Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Are we robots?

While reading Vas, I started thinking a lot about what is unique about Humans. Genetics and evolution keep showing up in the scientific snipits. There are so many philosophical questions that need to be asked. What makes us different from other animals? We experience things that other animals do not. We can have conversations like these (I would love to see a classroom of monkeys discuss the mathematical inconsistencies that were in We). Is it that we have a free will?

So I would love to start a discussion on this question:

If all reality is simply composed of matter and energy (materialism), then where does "free will" come from?

Assuming the anticedent (materialism), isn't the "will" just chemicals that fire in our brain, producing all consciousness and "choice" (really there is no choice; it is not in your control at all; it is not "free")? Aren't all of our actions determined by our genetic make up?

Even the emotion you feel now, while reading this, is determined by chemicals...your reaction, determined...your every action, determined.

I'm not talking about fate...

How does the rational (choice, reason, deduction...) come from simple material and energy?

If it turns out to be true that everything we do is determined by genes and neurons, then aren't we just a slightly more complex version of a robot?

These are just a few questions that I would love to discuss.


Crista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crista said...

I'm sorry to disagree with you Kyle. I don't think that every emotion I am feeling now is determined by chemicals. Emotions arise from the thoughts we are having. And where do thoughts arise from? Are thoughts something physical? I think that part of ourselves (call it soul if you wish), cannot be boxed up in scientific compartments. I believe that there are other subtle realms of existence (call them spiritual realms if you wish) in which we as humans reside but are unaware and are also unable to prove scientifically. These parts of ourselves are beyond mind's capabilities and understanding and therefore are unable to be proven scientifically.

Jay said...

I've always found the idea that physics, chemistry and biology as we now understand them could dictate deterministically the fact that I'm typing this right now to be intuitively kind of ridiculous. I don't however think that the concept of choice versus determinism is necessarily outside the realm of science. I feel like beginning to understand consciousness will at some point be an important part of science, hopefully in our lifetimes. I wouldn't skip to the metaphysical explanation too quickly.

Ian B said...

"aren't we just a slightly more complex version of a robot?"
...yes. Although maybe I would replace the word "slightly" with "largely". Or maybe I would say "we are just a version of a complex robot". Determinism is an interesting topic, but I can not sink my teeth into spirituality. While I would not call myself an antitheist (a la Richard Dawkins) I am certainly an atheistic, aspiritual, and amystical empiricist. With that in mind, I am sure you can see why I would agree that free will is illusory.

Kyle Caffey said...

To Crista:
I completely agree with you. I was not saying that I am a materialist. I was saying that if nothing existed besides matter and energy, then we are no more than really complex robots. For example, if the spirtual or supernatural realm doesn't exist, where do things like love and free will come from. Again I don't think that things like love and free will are illusory. I just wanted to point out the depressing implications of materialism.

To Jay:
Isn't science simply an adjective of reality? It can uncover the whats, wheres, whens, and some of the hows of the mysteries of reality. But it can never answer the whys. The study of physics will never uncover the reason why the laws of physics exist or how they were created (or how they have always existed).