Free Will or No Control?

Do We Have Free Will?

We think, we feel, we desire. These three attributes of our being have been recognized since ancient times. But how much do we control do we really have over our lives? This question has vexed us since the beginning of time.

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It’s Been A Week…

Yellow Burn

My laptop’s battery began a meltdown last week and I’m just now getting back up to speed with a new computer.

So, what happened? I opened up the browser and noticed a yellow burn – the color on my frowny face above – on the white background. I had no idea what was causing it so I Googled “yellow burn surface.” I don’t know what’s worse – a search result which comes up with nothing or one where your problem comes up right on top of the search list goes on and on and on.

It turns out this has been a problem for Surface Pro laptops for some time due to the lithium batteries used in them. Once the yellow burn mark appears you can kiss the whole thing goodbye. If you are within the warranty you can get the computer replaced, but I am out of luck.

I was fortunate in that I caught the problem before I lost any files. But, it was a major disappointment because the computer was less than three years old.

But now I have a new laptop. It’s an Acer workhorse – nothing fancy. And I should be back with new posts very soon.

Einstein’s Orginal Sin

Confusion over what Einstein’s Theories of Relativity actually revealed about the true nature of space and time created a major storm of controversy in the early part of the 20th century and continues, though more quietly, to this day. Most people think that Relativity has been “proven” by science and that only cranks would continue to think there is something to debate.

What is not known, by the general public, is that later in life Einstein himself began to reflect on what he had accomplished and expressed some doubt that he had, in fact, been correct about some interpretations of his theories ideas concerning the true nature of time and space.

The Original Sin

Einstein’s original sin, centered on his use of the discovery of the speed of light and the fact that it seemed to be constant no matter which reference frame it traveled in. This means that no matter how fast a light source travelled, the maximum speed light that was emitted from that source had a fixed upper limit. There are other interpretations that could be imagined about the nature of light, space and time from that discovery, but it was Einstein’s interpretation that world came to accept as the true one. Let us see why.

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“All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes…”

Philosophers say that time is about motion and change, but life is about struggle. We struggle to survive, to grow, to find our place in a world that has lost its sense of being.

I’ve always loved this melancholy song by Tanita Tikaram. Her husky voice mixed with the haunting notes of an oboe capture perfectly the anxieties of today’s youth as they navigate a culture that no longer provides them with a sense of purpose and meaning.

Background

The first line of the song, “All God’s children need traveling shoes”, is the title of a book by writer/poet Maya Angelou.

Speaking about the somewhat obscure and enigmatic lyrics, Tikaram has offered different views on their meaning, but said it’s mostly about the particular relationship with the world one feels when entering adulthood. “The song is really about not understanding – when you’re 18, you’ve got a very particular emotional relationship with the world, you feel very isolated, and everybody else is so distant and cold. And I think I was singing about not feeling anything or not being moved by things around. I think this is a strong feeling when you’re just after adolescence.”

Malcolm Messiter plays the oboe on the song,

Wikipedia

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Human Concepts and Divine Ideas – Brain Theory

Last time I wrote about Levels of Being and the difference between consciousness and self-awareness. I have also written about mental maps and how we sometimes confuse our mental constructs (models of reality) with reality itself. I find it useful to think we have mental frameworks, but what do we actually know about how our mind creates concepts?

The answer is (like so much of what we think we know): Not much.

Science vs. Philosophy

Philosophy is the study of all knowledge about the essence of Reality and all that exists in it, including human beings. Science used to be called “Natural Philosophy.” It was a branch of philosophy that dealt with the physical nature of things. It is only very recently that the later term was dropped, and we call all things that we study about the physical world: Science. Further, it’s only since the early part of the 20th century that people began to think that science had developed far enough along that it could replace all of philosophy to explain all of Reality. By the time I went to college, philosophy was no longer a core subject of study. I think this is a mistake because without some understanding of philosophy it is difficult to formulate conclusions about what we see in the models and experiments that scientists conduct.  (See Bergson vs Einstein).

I believe that science can help inform other branches of philosophy, but when it comes to questions that border on the edge of our understanding, it helps to be familiar with the a broader philosophical approach that has developed over the centuries.  

What is a concept?

Philosophers separate the problem of concepts into 3 categories:

  1. Concepts as mental representations
  2. Concepts as abilities
  3. Concepts as abstract objects

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