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Every action is influenced by something, an action happens when it is intended to. Isn't everything influenced by some other phenomena that itself has been influenced by other events? Then every action I take and every thought that comes in my mind is already influenced by other things, if my environment was different and I my family was differen I would have been completely different, and being born in different family will be possible when somehow i assume that my father being born in that family and that would also be possible by other leading events. The point is if everything is influenced by other things than the notion of what we call free will is destroyed, and many things like violence and other morals are meaningless, I can't explain it completely in these examples but you get my point.

And i know that there are these interactions between quantum particles that are defined as random. But then what created this degree of randomness that differs in many aspects, this randomness may also be influenced by other factors. That should mean that there was a point where everything started getting influenced but that is controversial to what i said. I don't understand. I think my question is changing directions so i should end it here, and hope for an answer.

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  • Your family background might challenge your free will (to a very great extent in some cultures) but it does not deny it. Very many people have broken with their family's expectations and traditions. Aug 16, 2023 at 21:12
  • Being raised in different family is what i meant. Aug 17, 2023 at 3:45
  • "If everything is influenced by other things than the notion of what we call free will is destroyed". No, at most it is restricted. When you typed your post you were influenced by what you heard, what you read, your biology, etc., you still had to formulate the text. That influences determined it entirely is a leap with no argument for it. With quantum particles, the influences and the randomness are sharply separated, the influences determine available options (eigenstates) and the choice of one is purely random (collapse). Influences are "initiated" constantly, there is no one initial point.
    – Conifold
    Aug 17, 2023 at 4:20
  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Aug 18, 2023 at 3:49
  • Might I make a suggestion? I think you’re talking about Causality and Determinism, so you could start with the SEP article, and maybe suggest where you think things don’t seem clear or right? plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal
    – Paul Ross
    Nov 18, 2023 at 14:59

6 Answers 6

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Laws of physics describe how past states of processes influence future states. When you rewind back the laws of physics for about 14 billion years, you predict a past state that is so hot and dense that the known laws of physics can't reliably describe it any more, so we can't predict any farther back then that. We lose the ability to make observations before we get there because the universe was full of opaque hydrogen plasma for some time after that. We can only see things that happened after the universe became transparent, and far enough away that the light from them is only just now getting here. Measurements match theoretical predictions insofar as they can be made. See wiki: early universe.

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There are many things to consider. What type of system is our existence (the universes system)? Is it: everything that exists; is it open, is it closed; is it mostly closed but part open; is it directed by another system, or is it self-organising?

Let's state outright a hypothesis that our system (the universe) and nature is as follows: a) mostly informationally closed, with perhaps some sensory capacity of a system external to it b) self-organising (in that nature is clearly mostly a heterogeneous non-linear system except for the subatomic world where homogeneous systems can be studied.

These points infer a universe that has fractal self-similarity. In other words, if human consciousness is a self-organising system with various nearly closed states ---information-, organisation-, operational- closure etc---then this maybe the trait of the whole system ie, the universe.

In such systems, you get two forms of causation: upward causation (one thing leads to another: cause to effect) and downward causation (the emergent system's outputs impact the systems beneath it.

Thus, you get self-reference due to downwards causation.

We can call upwards causation 'bottom up', and downwards causation 'top down'. If you think of human perception, world views, philosophies etc, most systems derived from these set rules and principles which are then imposed upon the people. This would be downwards causation, as the emergent phenomena of consciousness impacts upon the behaviour of our sub-atomic underpinnings.

Yet, also there is external impact upon our society that can alter top-down system control: disasters, war, viral outbreaks, etc. Covid response is an example of where our societies adapted their own responses to a dangerous viral outbreak. The virus didn't tell our society how to react; rather, the internal structures of our governments put into action emergency measures that arose from our own systems.

All of that arose from the subatomic beginnings of our universe if current ideas on big bang universe beginnings are correct.

So then we have to reconcile a simple system of beginnings that via bottom up interactions somehow became emergent amd self-organising to the point where internal modelling of our environment enabled us to respond in a coordinative fashion to survive dangerous viral outbreaks (or wars etc).

The purpose (or any purpose) only has meaning relevant to our internal models; whereas, studying the processes that are underlying reality lead us to another direction---self-understanding.

So why we exist arises from content; whereas, how we exist comes about from the study of simple and then complex systems.

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You seem to be saying that if everything that happens is a result of some combination of influences, then 1) there cannot be free will, and 2) if we rewind the history of the Universe there should be some initial source of the subsequent branching cascade of influences.

There are two possible arguments against your line of thinking. One is to deny that everything happens in a particular way as a result of influences. Perhaps influences simply narrow down the options. Perhaps free will is still free to some extent. For example, suppose I am raised in a Catholic country, which influences my intellectual development. I might decide that I no longer believe in Catholicism and become agnostic. I am very unlikely to decide to adopt some other religion, practiced in part of Siberia, say, because I have never heard of it, so even if theoretically it was in my gift, my upbringing would have conditioned my thinking in a very direct way to rule out certain choices.

The other counter argument is to say that it is impossible to follow a long thread of influences because the connections become attenuated to a vanishing extent.

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Well, it seems to me that you are avoiding taking the responsibility of yourself.

We all know of people that made something out of their lives who started from nothing. We also know of people that started with everything and screwed things up.

The most important thing in life is will. Will is capable of breaking all constrains and of achieving everything you want.

It does not matter where you start. What matters is where you want to go. Everything else in between is ... life ...

These other things you talk : free-will, quantum particles, randomness are just fuzzy words to describe a fuzzy world used by fuzzy people (like me too); take it as the spice of life, nothing more but nothing less.

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I believe your point is that the sum total of every single past event, completely and totally predicts the events that come afterward, and if this hypothesis is true, then there can be no free will.

I suspect the hypothesis is false. In a simple double slit experiment it does not appear we can predict which way a photon will go, indeed if we do not check which way it goes, we have a wave function, perhaps a superposition situation where it acts like it went both ways.

Your hypothesis also seems to fail, because it lacked first cause, similar to arguments presented by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Please note, that Aquinas's argument does not preclude an infinite chain of events, where each event was caused by the one prior to it, but does preclude the existence of such a chain with nothing to create it. [ disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on St. Thomas Aquinas.]

In other words, even if the prediction of every quark and photon in the universe is well described, it fails to tell us why any quarks or photons exist.

Also,if Einstein's theory of relativity is correct there are many other interesting side bars and tangents to discuss, many of which could be very relevant to your question.

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Your question is well-intentioned but unclear. The initial point of everything is a fundamental question. By point, do you refer to meaning or value, perhaps? Panpsychism proposes a conscious universe. It may be that the conscious universe decided to exist to create value or meaning.

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  • Perhaps this should be a comment rather than an answer?
    – Paul Ross
    Nov 18, 2023 at 14:53

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