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KxBurns
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

Wow, great discussion so far, everyone! You guys are doing a fabulous job debating the philosophical nitty gritty :smileyhappy:
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kbbg42
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I have to say that i thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms. Adams posts. I especially liked that she wouldn't label Ginny. I wish that we, Americans that is, would hesitate more when labelling out children, especially the schools. It seems to me that the rate of children being labeled as ADHD is staggering. Few schools today offer the children any type of activity to burn off some of thier  energy. What ever happened to recess where a kid could go out to play and run and jump. Now if a child can't sit still and listen to the teachers every word they suggest the child get put on Ritalin. There is hardly any physical education anymore. When I was in grade school we had gym every day, now if they are lucky they might get it twice a week. Then there is the amount of homework they get sent home with. So they sit in school for six to seven hours, come home and do two to three hours of homework eat bath and go to bed. Is it any wonder that they can't sit still?
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maryfrancesa
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

In answer to some of the questions you put forth.  I feel that Ginny was always told what to do . Go with Vi, I not sure who was looking out for whom Ginny Vi or Vi Ginny.  Sometimes I thought that Ginny was looking out for Vi. Vi was adventurous and Ginny was suppose to hold her in check, but Ginny just went along with her.  It seems that Ginny had no say or choice she went along with whatever her parents said.  I think that their behavior lead Vi to believe that something is/was wrong with Ginny.  I seem to think Ginny cannnot be that stupid/dense since she supposely did research with her father or did he just leave her to believe that she was a partner in the research. 
 
 
I never really gave her a label except OCB which she seemed to be.  Everything in its place.  She became upset when Vi came and changed her orderly world.  I wonder what their childhood was really like that Vi "hated " her family.  I don't think that Vi really knew or understood Giny.  She assumes that their is something wrong with her and only sees her side of the conflict.  I wonder if she really knew what went on in the household all the time she was away.  I really do think that she was looking for something when she finnaly returned after 50 yrs.  This was not teh reunion I would want with my family after 50 yrs
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mwinasu
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

When I asked about the dog I was trying to figure out if there was supposed to be a metaphysical level to this story.  I wondered about that because some of what was written seemed to be symbolic.  Take the moth for example. In some circles the butterfly is a symbol of rebirth.   Butterflies and moths are often mistaken for one another, but moths are more often seen as a symbol of decay.  I believe that this story has a  spiritual message but I was taught that these things are hidden in plain sight and that you can only see and understand them if you are supposed to.  You are not supposed to go around blabbing like I am tempted to do.  But I sure would like to talk to Poppy in private.
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CylonReader
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

To Karen and everyone else who has posted so thoughtfully during this discussion of The Sister - I have to say THANK YOU for providing me with inspiration to journey beyond my own view of the world. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every word and your words have encouraged me to think on a much deeper level. You have asked so many good questions, and provided so many thought-provoking answers - I have realized how shallow my own ideas can be! It has been great to be able to read along with so many different people...This was my first time with this club, and I hope the opportunity presents itself again. Thanks so much!!!
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Everyman
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

Fascinating question, free will!

I'm not sure that Ginny necessarily agrees with Clive on this issue, but he certainly presents the scientific argument against free will. And the reality is, that if the classical laws of natural science are true, it's hard to see how free will can exist.

According to classical science, there are two basic laws at issue. One is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The other is that given a specific set of circumstances, a given input will always produce the identical output.

Given that as far as we know the actions of the brain, and therefore of our thinking and deciding processes, are purely a matter of electrical and chemical reactions within and between our brain cells, every input must have a deterministic output. That is, whatever inputs enter our brain through our senses or in any other way, it will necessarily produce one and only one series of brain interactions. If we had sufficient knowledge of the paths, patterns, and chemical and electrical impulses of the brain, we could accurately predict exactly how any given person would react to any given stimulus. Of course we lack that knowledge, and I hope will never get it, but the principle is fixed. There can be no free will; everything is deterministic.

