after it would be caused by it. If the first domino(the Big Bang) fail on accident then the causes and effects all the way up to this present domino(our existence) would be accidents also. But if someone(God) knocked over the first domino he did it for a reason. So, we would exist for a reason/purpose.

A universe with no purpose is void of purpose and a universe with purpose is full of purpose.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Wed Oct 24, 2007 5:09 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
A universe with no purpose is void of purpose and a universe with purpose is full of purpose.

How do you square that with free will?
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:12 pm

Yes. I believe our purpose is to exercise our free will in our choices between good and evil. Nothing is preordained. Otherwise, there would surely be no purpose to our existence here and God, knowing what would happen, could just as well have created us in our reserved places in heaven, hell or oblivion.

In fact, the reason God does not interfere is to protect and maintain our free will. (See the Prime Directive.)
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:46 pm

I take issue with the idea of free will, everything we are uncovering about genetics, and about the physiology of the human mind points to us being a much more instinctually driven organism than the classical idea of free will would have us believe.

On top of that, the idea of a conscious, emotive (read: anthropomorphized) creator being is itself a counter intuitive conceptual framework, only needed if one is to give the existence of the universe a human meaning. Emotion, and therefore the entire spectrum of human experiential capability is governed, and controlled, by biology: hormones, chemicals, and the ways in which they interact with our preset physical systems. As well, we are over-determined by culture. What we choose to do (our exercising of free will) is predicated by our cultural mores, our values, and our perspective on our own place within a greater social collective. Everything any human being is, is dictated by outside influences that are beyond our control, and often beyond our perception. We are nothing but robots.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:31 pm

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I take issue with the idea of free will, everything we are uncovering about genetics, and about the physiology of the human mind points to us being a much more instinctually driven organism than the classical idea of free will would have us believe.

Yes, maybe more instinct than we would like to think. But we still have will which can override instinct, physiology, genetics even our desire to avoid pain and our ownsurvival.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:28 am

the first time i ever went skydiving all my instincts told me not to do it. in fact every fiber of my being was screaming at me not to do it. but my mind over ruled my instinct.

i agree that we rarely use it because most of the time its not necessary and it takes effort to use it. it requires analysis and the willingness to go against what your gut is telling you. but i have personal confirmation free will is real.

but i don't think that conflicts with biology. in fact i think biology is responsible for it. i think it is an evolutionary mechanism developed to help a creature with few defenses survive by allowing him to construct mental models of different scenarios, evaluate thier consequences and choose the one most likely to have a positive outcome. you can't do that if your a slave to instinct.

all genetics does is set parameters of behavior but what happens within those parameters in indeterminate.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:35 am

Yes, in regards to Schiz input I definitely side with Stret and Paine in seeking Schiz's dialogue on how free will affect his plan.

Uriah presents an interesting perspective about free will, but a troubling one to me, and one which I have had the privilege to touch upon with Uriah before.. According that that logic there is nothing. All these discussions are as mundane as computers talking to each other in binary.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 3:26 am

The simple fact is we are robots. That we question, explore, reason, and discipline ourselves are also all aspects of uncontrollable genetic predispositions. Not everyone questions, or explores, or reasons, or disciplines themselves. Some might say that they choose not to, but I say that since I believe there to be an order to the universe, and we are but simply another interlocking mechanism, that everything we are - everything we do - is dictated.
Limited choice is part of that system, and the seeming random nature in which organisms and systems interact is only the microcosmic basis of a larger order. On all levels. From the paramecium and rotifers in a pond, to the lions and baboons on the African savanna, to people making choices - making babies, creating art, killing, discovering, and oppressing.
We think we have complete freedom of will, but I say we do not. Every choice we make is dictated by things which are out of our control, and every action from ourselves and every other individual, organism, system that has preceded it.

So, yes. I say we are robots: Robots with complex, time-proven hardware and dynamic, self-writing, mysterious software. But nonetheless we exist as a small part of greater whole. Everything in the universe - you, me, a tree, a neutron star 500 million light years away are all made of the same "random bits of information and energy". Each one of us, and everything else, is an individual portion of the Mandelbrot flow of the universe. Constantly in flux, evolving, changing - partly because of the dictates of outside stimuli and partly from our own choices in reaction to that stimuli, but always an interactive, and integral, piece of the larger system. A system whose organization extends away from us, to both infinitely greater and smaller levels of cosmos.

