Problems with the Phenomenological Rebuttal of Free-Will

I have a number of prongs in my attack on the traditional conception of free-will (the conception that states that if two worlds were identical in every way then it would be possible for a person x in one world to make a different decision to person x in the other world).

Recently I have thought of an analogy, or model, to show the problems in the phenomenological rebuttal of free-will.

If you try to distinguish between what you have control over and what you don’t have control over you will find that the closer you look the less you have control over; until it becomes apparent that you are nothing but a passive observer.

Your thoughts just pop spontaneously into your mind. Intentions I would say are thoughts to and like thoughts they just spring up out of no-where. But it is intentionality (that is the feeling of intending to do something) that we use to distinguish between what we have control over and what we don’t have control over.

The will to act upon an intention is no different. It’s not as if you will to will to will to act upon an intention. The will just appears magically.

Now this could be the result of a necessary bifurcation in our being brought about by our self-aware nature.

It is a bit like watching your reflection in the mirror. Whilst you are aware of yourself and your reflection you know that your reflection raising its arm is caused by you raising your arm.

If all you had available was the reflection then you could be forgiven for thinking it was moving itself and not being moved by your own actions and in a phenomenological analysis we may be just looking at the mirror and nothing else.

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13 thoughts on “Problems with the Phenomenological Rebuttal of Free-Will

  1. There is nothing which makes your choice predictable (and therefore inevitable) other than who you are right now. And your free will cannot be free from you. If it were, then it would be someone else’s will.

    Unnamed Blog Author: “the traditional conception of free-will (the conception that states that if two worlds were identical in every way then it would be possible for a person x in one world to make a different decision to person x in the other world).”

    Well, you can take that definition and shove it. Free will is nothing more, and nothing less, than people choosing for themselves what they will do next, without being forced to act against their own will by someone else.

    All other definitions are “straw men” arguments that are easily knocked over. They cannot be taken seriously, no matter how “intelligent” the philosopher or scientist who grasps on to it appeared to be.

    Unnamed Blog Author:”If you try to distinguish between what you have control over and what you don’t have control over you will find that the closer you look the less you have control over; until it becomes apparent that you are nothing but a passive observer.”

    If you think people are “passive observers”, then let me toss you into the middle of a swimming pool. I’d like to see you stand by passively waiting to see what inevitability causes to happen next.

    Notice that sense of urgency? That’s you. Notice that thrashing about? Again you. And that hunger for air as you go down for the third time? You as well. And those bubbles rising from your drowned body? Oh, that’s not you, that’s physics.

  2. “Well, you can take that definition and shove it. Free will is nothing more, and nothing less, than people choosing for themselves what they will do next, without being forced to act against their own will by someone else.”

    So you acknowledge we are talking about two different things.

    “If you think people are “passive observers”, then let me toss you into the middle of a swimming pool. I’d like to see you stand by passively waiting to see what inevitability causes to happen next.”

    Either one of two things are true: 1) you are deliberately misconstruing what I say in order to score points in a game with no prize (in which case you are an idiot) or 2) you are an idiot.

    I didn’t say our bodies don’t act. I said that we are never aware (from the phenomenological analysis)b of an agent doing the acting. I said the acting appears to be acting of itself. Bear in mind I’m doing a phenomenological interpretation of experience here.

    Anyway the example you gave of being thrown into a swimming pool is a very poor example; the instance your body hits the water you don’t stop for a minute, analyse the situation, realize you are in danger of drowning and then proceed to thrash your arms. The entire response happens automatically and what I’m saying is that the feeling we have that we are agents making choices is merely an illusion. Choices are made but we are not aware of the mechanism behind the making of the choices. You don’t choose to choose what you choose before you choose it. Your choices come out of a black box you have no access to!

    Deliberation is just a long sequence of thoughts that we perceive happening. We do not perceive our striving to deliberate. It’s as if all our actions and thoughts and feelings pop up out of a black box that we have no access to.

