Determinism

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:54 pm

Only_Humean wrote:OK, for clarity (and thank you)


You're welcome.

peacegirl wrote:1.1 Yes, the universe is deterministic, but you haven't explained why, so people are starting with a premise they aren't sure about.
1.2 The two first statements are lacking in the proof.
1.2.1 Yes, based on our environment and heredity, we move in the direction of greater satisfaction.
1.2 The author is not saying it isn't reasonable to blame. It is reasonable until we take this concept further to see where it leads.


Only_Humean wrote:This is a summary of the propositions - for the I arguments of proofs I would of course refer the reader to the book. Regarding the reasonableness statement - I changed it from rationality as you seemed to equate rational thought with natural thought. All I'm saying is that once we accept 1.2, blaming is rationally impossible. He says this explicitly on p. 46.


You're right, he does. But once again, you must understand that he is trying to get you to see that if man's will is not free; if he is making choices that are truly beyond his control, how can we blame him for what he does? The dilemma here is that philosophers who turned against determinism couldn't get beyond this impasse because how can we not blame those who hurt us? This author is trying to get the reader to be patient at this point before seeing where this corollary ultimately leads.

peacegirl wrote:2.2 Morality is a human construction. This does not mean there is not a place for the moral code in our society. That is why the Ten Commandments was written. This does not mean we don't have a conscience, which is not a human construction.


Only_Humean wrote:Agreed on the first two sentences. Where is evidence of this last sentence to be found in the text, please?


It's implicit, not explicit. Conscience goes up under the changed conditions, not because of a moral code, but because of the recognition that what one is about to do (something that would be considered wrong), is a first blow.

peacegirl wrote:2.2.2 It isn't a matter of accepting responsibility. We cannot help but own what is our responsibility when we are not being blamed. I think you are confused here.


Only_Humean wrote:Poorly worded, maybe? How about:
2.2.2 If we accept we will not be blamed for any actions, nor will we blame others, we will lose the will to hurt others:


This has nothing to do with accepting whether or not we will be blamed. If we know that we are not going to be blamed for what we do, this becomes a condition of the environment that we must accept. In other words, if it becomes a condition of the environment that there will be no more blame by anyone anywhere (please don't jump to premature conclusions as to how this transition will take place), we must assume responsibility for what we do since there is no way we can shift it to someone or something else.

peacegirl wrote:2.4 You are missing the most important point. This is not a matter of anyone knowing they are responsible for their actions. They can't help but be responsible for their actions when they cannot make excuses. How can you excuse your actions when no one is blaming you?


Only_Humean wrote:OK, I must admit I'm stuck here - I went back to p. 83 and it wasn't the page I was thinking of. I'll have to reread and get back to you on that, sorry.


No problem.

Only_Humean wrote:But the fact that you can't excuse your actions when no one is blaming you has nothing to do with the existence or nonexistence of responsibility. To be responsible for one's actions is not the same as to not be able to excuse one's actions. As you and any other person capable of rational thought must see, responsibility was already thrown out of the window in chapter 1 (see my first remark in this post).


It has everything to do with responsibility. In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do. The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.
Last edited by peacegirl on Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:59 pm

peacegirl wrote:Yes, Sauwelios, that is the conventional definition, but that is not correct, and why no one has come up with a solution.

That it is not correct remains to be seen; your assertion that it is not correct is just that, an assertion. But let me suppose that according to Mr. Lessans, it is not correct. What is the correct definition, then, according to him? Is the 'internal' world absolutely distinct from the 'external' world? And is it not determinate? If so, the will (or the mind, as Da5id suggested on the other forum) may be free; but if it is, one can rightly be praised and blamed. It's either the one or the other: there is responsibility, or there is no responsibility. Unless the law of non-contradiction does not apply, in which case---


peacegirl wrote:
Sauwelios wrote:Wait, are you not now in 'philosophical circles'??

No I don't consider myself distinguished enough to be in philosophical circles. I wish I was. :(

I was talking about this forum in general, and this discussion in particular.


peacegirl wrote:Sauwelious, thank you for giving your all to understanding the concept being expressed. I cannot scratch the word 'free' because it means 'of our own desire'. That's the point. Just because it is of our own desire does not make our choices free. Do you see where the confusion lies? This does not mean that we self-cause. We are not in control of the choices we make, so how can we self-cause? That would mean we are totally responsible, which we are not. I hope you stick with me; this is not about who is right or wrong, but just with what is true.

Philosophy is indeed about what is true.

"Of our own desire" is just another way of saying "of our own will". "Desire" and "will" are roughly synonymous; not "desire" and "free will". If determinism means the unfreedom of the will (as I take it you said was what Mr. Lessans meant, on that other forum), then determinism and freedom of the will are mutually exclusive. The crux of the problem is the discrepancy between determinism and free will, or between responsibility and its absence. In our earlier discussion (in 2007), you seemed to suggest that events are only determinate afterwards, not before (to leave during out of the question for now). This, in my view, is what you have to clarify. And as I, and probably some others here, too, are eager to clear this up, we will be receptive and try to help you. All of us together should at least be able to determine what Mr. Lessans is basically saying; whether we agree with it, or cannot possibly disagree, we will only know when we understand it.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Oughtist » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:39 pm

peacegirl wrote:
Oughtist wrote:Hi PG,

Glad to see the discussion is beginning to gain more of a dialectic flavor!

One question from me:

In terms of his saying nothing in the "external" world can make me do something I don't want to do, what of the following situations:

1. I'm stepping on stones across a creek, one of which is slimy, such that I fall in the creek.

2. I'm a tight end running into the end zone, focusing on the ball being thrown to me, when the sun suddenly shines in my eyes and I close them.


These two situations are obviously not within your control. The external world acted upon you and now you have to make a choice. You quickly survey the situation to determine what your next step should be. In the first example, should you call someone (if you have a cell phone), try to get up on your own and continue doing what you were doing, or go home and change your clothes. Whatever you choose, it is not of your own free will because you are moving in the direction of greater satisfaction. Does that make sense?


Yes, and please excuse my oversimplification... just want to start at ground level and work up.

So, the "external" can control the execution of one's choices: I want to stay dry, but I get wet; I want to catch, but I fail.

We're limiting ourselves to situations where we are in control (and bracketing out vagueries of mental illness). Ok. So, insofar as I am in control of the execution of my choices, I will choose what most satisfies me. Indeed, I would be crazy not to. I have no choice but to satisfy myself. There is, in fact, so far as I'm not crazy, no choice. Choice is an illusion.

Knowing what will most satisfy me, of course, is the pivotal issue. I must either learn what that is on my own, or be told what it is. Insofar as I learn on my own, I must attempt a broad array of choices, even if some seem illusory in terms of providing me with satisfaction. I must sastisfy my desire to learn what most satisfies me. Alternatively, insofar as I rely on being told what will most satisfy me, I must decide nonetheless to accept the particular authority, implying that I must choose which authority to heed. Thus I find myself in a hermeneutic related to that of simply learning on my own. I must again confront the fact that I need to test out the illusion's diversity, as there are a plurality of authorities.

Insofar, nonetheless, as I gain some ground, either by learning on my own directly, or learning indirectly through heeding an authority, I then must confront the reality that many of the others around me (whom, it seems, though they are external to me, are to be distinguished from "external reality", as I have the apperception that each other I meet is to be included in an inter-internal reality) have learned otherwise, or at least have not yet learned. So, either I must contest their learning, or I must teach them, and become an authority myself. To contest them, I must know what they have learned. To teach them, I must be able to express what it is I have learned.

Sometimes, in this process, it is like I am crossing a stream and find myself suddenly soaking wet. Sometimes I feel I have thrown a perfect pass, and the other mysteriously fumbles it. In any case, it seems there remains an externality that I cannot account for in terms of my relation both to myself and to others. There is no one to blame for this, it is simply how it is. At least, that is, if I do not represent myself as an authority who has nothing of fundamental value to learn from others, or as a learner, who would prefer only to learn that which is most immediately satisfying to my impressions. Alas, though, the water I constantly seem to fall in becomes murkier and murkier, and I am blinded by the sun each time I surface. Damn reality!!

Does such relate at all to the problematic of the Text? :)
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Re: Determinism

Postby Only_Humean » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:52 pm

peacegirl wrote:You're right, he does. But once again, you must understand that he is trying to get you to see that if man's will is not free; if he is making choices that are truly beyond his control, how can we blame him for what he does? The dilemma here is that philosophers who turned against determinism couldn't get beyond this impasse because how can we not blame those who hurt us? This author is trying to get the reader to be patient at this point before seeing where this corollary ultimately leads.