The basic concept of complete Free Will is a philosophical offshoot of monotheism and the idea that there is an emotive and conscious creator being to whom we are special children. Given this gift, that will either please or offend him. Our Sky-Father. But this is an illusion we have created to explain an ordered universe. Nietzsche used an analogy of a table of billiard balls, one would set the balls into motion then leave the room. A new person, upon entering the room, would assume that something must have set the balls in motion, that some conscious hand, had chosen to do so - it would be unthinkable for this new person to accept that the balls had always been in motion. That's what God is to most of humanity:*The invisible hand fondling our balls.

We individuals who cherish our mind of reason, and who practice the self discipline and introspection - whom exercise our free will. We are the exception and not the rule. Most of humanity, the great quotidian mass, are sheep. Drones requiring a stricter, more socially dependent, and collective, software program. Call it religion and ideology. Culture and society. Philosophy and science. Regardless, we are what we are.





*Neitszche didn't write this part.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:36 am

i didn't say we have complete free will. and i do agree with you that most situations we find ourselves in are beyond our control. but the way we react to them, within the confines of our nature as humans, is not determined. we may choose between a set of possible responses. and since the choice is made by the mind it is an act of free will.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:14 am

I'm not sure rather or not I have free will. I have a feeling I don't and hope I do but free will and purpose are two different things. I think my argument still stands because if I do have free will then I either got it on purpose or obtained it by accident. I think it still can be possible for God to know everything I will choose and still have free will. I don't think of it as God knowing what I'm going to do before I do it but knowing what I'm going to do because he is watching it happen in his state of timelessness. He sees all time all at once. I guess I'm agnostic about the whole free will thing. I haven't heard enough arguments for or against it. I've heard mechanisms for how we don't have free will and never heard a mechanism that would give me free will. So, I lean towards not having one. Give me a good mechanism and argument and I may believe it. I have one question though for all of you: If it is God's will that I have free will then is there any choice I can choose that is against his will?
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:56 am

I'm assuming we all believe in God here. If we are correct in that, why would God create the universe to evolve robots over 13 billion years? Why not just create the robots?

It's been suggested that free will is a holdover concept from revealed religion with a personal interactive God. In actuality, free will springs from deism since the dogmas of revealed theism hold that we are written in the "book of life" from the beginning of time. And the very act of divine interaction undermines our ability to use free will to make rational choices in a rational environment free from supernatural (irrational) influence.

Therefore, God is hands off, even to the point of not relieving our suffering, which in turn is a monument to God's commitment to our free will. How can it be anything other than that the universe was created to serve the purpose of naturally spawning self-aware creatures with the ability to choose freely between right and wrong in a rational, natural environment--to choose between promoting equal rights to life, liberty and property for all, or putting one's rights above those of others?

If this is not so, if we do not have free will, then there can be no purpose for our existence, for ourselves, or for God. This would all be a massive pointless illusion.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:52 am

Uriah wrote:
The simple fact is we are robots.

Then why do we experience the world phenomenally? Afterall, if we were just robots there wouldn't be any need for phenomenal experience. We could just exist as zombies.

For more info on "philosophical zombies", check out this link... http://consc.net/zombies.html Philosopher David Chalmers has gone to great lengths to discuss them.

Here's an excerpt...
Quote :
Philosophical zombies

It is philosophical zombies that I'm most interested in here, since I'm a philosopher and they raise very interesting issues. The sort I'm most concerned with are zombies that are physically and behaviorally identical to a conscious human, but lack any conscious experience. As in this case-study of my own zombie twin, for example.

Most people doubt that zombies could exist in the actual world. (In philosophical terms, they are naturally impossible.) But many people think that they are at least logically possible - i.e. that the idea of zombie is internally consistent, and that there is at least a "possible world" where zombies exist. This logical possibility is sometimes used to draw strong conclusions about consciousness (e.g. in my book The Conscious Mind, and elsewhere).

    For example:

    * It can be used as a way of illustrating the "hard problem" of consciousness: why do physical processes give rise to conscious experience? This question might equally be phrased as "why aren't we zombies?". If any account of physical processes would apply equally well to a zombie world , it is hard to see how such an account can explain the existence of consciousness in our world.

    * It can be used to raise questions about the function of consciousness: why did evolution bother to produce us if zombies would have survived and reproduced just as well? (As e.g. Flanagan and Polger have argued.)

    * And it can even be used to argue against materialism. If there is a possible world which is just like this one except that it contains zombies, then that seems to imply that the existence of consciousness is a further, nonphysical fact about our world. To put it metaphorically, even after determining the physical facts about our world, God had to "do more work" to ensure that we weren't zombies.

Uriah wrote:
A system whose organization extends away from us, to both infinitely greater and smaller levels of cosmos.