    That sense of urgency is just another thing out of the black box. It is part of the experience of drowning and is followed by a thrashing – – – but the bit of you that is aware is not aware of striving to feel urgent; it is not aware itself striving to thrash. It’s aware of the body/mind doing all that but it itself is just passively watching the emotions and actions pass by like clouds across the sky. That’s how it appears from our awareness – our awareness appears as distinct from out acting part.

    REMEMBER I AM DOING A PHENOMENOLOGICAL ANALYSIS!

    Now I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and believing that you are deliberately misconstruing what I’m saying and where I’m coming from because you don’t seem to be an idiot; if articulation is anything to go by. But if your next response continues to show a complete lack of understanding of the subject and is full of straw-men arguments then I shall let it stand as a monument to your stupidity, bigotry and the apologetic nature of your thought process.

    https://christopherjack101.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/apologetic-thinking-and/

    • The black box is called “us”. The awareness is “our” “own” awareness of “ourselves” in our environment. It is in fact “us” acting and choosing. That’s what these words actually mean.

      The supposed “conflict” between free will and determinism is an illusion, a logical fallacy.

      The experience of the phenomenon we call “thinking and choosing” is similar to the experience of “standing and walking”. Both are firmly grounded in the biological organism within a physical, deterministic universe. Neither can reasonably be called an “illusion”.

      Free will is nothing but us, choosing for ourselves what we “will” do next, “free” from someone else forcing us to act against our will. That is the ordinary, common usage and meaning.

      To suggest that free will must be free of ourselves, as we are and as we will in that moment, is irrational. Therefore, it is the straw man definition, easily knocked over.

      • And you’ve just grasped the intending of that post – – – i was saying that the separation observer and observed in us could be the illusion.

        When it comes to free-will – you do not play the same game as me. You say “Free-will is not compatible with determinism therefore free-will must mean something different”. You’re a bit like those people who discovered there is no luminiferous ether but instead of using a different name they go “Duh we must of meant the wrong thing by lumiferous ether what we really was a self-propelling wave form” (or what ever light is)

      • Almost, but not quite. What I am saying is that the problem is false. There never was and never could be any actual conflict between determinism and free will.

        Determinism is a characteristic of the real world. The mental process that we all realistically call “thinking and choosing for ourselves” (aka “free will) is also a part of that deterministic, physical universe. It is actually happening in the neurological structure of the biological organism. Therefore it cannot properly be called an “illusion” of any sort.

        To use the words “free will is an illusion” is not only making a literally false statement, but it also does moral harm, by encouraging irrational apathy.

        We can stop doing that harm by getting our heads on straight.

      • No what you are calling free-will is not what it was called for centuries and centuries. People don’t do good because they have free-will or the belief thereof they do good because they are good just as they do bad because they are bad.
        If you wanted to be honest in your word choice you would simply say “choice and determinism are compatible” but no you want to keep the christian shackles without the metaphysical baggage – and i’m sorry my boy you can’t do that!

      • Well, the truth is sufficient to defend itself. It is when the claims or statements that “free will is an illusion” or “no one has free will” are actually false (as they certainly are) that one should look for ways to correct them.

      • It’s cool as far as i see it the only disagreement we actually have is over the nomenclature of free-will.

        I think the word that would most honestly suit your purposes would just be “choice” you know the act of free choosing.

        But free-will has a history and a semantic field all of its own that you ain’t gonna change no matter how much you scream at it.

        But yeah from looking at our “debates” that is our single issue

      • Oh and there was I going to accuse you of being a conservative (or whatever goes for the right in your precincts). I was gonna get all irate and say “I bet you’re a conservative (or whatever goes for the Right in your precincts)” I know the brackets subtract from it’s derogatory tenor but they gotta be there because I don’t even know if conservative means conservative where you’re from.

        But instead I shall keep my suspicions concerning your political leanings to myself 😛 Have an awesome day mate

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