Yes - to point 1.3 :) I'm looking at the argument, not the rhetorical presentation.

peacegirl wrote:It's implicit, not explicit. Conscience goes up under the changed conditions, not because of a moral code, but because of the recognition that what one is about to do (something that would be considered wrong), is a first blow.


So for clarity, it is assumed that everybody has a conscience and that this conscience doesn't rely on morality to guide it? This seems a vital assumption of the argument.

Only_Humean wrote:OK, I must admit I'm stuck here - I went back to p. 83 and it wasn't the page I was thinking of. I'll have to reread and get back to you on that, sorry.


No problem.


Got it! It was page 79.
This is a very unique two-sided equation which reveals that while you know you are completely responsible for everything you do, everybody else know that you are not to blame because you are compelled to move in the direction of greater satisfaction during every moment of your existence


So to rephrase -
2.4 To abolish hurting and war, each person must know that she is completely responsible for her actions, and know that no-one is to be blamed for their actions (p. 79)

Can you tell me - is it also the case that no-one should be held responsible for their actions? Is this equivalent to saying no-one should be blamed?

(as an aside, the 'two-sided equation' actually isn't an equation at all, and all equations are at least two-sided, but let's not nitpick :P )

Only_Humean wrote:But the fact that you can't excuse your actions when no one is blaming you has nothing to do with the existence or nonexistence of responsibility. To be responsible for one's actions is not the same as to not be able to excuse one's actions. As you and any other person capable of rational thought must see, responsibility was already thrown out of the window in chapter 1 (see my first remark in this post).


It has everything to do with responsibility. In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do. The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.


I did not say this, it was Sauwelios. Please try and get the hang of the quotation scheme here, or no-one will be able to keep track of who's saying what and where we should be looking for our replies!
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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:18 am

Only_Humean wrote:
peacegirl wrote:
Only_Humean wrote:But the fact that you can't excuse your actions when no one is blaming you has nothing to do with the existence or nonexistence of responsibility. To be responsible for one's actions is not the same as to not be able to excuse one's actions. As you and any other person capable of rational thought must see, responsibility was already thrown out of the window in chapter 1 (see my first remark in this post).


It has everything to do with responsibility. In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do. The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.


I did not say this, it was Sauwelios. Please try and get the hang of the quotation scheme here, or no-one will be able to keep track of who's saying what and where we should be looking for our replies!

Yes, she is almost as disastrous with quotation as she is with reason.

In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do.

But we are not going to do it because we can relieve our conscience of it, but because it will satisfy at least one of our desires at least partly and temporarily.

In survival situations, people sometimes revert to cannibalism. Such a person does so in order to satisfy his hunger. No matter if he will be blamed for his act of cannibalism or not, nor if he ought to be blamed for it or not, he will still want to satisfy his hunger! If there is no other food source, he will still revert to cannibalism!


The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.

I contend that, according to Mr. Lessans, the reason that responsibility cannot be lessened etc. is that there is no responsibility to be lessened etc.; the absence of responsibility is the reason that nobody will praise or blame us for our actions!
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Re: Determinism

Postby Oughtist » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:46 am

Where [ ... ] = { ... }:

{quote="Oughtist"} yada yada {/quote}

gives you:

Oughtist wrote: yada yada



{quote="Oughtist"}{quote="peacegirl"} yada yada {/quote} yada yada {/quote}

gives you:

Oughtist wrote:
peacegirl wrote: yada yada
yada yada



{quote="Oughtist"}{quote="peacegirl"} yada yada {/quote} yada yada {/quote} yada yada {quote="peacegirl"} yada yada {/quote}

gives you:

Oughtist wrote:
peacegirl wrote: yada yada
yada yada
yada yada
peacegirl wrote: yada yada


:)
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:08 am

Sauwelios wrote:
peacegirl wrote:Yes, Sauwelios, that is the conventional definition, but that is not correct, and why no one has come up with a solution.

That it is not correct remains to be seen; your assertion that it is not correct is just that, an assertion. But let me suppose that according to Mr. Lessans, it is not correct. What is the correct definition, then, according to him? Is the 'internal' world absolutely distinct from the 'external' world? And is it not determinate? If so, the will (or the mind, as Da5id suggested on the other forum) may be free; but if it is, one can rightly be praised and blamed. It's either the one or the other: there is responsibility, or there is no responsibility. Unless the law of non-contradiction does not apply, in which case---

peacegirl wrote:There is a distinction, according to Lessans, between the internal and external world. If there wasn't, the "I" that makes me separate from 'you' would not exist. If there was no dividing line between the internal and external world, then we could not communicate in terms of me and you, and the rest of the world, and that would end the discussion because there would be no basis for communication. You are right in that if the will of man was free, he could be rightly blamed and praised. But if it's not true, then blame and praise can rightly come into question.


peacegirl wrote:The definition, according to Lessans, is that from the moment we are born, we are always moving in the direction of greater satisfaction. Please read Chapter One because there is no way I can explain why only one choice is possible (regardless of how many choices you are contemplating) each and every moment of time, which proves conclusively that man's will is not free. If anyone thinks they can explain why man's will is not free, according to the author, you are welcome to give it a whirl. O:)


Sauwelios wrote:Wait, are you not now in 'philosophical circles'??

:(

I guess when I was thinking of philosophical circles I was picturing think tanks, or peer reviews, etc. But you are right. This is a philosophical circle.

peacegirl wrote:Sauwelious, thank you for giving your all to understanding the concept being expressed. I cannot scratch the word 'free' because it means 'of our own desire'. That's the point. Just because it is of our own desire does not make our choices free. Do you see where the confusion lies? This does not mean that we self-cause. We are not in control of the choices we make, so how can we self-cause? That would mean we are free agents, which we are not. I hope you stick with me; this is not about who is right or wrong, but just with what is true.


sauwelios wrote:Philosophy is indeed about what is true.


peacegirl wrote:Didn't you mean to say that philosophy is about searching for what is true?


sauwelios wrote:Of our own desire" is just another way of saying "of our own will". "Desire" and "will" are roughly synonymous; not "desire" and "free will". If determinism means the unfreedom of the will (as I take it you said was what Mr. Lessans meant, on that other forum), then determinism and freedom of the will are mutually exclusive. The crux of the problem is the discrepancy between determinism and free will, or between responsibility and its absence. In our earlier discussion (in 2007), you seemed to suggest that events are only determinate afterwards, not before (to leave during out of the question for now). This, in my view, is what you have to clarify. And as I, and probably some others here, too, are eager to clear this up, we will be receptive and try to help you. All of us together should at least be able to determine what Mr. Lessans is basically saying; whether we agree with it, or cannot possibly disagree, we will only know when we understand it.


That's fair enough. I want to add that determinism and freedom of the will ARE mutually exclusive, and you are right that desire and will are synonomous. When I said that events are only determinate afterwards, I did not mean that before something is done there is freedom of choice. Even when we are in this earlier state of contemplating before making a decision, this action is not free. I was just trying to show that before we make a decision to do something, we are always comparing alternatives (at least most of us are; I'm sure some people look at their options more carefully than others, but this is irrelevant). I was trying to point out though that once a choice is made at any given moment, it could never have been otherwise because the alternative choices, at that moment, were less satisfying in comparison, and we cannot move in the direction of dissatisfaction when a more satisfying alternative is available.
Last edited by peacegirl on Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:12 am

this was the same post as above, so I erased it. Sorry.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
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“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
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Re: Determinism

Postby Oughtist » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:41 am

Hey again,

Might I suggest the following (from what you quoted on the previous page) is the crux of the matter?

peacegirl wrote:[per the Text]These activities or motions are the natural entelechy of man who is always developing, correcting his mistakes, and moving in the direction of greater satisfaction by choosing the best alternative at each particular moment in time. Looking back in hindsight allows man to evaluate his progress and make corrections where necessary since he is always learning from previous experience, but this does not change the direction he is compelled to go.


Is this saying that Man (the collective) cannot help but make "correct" (greater satisfaction) choices? Is it saying that such also applies to each and every (sane) individual?