I certainly don't like this conclusion; I want to believe in free will. And I'm not persuaded by it. But equally I'm not sure that I'm willing to accept the principles of randomness of input and output which are necessary to create an environment in which free will can exist.



pheath wrote:
I think that answer to the free will question for people depends on their worldview. Ginny and Clive pose a very mechanical/evolutionary worldview, and this led them to the conclusion of a lack of free will. If everything happens by chance according to a predetermined script, there is neither free will or accountability.

That said, I do not agree with this position. I believe in creation and the free will of man to choose right or wrong. Further this is where our conscience comes from - the natural instinct of what is right and wrong that is further developed through the norms we learn from our families and society. Now that I think about it, this is one of the things that was truly odd about Ginny. She didn't seem to have a concept of right and wrong, i.e. she lacked a conscience. Her quote of "I don't feel like a murderer." seems to support this.


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Everyman
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I agree with all that you say (and you don't even mention the clear research which shows that recess is an integral element of learning, and that the elimination of recess in many of our schools is detrimental to the learnign process.

But equally true is that for those children who do have neurological issues, an accurate diagnosis can be enormously helpful in helping them achieve the greatest possible success in school and life.

It's the abuse, rather than the proper use, of diagnosis and treatment which is at issue. That and the unfortunate reality that if a school can diagnose a challenging student with some recognized disorder, they can excuse their failure to simply accept that children and different and need to be taught with an emphasis on understanding their particular needs. But that's much harder than just labeling and drugging the child and saying see, it's not our fault.

kbbg42 wrote:
I have to say that i thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms. Adams posts. I especially liked that she wouldn't label Ginny. I wish that we, Americans that is, would hesitate more when labelling out children, especially the schools. It seems to me that the rate of children being labeled as ADHD is staggering. Few schools today offer the children any type of activity to burn off some of thier energy. What ever happened to recess where a kid could go out to play and run and jump. Now if a child can't sit still and listen to the teachers every word they suggest the child get put on Ritalin. There is hardly any physical education anymore. When I was in grade school we had gym every day, now if they are lucky they might get it twice a week. Then there is the amount of homework they get sent home with. So they sit in school for six to seven hours, come home and do two to three hours of homework eat bath and go to bed. Is it any wonder that they can't sit still?



_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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nperrin
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Everyman wrote:
It's the abuse, rather than the proper use, of diagnosis and treatment which is at issue. That and the unfortunate reality that if a school can diagnose a challenging student with some recognized disorder, they can excuse their failure to simply accept that children and[sic] different and need to be taught with an emphasis on understanding their particular needs. But that's much harder than just labeling and drugging the child and saying see, it's not our fault.



And we can bring this right back to the book. Maud was always angry that Ginny had whatever problem she had; but was she just a "challenging" child to raise, labeled with something wrong with her to make it easier for Maud and Clive to deal with? Ms. Adams doesn't think there was truly something wrong with Ginny from birth. Your words are perfect for the situation: she could have been raised in a way specific to her needs, but the problem was "taken care of" (not with drugs, but) by making the two girls do everything together--letting the parents off the hook.

It is interesting to me that, under this interpretation, Vivi gave Maud and Clive a way out of dealing with Ginny for years and years. Then when Vivi finally left is when the family started to fall apart. And this is Vivi's interpretation, too: she held everything together while Ginny tore it apart.
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pheath
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Everyman wrote:
Fascinating question, free will!

I'm not sure that Ginny necessarily agrees with Clive on this issue, but he certainly presents the scientific argument against free will. And the reality is, that if the classical laws of natural science are true, it's hard to see how free will can exist.

According to classical science, there are two basic laws at issue. One is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The other is that given a specific set of circumstances, a given input will always produce the identical output.

Given that as far as we know the actions of the brain, and therefore of our thinking and deciding processes, are purely a matter of electrical and chemical reactions within and between our brain cells, every input must have a deterministic output. That is, whatever inputs enter our brain through our senses or in any other way, it will necessarily produce one and only one series of brain interactions. If we had sufficient knowledge of the paths, patterns, and chemical and electrical impulses of the brain, we could accurately predict exactly how any given person would react to any given stimulus. Of course we lack that knowledge, and I hope will never get it, but the principle is fixed. There can be no free will; everything is deterministic.

