Tag Archives: reality

Philosophy of Determinism

For centuries, there has been a hugely important philosophical debate going on, and in the minds of many it is still unresolved today. It is the debate of determinism versus free will. As an introduction, let’s define those terms so you know what I’m talking about.

Free Will = The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; The ability  to have freely chosen differently than you did at any moment, regardless of your beliefs.

Determinism = The idea that for every event there first existed conditions which could have caused no other event; The future can only unfold the one way it is going to go due to everything that plays a role in how it goes that way.

On one side, we have those arguing that universe operates via cause and effect. This means that for every event that takes place, there was a string of prior events which caused that event to take place, and made it inevitable. The reason people believe the world is governed by cause and effect is that when observing the unfolding of activity around us, we have learnt there are certain relationships between events. For example, it’s quite clear that if I stick my hand on a hot metal plate, I will get a burn. And so the whole of scientific enquiry was born out of trying to understanding these relationships better, which is to understand why and how something takes place. We try to find the reason or explanation for how something came into existence, because we acknowledge there is always a process of cause and effect which led to it’s creation.

So, why is there a debate? Why do people disagree with this view? Well, the thing is, if nothing can happen without something having caused it, then every thing that will ever happen in the future is already determined and set in motion. And this idea is completely incompatitable with the very popular and beloved concept of “free will”. The only reason to doubt that cause and effect reigns supreme lies with this notion that humans have free choice.  And thankfully, this concept is oh so testable. But in this article, I want to argue a case for determinism in a completely different way, without even resorting to the standard cause and effect argument. I want to answer this question: Is it possible for life to unfold any other way than it is going to?

As I said, we don’t even need to consider the concept of causality to answer this – it is a completely different topic altogether. Let’s instead consider the word possible. When we say something is possible, what do we mean? Well, for something to be possible, really means that we believe it could or can occur in reality. If it’s possible to catch a fish it means hey,  we think people can/could do that in reality. So then, the question “is it possible for life to unfold any other way than it’s going to?” really means “can the events in reality unfold in a way that is different to the way the events in reality unfold?”  Wow, what a confusing contradiction! I think that has answered the question! But let’s continue:

Did the past unfold differently to the way that the past did unfold?

Is the present unfolding differently to the way the present is unfolding?

Can the future unfold differently to the way the future will unfold?

Well to say things like “this event could be different right now” or “that past event could have been different” or “that event in the future could go differently to how it’s going to (it’s not fixed)” is quite ridiculous if you ask me. You are really stating that something is possible, not realising that the only way to measure whether something is possible or not is to see whether it occurs in reality or not. If an event does not occur at a given time, it was obviously never a possibility for that event to occur at that time. The concept of uncertainty and chance only exists within our own minds. Because we do not know what will happen next, it feels like anything could happen. But in reality, the only things that can happen are the things that do end up happening. To say that the events could have gone differently than they did is really saying that you believe your own imagination is a better measure of what is possible than reality itself is. It’s like saying you know more about reality than the universe itself does! Where does this line of thinking lead? Well, let’s say you come across another person, and they say to you in no joking manner “I am a dragon, and you are stealing my dragon eggs. I must burn you with my fiery breath!” Then they proceed to blow on you. What would you think? Well you would most likely think they are a bit crazy, since you know the things they are saying are not possible. How do you know they are not possible? Because the event of being burnt by fiery dragon breath did not occur in reality at that time (or anytime obviously). But if you were to instead adopt the line of thinking where reality does not determine what represents a possibility, you would have no choice but to admit that the dragon man could indeed be correct, because you would be measuring a possibility only by your imagination. Of course we can imagine and predict what the possibilities are for the future, but we won’t know for sure until it arrives!! When we are dealing with the subject of possibilities we are really dealing with the subject of “probability”. We are assessing the likelihood or “chances” something has of actually occurring in reality. But once something has actually occurred in reality, such measures are useless because it is a fact that the event always had a 100% chance of coming about.

It is the same with saying any event could have been different to how it was at a given time. If it could have unfolded differently, why the hell didn’t it? If there is a large range of possible options that the future may take, why does only one set of outcomes only ever come into existence at a given time? Let’s do another example. Say you have two young brothers at home, playing video games. The younger brother says the older  “I think I’m gonna win this time!!!”. The older says “nope not possible”. So both brothers are making predictions about a certain point in time, in the future, when the game they are playing has finished. They both think they have a good idea about what is possible at that moment. But, when the time comes, and the game finishes, only one of the brothers will be correct. So, let’s say the game finishes and the younger brother wins. He was correct, and he now has a definitive answer on what could, and could not, occur in that moment in time!! This is why predictions are called predictions and not facts, because they must pass the test of reality first!

