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#21the_hedonist(Topic Creator)Posted 11/6/2012 1:32:07 PM
I agree that reality is objective, that reality has only one version, a thing is real or it isn't, and any perspective that reports other than what is seen in objective reality is illusory. I also agree that if we were to narrow our perspective to only the external, we would necessarily conclude that choice is illusory. However I see no reason we must narrow our perspective in such a way.

I assume three steps leading up to the action of a human. If we are to look at it simply, first we would see the existence of distinct entities (to complicate matters, the addition of these external influences continues into infinity, but for the sake of simplification, we can see this as a three-step process). Second we would see the process I called "internalization" or "integration" earlier. Perhaps we could call this ensoulation - meaning the creation of a person or self from what was previously distinct matter. Third comes the process of choice. This is the process by which an individual weighs his options before actually acting.

So I would say that God does see from the external perspective or "first step," but that in addition, he also sees the second and third steps.

So if God were to narrow his perspective to the external, then he would be forced to say that choice is illusory. But God sees from all perspectives, so he sees that humans actually have "selfhood" and that the process of choice is real internally; thus he sees that, over all, choice is real. This is why I have changed to say that choice seems illusory from the external perspective. It cannot both be illusory from one perspective and real from another. It may seem illusory or real from different perspectives, but one of them must "win out," so to speak.

It is difficult to point to what exactly a person or self is; the main thing the Bible says is that humans (and I assume all humans are persons) are made in the image of God, but what the image of God is precisely is left undefined.

I have several problems comparing the self to an NPC. One, I am not a programmer. I do not fully understand how these things work. Two, I am not God. I can perhaps emulate human choice, but I do not have authority, except as given to me by God. So I can only exercise moral authority to the extent that God allows me to.

But I'll attempt a better response. I think the main difference between human choice and running a program is desire. My choices are based largely on what I desire. I don't really see any sort of desire in programs. And perhaps this is the key difference; God made humans with desire, which enables our actions/choices to reveal what we value. And considering God's chief end in creation is the display of his glory or of his value, his crown of creation would ideally be able to value him. And to bring this full circle - morality is rooted in what we value. If what we value is good, our choice is good and therefore, morally commendable. And the reverse is true.

It is simple enough to say that under a deterministic system that we are just like robots responding to how we are programmed, but that argument seems to be more emotive than substantive. We see robots as cold and unfeeling. Perhaps one day we can emulate the complexities of human choice, but robots or NPCs today simply do not include that sort of complexity. But what if our world was populated with 50% real humans and 50% robots that have been created by man and exactly emulate humans? Able to love, hate, learn, create, have sex, reproduce, etc. Would we treat those robots as humans? Would we still hold them morally responsible? Even if we wouldn't, I still think this argument that "we are just robots under Calvinism" would still lose its weight.
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"Knowing is the responsible human struggle to rely on clues to focus on a coherent pattern and submit to its reality." -Esther Meek
#22kozlo100Posted 11/6/2012 5:03:11 PM
I agree that reality is objective, that reality has only one version, a thing is real or it isn't, and any perspective that reports other than what is seen in objective reality is illusory. I also agree that if we were to narrow our perspective to only the external, we would necessarily conclude that choice is illusory. However I see no reason we must narrow our perspective in such a way.

I think this is where we might be disagreeing on a few things. You say 'narrow' our perspective to the external, where I am viewing the external as the widest possible perspective. It encompasses all information. We have to actually ignore or make unavailable real information in order to hold a perspective other than that one. To adopt an internal perspective is to discard information about objective reality.

Where your three step process breaks down for me is in a combination of the second and third steps. Yes, we can draw a line around a particular chain of cause and effect and label it a person to distinguish it from other matter, but I don't see where that changes the fact that it is just a string of cause and effect, with no room to weigh options or make choices in any real way. As ever, only the one course of action is available.

I think the main difference between human choice and running a program is desire. My choices are based largely on what I desire. I don't really see any sort of desire in programs.

This is getting to the core of it for me. If all your actions are wholly determined by external factors, that necessitates that your desires are determined by external factors as well. At best, your desires are simply reporting a particular condition of external events. You don't have any more options regarding what you want than you do regarding what actions you take.

To tie it back to the NPC example, I can program my NPC to report to itself that it desires certain things. Even if I choose to adopt the NPC's point of view and feel that desire, back out here in objective reality it is still just code executing in a predetermined fashion. The only way I can view the NPC as a moral actor making choices of its own accord is if I forget that I programmed it to have certain desires, act a certain way, and follow a predetermined path. In essence, forgetting about reality and participating in the illusion.

It is simple enough to say that under a deterministic system that we are just like robots responding to how we are programmed, but that argument seems to be more emotive than substantive.

My argument is not meant to be emotive. It is all based on extrapolation from the assertion that we are predestined to only ever have one course of action available to us. To be clear, 'course of action' encompasses the whole of our existence, not just physical actions. Thoughts, feelings, desires, and emotions are all necessarily constrained to happening in the predestined fashion.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#23the_hedonist(Topic Creator)Posted 11/12/2012 2:14:16 PM
bump...
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"Knowing is the responsible human struggle to rely on clues to focus on a coherent pattern and submit to its reality." -Esther Meek