That is a very important statement and may in fact be the very mechanism of free will. The universe is both finite and infinite at the same time. We are not part of a completely closed system of cause and effect. We are a part of a system that goes on infinitely perhaps to the level of pure unmanifest possiblity. Our minds may very well have the ability to tap into this infinity when focused properly.

And I would add that IMO we are not the only things in this universe that posses free will. IMO free will exists in all natural systems in the cosmos to varying degrees. The more complex the system the higher the ability to gain access to freedom of choice.

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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:17 pm

We are robots - we do what we do because we are programmed to do so. Even when given a choice, the choice we make is going to be dictated by our mental faculties and our genetic predispositions. When I say that you are obviously imagining simple robots, robots that need commands to complete tasks - but we are much more complex than that. We are self-directing robots, evolving, changing, interacting, but nonetheless everythign we are is dictated to us from the outset.

For example - pretend that you and I were in a room. I would have you walk away from me, after ten steps I'd shout "turn!"

Which direction would you turn? You could turn either direction but which would you pick (of your own free will)?
Whatever direction you are predisposed to pick, and this is the direction you'd choose most often, and every time when not concentrating on it.

Clasp your hands, you will naturally do this the same way every time. One thumb will be on top every time and the other won't. Why do you instinctually clasp your hands this way when there is another percentage of the population whose other thumb would instinctually be on top?
Because that's your genetic predisposition.

Two scientists, Patrick Haggard and Martin Eimer, conducted a variation of a famous experiment (the Libet experiment) where they showed that unconscious brain activity was active before conscious brain activity when asking a subject to move a hand – whichever hand the subject chooses to move.
As well, it has been shown that through electric stimulation the hand the subject chooses can be determined, and even altered, with the subject retaining the idea that they chose that hand of their own free will.

Believe me, there is literally tons of evidence showing how we are not as in-control as we think we are. The classical idea of Free Will, that a sentient individual is a free agent interacting with the outside universe is patently wrong. We are enclosed within a system, which is enclosed within a system, which is enclosed within a system, and on and on…

Now, understand that I am not arguing hard determinism, we do have a conscious mind which is meant to interact randomly with the outside universe (of its own volition), but that mind’s capability is predetermined. Both by genetics and by the consequences of our own previous actions.

And yes, the philosophical idea of classical Free Will is an offshoot of monotheism, and early Christianity. Saint Augustine, and before him Tertullian, are the fathers of the idea that humans can choose to do whatever they want. Deism, is a much later offshoot – a more highly evolved form - of monotheism. In Christianity, the idea of free will is used as means to explain the subjective nature of morality. You can do whatever you want, but if you want to go to heaven you better do what God wants you to.

That idea: That humans are not interdependent on the universe, and are in effect free agents operating under their own sole power, is based on the earlier concept that God gave us the will to choose so that we would choose to seek God. By logical consequence, it is developed from the idea that the universe was made for us. That we are the reason God created anything at all.
If one takes the opposite idea to its logical conclusion they can see that we are relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Humans are just another organism, randomly evolved to fit a niche in an environment, and a million years from now the universe will still be ticking along without us. Mankind came to be because we are a natural consequence of the random interactions of a myriad of disparate systems. Whatever ultimately set those systems in motion is what we call God, but there is no reason to assume that this prime cause is conscious in the way we are, and more and more there is much reason to assume that we are just a small part of a greater whole. Even though we think ourselves to be different from ants in an anthill, we fail to see that we are simply more complex ants in a larger, more complex, ant colony.

So, if any of you have actually read all that then awesome, and I thank you for your patience. If not, which is more probably the case (lol), then let me sum up.

Do humans have the ability to consciously direct their actions – yes, to a point. However, those actions, as well as our available choices, are dictated to, and effected by, a myriad of outside stimuli which we cannot control and hardly even know exists. Therefore even when we choose we are still operating within preset parameters, consequentially I say we are robots.

Of course I say that to be provocative, to spark lengthy discussion, to stir ire and get people to take me to task on it so that I can explain my ideas further. That’s my nature, just as it is your nature (like all people whom are inquisitive) to ask and to challenge. Did you do so of your own free will, or are you simply doing what you are predisposed to do?
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:17 pm

Uriah wrote:
So, if any of you have actually read all that then awesome...

Yep I did. Smile

Uriah wrote:
Do humans have the ability to consciously direct their actions – yes, to a point. However, those actions, as well as our available choices...

That's "limited" free will in my book.

Uriah wrote:
Of course I say that to be provocative, to spark lengthy discussion, to stir ire and get people to take me to task on it so that I can explain my ideas further...