I certainly don't like this conclusion; I want to believe in free will. And I'm not persuaded by it. But equally I'm not sure that I'm willing to accept the principles of randomness of input and output which are necessary to create an environment in which free will can exist.



pheath wrote:
I think that answer to the free will question for people depends on their worldview. Ginny and Clive pose a very mechanical/evolutionary worldview, and this led them to the conclusion of a lack of free will. If everything happens by chance according to a predetermined script, there is neither free will or accountability.

That said, I do not agree with this position. I believe in creation and the free will of man to choose right or wrong. Further this is where our conscience comes from - the natural instinct of what is right and wrong that is further developed through the norms we learn from our families and society. Now that I think about it, this is one of the things that was truly odd about Ginny. She didn't seem to have a concept of right and wrong, i.e. she lacked a conscience. Her quote of "I don't feel like a murderer." seems to support this.







I think that this is carrying Newton's first law of motion too far. This was meant to describe the world of physics, and I think that carrying this into matters of the brain is taking the principle beyond its intended use. I don't think he intended application to biochemistry or psychology.
-Philip
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Everyman
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I think that this is carrying Newton's first law of motion too far. This was meant to describe the world of physics, and I think that carrying this into matters of the brain is taking the principle beyond its intended use. I don't think he intended application to biochemistry or psychology.

He probably didn't intend it, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. The brain is just a physical device which has physical attributes and physical processes. Newton might not have understood this, but we do.

When the same length of light wave hits our retina, does it or does it not send the same signal to the brain?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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pheath
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Everyman wrote:
I think that this is carrying Newton's first law of motion too far. This was meant to describe the world of physics, and I think that carrying this into matters of the brain is taking the principle beyond its intended use. I don't think he intended application to biochemistry or psychology.

He probably didn't intend it, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. The brain is just a physical device which has physical attributes and physical processes. Newton might not have understood this, but we do.

When the same length of light wave hits our retina, does it or does it not send the same signal to the brain?




Honestly, I don't know. While I don't deny that the human body exists in the physical realm, I don't think physics alone can explain human behavior. Pure mechanical arguments do not explain such things as acquired tastes or growing tired of a particular thing after repeated exposure. The exact same sound wave that hits the ear is processed through the same mechanical components of the body each time, but most people will react differently after a thousand repetitions than the first time they hear it. The mechanical process didn't change so why does the reaction?
-Philip
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KxBurns
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



nperrin wrote:


Everyman wrote:
It's the abuse, rather than the proper use, of diagnosis and treatment which is at issue. That and the unfortunate reality that if a school can diagnose a challenging student with some recognized disorder, they can excuse their failure to simply accept that children and[sic] different and need to be taught with an emphasis on understanding their particular needs. But that's much harder than just labeling and drugging the child and saying see, it's not our fault.



And we can bring this right back to the book. Maud was always angry that Ginny had whatever problem she had; but was she just a "challenging" child to raise, labeled with something wrong with her to make it easier for Maud and Clive to deal with? Ms. Adams doesn't think there was truly something wrong with Ginny from birth. Your words are perfect for the situation: she could have been raised in a way specific to her needs, but the problem was "taken care of" (not with drugs, but) by making the two girls do everything together--letting the parents off the hook.

It is interesting to me that, under this interpretation, Vivi gave Maud and Clive a way out of dealing with Ginny for years and years. Then when Vivi finally left is when the family started to fall apart. And this is Vivi's interpretation, too: she held everything together while Ginny tore it apart.

The family takes the same approach to Maud's alcoholism, right? Rather than acknowledging the problem, they foist the burden of dealing with it on the person who is least equipped to handle the situation...  
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Poppy_Adams
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Everyman wrote:
Fascinating question, free will!

