Free Will

Finally, after a couple of months of revamping, re-editing and polishing, the article “On Will” is published in version 2.0.

You will find it on as well as right here.

Read it. Comment on it. Share it freely.

Many changes in the article came about through inspiration from the contributors on this blog – such as marildi, Maria, Chris Thompson, 2ndxmr, Brendan, Valkov, Vinaire, Dennis, and many others. I value your input, so feel free to discuss the content or alternative views or give links and pointers to relevant data on free will.

Here’s the start of the article:

On the subject of choice, there are two options: Either you really have a choice, or the appearance that you may choose is simply an illusion.

By choice is meant the possibility of will being exercised. Thus, the subject of choice is strongly related to the subject of free will. Do you really possess free will?

Since there are many situations where people seemingly cannot choose what they want, we will refer to free will as meaning potential free will.

You either have potential free will or no free will. In the latter case, it should not even be called will as everything is then simply a series of events with no will involved.

Let us explore the possibility of no free will: You have no choices; it is all predetermined. Everything is simply a series of events. There is no will involved and everything is determined by the laws of the physical universe. This assertion we label a Physical Theory or an Objective Theory.

Determinism is a common view among natural scientists and is gaining ground in the general population. In the book A Brief History of Time the astrophysicist Steven Hawking explains it very well: If you know the state of the universe at any given time and all the laws that govern it, you can calculate all consecutive events. You can determine every single motion in the universe at any time. The brilliant French scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace formulated this idea in a paper published in 1814 (eng. 1902): Although it has been proven that such a thought experiment is impossible, that proof still does not disprove the universe as causally deterministic.

Many physicists disagree with Laplace in that they assert the possibility of randomness in the universe. Random events would break the prospect of calculating the future. However, such being the case still wouldn’t necessarily leave room for any will or real choices.

We see that there are two Objective Theories: the Deterministic Model and the model that allows for random events, the Random Model.

The Objective Theories are attractive in that they present complete systems within the boundaries of the physical universe without any external influence. The beauty of such a system lies in what it can prove — anything physical can be proven in and by the physical universe.

The Objective Theories also make the science of physics the ultimate profound science able to explain it all.

In the Objective Theories, there is no will that can cause anything. Everything is an effect of an earlier effect or is simply a random event. With no will there is never any purpose behind why something happens.

If the worldview of no free will is the truth, it has ramifications into most fields of human endeavor. It most obviously disrupts the field of religion as religions in the main build on the notion of free will and the possibility of choices. But it also disturbs the fields of philosophy, ethics and law. With the removal of the concept of will comes the subtraction of responsibility.

Aristotle outlined the essence of responsibility — a definition that remains the basis for accountability in our judicial systems:

“Aristotle’s discussion is devoted to spelling out the conditions under which it is appropriate to hold a moral agent blameworthy or praiseworthy for some particular action or trait. His general proposal is that one is an apt candidate for praise or blame if and only if the action and/or disposition is voluntary. According to Aristotle, a voluntary action or trait has two distinctive features. First, there is a control condition: the action or trait must have its origin in the agent. That is, it must be up to the agent whether to perform that action or possess the trait — it cannot be compelled externally. Second, Aristotle proposes an epistemic condition: the agent must be aware of what it is she is doing or bringing about.”

There is no accountability for actions if there is no will behind them. There is no one to be held responsible if the person had no choice. Thus, the human systems of law and order are merely illusions — as is the apparent drive for happiness or attaining one’s goals. All such pursuits are appearances that are bound to happen or that happen by chance. The appearance of choice is an illusion. There is no reason for living.

The nullification of responsibility may seem glum to some and a relief to others. But it hardly matters as it either seems that way due to chance, or it was bound to happen.

There is no wrongness or rightness in the Objective Theories. There is only isness.

In the Objective Theories, there is no real difference between a human, an animal and a well-crafted robot. Artificial intelligence is within reach.

The physical universe is composed of space, energy, matter and time. Everything within it is governed by its laws, whether the laws allow for random events or not. Therefore, in order for free will to exist, it cannot be governed by the laws of the physical universe.

The power of choice must at least in part be separate from the physical universe in some way. And only if it can potentially be completely separate can it potentially be fully free. Free implies free from space, energy, matter and time. It does not suggest that free will is somehow physically located outside the universe as that would still subject the will to physical laws and hence it would not be free.

Read the rest of the article.