Have you been reading Averroes' posts over at PD? Wink

But seriously, If you haven't taken a look at it yet, give the Chalmers link a read. I think Chalmers does a pretty good job of poking holes in the materialist arguments on consciousness.

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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 3:04 pm

Indeed, "limited free will" - what is classically known as 'compatabilism' (a Hobbesian concept) is more true to my interpretation than complete Free Will. But I take issue with Hobbes as well.
I see even limited free will as an integral part of something greater. I begin to see everything we do, and everything we are, as being parts whose whole is greater than their sum.

In this way, I don't feel I am preaching a kind of physicalism or matierialism. Because I accept that their may be stimuli, or interactive quanta, at play in the universe which exist outside the system we are enclosed within, and that through self discipline - meditation, phenomenalism, and spirituality we can access that quanta, that "godhead".

I kind of see Chalmer's position, as well as his responding critics, as being extremes. I prefer to stick to the middle on this idea, we do have freedom of will, but since we cannot physically do anything we want to, we do not have complete free will.

Even I, when discussing the idea of "free will" I am taking the concept's most extreme position and arguing against that. Of course we have choices, and we can make any choice we want out of the available options at any given time. Those choices will then present us with different available options and we progress forward in this manner. Hit or miss, so to speak.

However, I would also challenge Chalmers to go to his local Walmart, or Shopping Mall. Go to an anti-Gay Rights protest, or listen to Sean Hannity’s radio program. Or even better, take a tour through “the world’s largest open air insane asylum”: The Middle East – and tell me that Philosophical Zombies don’t exist. They do, most people are them. Most people do exactly, and only, what they are programmed to do by culture, civilization, and society. Free-thinkers are the extreme minority, and the philosophical ideas espoused by great minds take root in a woefully small percentage of human perception. This is not a modern phenomenon, this is a historical absolute. The vast majority of human beings are idiots. And what’s more they are not simply rote following idiots by choice, they seem to be so by design, on purpose. If Free Will is an absolute, how come so many throughout history decline to choose to be free? How come freedom, and the philosophical ideal of liberty, are underdog concepts combating the homogenous, hive-mind, behavioralism of the majority? It is true that humans have a choice, but why do most choose to be robots? I think they are rule, and we are the exceptions. Therefore, I say humans are robots – we (freethinkers using our mind of reason) are the aliens.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:41 pm

I would like to add that I believe phenomenonology (of Hegel's description) to be a part of us. I believe that there is a greater spiritual energic force at play in the universe - although I see no reason to assume it is conscious, or self aware in the manner we are. As an individual being.

In fact, I find this passage from Panendeism.org's main page (just below the Emerson quote) to be perfectly in line with what I am saying:

"As parts of god, our freedom is not absolute - just as the freedom of cells in our body is not absolute. At the same time, our actions and thoughts are not dependent upon or controlled by god any more than we are able to consciously control and direct the actions of our individual cells. We may be more than our cells, but we depend upon our cells acting independently of our minds in order for us to grow and even to "be" in the first place."

That pretty sums up my position, save for the fact that I see humans as nothing mroe than a glorified alga in an infinite pond. The universe has its own order and purpose which is beyond us.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:29 pm

Hey Yossarian. I love it
Quote :
save for the fact that I see humans as nothing mroe than a glorified alga in an infinite pond.
In a place far away and a time long ago. I agreed with this your flight into determinism.
Quote :
In fact, the only thing humans really have a free will to control is our conscious attitude about the world around us and the events we find ourselves part of, and how we use our mind of reason to interpret those things.

As for “Universal determinism”, I would suggest that it is more constrained than that. I might buy into cultural determinism, or nation-state determinism, or most likely something narrower like county line determinism. But then “no bag was big enough for my life”.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:55 pm

Uriah wrote:
In fact, I find this passage from Panendeism.org's main page (just below the Emerson quote) to be perfectly in line with what I am saying:

"As parts of god, our freedom is not absolute - just as the freedom of cells in our body is not absolute. At the same time, our actions and thoughts are not dependent upon or controlled by god any more than we are able to consciously control and direct the actions of our individual cells. We may be more than our cells, but we depend upon our cells acting independently of our minds in order for us to grow and even to "be" in the first place."

Yeah I wrote that about six months ago or so (I think Think ).

The funny thing is I'm not even sure if I fully agree with it anymore. scratch Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:01 pm

lol - Well I do! Maybe I won't tomorrow, or six months, or a year from now, but right now I do.
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PostSubject: Re: Meaning and purpose   Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:04 pm

Well I agree with about 95% of it so I'm not doing that bad I guess. Smile

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