Given that as far as we know the actions of the brain, and therefore of our thinking and deciding processes, are purely a matter of electrical and chemical reactions within and between our brain cells, every input must have a deterministic output. That is, whatever inputs enter our brain through our senses or in any other way, it will necessarily produce one and only one series of brain interactions. If we had sufficient knowledge of the paths, patterns, and chemical and electrical impulses of the brain, we could accurately predict exactly how any given person would react to any given stimulus. Of course we lack that knowledge, and I hope will never get it, but the principle is fixed. There can be no free will; everything is deterministic.

I certainly don't like this conclusion; I want to believe in free will. And I'm not persuaded by it. But equally I'm not sure that I'm willing to accept the principles of randomness of input and output which are necessary to create an environment in which free will can exist.


Dear Everyman
This is the point.   Thank-you.  This is the level on which I am trying to get people to think about free will.  How can there be free will when our every thought and action can be reduced to electrical impulses and chemical reactions?  There is nothing 'free' about it.  Were we slightly different people, (or in a biological sense, had a slightly different chemical or celluar make-up, we would necessarily react differently to every situation.)  Had Maude been made of a different set of genetically-coded cells, proteins, chemicals,  then, no, she would not have turned to alcohol, but would have responded in a different way.  On this 'cellular' level she is not determining her response, it's not her decision to turn to drink. 
RIGHT, NOW I NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS IS NOT HOW I FEEL PERSONALLY, so I don't want to be quoted out of context.  This is the conclusion that Ginny comes to, and the hypothesis I'm putting forward in the book for people to think about.  For the record, I also know many biological scientists who really do feel this way, and I felt it was a fascinating idea to try to get across in a work of fiction.  I would find it most depressing to believe we had no free will, but I understand the way the argument is laid out.   You do too, obviously, Everyman.  I wish you'd enjoyed my book, even a little.
Poppy


 



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Poppy_Adams
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



pheath wrote:


Everyman wrote:
I think that this is carrying Newton's first law of motion too far. This was meant to describe the world of physics, and I think that carrying this into matters of the brain is taking the principle beyond its intended use. I don't think he intended application to biochemistry or psychology.

He probably didn't intend it, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. The brain is just a physical device which has physical attributes and physical processes. Newton might not have understood this, but we do.

When the same length of light wave hits our retina, does it or does it not send the same signal to the brain?




Honestly, I don't know. While I don't deny that the human body exists in the physical realm, I don't think physics alone can explain human behavior. Pure mechanical arguments do not explain such things as acquired tastes or growing tired of a particular thing after repeated exposure. The exact same sound wave that hits the ear is processed through the same mechanical components of the body each time, but most people will react differently after a thousand repetitions than the first time they hear it. The mechanical process didn't change so why does the reaction?

Dear Philip
I think you'll find lots of biologists or neuroscientists who will tell you that, even if they can't yet prove it, there HAS been a physical (or rather chemical) change after each time the sound wave has hit the ear - not in the mechanics of the ear, but in the brain - and this will directly affect how the brain interprets the sound wave the next time round.  They are not at a stage to prove the biochemistry of this yet, but they argue it's just a matter of time.  On a more basic level, and in a very course way, brain scans (like PET and MRI) show that the brains' of people who work with music (as an example) react very differently to music than the brains' of those who have not spent time listening to music.  Of course this can be interpreted in many ways, and the science is not very developed, but some would say it points to the brain changing chemically as a result of a life in music. 
Poppy


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Poppy_Adams
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Everyman wrote:
I think that this is carrying Newton's first law of motion too far. This was meant to describe the world of physics, and I think that carrying this into matters of the brain is taking the principle beyond its intended use. I don't think he intended application to biochemistry or psychology.

He probably didn't intend it, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. The brain is just a physical device which has physical attributes and physical processes. Newton might not have understood this, but we do.

When the same length of light wave hits our retina, does it or does it not send the same signal to the brain?

