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View Full Version : *Fate* vs "Free Will"



Averon 2011
07-22-2011, 02:13 PM
DELETE

shelleyo
07-22-2011, 02:18 PM
Or do you laugh in the face of such a crazy notion

That.

Shelley

Devil Ledbetter
07-22-2011, 04:20 PM
I see it like this:

Fate = What happens to me is predetermined.
Free Will = I determine what happens to me.
Chance = Stuff happens that no one planned.

My life is a combination of chance and free will. Stuff happens, and I determine what to do about it. Or I determine what to do, and sometimes chance helps and sometimes it gets in my way.

Fate is not in the picture. It is merely false attribution of the things that happen by chance or free will to some unseen outside intellect. IMO.

shadowwalker
07-22-2011, 08:14 PM
I see it like this:

Fate = What happens to me is predetermined.
Free Will = I determine what happens to me.
Chance = Stuff happens that no one planned.

I'd change it just a bit:

Fate = What happens to me is predetermined.
Free Will = I determine how I react to what happens to me.
Chance = Stuff happens that no one predicted.

I think fate is not necessarily the little details, but the overall ending. I've come to that belief because it seems that, in my life at least, no matter how often I try to do the 'right thing' or change the way I've acted, the outcome is still the same. Something always seems to happen that puts my efforts in the trash. Sometimes it's good (How could I foul up so badly and still have this great outcome?) and sometimes not so good (But I did everything I was supposed to - why didn't it work?). So my only recourse is to change the way I react to the inevitable, and move on.

The Unseen Moon
07-22-2011, 09:03 PM
No fate but what we make.

veinglory
07-22-2011, 09:27 PM
I think that outside of a religious context we are not talking about "fate" (someone/thing plots your course) but "determinism" (if you know the starting conditions and rules you could theoretically predict the future, but due to baffling levels of complexity we mostly can't).

I am quite strongly deterministic. I think that what we want to ("free will") do is largely determined by our genetics and total life experience not some wibbly whim of the moment. Thus you can be in control of your life and have a sense of agency and still live in a deterministic word.

However I do leave some wiggle room for uncertainty/chance/stuff.

gayle12
07-30-2011, 10:17 AM
I believe in absolute free will. The choices you make are yours and are not dictated by some sort of mystical power in the universe that makes certain things happen for a reason. I've listened to a lot of people who blame problems they could fix on circumstance. "I can't help if I'm X! Y happened! I can't change that!" And while you can't change what's happened to you, you can certainly change how you react to it. There is always the option to change your reaction.

I think chance is legitimate. Hell, a few months ago, I was walking across the street, with the walk sign, under a streetlamp, in a day-glo jacket, and still got dinged by a car (no major injuries). I would never, in a million years, expected that to happen in the circumstances I was in. But it did. So there's some chance, but that feeds into free will for me. Chance will try to mess with you, and it's your free will that allows you to determine how to handle when chance happens.

Gayle

Fulk
07-30-2011, 11:55 PM
I'm with Veinglory on matters of determinism versus free will. Of course there is wiggle room, and we can choose how we react to the people and events that act upon us. But ultimately, our life experiences, combined with the experience and actions of others, genetic factors, and brain chemistry, do limit our choices to some degree. and fortunately, there is at least some malleability when it comes to behavior and personality.

And despite those deterministic elements, I don't believe people are necessarily resigned to any fate.

veinglory
07-31-2011, 12:54 AM
Exactly. The opposite of free will is not the supernatural, it is everything in the natural world outside of our person sense of agency. And a lot of what happens to us is at best influenced and I feel control by the total influence of all that stuff. If you then accept that what we choose to do is also influenced by all that stuff.... well, welcome to determinism.

Cybernaught
07-31-2011, 12:59 AM
I have the free will to become a famous opera singer, but I was born tone deaf, so it's not in the cards for me. Alas, determinism, you bastard you.

