The best explanation of free will ever

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HermitLoon
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by HermitLoon » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:17 pm

Yes Arel...
The "Essence of Being" has no need for the"Illusion of Separation" or the "Survival Instinct" (which is the guiding "force" of all "Physical Life" - demanding "power", "control", "choice", "free will", "survival", etc.).
All of that is just a hypothetical possibility for a story for "The Essence of Being" ("the self-aware presence", "us")to experience because of its("our") infinite potential for "being".
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DavidB
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by DavidB » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:42 am

Great talk from Sam Harris. Very well presented considering the difficulty of the subject matter, the state of consciousness of the audience and also having a cold.

Thanks for posting the link. :)
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ― Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by Natalie » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:21 am

I am glad others have enjoyed the link as well.

Thanks for your impressive, juicy and yummy post smiley. Only half way through?!?!?! Oh my......

Volition is one of those subjects that is not devoid of emotion and individual belief so it can go on and on:-). I think I’ve learned my lesson now. No more posts about free-will. Thanks again for your words.

Oh, and about the little exercise thinking of a city, I didn’t feel the drive to engage. I have been feeling pretty ‘flat’ about all things spiritual for a while now. The days of burning desires and questions following my first exposure to TPON and ANE are long gone. It’s all good.

Natalie

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smiileyjen101
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by smiileyjen101 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:30 am

Thanks you Natalie : ) I smiled big at you not engaging, that is very funny!!

It's more for me a curiosity of all the perspectives available, without sort of attaching to any, if that makes sense. A fascination with the human processing. I finished watching it and noted that he says things like
- in explaining what he means by consciousness --
Consciousness is the one thing in this universe that cannot be an illusion.
Consciousness is the fact of experience, the fact that something is happening, the fact that the lights are on in a basic sense, even if we don't understand anything.
and
our consciousness is riding atop mysterious processes
I had to laugh here - YAY!! I've finally found a scientist who uses such wonderful scientific terms for things as - mysterious processes... wonder what he could do with yum!! pfffttt!
... Our consciousness (which is the fact of experience) is riding atop mysterious processes, we are witnessing a display of energy and change and contents of consciousness (which is the fact of experience) and our own intentional life is part of that display.



I found his discussion about Saddam Hussein's son as an example of a sociopath very strange though - he had said having the notions that he has about there not being any free will increases love and compassion and empathy and understanding, and, about the life of a sociopath being 'unlucky' and how religion's 'god' is this vengeful, hateful entity of condemnation and retribution and that retribution 'doesn't make sense' and then he says it's
'perfectly natural to hate the person who has victimised you.'
If you hold that someone is not 'responsible' for their thoughts and then their actions, how can you then suggest that it's natural to employ 'hate' as a response to the unfolding of action?

And, how can you deduce that someone has 'victimised' you' if as he later said
'the self is an illusion - the ego, that you are in your head. The driver of your experience - the separation between you and your experience is a construct... makes no neurological sense"
and that he says -
We are part of the system and what we do matters, you can't take credit for your talents, but it matters that you use them. You can't really be blamed for your weaknesses, but it matters that you correct them.
I don't see how hate can be 'natural' if this other stuff is understood.

I agree with much that he says, just sometimes when clangers like this ^ or his assuming too much ... then he seems to get off kilter for me.
I understand non-attachment to perspectives and absolutely encourage multitudes of perspectives to be shared, in this case though I'm just not sure if he's being totally authentic, or if he is keeping one foot in 'science' respectability/pride while exploring spiritual nuances of the 'mysterious processes'.
From wiki - Harris wishes to incorporate spirituality in the domain of human reason. He draws inspiration from the practices of Eastern religion, in particular that of meditation, as described principally by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners. By paying close attention to moment-to-moment conscious experience, Harris suggests, it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby uncover a new state of personal well-being. Moreover, Harris argues that such states of mind should be subjected to formal scientific investigation, without incorporating the myth and superstition that often accompanies meditation in the religious context. "There is clearly no greater obstacle to a truly empirical approach to spiritual experience than our current beliefs about God", he writes.[16]p. 214.
Despite his anti-religious sentiments, Sam Harris also claims that there is "nothing irrational about seeking the states of mind that lie at the core of many religions. Compassion, awe, devotion and feelings of oneness are surely among the most valuable experiences a person can have"
There was also a link from his wiki bio to Jainism and their 'laws' are quite well balanced and clarified.