Copying from Slashdot;

A recent article in Journal of Biomolecular structure and Dynamics proposes to define life by semantic voting [Note: open-access article]: ‘The definitions of life are more than often in conflict with one another. Undeniably, however, most of them do have a point, one or another or several, and common sense suggests that, probably, one could arrive to a consensus, if only the authors, some two centuries apart from one another, could be brought together. One thing, however, can be done – short of voting in absentia – asking which terms in the definitions are the most frequent and, thus, perhaps, reflecting the most important points shared by many.’ The author arrives at a six-word definition, as explained here.

Taking a look at that definition;

Life is autonomous self-reproduction with variations.

I see the key here as “variations“. Why do you think?

Processes, automation and human potential

I have been working with an article that captures the essence of my recent professional work, during the last year or so. Brendan and I have been consulting several organizations with the aim of helping them achieve better results – be it more revenue or profit, more efficient use of time, customer satisfaction, better cooperation or above all releasing individual initiative, responsibility and creativity.

I release the article here first to invite feedback from the wonderful and smart contributers on this blog. If you read the article and give some valuable input, you may be credited if you want.

The article is here: “Processes, automation and human potential

Ideology and responsibility

Why do people believe what they believe?

Upbringing? Seeking objective truth? Subjective truth? Coercion? Brainwashing? Gut feeling? Presented with overwhelming evidence? Unquestionable authority? Why?

Lot’s of avenues to formation of belief.

But could responsibility play an integral part? Could a person’s need for vindication help form his beliefs?

There may be comfort in believing that you are not responsible for the shit you have done. Or will do. But to achieve that comfort, you need a plausible belief system – a world view that is not so obviously born out of your need for vindication. It needs to be pervasive enough to solve both that need for comfort and possibly other situations in life.

Come God, come Allah, aliens, guiding spirits, science or philosophical determinism.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. — Romans 10:9-11

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. — Colossians 1:22

Allah’s will is always done. — Al-Ahzab, 37

Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him. — Henry Miller

Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper. — Albert Einstein

The initial configuration of the universe may have been chosen by God, or it may itself have been determined by the laws of science. In either case, it would seem that everything in the universe would then be determined by evolution according to the laws of science, so it is difficult to see how we can be masters of our fate. — Stephen Hawking

Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws. — Charles Darwin

Destiny is a good thing to accept when it’s going your way. When it isn’t, don’t call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck. — Joseph Heller

Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him. — Groucho Marx

One may chose to believe in God, Allah or the Great Spirit to explain one’s actions or more easily escape responsibility. Or one may elect fate or destiny, astrology or unseen influences to shirk it. Or one may want to put one’s trust in determinism or in quantum mechanical randomness to escape any notion of responsibility altogether.

May the need for vindication play a not insignificant role in what the person choses to believe?


The Rest

There are patches in time and space
Where I am
The rest
Is never fulfilling

Following the horizon
Enriches the meaning
I give
To Life

I touch my imagination
All I can see
Is what I put there
So I can see

So I can play
So I can cry
So I can dance
While I wonder Why


The danger of losing yourself

With reference to my previous blog post, I have come to the conclusion that one of the most dangerous pitfalls is that of accepting data without you inspecting and verifying it for yourself.

Source: Unknown

In everyday life this poses only a small risk – like when you accept some gossip about a friend without verification. Or when you believe a sales pitch from a used cars salesman. Or when you accept a lie from your loved one. Most of the time the data presented is true, so only occasionally you are led to believe a lie. But even if it is true, you run the risk of adopting a fixed idea for yourself. Anything believed without personal inspection tend to solidify – because you yourself cannot back it up or really defend it.

Of course it is impossible to inspect or verify every bit of information that you encounter every day. So the hazards of the daily data stream is maneuvered by continuous and often unconscious risk management. Some are good at it and get a hunch when they are confronted by a lie. Others never smells the rat and accepts statements nilly-willy; The hyper-critical tend to swallow any criticism without inspection, while the gullible will swallow any nice and fluffy statement without a blink. Although the former will probably give you a more miserable life than the latter, there are better ways to deal with information.

The real danger comes when the data is big and life-sweeping – like with life principles, general information about people and society or all the way down to axioms of existence. With foundational data, the occasional hunch or gut feeling just doesn’t cut it – because that would amount to bad risk management. When putting a man on the moon, an engineers hunch that the rocket will fly simply won’t fly. For sweeping data, actual inspection and verification is essential – or you can end up not only with a life lie, but with a solid, fixed idea that you cannot back up.

