Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Translating my jibberish


I stumbled across this clip from "Waking Life" just now it really sums up my Free Will debacle. Its one of those times when you know something and have worked it out in your head but just cant put into coherent words, and then something comes along and does it for you. A few weeks ago I also started reading the Wikipedia entry for Free Will and came across Causal Determinism which is one take on free will which states, "determinism is the thesis that future events are necessitated by past and present events combined with the laws of nature." I also unwittingly tried to explain an old thought experiment called Laplace's Demon, named after the philosopher in 1814. The demon is a hypothetical entity that knows all the laws of the universe and the location and momentum of all things. With these tools he could conceivably predict anything. All of this I had been trying to work out in my own, young mind, but it looks like there are more experienced people who have already done it for me. Just goes to show what a little research can accomplish.

2 comments:

andy said...

I've seen this whole movie a while ago when in High School. It was Max's fav film for a long time, and I think Alvin also liked it a lot too. From a filmmaking perspective, I am unimpressed overall. From a philosophical perspective, there were about 2 or 3 scenes that I found thought-provoking, innovative, and expressed well. The ending dialogue, quoting from Philip K. Dick, is one of the best scenes. The other I remember was talking about filmmakers trying to capture the "essence of God/God's handywork" on film.

This scene did not stand out in my memory. Personally, i think you explain things better than he does. I find it difficult to structure a proper response to everything he said, as the chain of thought to me pulls in different directions.

However, I find the 'problem of free will' and vague and strange statement. He would prefer to be a cog?? Really?? No free will=no responsibility is the only benefit I can see, and I consider that the "easy-way-out-for-the-cheating-spouse-backup-excuse #2."

The demon of Laplace, which I can see attracts you as a character/story concept inspiration, is certainly a cool concept. Good video game/movie character! However, I find that if one can believs in the powers of this demon, than the existence of God should be just as easy to believe.

A common argument which can explored more deeply for the existence of God, or something beyond...a creator...is that all things have an external or separate cause/creator. Example: Thoughts-Brain-Quarks-....
The human mind has trouble picturing things without a creator, such as a piano that comes from nothing. Not wood...not a carpenter...nothing. We instead picture a piano OR nothing...but here we again have trouble, because nothing is also a difficult concept. (We usually picture darkness or an empty room, but there is still darkness and still a room).

My main point I wanted to make, is borrowed from a brilliant guy in the Matrix Box Set documentary on Philosophy/Science. I don't remember his name, but here is his point told by me, not as well as him:

Since Newton began formulating laws of physics, science has focused on discovering the answer to the question "how?". How fast does the apple fall from the tree? How does lava form? How is the human brain capable of multi-tasking? Etc. This "how" question, was often solved through creating a formula, thereby quenching the human thrist for knowledge and explanation. All great mysteries explained, right?? Wrong.

Obviously, not all "How?'s" have been answered yet. And the bigger point is, science...in choosing to answer the question "how?", avoids the question (the more tricky one, as the answer cannot be defined as clearly)...of "Why?"
Why does the apple grow on the tree instead of out of a shrub? Why would anyone invent a lava lamp? Why does the human mind have the abilities that it does? Why do we have minds? Why am I here? Why do I reply to this blog at all?
Philosophy and Religion are often classified as forming out of a need to answer the big WHY? questions.

Sure, it may be a mathmatician's dream to find a formula for questions like these, to find that everything has probabilty and can be calculated.

But doesn't this take even greater faith than to simply say, "Maybe God is a decent mathmatcian himself, which he put to use in creation ("Past") and we are simply observing Him now ("Present") at work (or His work at work) when we observe "Laws of Nature" playing out as efficiently and randomly as they have since the beginning of time, and the land before time*?

*the last line is a reference to a children's dinosaur movie and is meant for comedic relief

andy said...

*To clarify, only the last part of line of the last line (the reference to the land before time) is the joke....