JimmyB27
08-01-2011, 04:56 PM
I think that outside of a religious context we are not talking about "fate" (someone/thing plots your course) but "determinism" (if you know the starting conditions and rules you could theoretically predict the future, but due to baffling levels of complexity we mostly can't).
I often wonder what would happen if we could 'reset' the universe, with precisely the same parameters as the first time. Would it all play out exactly the same? And, if it would, can we call anything 'free-will'?
My answer is that it doesn't matter. Even if our every action is theoretically predictable if we could understand brain chemistry, quantum doodads and so on well enough, we certainly have the illusion of free-will. And I say that is enough.

Sarpedon
08-01-2011, 05:17 PM
I've always felt that "free will" was a religious concept, and we didn't need to have it in our lexicon.

The concept of "free will" was invented to give god an excuse. God is supposed to be perfect, so how did he create an imperfect world? The answer is, that he didn't, he created a perfect world, but man wrecked it. How could man, being part of god's perfect creation, wreck his perfect creation? Man has 'free will.'

So we can really dismiss both of the above.

The Unseen Moon
08-02-2011, 10:36 PM
Free will is an oxymoron in religion.

Sarpedon
08-02-2011, 11:18 PM
That's never stopped them before.

ConChron
08-04-2011, 09:32 PM
To me "fate" goes together with the belief in some sort of higher being that makes it happen or plans it. I don't believe in a higher being so events in our lives can't be preplanned in my mind.

However, free will is also an illusion to me. Our actions are based on the sum of our experiences and basic "instinct" is most often stronger than "logic". An interesting test I read about once showed that our minds have already decided what to do before we actively think the thought. The thinking that we do after our minds have already picked an option does not change its decision.

Melisande
08-05-2011, 04:49 PM
I don't believe in 'fate'. I've never really thought of the concept of 'free will' as it has never been a part of my language.

All I know from my own experiences (and I am not trying to claim that the following is any kind of 'universal truth'), is that if I set out on a course in life and everything seems to go poorly, I realize that it's a bad choice. If I change course and head in a new direction and things work out fine, I know that I'm on the right path.

My Grandmother always said that things happen in the order they are supposed to; Sometimes your experience taste like shit in the mouth, but look back a coupla years later and you realize that it prepared you mentally for the hardship you are passing through now.

However, she never, ever, said anything about 'reason' or 'fate'. She just tried to illustrate that throughout life we will be challenged, and we need become stronger and deal with it. Also she made it perfectly clear that everything we do comes with consequences, and that we are responsible for them.

froley
09-01-2011, 01:42 PM
Can you show me 'fate'? Can you explain who created fate, if it exists, who caused it to be?

If not, I'll just keep doing whatever my brain makes me do and call that 'free will,' thanks.

veinglory
09-01-2011, 06:09 PM
You are mistaking determinism for fate. There is absolutely no need for a deterministic universe to have a deity or higher force.

Torgo
09-01-2011, 06:39 PM
To me free will is an incoherent concept. What exactly does it mean? It only exists in counterfactuals: "I could have done something else, therefore my will is free." But in fact I had reasons - mental or physical - for doing what I did; for desiring to do what I did. The notion of free will seems to imply that I could have just gone against all of that and done something I didn't actually want to do on any level. Is that something we ever see or experience?

froley
09-02-2011, 11:19 AM
You are mistaking determinism for fate. There is absolutely no need for a deterministic universe to have a deity or higher force.

The word 'fate' is loaded with mystical connotations; I was answering the original question. In the second part of my answer, I bowed to determinism--whatever seems like 'choice' to me gets handed down from my brain, so it may as well be some kind of determinism for all I know.

cethklein
09-18-2011, 04:03 PM
No fate but what we make.

this is pretty much my stance. And the idea of free will is far more compatible with most religions than people think. A friend of mine and I had this discussion some years ago and he made a good point: Even if there were a god and said god knew what would ultimately become of us, that's no reason that we wouldn't still be in complete control.

I personally think the idea that everything is pre-determined and ridiculous. We're all in control of our own destiny. If we weren't, what would be the point of our existance?

veinglory
09-18-2011, 10:53 PM
Why would our existence have a point other than what we bring to it?

thomas86
11-01-2011, 03:43 AM
has no one in this thread ever had something happen to them that is just "a little too coincidental" to be believed? Something that no person could pre-determine? Something that might be considered destiny?

