Are humans' minds fully deterministic robots?

IINM, Newton would have certainly said so. My question is threefold:

  1. How would Newton have answered this?
  2. How would Marx have answered this? I'm thinking about the material theory of history.
  3. What is the accepted scientific answer today, if any?
  • 2
    The final, non-philosophical part: our experience of the universe is accepted to be non-deterministic to all appearances, so in principle humans are not deterministic. If one wants to ask whether the world is truly deterministic, and what that would mean ultimately, that would be a different question. Dec 6 '13 at 19:32
  1. Newtons theory of mechanics is deterministic (in both directions of time). This was the great surprise as it goes against our immediate perception, and also importantly against the theology of the time - Christianity. There man is free, and freedom is construed morally. I doubt Newton took his own theories for the whole of reality. Being a theologian, (in which he was an Arian), he would have accepted freemdom as construed as such in the realm of the human and coincident with Gods divine plan. One might say, in the realm of mechanics natural law is one aspect of this plan.

  2. Marx thought that history was predestined towards emancipation. This does not mean that the actions of individuals are themselves determined. He took this theory from Hegel and changed it so that it was material conditions rather than Spirit that was the motive force.

  3. There is no accepted scientific consensus. In physics, determinism is still the rule - even taking into account quantum mechanics & the uncertainty principle. This is because the uncertainty is precisely described, and hence is deterministic in an expanded notion of this idea and not the classical view. On reflection, one notices that one cannot do physics without some form of determinism. It is one of the conditions of its study - to borrow a term fom Kant. But physics is not the whole of realit, merely one important aspect of it.

  • Excellent answer, I especially compliment you of not dragging quantum mechanics into this. I would like to add that Christianity is divided over the question of determinism. This played a huge role during the reformation, with many reformers arguing in favor of determinism. They could point to Augustine for a Christian thinker in the ancient world that defended that stance also. The bible is somewhat ambigous (surprise, surprise), so both views can be defended. [...]
    – John
    Dec 12 '13 at 23:17
  • [...] Hardliners even claimed that the sins you get sent to hell for are predestined by God. You can even today find influential theologeans claiming that no one believes without God making them believe. As the Christian view wasn't the question that hardly affects the quality of your answer though.
    – John
    Dec 12 '13 at 23:20
  • @John: Thanks. I did 'drag' QM into it though! But only yo point out that it remains determinstic in an expanded view. I imagine those theologions take the axiom of Gods omniscience over and above the axiom of human free will. Dec 13 '13 at 3:08

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