A Conversation for Behaviouristic Theory
Smeagol Started conversation Jul 5, 2003
I agree that the idea of "free will" is the sticking point here. It is a difficult thing to reconcile oneself to the notion that: at some level, everything is predetermined, and this includes me. Could I be thinking anything other than these thoughts? This question is huge, because it affects everything that our minds tell us about ourselves. And yet we must acknowledge that all systems, from miniscule to vast, behave according to some set of probabilistic laws, and, as we exist in the middle somewhere (relative to our spatio-temporal perspectives), it seems to follow that we, as physical systems ourselves, are subject to the same rules. The number of "variables" is enormous, of course, with respect to our ability to observe and account for them. As systems-within-systems we are constrained by our own inherent limited abilities to observe phenomena, and as a consequence we must rely upon a formal model of probabilities in order to empirically describe ourselves. Free will, I suppose, will always have a place in this "unknowable" domain of the phenomenological universe, but it makes one ponder: "is it really possible that I could have done other than what I just did?" Is it possible, moreover, that I could not have asked this question? Given the "foward only" constraint of time, such questions seem beyond our capacity to reason.
One further question: Is is possible that free will exists as an evolutionary "ploy"; i.e., that it is a necessary delusion, as it were, which maintains motivation and ultimately facilitates sexual selection (the goal of any successful organism)? By the same logic, if a species of organism actually evolved to the point where it was capable of conceiving, beyond doubt, its own deterministic nature, it would at this point cease to be motivated to evolve further (or even exist at all), and would simply die off. Hmmmm... maybe we should stop while we're ahead?
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