Between two people, it can not send exactly the same signal to the brain.  It's not physically possible.  By our  - very small - differences in nature (slight differences in the mechanics of the rods and cones in our eyes for example) a slightly different signal is sent to each of us.  Therefore we have (very slightly) different perceptions of what we are seeing.  We might interpret the sight in exactly the same way in a discussion, but, for example, is the colour RED that you see, the same colour RED that I see.  We both know that the colour we are looking at is red, but what RED is for us is bound to be slightly different, don't you think, Everyman?
Poppy


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FrankieD
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Poppy_Adams wrote:


Everyman wrote:
I think that this is carrying Newton's first law of motion too far. This was meant to describe the world of physics, and I think that carrying this into matters of the brain is taking the principle beyond its intended use. I don't think he intended application to biochemistry or psychology.

He probably didn't intend it, but that doesn't make it inaccurate. The brain is just a physical device which has physical attributes and physical processes. Newton might not have understood this, but we do.

When the same length of light wave hits our retina, does it or does it not send the same signal to the brain?

Between two people, it can not send exactly the same signal to the brain.  It's not physically possible.  By our  - very small - differences in nature (slight differences in the mechanics of the rods and cones in our eyes for example) a slightly different signal is sent to each of us.  Therefore we have (very slightly) different perceptions of what we are seeing.  We might interpret the sight in exactly the same way in a discussion, but, for example, is the colour RED that you see, the same colour RED that I see.  We both know that the colour we are looking at is red, but what RED is for us is bound to be slightly different, don't you think, Everyman?
Poppy


Good morning Poppy...
Sure we see the same red...since it's the lightrays that are absorbed by the surface...etc. BUT...it's our interpretation of the color that will differ...and our interpretation will be based on our experiences...as you mentioned when you spoke earlier about people that work with music hearing it differently  So, as a logical person I know that things are what they are...the same for everyone...but as a free-thinker as well, I also know that our experiences usually dictate our interpretations...although some of us take our interpretations too far and border on psychotic:smileyindifferent:so we ahve to be able to control/understand our interpretations.
Okay...it's early and I have to teach a class in a few minutes...enjoy your day!!!
                                                                                              FrankieD :smileyhappy:
" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
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krb2g
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I may be completely off base hopping in on a question of science (something I haven't studied in several years), but as I understand the history of science, there was a time when people were trying to do exactly what Everyman describes--gather enough information so we knew the exact physical state of the universe at one moment, and then once we knew that, we could easily work backwards and forwards according to the laws of physics.

A possible escape route from this deterministic scenario, at least in my mind, actually comes from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Basically, the idea is to know the speed and position of a particle, you have to observe it, or in practical terms, hit it with a ray of light. Unfortunately, that means contributing energy to the particle. The more precise you want to be on the location, the more energy (smaller wavelength) the light must be--and the more energy you add to the particle (which is to say the less you know its velocity). If you use a lower-energy ray of light, there's less change to the velocity, but you're more unsure about the position. When you work out the implications of this observation in real-world terms, there's a constant, h, that expresses the minimum amount of uncertainty we will have about any given particle. So, there's a limit to what's knowable about any system, so even if everything is already determined, we'd never be able to know where we were headed exactly.

I've also been thinking about Schrödinger's equation. This equation will tell you the position of an electron around an atom. It only has a solution for a Hydrogen (1 proton) atom. The rest of the equations are too complicated to solve. Instead, you get probability clouds--the electron is most likely in certain places. I think this probability also gives us a way out. Lots of things are predictable, because statistically, say, in 99 atoms out of one hundred, the electrons are located in certain places that makes them interact with other atoms and electrons in predictable ways. If you have a bunch of Na+ and Cl- ions in a mixture, almost all of them will form ionic bonds with each other and make table salt. There's a huge relative difference between atomic size and our bodies--so any variations are statistically insignificant. But if you're thinking about bonds and reactions that don't happen so strongly and immediately, and reactions that happen inside our body (where scale no longer makes variations negligible), then you're ready to play the probability game. In most cases, when DNA replicates, the types of molecules that are working fill in the double strand correctly, pairing nucleic acids in the pairs that are most likely to fill in for every occasion. But sometimes, based on the unpredictable and statistically un-probable location of an electron, a wrong pairing will be made. Most of our DNA is redundant, so this change probably won't matter--but occasionally it will be in the middle of a sequence that codes for an important protein--and the change will cause the protein not to fold properly, which will cause some sort of illness to the body.