Just so you know, of the many voices in my head, one of them speaks of such things. But others tend to be more compelling so far... which is just to say that, if such is indeed what the thesis is upholding, I'm familiar with the basic gist, but have objections to it. :-k
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:29 am

Only_Humean wrote:
peacegirl wrote:You're right, he does. But once again, you must understand that he is trying to get you to see that if man's will is not free; if he is making choices that are truly beyond his control, how can we blame him for what he does? The dilemma here is that philosophers who turned against determinism couldn't get beyond this impasse because how can we not blame those who hurt us? This author is trying to get the reader to be patient at this point before seeing where this corollary ultimately leads.


Yes - to point 1.3 :) I'm looking at the argument, not the rhetorical presentation.

peacegirl wrote:It's implicit, not explicit. Conscience goes up under the changed conditions, not because of a moral code, but because of the recognition that what one is about to do (something that would be considered wrong), is a first blow.


Only_Humean wrote:So for clarity, it is assumed that everybody has a conscience and that this conscience doesn't rely on morality to guide it? This seems a vital assumption of the argument.


In the new world, conscience will no longer be directed by rules and regulations (a moral code given by others), or by a fear of punishment; it will be directed by our internal sense of right and wrong. Conscience is that small whisper in our ear that let's us know that what we are about to do is a first blow which cannot be justified, once all blame is removed.

Only_Humean wrote:OK, I must admit I'm stuck here - I went back to p. 83 and it wasn't the page I was thinking of. I'll have to reread and get back to you on that, sorry.


No problem.


Only_Humean wrote:Got it! It was page 79.

peacegirl wrote:This is a very unique two-sided equation which reveals that while you know you are completely responsible for everything you do, everybody else know that you are not to blame because you are compelled to move in the direction of greater satisfaction during every moment of your existence


Only_Humean wrote:So to rephrase -
2.4 To abolish hurting and war, each person must know that she is completely responsible for her actions, and know that no-one is to be blamed for their actions (p. 79)


peacegirl wrote:Not exactly. There is nothing anybody must know except one thing: that he will never be held responsible or blamed for anything again.


These two facts make up the two-sided equation:

1. We are always moving in the direction of greater satisfaction which is why our will is not free.
2. Nothing can make us do to another what we don't want to do, for over this we have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).

We (the people) will no longer blame you because we know your will is not free and therefore you cannot be held responsible. But you know that no one can make you hurt someone if you don't want to, for over this you have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink). And when it fully dawns on you that should you go ahead and strike a first blow of hurt, that no one in the world will punish or hurt you in retaliation, not even the person who would be the victim of your crime, you are compelled to relinquish the desire to move in this direction because it can give you no satisfaction under the changed conditions.

Only_Humean wrote:Can you tell me - is it also the case that no-one should be held responsible for their actions? Is this equivalent to saying no-one should be blamed?


Yes, it means the same thing.

Only_Humean wrote:(as an aside, the 'two-sided equation' actually isn't an equation at all, and all equations are at least two-sided, but let's not nitpick :P )


But there are two sides. It's not a mathematical equation in terms of numbers, but it still an equation.

Only_Humean wrote:But the fact that you can't excuse your actions when no one is blaming you has nothing to do with the existence or nonexistence of responsibility. To be responsible for one's actions is not the same as to not be able to excuse one's actions. As you and any other person capable of rational thought must see, responsibility was already thrown out of the window in chapter 1 (see my first remark in this post).


peacegirl wrote:It has everything to do with responsibility. In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do. The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.


Only_Humean wrote:I did not say this, it was Sauwelios. Please try and get the hang of the quotation scheme here, or no-one will be able to keep track of who's saying what and where we should be looking for our replies!


I'm doing my best. Hopefully I'll get these quotes right eventually. :-k :wink:
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

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lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby Only_Humean » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:20 am

peacegirl wrote:But there are two sides. It's not a mathematical equation in terms of numbers, but it still an equation.


An equation describes two (or more) things that are equal to each other, hence the name - this is more a double postulate. But it's irrelevant to the argument, anyway!

OK, to resummarise the argument:

Chapter 1
1.1 The universe is deterministic
1.2 Therefore, man's will cannot be said to be free:
- 1.2.1 Any choice made is the result of previous actions and conditions and natural laws; whatever man chooses is his greatest satisfaction at the time, determined by these.
1.3 Knowing and understanding 1.2, it is not reasonable to blame

Chapter 2
2.1 Blame is a natural human reaction, arising from a need for morality to overcome human problems
- 2.1.1 Hurting others is a natural response to being hurt
2.2 Morality is a human construction:
- 2.2.1 If we remove morality, we remove moral justification for retaliation and have to rely on conscience
- 2.2.2 Conscience is an innate sense of right and wrong in all of us
- 2.2.3 If we will not be blamed for any actions, nor will we blame others, we will lose the will to hurt others:
- - 2.2.3.1 Having a "choice" between hurting and not hurting someone, knowing one is not compelled to hurt and knowing that no-one will blame one or inflict retribution for it, one cannot gain satisfaction from hurting.
- - 2.2.3.2 Hurting will therefore never be chosen.
2.3 The consequence of believing in "free will" allows us to pay off our consciences, therefore to lie and cheat and then shift the blame:
- 2.3.1 If there is no free will, hence no-one can blame you, you cannot pay off your conscience - you take sole responsibility for your actions
- 2.3.2 Without the ability to pay off your conscience, there is no desire to hurt or cheat others that will outweigh the desire to follow your conscience
2.4 To abolish hurting and war, each person must know that no-one is responsible at all for their actions.

This is taking your comments into account. I've reworded 2.3 quite significantly in response to your earlier points, but I think it's a lot clearer to others for it.

If you agree with the essence of the points and the construction of the argument, I can present what I see as the practical and philosophical problems with it.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:22 am

peacegirl wrote:There is a distinction, according to Lessans, between the internal and external world. If there wasn't, the "I" that makes me separate from 'you' would not exist. If there was no dividing line between the internal and external world, then we could not communicate in terms of me and you, and the rest of the world, and that would end the discussion because there would be no basis for communication. You are right in that if the will of man was free, he could be rightly blamed and praised. But if it's not true, then blame and praise can rightly come into question.

That there is a distinction, I won't deny. That the distinction is absolute, I will contest. And if Mr. Lessans is saying that the 'internal' world is not determinate whereas the 'external' one is, I think I will leave it at that. His view is too simplistic for my taste, then (like his idea, as I understand it, of a fixed conscience).


peacegirl wrote:
Sauwelios wrote:Wait, are you not now in 'philosophical circles'??

I guess when I was thinking of philosophical circles I was picturing think tanks, or peer reviews, etc. But you are right. This is a philosophical circle.

Thank you.


sauwelios wrote:Philosophy is indeed about what is true.

peacegirl wrote:Didn't you mean to say that philosophy is about searching for what is true?

Philosophy is searching for what is true; and this searching that philosophy is, is about what is true. :wink:


peacegirl wrote:
sauwelios wrote:Of our own desire" is just another way of saying "of our own will". "Desire" and "will" are roughly synonymous; not "desire" and "free will". If determinism means the unfreedom of the will (as I take it you said was what Mr. Lessans meant, on that other forum), then determinism and freedom of the will are mutually exclusive. The crux of the problem is the discrepancy between determinism and free will, or between responsibility and its absence. In our earlier discussion (in 2007), you seemed to suggest that events are only determinate afterwards, not before (to leave during out of the question for now). This, in my view, is what you have to clarify. And as I, and probably some others here, too, are eager to clear this up, we will be receptive and try to help you. All of us together should at least be able to determine what Mr. Lessans is basically saying; whether we agree with it, or cannot possibly disagree, we will only know when we understand it.


That's fair enough. I want to add that determinism and freedom of the will ARE mutually exclusive, and you are right that desire and will are synonomous. When I said that events are only determinate afterwards, I did not mean that before something is done there is freedom of choice. Even when we are in this earlier state of contemplating before making a decision, this action is not free. I was just trying to show that before we make a decision to do something, we are always comparing alternatives (at least most of us are; I'm sure some people look at their options more carefully than others, but this is irrelevant). I was trying to point out though that once a choice is made at any given moment, it could never have been otherwise because the alternative choices, at that moment, were less satisfying in comparison, and we cannot move in the direction of dissatisfaction when a more satisfying alternative is available.