I'll give you an example:

Two days ago, I had a dream. I can't remember anything about the dream except one thing. There were olives in it. Black olives and green olives. They weren't just floating around in space either... they were in two separate bowls. I woke up and that was ALL I remembered about the dream. I also recall thinking, "wow, what a totally f-ing weird thing to dream about! I mean, who dreams about olives?"

Now, the very same day I go to lunch at my mother's house and she put together a sort of 'salad buffet' thing ( i know, my mom's odd but i love her anyway) and what are two of the options? Black and green olives god damnit! A little creepy to say the least, am I right?

Now, I'm not saying that I was supposed to have olives for lunch that day, or that it was my pre-determined destiny and if I didn't eat said olives then the world would end or I'd die or something... I'm just saying, "wtf?" That's a little too big of a coincidence for me to just let it slide.

Really the only truly logical conclusion to be drawn from this event is that I'm a wizard or sorcerer of some sort sent from the future (or a distant or alternate past/reality) to rule the world with an iron fist... I mean, obviously, right? TWO TYPES OF OLIVES... IN BOWLS. SERIOUSLY?!

think about it....

Tanglewood
11-24-2011, 03:11 AM
Sam Harris has written some really interesting stuff about Free Will Here (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/you-do-not-choose-what-you-choose/). Basically, he believes it doesn't exist, it just really seems like it does.

Paul
11-24-2011, 03:26 AM
Grand. That's that sorted.

Now, does God exist?

Teinz
11-29-2011, 04:12 PM
To me free will is an incoherent concept. What exactly does it mean? It only exists in counterfactuals: "I could have done something else, therefore my will is free." But in fact I had reasons - mental or physical - for doing what I did; for desiring to do what I did. The notion of free will seems to imply that I could have just gone against all of that and done something I didn't actually want to do on any level. Is that something we ever see or experience?

I have a friend, who used to be a real partyanimal. Drinking, smoking, doing drugs, partying, eating unhealthy, he'd been doing this since he was fifteen years old.

Last year, he had a heart-attack and he had to give it all up. Or, the doctors said, he would would not make it another five years. He was 38 at the time.

He certainly didn't want to change his lifestyle. It suited him, he told me, it was all he knew. He worked hard and then he played hard. Substance abuse was hardwired in his brains, his social world revolved around that scene, everything in his life pointed in that direction (He grew up in a lower-class environment, with an alcoholic father).

He gave it all up, and started a new life.

Fate or free will?

Easy, I hear some of you think. It was change or certain death, so it wasn't really a choice. Yet I know of people who, facing death, steadily keep going down the same path that got them there in the first place. A neighbour of mine died of lungcancer, two weeks ago. He never gave up smoking even after the initial diagnosis, when it was far from clear the disease was terminal.

So, is the story of my friend an example of people being able to turn away from a future, that is all but determined by genetics, upbringing, and the course of a lifetime of indulgence, thus proving that a will can be free?

Torgo
11-29-2011, 04:22 PM
So, is the story of my friend an example of people being able to turn away from a future, that is all but determined by genetics, upbringing, and the course of a lifetime of indulgence, thus proving that a will can be free?

I'm still not sure it's a meaningful question. Regardless of all the factors that might have led him to stay on the same course, you could still argue that the sum total of all the factors in his decision led him to do what he did. If not them, then what?

If our decisions aren't governed by reasons - genetics, upbringing, logic, personality - what are they determined by? What actually is the free will that we seem to want to ascribe to ourselves? We seem to want to tell ourselves that we could have done something else in any given situation, but wouldn't that just be a sort of utterly random whim? Why would we want that? And how could we tell if and when it happened?

kuwisdelu
11-30-2011, 03:39 AM
If our decisions aren't governed by reasons - genetics, upbringing, logic, personality - what are they determined by? What actually is the free will that we seem to want to ascribe to ourselves?

