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Roman Republic: Res publica Romana • View topic - Free Will

Free Will

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Free Will

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Fri May 06, 2016 10:56 am

Do we have free will like Epicurus thinks or are we stuck in the fates given to us?

I found this article thought-provoking:
http://www.iflscience.com/brain/free-wi ... aims-study

What are your thoughts?

C Cassia Longina
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Re: Free Will

Postby Lucius Aurelius Curio » Fri May 06, 2016 3:34 pm

Salvete!

This is a very difficult question to answer, but I shall give it a go. I believe that to a certain degree we have free will, the ability to change our lots in life. I have seen a street thug rise up to become a lawyer, breaking away from the family cycle. Now by all rational thought, he should've been stuck in the cycle of violence that he was raised in. But he made the choice and used his free will to change that. Now, that being said, it could have just been the will of the fates to chart that path for that boy. So in the end, who can say what is or is not free will?

As far as the article goes, I think the ability to guess the correct color on the fly is more of a matter of instinct rather than fate. Well we have less time to use our minds, then we rely on our baser instincts, our gut feelings if you will. Its the same thing when you come face to face with a violent situation. If you are attacked, it brings about one of two results. You either defend yourself (fight) or you run away for survival aspect (flight). It is a baser instinct that is hardwired into our brain as a survival mechanism. I think people many times people overlook the fact that while we are more highly evolved than we used to be, we are still akin to animals in a way. We still have instincts that are inside us, though not used as frequently as they once were.

Valete!

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Re: Free Will

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat May 07, 2016 12:07 pm

Salvete!

The experiment does not exactly address the issue.
There are two different mechanisms at work in decisions that are made instantly or after a longer period of thinking. Instant decisions are based on conditioning or instinct, not on reasoning.

That we are free in our decisions, when they are made by rational reasoning, is an undeniable fact, because we could decide either way. There are no laws of nature that determine our decision as long as we do not follow biological automatism. It is something we can observe in our daily life.
Therefore I fully agree with Aurelius Curio in this matter.

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Re: Free Will

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Sat May 07, 2016 5:33 pm

Salvete,

While I agree with you, I also must say that I do believe, to a certain extent, of fate. If I had not read [i]Julius Caesar[/i] when I was 15, I may have not discovered my love for Rome or my family history, etc. Now, I would have continued with my love of medicine and probably would have gone to medical school. But much to my parent's dismay, here I am, studying Classics and philosophy. I might have been happy as a doctor - but I would not be who I am today. I would not have found what I was supposed to do. I would not have fallen in love with Rome, therefore, I would not be writing my book, or opening my restaurant, and so on. I would not have joined my previous society, meaning, I would have never worn that toga, and left, and therefore, I would have never joined this wonderful community and met so many amazing people!

However, I do not believe in fate to the extreme. One can also change it, just like Epicurus would say. I have power over my life. But while I am in control, certain things are bound to happen - at least in my view.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Sun May 08, 2016 9:31 pm

Free Will, as opposed to everything being a part of a plan handed out upon birth!! Hmmmm! Well I don't think that I can go along with that, simply because things change too fast, and the darnest things happen when people who have been given the right to think for themselves start doing just that. Sometimes, the best intentions turn sour, while at other times stupid moves sometime blossom into success! The idea of a Great God sitting upon a throne somewhere seems to me to come right out of the ancient and medieval cutures. Read about how the bible was put together and the books that have been found since that time that little is known of.

I guess my belief is in the old saying, "God helps those who help themselves." God, in this case, being a force that nobody has yet identified. Now don't get me wrong. In my view, everything we have or will get, probably had a given force that was responsible for the design. Obviously time to develop to the current level was a factor in this force. Another factor may have been a series of unusual occurances. One good look at a blade of grass under a microscope with tell any reasonable person that. However, every living thing to some extent has some degree of determination in its life. However, once that level of determinaton is granted, how it is exercised is up to the individual. From the stink bug who rolls up animal dug and fights other "stink" bugs for its posession; right up to the man or woman who decides to wreck thier life on a menu of drugs.

So, like my Daddy taught me, "God gave you what you need to get along Boy! Now, USE IT!" It is difficult to argue that point, in my view. I am a great believer in "You deserve what you get"

Diseases are carried from person to person, my smarts tell me to stay away. If I can't stay away ("Like the military for instance") that was the chance I took when I enlisted. I have had enough happen to me, that I am convinced that in combination with my being extremely lucky, and working with others who were smarter than I, I have managed to avoid many things, but I am fully aware of my good fortune, and may have even learned a few things! The same idea can be applied to most of my misfortunes because I did not listen to someone smarter! Then, of course, there is our world that we live in and those who we vote, appoint, or hire to care for us. The outragous things accomplished by some of those, the world over are atrocious. They are not to be fully depended upon as a whole!

As I see how far we have looked into the universe, I realize that the task of whatever force there is to control every single action of every single person, animal , bird, insect, etc. is far too big a task and is unnecessary considering the abilities given to all. I would tend to agree that all things are pre-determined if I, and all the rest, did not have the abilty to think and do for ourselves.

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Re: Free Will

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Sun May 08, 2016 10:41 pm

Gaia Cassia Longina
 

Re: Free Will

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Mon May 09, 2016 11:33 am

The question of free will is not that much about an omnipotent being controlling our actions. The actual question is, whether our decisions are predetermined by the laws of nature and the principle of cause and effect.

The Stoics and also Democritus held he belief that everything is determined by its preexisting conditions. This means, if we had full knowldge of everything in the world, we could theoretically calculate how the world would continue.
Epicurus disputed this view based on his observation that he had a free will and that his decisions were apparently not predetermined. Although he agreed with Democritus that the world was made of particles that obeyed the laws of mechanics, he concluded that the exact behavior of these particles (He called them atoms.) could not be calculated and was slightly erratic. This is why the world is not strictly deterministic. It allows for a certain freedom within the laws of nature. This is where our free will comes in.
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century several scientific experiments (e.g. the double slit experiment) had confirmed that the world was indeed non-deterministic. This paradigm change put an end to classical mechanics as described by Newton and gave birth to quantum mechanics.
The "swerve" of the particles, which form our world that had been proposed by Epicurus two thousand years before, had hereby been confirmed and was renamed Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

So we finally have a definite answer. The Stoics were wrong. There is no fate.
The only question that remains is, whether and how our will influences the world. The alternative would be that the behavior of particles is purely random and our will has no influence. This would contradict our observation that we can decide freely either the one or the other way.
The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics already assumes that the observer actively influences reality. So there seems to be a mechanism how our will can control parts of the physical world.

It is nice to see how modern science and philosophy come together again. In antiquity natural science had always been considered part of philosophy. This is why we get a PhD (philosophical doctorate) as a scientific degree.
The separation of philosophy and science and the attempt of a fanatical religion to claim authority over both realms has caused a standstill of knowledge during the Dark Ages. Stoics, Platonists and Aristotelians had compromised with this new religion, Epicureans had not. This is why so much of their teachings got lost. It is now the time that philosophy has to claim its place back and to include modern science. We have to continue where the ancient philosophers were forced to stop. Philosophy is not just for historians, it belongs into the modern world.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Appius Claudius Tuscus » Fri Aug 26, 2016 12:44 am

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