Sunday, December 06, 2009

A little heavy philosophy for a Sunday

Okay, question 1. Is the world deterministic?

Answer 1. Yes. Neurons in my brain fire based on which chemicals they get which is from some other neuron, these things happened because atoms interacted in some way, the way in which they interact is prescribed by how physics works, etc. If the universe were to start over again right now, with the same starting conditions, it would end up the exact same way.

Do you agree? I do. And this is way more than a theoretical blahblah. It's super relevant, because it means that I don't have any say in what I do right now! It's all just physics in my brain! The same way that a cockroach seeks darkness because its few neurons fired, I "think" because my many neurons fired. Furthermore, there's not even any "I"! Wow. Now I sort of understand the whole "the world is all one, you're just a wave in the ocean," etc.

(Straw-man: What about radioactive atoms? They decay randomly!
Daniel: okay, fine, random, same as deterministic; the point is, I don't have a say in it all.)

Wow! Let me know what you think, and I'll continue this train of thought next post.


meanerelk said...

Dan, I'm interested to hear what you think about this!

There's a nice sequence about free will over at my favorite site, Less Wrong. Here is an index of the relevant material.

If you prefer, you can simply jump to their solution. (Which I happen to agree with). However, I'd prefer to hear your own ideas first.

Dan Tasse said...

Hmm! Sounds interesting and maybe like a philosophical exercise worth doing. (I don't mean "philosophical" as in "not real-world useful".)

I'm not really interested in the "do I have free will?" question though, at least not immediately; I think the bigger issue is "is there an 'I'?" I hate to do this, but I might point you at my facebook notes instead if you're interested in jumping in, because there's much more conversation going on there.

Incidentally, I started reading "dissolving the question" before saying "I should probably be doing work instead" and found it very Zen-sounding. The question doesn't have a nice answer because it's the wrong question!