If he can mobilise science to institute love, compassion and empathy in our criminal justice systems I say bring it on... but let's leave out the hate and cultural biases.

...we're not there yet, but it's (maybe) heading in the direction.

Thanks again Natalie.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by Natalie » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:05 am

Smiiley I really really think this guy one of us. His choice of words really resonated with me and now I know why. The info from wiki you pasted on your reply explains a lot and so will this link to a video of a speech he gave in front of a room full of atheists at a Richard Dawkins’ foundation gathering. He is one ballsy dude!!!!!

23 minutes into this video he begins to talk about spiritual and mystical experiences and the suffering that drives some of us to find a deeper form of wellbeing. He talks about how miserable incessant thoughts can make us and how some have found a way to still the mind by becoming the witness of these thoughts. I mean all of this coming from a neuroscientist’s mouth…… I couldn’t believe it.

The Q & A session at the end is really really interesting, especially his last answer to a hard core atheist who claims none of the mystics who have meditated in caves for decades have come up with any interesting ideas. Harris says he has no doubt that contemplatives through millennia have found extraordinary depths of psychological wellbeing while meditating in caves and cites his own experience with meditation and that of others who’ve made genuine discoveries about the nature of subjectivity itself through practices like meditation. He talks about Buddhism and how its practice leads to the loss of the sense of the subjective self. There is a question about dualism and consciousness surviving death. His answers are very very interesting.

I see what you say about his apparent contradictions, and I too found the Sadam Hussein’s son example a little weird.

Anyhow here is the link. The talk about spirituality starts at 0:23:00

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=en ... NM2Ew&NR=1

Natalie

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by smiileyjen101 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:43 am

I'll check it out, meantime I'm still not sure - in his other works he recognises cultural bias and criticises practises as not being reasonable, rational etc..

then he says in answer to the question about how any intervention medical or surgical would impact on a sociopath, that we weren't there yet but that he had teeth braces as a child and if his daughter 'needed' them he would get them for her... okay, it's possible as it is in a small percent of cases that teeth braces are medically required 'now' not as preventative for some possible malady, or worse still heaven forbid being thought less of' by your peers in your society for not having perfectly straight teeth - which is culturally - really no different to why many parents have their sons and daughters circumcised or other 'socially and culturally' acceptable practices based on some irrational idea of what is beautiful and acceptable within a society.

I've emailed him to ask him how aware he is of his own irrational social/cultural biases, and how he balances those against criticising the biases of others for not being 'rational', and the thing about Saddam's son - why not intervene with those who were intervening putting Saddam into power.. how far back do we go if that is to be our basis for a fair judicial system.

Also about the 'hate' bit.

And, also if he can point me towards the 'frame of reference' that he uses when he says 'natural laws' as if it is an agreed framework.

Unless anyone really can organise a dinner party :lol:

You just gotta know this blog entry of his has my ears pricked no end!!
In writing my next book, I will have to confront the animosity that many people feel for the term “spiritual.” Whenever I use the word—as in referring to meditation as a “spiritual practice”—I inevitably hear from fellow skeptics and atheists who think that I have committed a grievous error.

The word “spirit” comes from the Latin spiritus, which in turn is a translation of the Greek pneuma, meaning “breath.” Around the 13th century, the term became bound up with notions of immaterial souls, supernatural beings, ghosts, etc. It acquired other connotations as well—we speak of the spirit of a thing as its most essential principle, or of certain volatile substances and liquors as spirits. Nevertheless, many atheists now consider “spiritual” thoroughly poisoned by its association with medieval superstition.

I strive for precision in my use of language, but I do not share these semantic concerns. And I would point out that my late friend Christopher Hitchens—no enemy of the lexicographer—didn’t share them either. Hitch believed that “spiritual” was a term we could not do without, and he repeatedly plucked it from the mire of supernaturalism in which it has languished for nearly a thousand years.

It is true that Hitch didn’t think about spirituality in precisely the way I do. He spoke instead of the spiritual pleasures afforded by certain works of poetry, music, and art. The symmetry and beauty of the Parthenon embodied this happy extreme for him—without any requirement that we admit the existence of the goddess Athena, much less devote ourselves to her worship. Hitch also used the terms “numinous” and “transcendent” to mark occasions of great beauty or significance—and for him the Hubble Deep Field was an example of both. I’m sure he was aware that pedantic excursions into the OED would produce etymological embarrassments regarding these words as well.