I'm not sure these suggestions give you free will, exactly, because what they imply (if I remember my biology classes, and there wasn't something that contradicts all this in the second half of organic chem, after I dropped it...) is that while on the scale of classical physics, Newtonian interactions hold, at the quantum level, there's always a degree of uncertainty. Also, it's not like any of us have any conscious control over our electrons, but it's comforting to me, at least, to think that there will always be probability and chance involved in the world, no matter how much technology we develop.

P.S. The light stuff plays out in really neat ways. There's a classic experiment where a single photon is fired at a screen through a screen with two slits. When the screen (photo-sensitive, obviously) is examined, it's clear from interference that the photon went through both slits. None of this quantum stuff is terribly straightforward. Schrödinger demonstrated its absurdity with his cat thought experiment. (Cat in a box, it dies if a subatomic particle is in a certain state, no way of telling which state the particle is in till you observe it, thus cat is both dead and alive till you open the box).



Poppy_Adams wrote:


Everyman wrote:
Fascinating question, free will!

Given that as far as we know the actions of the brain, and therefore of our thinking and deciding processes, are purely a matter of electrical and chemical reactions within and between our brain cells, every input must have a deterministic output. That is, whatever inputs enter our brain through our senses or in any other way, it will necessarily produce one and only one series of brain interactions. If we had sufficient knowledge of the paths, patterns, and chemical and electrical impulses of the brain, we could accurately predict exactly how any given person would react to any given stimulus. Of course we lack that knowledge, and I hope will never get it, but the principle is fixed. There can be no free will; everything is deterministic.

I certainly don't like this conclusion; I want to believe in free will. And I'm not persuaded by it. But equally I'm not sure that I'm willing to accept the principles of randomness of input and output which are necessary to create an environment in which free will can exist.


Dear Everyman
This is the point. Thank-you. This is the level on which I am trying to get people to think about free will. How can there be free will when our every thought and action can be reduced to electrical impulses and chemical reactions? There is nothing 'free' about it. Were we slightly different people, (or in a biological sense, had a slightly different chemical or celluar make-up, we would necessarily react differently to every situation.) Had Maude been made of a different set of genetically-coded cells, proteins, chemicals, then, no, she would not have turned to alcohol, but would have responded in a different way. On this 'cellular' level she is not determining her response, it's not her decision to turn to drink.
RIGHT, NOW I NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS IS NOT HOW I FEEL PERSONALLY, so I don't want to be quoted out of context. This is the conclusion that Ginny comes to, and the hypothesis I'm putting forward in the book for people to think about. For the record, I also know many biological scientists who really do feel this way, and I felt it was a fascinating idea to try to get across in a work of fiction. I would find it most depressing to believe we had no free will, but I understand the way the argument is laid out. You do too, obviously, Everyman. I wish you'd enjoyed my book, even a little.
Poppy







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mwinasu
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

You guys are blowing me away! This discussion is the most interesting one of all the threads.  For me , free will exists . You can change , moreover that is the reason we are in the physical.  If you don't change you simply continue to make the same mistakes over and over.  You become an expert in failure. And you keep drawing the same scenarios to yourself until you do the right thing. 
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BookSavage
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion

I have avoided this discussion because I am not scientifically minded nor knowledgeable but I have decided that it is worth throwing in my two cents from another view point.
 
I too believe in free will, as far as our lives here in this world, and the decisions we make.  I come at it from a spiritual rather than science perspective.  Which I guess that also means that I come at this topic from a viewpoint of faith rather than absolute proof, but I think that is the science side as well for right now.
 