Okay, I think I can agree with that. So where does free will (as in Mr. Lessans' phrase "of our own free will") come in?
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:15 pm

peacegirl wrote:In the new world, conscience will no longer be directed by rules and regulations (a moral code given by others), or by a fear of punishment; it will be directed by our internal sense of right and wrong. Conscience is that small whisper in our ear that let's us know that what we are about to do is a first blow which cannot be justified, once all blame is removed.

a) Is that all it lets us 'know'? Does it not also tell us such an unjustified first blow is wrong?
b) Is our internal sense of right and wrong unchangeable?
c) Can there be such a thing as a 'first blow' in a determinate universe? Would that not be a first cause?


peacegirl wrote:These two facts make up the two-sided equation:

1. We are always moving in the direction of greater satisfaction which is why our will is not free.
2. Nothing can make us do to another what we don't want to do, for over this we have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).

a) What does 'mathematical control' mean? Can't we just say "complete control"?
b) If we always move in the direction of greater satisfaction, does this not mean we have no control over the direction we move in, and thus over what we do?


We (the people) will no longer blame you because we know your will is not free and therefore you cannot be held responsible. But you know that no one can make you hurt someone if you don't want to, for over this you have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).

According to 1. above, we don't have control over whether we will hurt someone or not, but simply cannot hurt someone if we don't want to (i.e., if we feel it will not bring us greater, or will bring us less, satisfaction), and cannot help but hurt someone if we do want to (i.e., if we feel it will bring us greater satisfaction).


And when it fully dawns on you that should you go ahead and strike a first blow of hurt, that no one in the world will punish or hurt you in retaliation, not even the person who would be the victim of your crime, you are compelled to relinquish the desire to move in this direction because it can give you no satisfaction under the changed conditions.

a) Can we at all 'relinquish' a desire? Does it not simply appear or disappear? Does it not arise from the feeling that something will bring us greater satisfaction, and subside naturally when we no longer feel that way?
b) Why cannot it give us satisfaction under the changed conditions? Is the only satisfaction we derive from hurting someone then derived from shaking off blame? Or must we feel that the dissatisfaction of being bitten by our conscience will outweigh any satisfaction the hurting may give us?


I will now try to reconstruct Mr. Lessans' argument.

First premise: We have an internal sense of right and wrong which is not subject to change.
Second premise: We believe there is no free will.
Conclusion: We cannot attack each other unprovoked, as our internal sense of right and wrong will tell us that is wrong. Our fear of this unpleasant sensation will prevent us from doing such a thing.

As I've said, this only holds if we feel said sensation will be more dissatisfying than any pleasure we may derive from hurting will be satisfying.

Anyway, I wonder what you think of my syllogism. And regardless, I think such a syllogism, or a chain of such syllogisms, is what we should aim to formulate. I think this is what Only_Humean is trying to do as well.
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:32 pm

Only_Humean wrote:
peacegirl wrote:
Only_Humean wrote:But the fact that you can't excuse your actions when no one is blaming you has nothing to do with the existence or nonexistence of responsibility. To be responsible for one's actions is not the same as to not be able to excuse one's actions. As you and any other person capable of rational thought must see, responsibility was already thrown out of the window in chapter 1 (see my first remark in this post).


peacegirl wrote:It has everything to do with responsibility. In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do. The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.


peacegirl wrote:In this world, we can do all kinds of things to satisfy our desires, knowing that we can pay a price, if caught. But when there is no price that can paid because we are not being blamed, our conscience cannot find the necessary justification to do what we are about to do.


But we are not going to do it because we can relieve our conscience of it, but because it will satisfy at least one of our desires at least partly and temporarily.

peacegirl wrote:We are not going to do it (when we know it is wrong) because we cannot come up with the justification we must have to ease our conscience. It is necessary that we find some way to lessen our responsibility(whether it's coming up with reasonable excuses, or lying to ourselves) when we know that what we are doing is a hurt to someone else. This is in our DNA.


Sauwelios wrote:In survival situations, people sometimes revert to cannibalism. Such a person does so in order to satisfy his hunger. No matter if he will be blamed for his act of cannibalism or not, nor if he ought to be blamed for it or not, he will still want to satisfy his hunger! If there is no other food source, he will still revert to cannibalism!


peacegirl wrote:The author clearly states that this principle can have no effect if, in order to survive, one must hurt someone else because not to hurt them would make him a loser. This is self-preservation and it is the first law of nature. You will understand much more in the economic chapter.


peacegirl wrote:The responsibility for our actions cannot be lessened, mitigated, or shifted, which changes the direction we must go for satisfaction.


I contend that, according to Mr. Lessans, the reason that responsibility cannot be lessened etc. is that there is no responsibility to be lessened etc.; the absence of responsibility is the reason that nobody will praise or blame us for our actions!

peacegirl wrote:That is incorrect. Responsibility cannot be lessened because man can no longer find a way to get out of what IS HIS RESPONSIBILITY. Because he doesn't want to be responsible [for a hurt to another that he knows he will not be blamed for], he must change his ways out of necessity because to be responsible for seriously hurting someone that he knows HE alone caused, and not be blamed for it, judged for it, or criticized for it, is a difficult thing to even contemplate.
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:36 pm

Only_Humean wrote:
peacegirl wrote:But there are two sides. It's not a mathematical equation in terms of numbers, but it still an equation.


An equation describes two (or more) things that are equal to each other, hence the name - this is more a double postulate. But it's irrelevant to the argument, anyway!

peacegirl wrote:You're right, it's inconsequential.


Humean wrote:OK, to resummarise the argument:

Chapter 1
1.1 The universe is deterministic
1.2 Therefore, man's will cannot be said to be free:
- 1.2.1 Any choice made is the result of previous actions and conditions and natural laws; whatever man chooses is his greatest satisfaction at the time, determined by these.
1.3 Knowing and understanding 1.2, it is not reasonable to blame


Great so far, but you didn't talk about the other side of the equation at all. This construction is incomplete.

Chapter 2
2.1 Blame is a natural human reaction, arising from a need for morality to overcome human problems
- 2.1.1 Hurting others is a natural response to being hurt
2.2 Morality is a human construction:
- 2.2.1 If we remove morality, we remove moral justification for retaliation and have to rely on conscience
- 2.2.2 Conscience is an innate sense of right and wrong in all of us
- 2.2.3 If we will not be blamed for any actions, nor will we blame others, we will lose the will to hurt others:
- - 2.2.3.1 Having a "choice" between hurting and not hurting someone, knowing one is not compelled to hurt and knowing that no-one will blame one or inflict retribution for it, one cannot gain satisfaction from hurting.
- - 2.2.3.2 Hurting will therefore never be chosen.
2.3 The consequence of believing in "free will" allows us to pay off our consciences, therefore to lie and cheat and then shift the blame:
- 2.3.1 If there is no free will, hence no-one can blame you, you cannot pay off your conscience - you take sole responsibility for your actions
- 2.3.2 Without the ability to pay off your conscience, there is no desire to hurt or cheat others that will outweigh the desire to follow your conscience
2.4 To abolish hurting and war, each person must know that no-one is responsible at all for their actions.

This is taking your comments into account. I've reworded 2.3 quite significantly in response to your earlier points, but I think it's a lot clearer to others for it.

If you agree with the essence of the points and the construction of the argument, I can present what I see as the practical and philosophical problems with it.


peaceirl wrote:Wowwwww Only_Humean, you really have been listening. I am really touched by your synopsis. Now, I'm waiting for the guillotine to chop my head off. It's okay, I am ready with my sword (joking, of course) to fight against any argument that refutes me. lol Let's prepare for battle. :D
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:48 pm

Oughtist wrote:Hey again,

Might I suggest the following (from what you quoted on the previous page) is the crux of the matter?

peacegirl wrote:[per the Text]These activities or motions are the natural entelechy of man who is always developing, correcting his mistakes, and moving in the direction of greater satisfaction by choosing the best alternative at each particular moment in time. Looking back in hindsight allows man to evaluate his progress and make corrections where necessary since he is always learning from previous experience, but this does not change the direction he is compelled to go.


Oughtist wrote:Is this saying that Man (the collective) cannot help but make "correct" (greater satisfaction) choices? Is it saying that such also applies to each and every (sane) individual?


peacegirl wrote:Yes, we cannot help but move in the direction of satisfaction. There is no 'correct' answer; only that which we find better for ourselves and our particular circumstances. You did qualify that, and this applies across the board. But remember, what you find good for yourself might not apply to someone else because a juxtaposition of differences in each case present alternatives that affect choice.