It's the hidden variables. Say, given total information about one's background, current situation, and personality, we could uniquely determine what path of action that individual will choose. However, I posit that the variables that determine the response lie in an infinite-dimensional space, and we cannot at any given time know all of them at once. Given an specific subset of them, we may be able to estimate an individuals response with some accuracy, but without absolute certainty. Given such a model, one may call the hidden variables that we cannot know at any given time "free will," though its exact nature is indeterminate.

And yes, yes I have been thinking about nonparametric Bayesian models lately.

Dawnstorm
11-30-2011, 11:17 AM
It's the hidden variables. Say, given total information about one's background, current situation, and personality, we could uniquely determine what path of action that individual will choose. However, I posit that the variables that determine the response lie in an infinite-dimensional space, and we cannot at any given time know all of them at once. Given an specific subset of them, we may be able to estimate an individuals response with some accuracy, but without absolute certainty. Given such a model, one may call the hidden variables that we cannot know at any given time "free will," though its exact nature is indeterminate.

And yes, yes I have been thinking about nonparametric Bayesian models lately.

We could also call them "fate". Or "Waldo". What we call those hidden variable makes no difference at all. Which is sort of the point.

Teinz' story made me wonder about the role "success" plays in the discussion. I mean, how do I decide how to interpret sticking to a decision? If I fail to change my lifestyle did I fail to follow my decision (born of free will) to the end, or did I change my mind? What if I badly want to fly by flapping my arms? Is that an expression of my free will, which fails because the stupid world won't comply? Can I only will easy things freely? Is difficulty a boundry to the freedom of will? Am I free to will impossible stuff, if I'm prepared for frustration?

I'm with Torgo. "Fate" vs. "free will" isn't a meaningful question, to me. I fail before I even get to meaningful definition of "free will". Or fate, for that matter.

kuwisdelu
11-30-2011, 01:32 PM
Hmm. That brings me to an alternative definition of fate and free will.

Rather than simply "do we decide out own actions?" being the main question, what about "given all possible permutations of our possible actions, will they result in different outcomes?"

I suppose that would be less of a free will-focused question and more of a fate-focused question.

If we could redo the same event infinitely many times, and the same result always inevitably happens, that would be a case of fate. But if the result could be different as a consequence of different actions, would that be a case of free will?

kuwisdelu
11-30-2011, 01:32 PM
Hmm. That brings me to an alternative definition of fate and free will.

Rather than simply "do we decide out own actions?" being the main question, what about "given all possible permutations of our possible actions, will they result in different outcomes?"

I suppose that would be less of a free will-focused question and more of a fate-focused question.

If we could redo the same event infinitely many times, and the same result always inevitably happens, that would be a case of fate. But if the result could be different as a consequence of different actions, would that be a case of free will?

Torgo
11-30-2011, 02:53 PM
It's the hidden variables. Say, given total information about one's background, current situation, and personality, we could uniquely determine what path of action that individual will choose. However, I posit that the variables that determine the response lie in an infinite-dimensional space, and we cannot at any given time know all of them at once. Given an specific subset of them, we may be able to estimate an individuals response with some accuracy, but without absolute certainty. Given such a model, one may call the hidden variables that we cannot know at any given time "free will," though its exact nature is indeterminate.

And yes, yes I have been thinking about nonparametric Bayesian models lately.

Right, but then are you still positing a deterministic system in which a response is the outcome of a set of factors, even if it's impossible to know them all at once? That's definitely where I'm coming from. I'm not sure if I'd want free will if that meant my behaviour was somehow not determined by by background, current situation, personality etc...

Dawnstorm
12-01-2011, 11:01 AM
If we could redo the same event infinitely many times, and the same result always inevitably happens, that would be a case of fate. But if the result could be different as a consequence of different actions, would that be a case of free will?

Here's the thing, though. We could choose any point in a given stream of events and call it a "result". That is: we'd need to be able to find a non-arbitrary method of determining "fate-raised events", before going in for such a permutation. That is: if we allow for permutations, fate doesn't always hold. Thus, if the outcome changes, we might simply not have found a fate-event. What if, after immense calculations, we come up with only one fate event: "At 15:32, Dec. 18th, 2011, a man wearing black shoes will walk past a bush." No matter what you do, you cannot change the outcome. Would people feel that fate is wasted on a triviality? Would we be both relieved and miffed?

