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Martin Moderator
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  • from Bangkok (Ayutthaya and Cologne, too)
  • Member since Jan 8th 2018
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Posts by Martin

    Here is my first response to the video of Sabine Hossenfelder on free will:

    Reductionism combined with hard determinism excludes the possibility of free will. It seems that is essentially what she correctly presents in the video. She knows math and physics much better than I. Therefore, it surprises me that she makes a number of contradictions/mistakes which mislead her into reductionism and hard determinism:

    Science has provided what is probably our best methodology to understand the world and act in it by applying scientific models in analogy of using maps to find our way. However, she is promoting reductionism, which means in that analogy that she is confounding the map with the territory.

    She follows hard determinism by claiming that everything has been predetermined since the big bang. Later on, she correctly refers to quantum indeterminacy but overlooks that it contradicts the hard determinism she just claimed before.

    It seems she implies that there is no evidence that free will exists because we cannot turn back time and make a different decision. However, that same reason constitutes no evidence that free will does not exist.

    I have repeatedly read claims by professors of theoretical physics that classical thermodynamics already rules out hard determinism but I do not understand the reason. I guess that lack of understanding is why the reference to emergent properties to justify the existence of free will does not convince me. She does not address that path to free will. Therefore, it seems that she does not know that reason either :-).

    One of the statements where I agree with her is that quantum indeterminacy does not directly support free will because we cannot influence quantum indeterminacy. In my view, quantum indeterminacy breaks hard determinism and thereby may enable free will but it is not obvious how beyond that precondition that hard determinism is ruled out.

    One aspect which she does not cover is that free will has connotations of a supernatural soul. Therefore, agency is a much better term for what we claim in Epicurean philosophy based on the observation that different individuals take different actions even when all circumstances appear to be the same. Once we put our mind into something we put in a lot of effort in making the goal happen. A person who has resigned to a predetermined fate is less likely to put in a lot of effort. Agency seems to be compatible with Hossenfelder's differential equations determining the immediate future from the presence if a random term from (quantum) indeterminacy is included.


    I did not watch the video on Noam Chomsky. I agree mostly with what is quoted from his interview when using free will in the sense of agency except that I expect that eventually, neurophysicists, neurologists or the like will eventually come up with a good model and possibly a suitable redefinition to describe what we feel like Chomsky to be free will/agency.

    I will pronounce them during our Sunday call.

    In German, -ist is a a very common ending for a person who belongs to a particlar group or has a particular characteristic, similar to scientist, physicist, chemist and so on in English, whereby, however, the German words for those have the in German more common ending -er for members of a profession.

    Nietzsche's rhyme is there but it is nothing deeper than just a pun.

    Hi Jack!

    I enjoyed the session last Monday. As mentioned then, this Friday was a regular working day for me, so I could not attend. Monday, August 2nd, is the first day of my annual time-out from work, and I should be able to attend.

    "Karl Marx ... designed a system of economic organisation"! This nonsense reportedly taught at U.S. schools calls for immediate refutation.

    Karl Marx produced elaborate analysis and criticism of capitalism, thought that the transition from capitalism to communism was unavoidable and proposed a strategy how to accelerate that transition by abolishing democracy along with capitalism.

    He did not design a system of economic organization with which to replace capitalism. Lenin recognized this painfully after the revolution:

    "As Lenin admits, there is hardly a word on the economics of socialism to be found in Marx's work - apart from such useless slogans as 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'". [p. 91/92 in Karl Popper's "The Open Society and Its Enemies"]

    Welcome AdamSandvoid!

    Your page indicates that you interpret Epicurus' philosophy like we do here. That in itself is great because other quite different interpretations abound. Thank you for opening a complementary path for people to find the "right" version of the "right" philosophy!


    During first pass reading, I found only one detail to which I have an objection, that is the paragraph with "... Epic Swerve, the moment in our lives when we make a small change that makes all the difference between being bound by fate and exercising our free will" and "Swerve today!" and related statements.

    Although other friends here, too, have used the swerve in analogy to small, decisive steps we take within the scope of our free will/agency, this can be misleading. The swerve is entirely random, not directed by any will and no sign of a will.

    There is a strong analogy between the swerve and the uncertainty principle. That principle may very well be what enables agency/free will (the alternative is to derive agency from emergent properties, which is less convincing for me). However, the path from the uncertainty principle to agency is not obvious and not yet fully explained, and objections to that path have not yet been refuted.

    I take our agency as an empirical fact and the reference of agency to the uncertainty principle only as a tentative idea how to possibly explain agency in an entirely material and mostly deterministic world.