Oughtist wrote:Just so you know, of the many voices in my head, one of them speaks of such things. But others tend to be more compelling so far... which is just to say that, if such is indeed what the thesis is upholding, I'm familiar with the basic gist, but have objections to it. :-k


I think you are saying that you don't trust which voice in your head would rear its ugly head. You aren't sure that you wouldn't be able to act in a way that defies what this principle is saying. You are right. If someone is truly insane, then this principle would have no effect at all. They could still hurt others without the slightest remorse. But these people are far and few. In that case, we would still have to protect the populace from these people, but without any blame. When the next generation comes along, and children are brought up in the new world, there will be virtually no mental illness coming from the environment as we see today.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:11 pm

Sauwelios wrote:
peacegirl wrote:There is a distinction, according to Lessans, between the internal and external world. If there wasn't, the "I" that makes me separate from 'you' would not exist. If there was no dividing line between the internal and external world, then we could not communicate in terms of me and you, and the rest of the world, and that would end the discussion because there would be no basis for communication. You are right in that if the will of man was free, he could be rightly blamed and praised. But if it's not true, then blame and praise can rightly come into question.

Sauwelios wrote:That there is a distinction, I won't deny. That the distinction is absolute, I will contest. And if Mr. Lessans is saying that the 'internal' world is not determinate whereas the 'external' one is, I think I will leave it at that. His view is too simplistic for my taste, then (like his idea, as I understand it, of a fixed conscience).


He is not saying that the internal world is not determinate and the external world is. You are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole by trying to make this knowledge fit according to the old definition of determinism. If you think in terms of his definition (bear in mind that just because something sounds simplistic doesn't make it untrue), then you won't get caught up in trying to reconcile one definition with the other. I think that's what you are trying to do. It's like bringing in subject matter that has no relevance because it has no effect on whether or not the definition works.


sauwelios wrote:Philosophy is indeed about what is true.

peacegirl wrote:Didn't you mean to say that philosophy is about searching for what is true?

Sauwelios wrote:Philosophy is searching for what is true; and this searching that philosophy is, is about what is true. :wink:


Hey, I liked that. ;)


peacegirl wrote:
sauwelios wrote:Of our own desire" is just another way of saying "of our own will". "Desire" and "will" are roughly synonymous; not "desire" and "free will". If determinism means the unfreedom of the will (as I take it you said was what Mr. Lessans meant, on that other forum), then determinism and freedom of the will are mutually exclusive. The crux of the problem is the discrepancy between determinism and free will, or between responsibility and its absence. In our earlier discussion (in 2007), you seemed to suggest that events are only determinate afterwards, not before (to leave during out of the question for now). This, in my view, is what you have to clarify. And as I, and probably some others here, too, are eager to clear this up, we will be receptive and try to help you. All of us together should at least be able to determine what Mr. Lessans is basically saying; whether we agree with it, or cannot possibly disagree, we will only know when we understand it.


peacegirl wrote:That's fair enough. I want to add that determinism and freedom of the will ARE mutually exclusive, and you are right that desire and will are synonomous. When I said that events are only determinate afterwards, I did not mean that before something is done there is freedom of choice. Even when we are in this earlier state of contemplating before making a decision, this action is not free. I was just trying to show that before we make a decision to do something, we are always comparing alternatives (at least most of us are; I'm sure some people look at their options more carefully than others, but this is irrelevant). I was trying to point out though that once a choice is made at any given moment, it could never have been otherwise because the alternative choices, at that moment, were less satisfying in comparison, and we cannot move in the direction of dissatisfaction when a more satisfying alternative is available.


sauwelios wrote:Okay, I think I can agree with that. So where does free will (as in Mr. Lessans' phrase "of our own free will") come in?


When someone says "I did it of my own free will" or "I did it of my own desire", it is meant to imply that nobody made me do it; I did it of my own accord, nothing forced or compelled me to do what I did. When used in this context, it is a correct statement since NOTHING has the power to make you do anything at all, if you don't want to do it. You could die before doing something you don't want to do. This is the other half of the two-sided equation which indicates that nothing other than yourself is responsible for your actions. If nothing in this world can cause you do what you don't want to do, then you can't put the blame on God, heredity, environment, or anything else, even though these things might be influencing factors. To repeat: Just because nothing can make you do anything against your will DOES NOT MAKE YOUR WILL FREE. If you get this clear in your mind, you will be able to more easily follow the extension of these two principles to see how they play out in the real world.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby Oughtist » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:43 pm

peacegirl wrote:
Oughtist wrote:Hey again,

Might I suggest the following (from what you quoted on the previous page) is the crux of the matter?

peacegirl wrote:[per the Text]These activities or motions are the natural entelechy of man who is always developing, correcting his mistakes, and moving in the direction of greater satisfaction by choosing the best alternative at each particular moment in time. Looking back in hindsight allows man to evaluate his progress and make corrections where necessary since he is always learning from previous experience, but this does not change the direction he is compelled to go.


Oughtist wrote:Is this saying that Man (the collective) cannot help but make "correct" (greater satisfaction) choices? Is it saying that such also applies to each and every (sane) individual?


peacegirl wrote:Yes, we cannot help but move in the direction of satisfaction. There is no 'correct' answer; only that which we find better for ourselves and our particular circumstances. You did qualify that, and this applies across the board. But remember, what you find good for yourself might not apply to someone else because a juxtaposition of differences in each case present alternatives that affect choice.


Oughtist wrote:Just so you know, of the many voices in my head, one of them speaks of such things. But others tend to be more compelling so far... which is just to say that, if such is indeed what the thesis is upholding, I'm familiar with the basic gist, but have objections to it. :-k


I think you are saying that you don't trust which voice in your head would rear its ugly head. You aren't sure that you wouldn't be able to act in a way that defies what this principle is saying. You are right. If someone is truly insane, then this principle would have no effect at all. They could still hurt others without the slightest remorse. But these people are far and few. In that case, we would still have to protect the populace from these people, but without any blame. When the next generation comes along, and children are brought up in the new world, there will be virtually no mental illness coming from the environment as we see today.


Actually my issue with it all is rather that, if in fact the thesis is true, then it does not seem like I need to put in the effort to understand the position, as, if such indeed will give me "greater satisfaction", then I'll automatically come to understand it (by reading or otherwise). Would you say that the thesis is true independent of the fact that the Text has been written? Will it occur of its own steam? That is, is it a purely descriptive theory? If so, then why the need for a normative claim that we ought to come to understand it? Won't that understanding occur independent of our "choosing" to read the Text? Again, I'm leaving myself free to admit that such is a possibility; it's just that if in fact it is so, then what describes the purpose of the thread (other than its being a manifestation of history at work)?

EDIT: Lest I be seen as totally missing the mark here, put in the context of blame/hurting others, is the position that I need not worry about being the agent of discomfort to others (e.g. as when "following orders" in the chain of command in the work place, or as when parenting a child), and that I may effectively blindly trust my impulses... that I need have no critcal self-awareness of my actions?

If so, and if the neurology of mental illness nonetheless retains relevance, is there not an assumption about mental health which must claim there is a stable neurological description of "normality"? Does the Text discuss this dimension of concern? (I'd be happy to read that section presently :) )
Last edited by Oughtist on Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:51 pm

peacegirl wrote:When someone says "I did it of my own free will" or "I did it of my own desire", it is meant to imply that nobody made me do it; I did it of my own accord, nothing forced or compelled me to do what I did. When used in this context, it is a correct statement since NOTHING has the power to make you do anything at all, if you don't want to do it. You could die before doing something you don't want to do. This is the other half of the two-sided equation which indicates that nothing other than yourself is responsible for your actions. If nothing in this world can cause you do what you don't want to do, then you can't put the blame on God, heredity, environment, or anything else, even though these things might be influencing factors. To repeat: Just because nothing can make you do anything against your will DOES NOT MAKE YOUR WILL FREE. If you get this clear in your mind, you will be able to more easily follow the extension of these two principles to see how they play out in the real world.

Okay, I get this side of the equation. But I need to have a precise definition of what you, or Lessans, mean by "determinism".
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:03 pm

Oughtist wrote:Hey again,

Might I suggest the following (from what you quoted on the previous page) is the crux of the matter?

[per the Text]These activities or motions are the natural entelechy of man who is always developing, correcting his mistakes, and moving in the direction of greater satisfaction by choosing the best alternative at each particular moment in time. Looking back in hindsight allows man to evaluate his progress and make corrections where necessary since he is always learning from previous experience, but this does not change the direction he is compelled to go.