We must reclaim good words and put them to good use—and this is what I intend to do with “spiritual.” I have no quarrel with Hitch’s general use of it to mean something like “beauty or significance that provokes awe,” but I believe that we can also use it in a narrower and, indeed, more transcendent sense.

Of course, “spiritual” and its cognates have some unfortunate associations unrelated to their etymology—and I will do my best to cut those ties as well. But there seems to be no other term (apart from the even more problematic “mystical” or the more restrictive “contemplative”) with which to discuss the deliberate efforts some people make to overcome their feeling of separateness—through meditation, psychedelics, or other means of inducing non-ordinary states of consciousness. And I find neologisms pretentious and annoying. Hence, I appear to have no choice: “Spiritual” it is.
Sadly the reponses in the Hall of Shame in his http://www.project-reason.org/ are probably no more 'enlightened' than the ones they are being critical of.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by karmarider » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:09 pm

Jen, thanks, I enjoyed reading your posts about this.

I didn't even know about his link to spirituality until you pointed it out. His next book is sure to ruffle some spiritual feathers!

I like Sam Harris because he uses rationality to overcome assumptions, and he's not afraid to look at our most cherished assumptions. Which is what Adyashanti and Jed Mckenna and Krishnamurti and others do as well, in a different way.
I had to laugh here - YAY!! I've finally found a scientist who uses such wonderful scientific terms for things as - mysterious processes...
Yes, it's gratifying to see this trend in science, which I think started about a 100 years ago with the ideas around quantum science. Quantum mechanics is so very weird, and yet it is within the realm of observation. This has helped break limitations and so science today is not afraid to look at consciousness, the delusion of self, free will, parallel universes, and so on.

It's not surprising. Scientists suffer in the same way other human beings do. Scientists have the same access to spiritual ideas and practices the rest of us do. And so it's not surprising that we have our Einsteins, Alan Watts, Sam Harris, Ramachandaran etc.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your analysis.

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by karmarider » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:19 pm

Natalie wrote:23 minutes into this video he begins to talk about spiritual and mystical experiences and the suffering that drives some of us to find a deeper form of wellbeing. He talks about how miserable incessant thoughts can make us and how some have found a way to still the mind by becoming the witness of these thoughts. I mean all of this coming from a neuroscientist’s mouth…… I couldn’t believe it.
I didn't know this about Sam Harris either. Very interesting.

Thanks, Natalie, for the second link.

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by Webwanderer » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:28 pm

Yes, it's gratifying to see this trend in science,
I don't think you can call this science. It may fairly be called a philosophy, or it may even be religious in nature, but in order for it to qualify as science it must be falsifiable. He offered no test that could be made that would prove or disprove the argument.

WW

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by smiileyjen101 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:40 pm

What is science except the 'proving' of what we already imagine.

Fine tuning it though... that's the interesting part.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by Webwanderer » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:25 am

There is more to an investigation/exploration than just science. As a long time criminal investigator for a local law enforcement agency, I have a little experience in the subject. For example, forensics is science, but witness testimony is anecdotal. One is hard evidence the other is perception. Both are useful, but only one is science.

WW

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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by rideforever » Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:57 pm

Webwanderer wrote:
Yes, it's gratifying to see this trend in science,
I don't think you can call this science. It may fairly be called a philosophy, or it may even be religious in nature, but in order for it to qualify as science it must be falsifiable. He offered no test that could be made that would prove or disprove the argument.

WW
Yes and in addition whoever carried out the experiment must be objective, and so no human could do it.
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by smiileyjen101 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:41 am

Natalie said: Smiiley I really really think this guy one of us. His choice of words really resonated with me and now I know why. The info from wiki you pasted on your reply explains a lot and so will this link to a video of a speech he gave in front of a room full of atheists at a Richard Dawkins’ foundation gathering. He is one ballsy dude!!!!!
Karmarider said:I like Sam Harris because he uses rationality to overcome assumptions, and he's not afraid to look at our most cherished assumptions.
Webwanderer said: I don't think you can call this science. It may fairly be called a philosophy, or it may even be religious in nature, but in order for it to qualify as science it must be falsifiable. He offered no test that could be made that would prove or disprove the argument.
Rideforever said: Yes and in addition whoever carried out the experiment must be objective, and so no human could do it.
These are all very interesting perspectives, I love that they are expressed here in love and enthusiasm. Yay for ET for bringing us altogether!

