Consciousness: a philosopher believes in free will (General)

by David Turell @, Monday, February 10, 2020, 18:23 (6 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I think the consciousness mechanism we have gives us a blank slate with which to work.

dhw: I do not believe for one second that all babies are born with exactly the same temperament, degree of intelligence, capacity to learn or to reason. These are all factors that influence the decisions we have to take when we exercise our will.

DAVID: I agree that 40% of our personality tendencies are inherited.

Which would mean firstly that consciousness is not a blank slate, and secondly that 40% of our decision-making processes are influenced by factors beyond our control.

dhw: You accepted the first definition (the argument being that all the influences are part of the unique “me”, and so it is still the unique “me” that makes the decisions), because you believe in free will! But your changes of belief will certainly have taken place as a result of new experiences and knowledge. Once we start delving into causes and effects - why and how you had those experiences and gained that knowledge, and why you reacted to them in the way that you did (inborn characteristics, temperament, intelligence) - we shall embark on a never-ending quest, and not even you know what you will find at the end of it. I remain caught between the two definitions – agnostic, as usual!

DAVID: But at least you admit those of us who do introspective thinking can learn and change from the learning.

dhw: Yes of course. Even our fellow animals whose “introspective thinking” is no doubt far less advanced than our own, can learn and change from the learning. The question remains as to what factors influence our decision-making (which is the manifestation of free will).

Those factors have primarily to be what has influenced our thinking from past experiences and conclusions. I don't worry about the Romansh concerns re' a wet computer.


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