Oughtist wrote:Is this saying that Man (the collective) cannot help but make "correct" (greater satisfaction) choices? Is it saying that such also applies to each and every (sane) individual?


peacegirl wrote:Yes, we cannot help but move in the direction of satisfaction. There is no 'correct' answer; only that which we find better for ourselves and our particular circumstances. You did qualify that, and this applies across the board. But remember, what you find good for yourself might not apply to someone else because a juxtaposition of differences in each case present alternatives that affect choice.


Oughtist wrote:Just so you know, of the many voices in my head, one of them speaks of such things. But others tend to be more compelling so far... which is just to say that, if such is indeed what the thesis is upholding, I'm familiar with the basic gist, but have objections to it. :-k


I think you are saying that you don't trust which voice in your head would rear its ugly head. You aren't sure that you wouldn't be able to act in a way that defies what this principle is saying. You are right. If someone is truly insane, then this principle would have no effect at all. They could still hurt others without the slightest remorse. But these people are far and few. In that case, we would still have to protect the populace from these people, but without any blame. When the next generation comes along, and children are brought up in the new world, there will be virtually no mental illness coming from the environment as we see today.

Oughtist wrote:Actually my issue with it all is rather that, if in fact the thesis is true, then it does not seem like I need to put in the effort to understand the position, as, if such indeed will give me "greater satisfaction", then I'll automatically come to understand it (by reading or otherwise). Would you say that the thesis is true independent of the fact that the Text has been written? Will it occur of its own steam? That is, is it a purely descriptive theory? If so, then why the need for a normative claim that we ought to come to understand it? Won't that understanding occur independent of our "choosing" to read the Text? Again, I'm leaving myself free to admit that such is a possibility; it's just that if in fact it is so, then what describes the purpose of the thread (other than its being a manifestation of history at work)?


The thesis is true independent of the fact that the Text has been written, but without man's help in applying the knowledge, it will be of no benefit. It would be like knowing how to get man to the moon, but never using the knowledge to actually get him there. The author writes:

The economic system I just described is mathematically possible —
but only when all people understand what it means that man’s will is not
free. These principles are just as undeniable when thoroughly
understood as any mathematical equation; and when political leaders of
the world recognize that it is now possible to unite all nations in such a
harmonious agreement that the causes of war and crime can be entirely
eliminated not only without hurting anyone but while benefiting all
mankind, this knowledge will spread quickly throughout the earth. Until
then, we will be forced to live in our present world as a lesser of two
evils. Remember, in conclusion, my prediction that all war will come to
a permanent end in the next 25 years is not like the prediction that an
eclipse will occur at a given time because the astronomer has nothing
whatever to do with the motion of these bodies and the crossing of their
paths. All he is doing is charting their course. Mine, however, is
equivalent to the one a philanthropist makes that a certain university will
receive a donation of one million dollars on a given date because he is
the one who intends to donate this money on that date. I am donating to
mankind this scientific discovery that gives man no choice as to the
direction he is compelled to travel, once the principles are understood.
Until that time, your help, your willingness to learn about these
principles and understand them is needed. And once you understand
them, you will be compelled, of your own free will, to spread the news.
When the fuse is lit and this knowledge spreads to those who not only
recognize its significance but who also have the influence to lay it before
those who can disseminate it even more rapidly, then it will not take
long before we will develop this world of unmatched splendor wherein
no one will ever be hurt, and everyone will have sustenance and health.
We are given no free choice in this matter because God has taken it out
of our hands as we are compelled to move in this direction for greater
satisfaction. In our next chapter, you are about to see another miracle
performed that is related to the medical profession.

Oughtist wrote:EDIT: Lest I be seen as totally missing the mark here, put in the context of blame/hurting others, is the position that I need not worry about being the agent of discomfort to others (e.g. as when "following orders" in the chain of command in the work place, or as when parenting a child), and that I may effectively blindly trust my impulses... that I need have no critcal self-awareness of my actions?

If so, and if the neurology of mental illness nonetheless retains relevance, is there not an assumption about mental health which must claim there is a stable neurological description of "normality"? Does the Text discuss this dimension of concern? (I'd be happy to read that section presently )


As we follow the guiding principle, Thou Shall Not Blame, as set forth in the book, you will see that the only true standard that exists in human relations is this hurt to others. You will be free to do anything you want without being judged, but you would never want to cross the line of hurting anyone with a first blow knowing you will never be blamed. A genuine hurt is what we are talking about here, not an imaginary hurt. This is discussed in the chapter on children.

There is no description of normality because what is normal for one person might not be normal for another. A lot of what we consider normal is cultural conditioning. But when there are no standards judging what is right for another, people will not be criticized for doing anything that hurts no one; whereas in many societies there are certain unspoken rules. For example, in many cultures you must eat a certain way, or you must dress a certain way to be accepted. All of these standards are going by the wayside because dressing and eating the way you want hurts no one. Remember: The only true standard is this hurt to others, and this will be the only standard left.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby Oughtist » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:31 pm

peacegirl wrote:The thesis is true independent of the fact that the Text has been written, but without man's help in applying the knowledge, it will be of no benefit. It would be like knowing how to get man to the moon, but never using the knowledge to actually get him there.


So the "Determinism" is dependent on willful application. I thought there was a sense that not only are we compelled to use the knowledge once we understand it, but that we are compelled to come to understand it. If it is dependent on the variable of our "coming to understand", how is it different from the many other theories out there which complain of being misunderstood once put into practice? "Human understanding" is not a monolithic phenomenon, is it?


The author writes:

The economic system I just described is mathematically possible —
but only when all people understand what it means that man’s will is not
free.


"All" people? That's mitigating the issue of falsifiability quite vigorously, isn't it?

These principles are just as undeniable when thoroughly
understood as any mathematical equation; and when political leaders of
the world recognize that it is now possible to unite all nations in such a
harmonious agreement that the causes of war and crime can be entirely
eliminated not only without hurting anyone but while benefiting all
mankind, this knowledge will spread quickly throughout the earth.


When's the last time political leaders read the same newspaper, nevermind the same book? (just saying)

Until then, we will be forced to live in our present world as a lesser of two
evils.


What's the greater? :-?

Remember, in conclusion, my prediction that all war will come to
a permanent end in the next 25 years is not like the prediction that an
eclipse will occur at a given time because the astronomer has nothing
whatever to do with the motion of these bodies and the crossing of their
paths. All he is doing is charting their course. Mine, however, is
equivalent to the one a philanthropist makes that a certain university will
receive a donation of one million dollars on a given date because he is
the one who intends to donate this money on that date. I am donating to
mankind this scientific discovery that gives man no choice as to the
direction he is compelled to travel, once the principles are understood.


So this isn't like the determinacy of the laws of physics at all, is it, insofar as it depends on mental operations.

Until that time, your help, your willingness to learn about these
principles and understand them is needed. And once you understand
them, you will be compelled, of your own free will,


I'm not getting that still.

to spread the news.
When the fuse is lit and this knowledge spreads to those who not only
recognize its significance but who also have the influence to lay it before
those who can disseminate it even more rapidly, then it will not take
long before we will develop this world of unmatched splendor wherein
no one will ever be hurt, and everyone will have sustenance and health.
We are given no free choice in this matter because God has taken it out
of our hands as we are compelled to move in this direction for greater
satisfaction. In our next chapter, you are about to see another miracle
performed that is related to the medical profession.


..where did the God thing come from?

...sorry, gotta rush off...
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Re: Determinism

Postby Oughtist » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:55 pm

...back quicker than I thought. :)

peacegirl wrote:
Oughtist wrote:EDIT: Lest I be seen as totally missing the mark here, put in the context of blame/hurting others, is the position that I need not worry about being the agent of discomfort to others (e.g. as when "following orders" in the chain of command in the work place, or as when parenting a child), and that I may effectively blindly trust my impulses... that I need have no critcal self-awareness of my actions?

If so, and if the neurology of mental illness nonetheless retains relevance, is there not an assumption about mental health which must claim there is a stable neurological description of "normality"? Does the Text discuss this dimension of concern? (I'd be happy to read that section presently )


As we follow the guiding principle, Thou Shall Not Blame, as set forth in the book, you will see that the only true standard that exists in human relations is this hurt to others. You will be free to do anything you want without being judged, but you would never want to cross the line of hurting anyone with a first blow knowing you will never be blamed. A genuine hurt is what we are talking about here, not an imaginary hurt. This is discussed in the chapter on children.