First, I must say that I believe in creationism.  I believe that there is an all powerful being, I chose to refer to Him as God, that created each and every one of us and each and every thing here on earth.  I also believe in eternal predestination and unconditional election and thus believe that when it comes to spiritual regeneration and eternal life that free will does not exist for humans, but only exist for God.  With that being said, I read throughout the Gospels where Jesus is talking and I find him saying multiple times, if ye obey my commandments, then such and such will happen.  I will not go into specific quotes here, but that leads me to believe in the idea of the existence of free will in humans in this life time.  I believe that if Christ, who is omniscient, says that we have the choice to obey, then we must have that choice.  I can't argue all the scientific principals, but I can trust my faith and that is the path it leads me down.
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bookhunter
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Re: Additional Topics for Discussion



Poppy_Adams wrote:


Everyman wrote:
Fascinating question, free will!

Given that as far as we know the actions of the brain, and therefore of our thinking and deciding processes, are purely a matter of electrical and chemical reactions within and between our brain cells, every input must have a deterministic output. That is, whatever inputs enter our brain through our senses or in any other way, it will necessarily produce one and only one series of brain interactions. If we had sufficient knowledge of the paths, patterns, and chemical and electrical impulses of the brain, we could accurately predict exactly how any given person would react to any given stimulus. Of course we lack that knowledge, and I hope will never get it, but the principle is fixed. There can be no free will; everything is deterministic.

I certainly don't like this conclusion; I want to believe in free will. And I'm not persuaded by it. But equally I'm not sure that I'm willing to accept the principles of randomness of input and output which are necessary to create an environment in which free will can exist.


Dear Everyman
This is the point.   Thank-you.  This is the level on which I am trying to get people to think about free will.  How can there be free will when our every thought and action can be reduced to electrical impulses and chemical reactions?  There is nothing 'free' about it.  Were we slightly different people, (or in a biological sense, had a slightly different chemical or celluar make-up, we would necessarily react differently to every situation.)  Had Maude been made of a different set of genetically-coded cells, proteins, chemicals,  then, no, she would not have turned to alcohol, but would have responded in a different way.  On this 'cellular' level she is not determining her response, it's not her decision to turn to drink. 
RIGHT, NOW I NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS IS NOT HOW I FEEL PERSONALLY, so I don't want to be quoted out of context.  This is the conclusion that Ginny comes to, and the hypothesis I'm putting forward in the book for people to think about.  For the record, I also know many biological scientists who really do feel this way, and I felt it was a fascinating idea to try to get across in a work of fiction.  I would find it most depressing to believe we had no free will, but I understand the way the argument is laid out.   You do too, obviously, Everyman.  I wish you'd enjoyed my book, even a little.
Poppy


 


I think that because we have that "self awareness" that Clive's moths do not have, we are more than the sum of our parts.  All of Maud's "genetically-coded cells, proteins, chemicals" as Poppy says, may determine that she IS an alcoholic, but she can CHOOSE to rise above that--people do it every day (others do NOT choose to).
 
This is what was interesting about the book, to me.  Ginny is almost like Clive's experiments.  She seems to have limited self awareness and just follows along with what any one tells her to do--she is truly a product of her biology and environmental stimuli.  And look how she turns out!
 
Now, the question of where that self awareness comes from is a whole different story.  I am with BookSavage in thinking it was created in me and is what distinguishes mankind from other animals--being the part of us that is "in God's image."  But I guess a biologist might say that self awareness is itself a result of biology.  Like Hal, or the Cylons, or all those other sci fi computers that suddenly become WAY more than their makers intended them to be!
 
The danger in discussing our actions as being a result of only our biology ends up being very limiting.  Carried to its extreme, it results in putting limitations on a person or a group of persons because of their biology.  Racial and gender discrimination suddenly has scientific "proof."  "This child will never amount to anything." "Women aren't capable of being scientists, competing with men, leading our country..." "(Fill in the blank with any culture) is an inferior race."   See how much trouble we can get ourselves into? 
 
Fortunately we have Free Will and rise above such beliefs, don't we?  (Just like Ginny did)
 
Ann, bookhunter (who can do ANYTHING I set my mind to doing--except avoiding dessert.)
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