Jordan Peterson on free-will

https://youtu.be/WCLfw4RjXE0

What Dr. Peterson is saying about free-will is what I observed myself and that’s also what I use as proof of free-will: if there wasn’t one and determinism was true, then there would be no difference between us and animals. Or machines for that matter. Therapy would be very easy in this case, since everything would be working according to certain rules which you just have to figure out. But that is not the case.

I did go to various therapists for years but it never felt like it was helping. Though as I started reading Ayn Rand, who taught me that free-will is real and you have to take responsibility for yourself, I started realizing that it wasn’t the therapists who didn’t understand me or who were incompetent or something, but it was me because I wasn’t willing.

That’s why I haven’t been in therapy for years, even though I needed it and still do, because I’m still struggling with taking on the effort of actually working on myself, to get out of my comfort zone.

So yeah, unless the person is willing there’s only so much you can do.

I also want to say how very important people like Dr. Peterson are. Not just for me, but for the whole society, especially in our time. And that is for two reasons:

1. The way he explains things.

He is able to convey complex and highly abstract topics for laymen to understand. It can be very hard to verbalize insights and knowledge you gathered consciously or unconsciously, so you go looking for answers and find people like him, who are able to pull it out of the depths of your mind, so to speak.

And you are excited because they help you to understand things, improve your concepts, your thoughts, your worldview. Plus he is so energetic, eloquent and genuinely honest, but you can also sometimes see that he has the same problem as the rest of us, namely that he has so much more to say than he can put into words, because he doesn’t only want to convey factual knowledge but philosophical insights.

2. The way he engages with critics.

He is one of the few people who really try to find the truth, so while he is clearly articulating his views of certain topics, he never demonizes his opponents. And shows that violence, even if it is just verbal, makes things worse. The fact that he stays absolutely calm while SJW-students yell „transphobic piece of shit“ at him, is deeply impressive. When you think of people with different opinions as a potential danger and engage with them in anger or even hatred, be it in real life or hypothetically, than you are less likely to really understand their arguments or where they might be right. You then tend to ignore or overlook things you might want to analyze.

This leads to philosophical and cultural stagnation and divides a society, this is why all the talk about „male privilege“ or „white privilege“ and so on is the actual „hate-speech“, because it is so divisive. Or the whole class-warfare-rhetoric of the radical left for that matter: Opressor vs oppressed, Men vs women, rich vs poor, white vs every other ethnicity etc. The phrase „Violence causes violence“ is true on a fundamental philosophical level. So that is the reason why I admire him so much: he shows us how to get out of this viscous circle of collectivism, by being an example and fighting for unrestricted free-speech.

What is consciousness?

Consciousness is a philosophical and scientific axiom. It requires a brain. It is real but not material. It is our means of knowing reality (though existence is the primary axiom). The conceptual (rational) faculty builds on the material provided by the senses. Consciousness as a faculty includes the conscious mind and material stored in the subconscious, which can become conscious. Both aspects work together, with the conscious mind being active and the subconscious relatively passive. Reason is fallible and requires an epistemology and the choice to expend effort. Consciousness is our main means of survival and of human progress.

Edwin A. Locke, The Illusion of Determinism

This is a nice little summary of the objectivist view of consciousness and free will. I share this view, but I have to say that I still think that the term “free will” is misleading and redundant.

First: People tend to understand the word “free” in an anarchist kind of sense (just as the free-market economy is often understood as anarchism), as if the will was completely detached from existence, i.e. context-free. That this is not the case, and that this circumstance is no proof of determinism, is what Edwin Locke explains in the book quoted above.

Second: It is simply unnecessary to put the adjective “free” before the term “will.” Through our capacity for conceptual thinking, we are able to make choices, so, unlike animals, we can consciously choose between alternative actions. This constitutes our freedom, because we are not completely determined by causality.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.

Francis Bacon, Novum Organum

But we have to consciously set and pursue goals based on a moral code. That’s our will. In other words: The will is free by definition, otherwise it would not be will.

This also raises the exciting question of whether AI can ever develop a consciousness without (free) will (if it is even possible to produce a consciousness or an awareness process with algorithms).