There is no description of normality because what is normal for one person might not be normal for another. A lot of what we consider normal is cultural conditioning. But when there are no standards judging what is right for another, people will not be criticized for doing anything that hurts no one; whereas in many societies there are certain unspoken rules. For example, in many cultures you must eat a certain way, or you must dress a certain way to be accepted. All of these standards are going by the wayside because dressing and eating the way you want hurts no one. Remember: The only true standard is this hurt to others, and this will be the only standard left.


What I'm leading towards (which is actually a critique of "Mental Illness" as well, but I'll leave that aside (do you know any Foucault?)) is that it seems that this is a project which assumes there is a "concept" out there which everyone can learn about more or less identically (comparable to a mathematical truth). What I would argue is that there is actually very much a neurodiversity in the human condition which precludes "everyone" learning the same thing en masse, most especially an abstract conceptual proposition. The variants and degrees of types of learners is, we are finding, increasingly staggering. There is, indeed, no discrete separation to be discovered between mental abnormality and the "neurotypical average". The consequence of this is that any proposition which requires "everyone" to learn it is essentially doomed. Neurodiversity is, rather, the normal condition of the human species.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Only_Humean » Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:30 pm

peaceirl wrote:Wowwwww Only_Humean, you really have been listening. I am really touched by your synopsis. Now, I'm waiting for the guillotine to chop my head off. It's okay, I am ready with my sword (joking, of course) to fight against any argument that refutes me. lol Let's prepare for battle. :D


I come not with a sword, but peace :P I hope I can remember all (or at least most of) my points, I'll try and present them clearly.

1) Conscience is simply asserted, as separate from morality (2.2.2).
- I believe humans have a conscience, I believe that it is a result of and a contributor to our success as highly-developed social creatures. I know I feel bad when I go against mine, I also see other people regretting, feeling guilty, going through atonement. However, the values of my conscience are extremely sensitive to the context of my society. Social morality and conscience are intertwined. I would not feel guilty for doing things that would utterly torment the consciences of my great-grandparents. Many people eat animal flesh, which would be unconscionable to others (say, Jainists)
There is no universal conscience, either between people and peoples, or in time. Some people have consciences which militate strongly against abortion - indeed, even militate to kill others who practise it - while others see nothing ideologically wrong in using it as a form of contraception. A hundred years ago, men killed themselves because they were homosexual - even when no-one else knew, an intensely private self-loathing that can only have been motivated by conscience. Now gay people have Pride carnivals. Work ethics vary hugely between cultures.
People are conditioned by the society they live in, as much as they condition it themselves. Morality is a social phenomenon, supported by the innate personal apparatus of conscience.

2) Conscience will, in the absence of blame, outweigh other desires (2.3.2)
I have to admit, I understand the point and the role in the argument, but I have no idea where it comes from. Humans have many psychological drives - conscience is part of the drive to a good self-image, which is a strong one, but there are many more. The acquisitive drive, sexual drive, power drive and so on. These are dynamic values. If we primarily went through life with our will focussed on what will give us a good conscience, then the point may stand, but it's primarily a reactive will - it tends to act to hold back other desires than promote action. Indeed, that's still its usage in the argument. I don't see any reasoning given as to why it's presumed to be all-dominating over other drives.

3) If no-one blames you, you take sole responsibility for your actions and answer to your conscience (2.3.1)
I could easily get more satisfaction from smacking someone who I feel deserves it than I would feel a conscientious dissatisfaction about smacking them. However, one thing preventing me from doing this (at the moment) is society's blame. However, if I choose to do this, it wouldn't necessarily be because I thought I could justify myself to society; I may do it expecting censure. It's not *rational*, but people aren't.

4) Blame applies a cost to hurting that can be paid (2.3)
In the example above, the censure and the investment of energy in justifying myself or accepting the criticism and punishment I would see as a cost against the action. Without this cost, I have the cost of justifying it to myself. My will is not free, I chose this action because it satisfied me and I had no further say in the matter (2.4) so I need take no action, just turn the other cheek to my own actions. I trust you will agree that the conscience is only concerned with those things that one holds oneself responsible for.

5) No-one is responsible at all for their actions
It may come in later chapters, as it's not directly relevant to the equation - but this also naturally means that no-one can feel a sense of achievement at anything they have done. I would foresee this causing psychological problems related to the conscience.

6) I think 'responsibility' and 'blame' are too easily interchanged. Are you aware of compatibilism? One can punish the behaviour without personalising it to the will of an individual, purely to set the perceived strengths of satisfaction for *everyone* at considering a certain line of action. I don't blame cats for their lavatorial habits at all, they can't help it, but I put coffee grounds on the lawn to direct their behaviour. :) It doesn't seem to be addressed, in any case.

7) The argument of probabilities to design (99 black marbles and 1 white) presented in chapter one is a well-known one, and it's flawed. However, I don't think it's necessary to the rest of the argument.

8) Knowing one is not compelled to hurt and knowing that no-one will blame one or inflict retribution for it, one cannot gain satisfaction from hurting (2.2.3.1)
True, but one might gain greater satisfaction from the results of actions that incidentally hurt people.

9) There seems to be a general use of "God" as the Spinozan God, but occasional references to creation and the Christian God. What's your take on this?

I'm sure I'm missing a lot of points, so I may come back with more, but it's late here. Thanks for your time.
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:06 am

Sauwelios wrote:
peacegirl wrote:In the new world, conscience will no longer be directed by rules and regulations (a moral code given by others), or by a fear of punishment; it will be directed by our internal sense of right and wrong. Conscience is that small whisper in our ear that let's us know that what we are about to do is a first blow which cannot be justified, once all blame is removed.
a) Is that all it lets us 'know'? Does it not also tell us such an unjustified first blow is wrong?
b) Is our internal sense of right and wrong unchangeable?
c) Can there be such a thing as a 'first blow' in a determinate universe? Would that not be a first cause?


peacegirl wrote:a.Yes it does. That is why it is unjustified, because it is wrong (a hurt). It doesn't matter what word is whispering in your ear. You know it is wrong by the way you feel.
b. What is considered wrong (a hurt) is changeable in some instances. For example, during sex someone might love being whipped. So whipping them is not a hurt to them, but pleasureable. Your conscience would therefore have no problem whipping them. But if someone hated being whipped, then it becomes a hurt to them and you wouldn't want to do it.
c. Striking a first blow could set a chain of retaliation in motion but I don't see how it equates with a first cause, which I believe is the original cause that set a determinate world in motion.


peacegirl wrote:These two facts make up the two-sided equation:

1. We are always moving in the direction of greater satisfaction which is why our will is not free.
2. Nothing can make us do to another what we don't want to do, for over this we have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).


sauwelios wrote:a) What does 'mathematical control' mean? Can't we just say "complete control"?
b) If we always move in the direction of greater satisfaction, does this not mean we have no control over the direction we move in, and thus over what we do?


a) Yes, we can say complete control, but the author wanted to make sure people understood that this is not a theory, so he used the word 'mathematical' to distinguish it from 'theoretical.
b) No, it doesn't mean this. We do have control over the choices we make because no one else but us is making those choices. What makes our will not free is the fact that we are compelled to pick the most satisfying choice, not the least satisfying; therefore only one possible choice can be made. In other words, if B is an impossible choice because it is less satisfying under the conditions, how can A be free?

We (the people) will no longer blame you because we know your will is not free and therefore you cannot be held responsible. But you know that no one can make you hurt someone if you don't want to, for over this you have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).

sauwelious wrote:According to 1. above, we don't have control over whether we will hurt someone or not, but simply cannot hurt someone if we don't want to (i.e., if we feel it will not bring us greater, or will bring us less, satisfaction), and cannot help but hurt someone if we do want to (i.e., if we feel it will bring us greater satisfaction).


Let's say you are contemplating cleaning someone's home out (you are a professional thief, let's say) but not to steal would not make you a loser. There are two alternatives, to get what you want even though you know this person will suffer, but at least you will have satisfied your desires, or not to steal but you won't get what you want. At this point in time you can choose either one. You know this is a definite hurt and you also know that if you should choose to do this, no one in the world is going to blame you because everyone would know that it was beyond your control. But before you make this choice, you know it IS within your control not to hurt this person this way. What stops you is the realization that if you go ahead with what you are contemplating, no one will blame you, criticize you, or judge you in any way, including the person who was the victim of your crime. Now you tell me, could you justify doing this? Be honest.

