Response to Daniel S and others on Freedom and Choice

Daniel Posted – On the nature of choice, creativity, karma, and dharma

Have you looked at

[ 12/January/22 Daniel Responded – Yes, I appreciate the work Alfred Mele did on this topic.]

For me, it is critical to understand that we are embodied entities, with multiple levels of systems both physical and “software”, and the conscious part of us is only the exposed tip of a vast subconscious “iceberg”.

We learn and become by being and doing.

The more I learn about complex math and multi-dimensional strategic topologies, about computation and about biochemistry and quantum mechanics, about ecology and behaviour, the more I begin to appreciate some of the vast intricate subtle sets of relationships embodied into us and our surroundings by evolution over deep times of genetics and culture.

It just seems so obvious to me that we are necessarily and eternally vastly more complex than any understanding we can possibly have of ourselves; and bringing that sort of humility to understanding seems to be an essential part of making significant progress. I do like Wolfram’s approach to a computational universe, as it does completely do away with the simplistic idea of the reversibility of time, while simultaneously supporting both quantum and relativistic interpretations at appropriate scales. And I suspect it may be even more complex than even he has yet explored, but that is entirely conjecture, based on a “feeling” from the structure of logics.

I enjoy thinking and writing about things like this, and I enjoy doing surveys of the natural world – in a few minutes I am off to catch and band a dotterel chick that is very close to fledging, and last evening I spent a few hours writing some new code to solve a problem that appeared yesterday morning for a set of my clients. So much diversity available for exploration and appreciation, at so many different levels.

[followed by Island-Mike Robinson – reponded that he liked it]

Chick CP16112 is now sporting 4 colour bands Red Blue (left leg) Green Orange (right leg). In the process of catching it, we found it had a sibling, which we hadn’t seen in 2 weeks. But by the time I had it banded there was no sign of the sibling. Maybe tomorrow morning.

This chick’s mother is one of two birds fitted with a tiny 1.6g satellite tracker this season, so we can get some idea of where they actually go when they leave here. We didn’t see mum this morning, only dad, but the satellite is saying that she is still in the general area (it’s only good for about 5km accuracy most of the time).

[followed by Mike reponded Eurasian dotterel?]

New Zealand Banded Dotterel – Charadrius bicinctus –
I live in Kaikoura, New Zealand.

[followed by Michael Sillion replied – … As for free will, I think, a strong part of it is to make conscious cognitive decisions. Something we all can do with practice. Something I practice a lot. …]

Hi Michael,

Kind of, and I get how hard any of this is to describe.

I see it as vastly more complex than that.

Sure, there are many things we do that we rarely have any conscious knowledge of, the actions being entirely subconscious. That can start from relatively simple things like breathing, chewing, walking, and progress to quite complex things like driving or flying.

And I do think that we do have both consciousness and free will, and both are important, and they are not in control of everything, they are necessarily built upon and from all the levels of systems that preceded them in evolutionary and developmental terms.

And understanding what I mean by that is not simple, by definition. If you search my blog site you will find a discussion I had with Trick Slattery that went on for a year, and I simply could not get him to relax the assumption sets he had about the nature of reality sufficiently for him to get any idea of what I was trying to describe to him. If anyone firmly believes that everything always and necessarily has a prior cause, then by definition there is no room for freedom. It is only in a system where there does exist fundamental uncertainty, that degrees of meaningful freedom can emerge in some sets of contexts. And there must logically be limits on such things if they are to survive for very long. It really is a deeply complex and recursive topic that took me years of personal exploration to become comfortable with, and that required me reading Einstein, and doing the work to become familiar with all the math in that (which meant going back to Reimann and Hilbert), then working through all of Goedel, on to Wolfram working through Russell, Wittgenstein, Kant, and a host of others; working through biology reading Darwin, Dawkins, Axelrod, and many others, my introduction to biochemistry was White Handler Smith Hill and Lehman. I have read and abstracted and related thousands of books, and tens of thousand of articles, and hundreds of thousand of abstracts. My readings in complexity, computation and AI are not as extensive, but are not insignificant. And I have been writing computer systems for 48 years, have a lot of theoretical and practical experience in computation; and have run my own software company for the last 36 years.

I am a weird, high functioning, autistic geek. I can read very fast when required (up to 5,000 words per minute for short periods, but 500 words per minute for very long periods – I read the Hobbit and all 3 books of Lord of the Rings in a single sitting, in about 27 hours; I read Selfish Gene twice the day I bought it in 1978, and several times since). Every book I have read I have abstracted, critiqued and related – as with most experiences.

I cannot possibly give all of that to another individual.

All I can do is point in the directions that I found useful.

I had to understand all of the conceptual sets in those works, before I could abstract and go beyond them. They were steps on a ladder that had to be climbed before I could discard the ladder. And that process has repeated so many times.

So for me, it is just so blindingly obvious that choice and freedom are real, and there is a very real sense in which that can only be so if we choose to make it so (and even that is a deeply recursive principle).

There is some real truth in the notion that if you believe you are free or you believe you are trapped, you are right.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
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