The thing is this: very few people think of walking past bushes in black shoes as uncomfortable. You wouldn't go out of your way to avoid walking past bushes when you're wearing black shoes; and you wouldn't go out of your way of avoiding black shoes when there's a chance you'll walk past bushes. The fate event is fixed in pattern-form only, so it doesn't have to be a particular person, or a particular bush, or particular shoes. Clearly, nobody's forced to wear shoes; it's just that someone (male of a certain age), somewhere (where bushes grow) will choose that. Always. What's the relationship here? How can we say that fate and free will are opposed?

So, do fate and free will even operate at the same abstraction level?

huu
12-16-2011, 11:25 AM
I personally think the idea that everything is pre-determined and ridiculous. We're all in control of our own destiny. If we weren't, what would be the point of our existance?

Was reading and this caught my attention...

I mean, do we need a point to our lives/existences?

WriterDude
03-31-2012, 12:39 AM
I like the idea of free will, but I also like time travel conundrums, which causes a bit of a quandary.

Imagine you received a parcel this morning. It contained a video of yourself doing something you haven't done yet, and a note from yourself, explaining where the video came from. There is nothing you can do to stop yourself making the video and sending it to yourself because you've already received it. Where's the free will?

Bartholomew
05-06-2012, 12:58 AM
I like the idea of free will, but I also like time travel conundrums, which causes a bit of a quandary.

Imagine you received a parcel this morning. It contained a video of yourself doing something you haven't done yet, and a note from yourself, explaining where the video came from. There is nothing you can do to stop yourself making the video and sending it to yourself because you've already received it. Where's the free will?

That's paradoxical. You may decide to never, ever make that video even on pain of death, at which point it would never have been mailed to you.

WriterDude
05-06-2012, 01:40 AM
That's paradoxical. You may decide to never, ever make that video even on pain of death, at which point it would never have been mailed to you.

Thats the point though. It was mailed to you. The video was made prior to you receiving it, but after you'd viewed it. You can't not make the video because thats a paradox, and a paradox can't happen. You can resist making the video, you can protest all you like, but something will compel you, something unexpected and something irresistible, and something you can't predict. The existence of the video proves that it will be created.

Once!
05-06-2012, 03:21 PM
Thats the point though. It was mailed to you. The video was made prior to you receiving it, but after you'd viewed it. You can't not make the video because thats a paradox, and a paradox can't happen. You can resist making the video, you can protest all you like, but something will compel you, something unexpected and something irresistible, and something you can't predict. The existence of the video proves that it will be created.

Why can't I decide not to make the video? I might, for example, be so disgusted by receiving the video that I pick up this gun that I keep loaded by my desk and shoot myself in the head. Then there is no way that I can make the video.

That's the problem with time travel. It's not yet possible and may never be possible. If it is possible, then it might operate in ways that we don't fully understand. If it isn't possible then you can never go back in time to mail yourself that video.

Or we might need to get into multiverse theories to help us out of the mess that time travel creates.

Free will doesn't come into it, as far as I can see.

WriterDude
05-07-2012, 02:16 AM
Why can't I decide not to make the video? I might, for example, be so disgusted by receiving the video that I pick up this gun that I keep loaded by my desk and shoot myself in the head. Then there is no way that I can make the video.

That's the problem with time travel. It's not yet possible and may never be possible. If it is possible, then it might operate in ways that we don't fully understand. If it isn't possible then you can never go back in time to mail yourself that video.

Or we might need to get into multiverse theories to help us out of the mess that time travel creates.

Free will doesn't come into it, as far as I can see.

Time travel is a mine field, but in this particular model, the one I favour, you do have the option to not make the video but you chose not to take it. You only get to make that decision once and an earlier you receives the video. The video being made and sent back through time is the direct result of you deciding to make it. Cause and effect maybe out of sequence but the rules remain.

Regards