I neither put a crown on his head, nor a noose around his neck for expressing his perspectives of issues, like all of us he has opinions, like all of us he fails sometimes to see that it is just his opinion bolstered by his bias of perception, like all of us he can reach around him and find 'evidence' to support his opinions and ignore evidence to the contrary.

It does take balls (energy, courage, willingness) to bring some of these issues to the audiences he brings them to.
But, he is not the Messiah, and there is more than a little touch of the 'naughty, little boy' in his methods of delivery :wink: . In a commercial world he is a writer and a speaker, and in a commercial world stirring the pot gets you attention, and attention sells books.

Having said that, some of his writings may raise issues, that some would rather ignore, into societal consciousness, what we do with it goes back again to our individuality and our rights to process them based on our own experiences/consciousness.

Our expressions are no less, no more valid than his. His expressions are no less, no more valid than anyone else's.

As Webby said though, some of the things he maintains to have proven, he has not proven as such.

That he sought to 'influence' some people's thinking around free will and soon to do so about spirituality, is different to 'prove'. He didn't 'prove' anything to me because he didn't detail the 'base' of his argument - he didn't hit the perspective I have about free will as a base for the discussion, he understandably started his argument from his perspective of what people think free will is, without detailing what that is in his understanding.

Now, he may have detailed that in his book about it... do I go and buy the book?
So then the question comes, am I influenced enough to buy his book?

Well I'm sure he'll be hoping I/we do :lol: the commercial point of that talk was to outline 'some' of the things in his book and 'maybe' entice some to buy it. On the day the audience members even got a free signature if they bought it then and there!!! (just a little clue that he's commercialising his particular brand of 'special-ness ;)

He may have influenced some to change their thinking, but he hasn't 'proven' anything. The funny thing is, within his argument about free will, people he will influence already had the capacity to change their thinking, and like him were just consciously or unconsciously (hmm I'll have to maybe explain that differently -) whether they were aware of it cognitively or not (ala cup of coffee) they were already at a place of understanding and willingness to reach for a different understanding and for this to be accepted.

In fairness he is a human being with personal and professional experiences in a particular field of science (neurology) and personal experiences in altered states of consciousness through both drugs (as detailed in his wiki bio) and through meditation.

No less (and no more) than the trees and the stars, he has a right to be here (and express his opinions, musings, points of view of the world and his human life experiences.

No more, no less, than anyone.

As a writer/agitator, he's pretty good at getting attention.

I do have to say, if this is to be the best explanation of free will ever... I hope his book is better than his speech.

I still haven't decided whether or not to 'buy' it.

(toddles off singing... always look on the bright side of life.. .doodo, dododo.... :lol: )
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by smiileyjen101 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:56 am

hmmm... the notion of 'best explanation of free will ever...' rumbled around in my consciousness. I think (personally) Enigma's version (in that very long, long thread) of what it is not was probably as good as this guy's... the biological, societal/cultural psychological bedding on which we make (some of) our choices.

I'm musing about a different energy... absolutely from my own cultural/societal and experiential consciousness arising...

My Granny used to say (translated into modern English,although I hear it in her lilting Auld Scots and hoping I've translated it faithfully)

"There's none so blind as those that will not (to) see." and "There's none so deaf as those that will not (to) hear."

These held a different resonance than saying someone was ignorant of a thing, or had a 'bent' towards or against a thing in differences of opinion and usually led at some point to a realisation of -

"What you'll not be told, you'll be taught."
Learning the truth of a thing by experience of it, if not by hearing the truth of it.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: The best explanation of free will ever

Post by Natalie » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:03 am

He 'made' me see that the neural activity that precedes my thoughts/actions is not 'mine' to beging with. I didn't plan or author this activity, so the end rsult of this activity cannot be claimed as 'my choice'. That sealed the deal for me. I sensed my lack of free will way before finding this man on youtube but the way he conveyed his message was extraordinary in my opinion. I am not buying his books either. I did like his facebook page though.

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