What happens when people accepts sweeping data without personal inspection? They accumulate fixed ideas. The data is “above their head”. The data becomes bigger than themselves. It enters the realm of belief. And such show up in debates as knuckleheadedness, broken records, illogic or plain stupidity.

A person prone to accepting big life data without personal inspection will end up with less personal integrity, more belief, less facts, a more defensive attitude and less free in his or her thinking. And this is the case even if the data happens to be true. The person will become smaller – to the point where there is no one left to inspect anything – an information robot. Nobody home.

A symptom of someone going down this road is a closed, defensive mind not open to opposing views. Or outright attack of contrary opinions.

In my own experience this covers way to many scientologists and Scientology critics. Whether they accept Scientology data or anti-Scientology data without personal inspection – it still closes the mind and makes the person smaller.

This is by no means confined to Scientology, religion or science. This is relevant in any areas of life dealing in general or sweeping data about life and livingness. Such as politics.

The higher on the Scale of Cult Think, the more a group will coerce or enforce belief and discourage or suppress personal inspection of information.

It is a paradox of betrayal that the Church of Scientology demands agreement to the principles laid out by L. Ron Hubbard. It’s even ingrained in his own writings. Even though he very correctly pointed out that you should not accept any data without you yourself being able to see it as true, in other places he enforces compliance. Like the practice of Method 4 Word Clearing where a disagreement with the materials studied is not accepted as anything less than a misunderstood by the student. Or in the policy Keeping Scientology Working #1, where no disagreement with the technology or even the slightest improvement to it is accepted. And there are many other examples. The Church of Scientology follows these policies and viewpoints to the dot, enforcing intellectual compliance, hammering out of existence any opposing views.

And this is a paradox of betrayal because the very purpose of Scientology should be to make an individual more free, more himself and better at evaluating situations, life and information. Quite the opposite is in fact happening. The evidence for this are in the thousands of debates about Scientology on the Net. It becomes stigmatized and a study in illogical debate.

Information exchange breaks down in the face of fixed ideas. It becomes an exercise in defensive tactics and strategies. Intelligence is futile.

Another evidence of what happens in Scientology when people accept data without personal inspection is a far more serious one – an elephant in the room – the absence of amazing people.

Or, taking this even further; It’s not just that Scientology seems to fail in producing amazing people. It seems to produce people with lots of issues. In my experience, I have seen more people with a wide range of issues who have been in Scientology than those who have never been in. I have plenty of non-Scientology friends that lead a really good life, some even enlightened lives, while many scientologist friends have issues with themselves, their families, their personal economic situations. Many have problems even contemplating any views opposing their own fixed ideas about life – implanted by accepting Scientology data without proper verification. It boils down to…

Merits. The efficacy of any principle, datum, procedure, technology or body of knowledge must be judged by its merits. Does it deliver actual, provable value? Are the results up to snuff?

Scientology is a sorry scene when it comes to actual proven results. Hence another area is brought into play – Hubbard’s policies on Public Relations. Most any area can be polished up to shine, even in the absence of verifiable results. Today, Scientology does not deliver on its promises.

It is a wonder that so many scientologists are unable to apply Hubbard’s own data about looking at the statistical results when gauging the efficiency of any technology.

Much of the lack of results can obviously be attributed to the current dictator of the Church of Scientology. But to reduce L. Ron Hubbard to a man without any real influence on the current scene in Scientology is to do him grave disservice.

Before the audience think I have turned my back to Scientology and become “a critic”, I will add that it is not a matter of being “for” or “against” but rather to honestly evaluate the effects I can see. It comes down to the practice of looking. Continual Honest Looking.

I have written many times that I have personally had great gains in Scientology, and I believe there to be excellent gains in Scientology for most people. But to accept data at face value is a road to personal unintegrity. You must be able to verify and sift out what works for you in this vast ocean of Scientology data. You must be able to think with it, to back it up, to be fluid in your evaluations and open to opposing views. And this goes for any field dealing in data about life, the universe and everything. Practicing this, and there would be very little danger of losing yourself.

I believe the continual practice of honest looking to be the real way to enlightenment.

PS: I realize that this blog post may rattle some stable data or even piss off a couple of camps. If so, I consider that to be a step forward.