And when it fully dawns on you that should you go ahead and strike a first blow of hurt, that no one in the world will punish or hurt you in retaliation, not even the person who would be the victim of your crime, you are compelled to relinquish the desire to move in this direction because it can give you no satisfaction under the changed conditions.

sauwelios wrote:a) Can we at all 'relinquish' a desire? Does it not simply appear or disappear? Does it not arise from the feeling that something will bring us greater satisfaction, and subside naturally when we no longer feel that way?
b) Why cannot it give us satisfaction under the changed conditions? Is the only satisfaction we derive from hurting someone then derived from shaking off blame? Or must we feel that the dissatisfaction of being bitten by our conscience will outweigh any satisfaction the hurting may give us?


a) Of course we can relinquish a desire if our desire is imposing on someone else. Desires can appear and disappear at will, but we have the control whether or not to act on those desires.
b) Yes, the only way conscience can be eased is by shaking off the blame, or finding some way to shift responsibility. But when there is no blame coming from the outside world, this shifting of responsibility, or this coming up with excuses, cannot be done because no one is asking for you for an excuse. We would already know you couldn't help yourself so there is no need for excuses. This is why when there is no blame, we can't justify what we are about to do because there would be no way to shift the blame to someone or something else afterwards. You are exactly right when you say that the dissatisfaction of being bitten by our conscience (I love the way you worded that :)) will outweight any satisfaction the hurting may give us.

sauwelios wrote:I will now try to reconstruct Mr. Lessans' argument.

First premise: We have an internal sense of right and wrong which is not subject to change.
Second premise: We believe there is no free will.
Conclusion: We cannot attack each other unprovoked, as our internal sense of right and wrong will tell us that is wrong. Our fear of this unpleasant sensation will prevent us from doing such a thing.

As I've said, this only holds if we feel said sensation will be more dissatisfying than any pleasure we may derive from hurting will be satisfying.

Anyway, I wonder what you think of my syllogism. And regardless, I think such a syllogism, or a chain of such syllogisms, is what we should aim to formulate. I think this is what Only_Humean is trying to do as well.


I think you're beginning to understand. I love your syllogism and I hope I can clarify anything that may be unclear. It is true that the sensation will be more dissatisfying than any pleasure that can be derived from hurting someone, under these changed conditions.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
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lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:30 am

peacegirl wrote:
Sauwelios wrote:
peacegirl wrote:In the new world, conscience will no longer be directed by rules and regulations (a moral code given by others), or by a fear of punishment; it will be directed by our internal sense of right and wrong. Conscience is that small whisper in our ear that let's us know that what we are about to do is a first blow which cannot be justified, once all blame is removed.

a) Is that all it lets us 'know'? Does it not also tell us such an unjustified first blow is wrong?
b) Is our internal sense of right and wrong unchangeable?
c) Can there be such a thing as a 'first blow' in a determinate universe? Would that not be a first cause?

a.Yes it does. That is why it is unjustified, because it is wrong (a hurt). It doesn't matter what word is whispering in your ear. You know it is wrong by the way you feel.
b. What is considered wrong (a hurt) is changeable in some instances. For example, during sex someone might love being whipped. So whipping them is not a hurt to them, but pleasureable. Your conscience would therefore have no problem whipping them. But if someone hated being whipped, then it becomes a hurt to them and you wouldn't want to do it.
c. Striking a first blow could set a chain of retaliation in motion but I don't see how it equates with a first cause, which I believe is the original cause that set a determinate world in motion.

c. What I mean is that anyone alive has been hurt by someone else sometime. So how can such a person ever strike a 'first blow'? They have already received a blow sometime.


peacegirl wrote:These two facts make up the two-sided equation:

1. We are always moving in the direction of greater satisfaction which is why our will is not free.
2. Nothing can make us do to another what we don't want to do, for over this we have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).


sauwelios wrote:a) What does 'mathematical control' mean? Can't we just say "complete control"?
b) If we always move in the direction of greater satisfaction, does this not mean we have no control over the direction we move in, and thus over what we do?


a) Yes, we can say complete control, but the author wanted to make sure people understood that this is not a theory, so he used the word 'mathematical' to distinguish it from 'theoretical.
b) No, it doesn't mean this. We do have control over the choices we make because no one else but us is making those choices. What makes our will not free is the fact that we are compelled to pick the most satisfying choice, not the least satisfying; therefore only one possible choice can be made. In other words, if B is an impossible choice because it is less satisfying under the conditions, how can A be free?

b) Methinks you actually agree with me. We have no control over the direction we move in, and thus over what we do (i.e., what 'choices' we make).


We (the people) will no longer blame you because we know your will is not free and therefore you cannot be held responsible. But you know that no one can make you hurt someone if you don't want to, for over this you have mathematical control (you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink).

sauwelious wrote:According to 1. above, we don't have control over whether we will hurt someone or not, but simply cannot hurt someone if we don't want to (i.e., if we feel it will not bring us greater, or will bring us less, satisfaction), and cannot help but hurt someone if we do want to (i.e., if we feel it will bring us greater satisfaction).


Let's say you are contemplating cleaning someone's home out (you are a professional thief, let's say) but not to steal would not make you a loser. There are two alternatives, to get what you want even though you know this person will suffer, but at least you will have satisfied your desires, or not to steal but you won't get what you want. At this point in time you can choose either one. You know this is a definite hurt and you also know that if you should choose to do this, no one in the world is going to blame you because everyone would know that it was beyond your control. But before you make this choice, you know it IS within your control not to hurt this person this way. What stops you is the realization that if you go ahead with what you are contemplating, no one will blame you, criticize you, or judge you in any way, including the person who was the victim of your crime. Now you tell me, could you justify doing this? Be honest.

I don't see why that should stop me. I really don't. If anyone else understand, can they please explain it? I can only answer that being blamed, criticised, or judged was not what would make me do it, so not being blamed, criticised, or judged would not make me not do it.


And when it fully dawns on you that should you go ahead and strike a first blow of hurt, that no one in the world will punish or hurt you in retaliation, not even the person who would be the victim of your crime, you are compelled to relinquish the desire to move in this direction because it can give you no satisfaction under the changed conditions.

sauwelios wrote:a) Can we at all 'relinquish' a desire? Does it not simply appear or disappear? Does it not arise from the feeling that something will bring us greater satisfaction, and subside naturally when we no longer feel that way?
b) Why cannot it give us satisfaction under the changed conditions? Is the only satisfaction we derive from hurting someone then derived from shaking off blame? Or must we feel that the dissatisfaction of being bitten by our conscience will outweigh any satisfaction the hurting may give us?


a) Of course we can relinquish a desire if our desire is imposing on someone else. Desires can appear and disappear at will, but we have the control whether or not to act on those desires.

Is not "desire" synonymous with "will"? If so, can we make the will to make a certain desire appear or disappear, appear or disappear at will? And if so, can we make that will, in turn, appear or disappear at will? You will see that this is an infinite regress (and therefore absurd).


b) Yes, the only way conscience can be eased is by shaking off the blame, or finding some way to shift responsibility. But when there is no blame coming from the outside world,

But there is from the inside world (namely, from our conscience). Cannot we shake off that blame?


this shifting of responsibility, or this coming up with excuses, cannot be done because no one is asking for you for an excuse. We would already know you couldn't help yourself so there is no need for excuses. This is why when there is no blame, we can't justify what we are about to do it because there would be no way to shift the blame to someone or something else afterwards. You are exactly right when you say that the dissatisfaction of being bitten by our conscience (I love the way you worded that :)) will outweight any satisfaction the hurting may give us.

Okay, so at least I understand that part.


sauwelios wrote:I will now try to reconstruct Mr. Lessans' argument.

First premise: We have an internal sense of right and wrong which is not subject to change.
Second premise: We believe there is no free will.
Conclusion: We cannot attack each other unprovoked, as our internal sense of right and wrong will tell us that is wrong. Our fear of this unpleasant sensation will prevent us from doing such a thing.

As I've said, this only holds if we feel said sensation will be more dissatisfying than any pleasure we may derive from hurting will be satisfying.

Anyway, I wonder what you think of my syllogism. And regardless, I think such a syllogism, or a chain of such syllogisms, is what we should aim to formulate. I think this is what Only_Humean is trying to do as well.

I think you're beginning to understand. I love your syllogism and I hope I can clarify anything that may be unclear. It is true that the sensation will be more dissatisfying than any pleasure that can derived from hurting someone, under the changed conditions.

So you agree with my syllogism? Note: by doing so you place your head under the guillotine, to use your simile. :!:
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Sauwelios
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