So, to answer the question, no it is not possible for life to unfold any other way than it going to! We live in a completely deterministic world, and this is such an awesome thing! We live in a world where everything that happens was meant to happen!

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The Wisdom Model for Measuring Personal Development Pt 1.

There is a far more accurate way of measuring personal development than the achievement model. This method can be called the “wisdom model”.

In this model, it is explained what is really going on in life. Everyone is going about trying to do everything they possibly can to accomplish their goals and make life conform to their desires. With every action performed, people are putting effort into trying to control life, and this is absolutely necessary and wonderful.  But what is the purpose of such efforts? What is the purpose of goals? If you are trying to live by the achievement model, the purpose of goals will seen to be, of course, to achieve them (and hence prove your value). But the wisdom model provides the understanding that goals serve a completely different role. They serve the role of providing you with a journey of real life experiences. And, as the they say, we grow from our life experiences. From our life experiences we grow in wisdom, and this growth represents our true personal development. 

Summary of Relating to Life program. -6

Every person who is alive is out there having a real journey of life events, even those people trying to live by the achievement model.  And it is these events which are enabling our development to take place, regardless of the degree to which the events match our preferences and original intentions. But if development is measured by the gaining of wisdom, the question needs to be asked, what is wisdom?

Wisdom has nothing to do with knowing how to control life, knowing which events to pick or what course of action to take in life. Wisdom is actually a specific set of understandings which will neutralise psychological stress when life is not going the way you want. It is a small subset within the vast network of belief systems known as “knowledge”. This subset is concerned with trying to answer the question “what is taking place in life?”. Wisdom can be defined as an accurate account of reality. An accurate assessment of that which is taking place. And your growth in wisdom is your growth in understanding what is really going on in life, your growth in understanding reality. It is this growth in wisdom which is responsible for fixing people’s psychological stress, not any claim to have taken back control of life and mind.

When you look at life, when you see things happening and people going about their business, your mind is going to be forming opinions about what it all means. It is going to be forming opinions about the activity you see, and about what you think is really going on in the big picture. Everything you see is part of a system after all, and everyone is up to difference levels of understanding how that system works.

The reason so many people are stressed, anxious, depressed, suicidal, angry or hateful is that their level of wisdom is not high enough to allow them to understand what they see in reality. When they give their opinions as to what is going on, what they think is going on is not at all what is actually going on. For example people are out their believing that “I am not valuable”. Or that “I could have chosen to have acted different back then”. Or “That person is ruining the system”. Their account of reality is not correct.

Reality is simply a development process. A process of cause and effect. And there are lessons in wisdom which define this process. For something to be a lesson in wisdom, it must describe an aspect of the development process. One way of gaining more understanding of these lessons is through studying physiology.  You can compare healthy human physiology with diseased physiology. What is the difference?

 

 

Commonality and Individuality

It seems today that people are often in search of self-understanding, an understanding of  “who they are”. In my veiw, what is generally meant by the question “who are you?” is this: What is it that defines the difference between you and other people? What do you have that no one else has? What makes you unique?

In other words, they are really in search of an understanding of their individuality.  In fact, society today is obsessed with the concept of individuality. Emphasis is always placed on being “original” and not copying other people. People are taught they have to put their own unique stamp on the world, and being overly influenced by other people is often frowned upon. It is interesting to note that none of the ideas I talk about on this blog are original – they all come from being influenced by other people. Does that make them less valid?

On top of this, we have many people claiming that even reality itself must be different for each individual. They say things like “create your own reality” and “find your own truths”. When noticing that different people can assess the same event via different beliefs, some people take this to mean reality does not exist at all! Many counsellors will also maintain that they will treat you as an individual rather than looking at what you have in common with others, and that you really must find your own unique answers to your problems as their are no common answers which might apply.

So then, if a person wishes to try and live by all these philosophies and really find their individuality, where would they begin such a search? Well the answer is that in order to find that which sets you apart from everyone else, you must first study what everyone has in common. How the hell can you claim to know what makes you different from others if you don’t even check to find out what other people have? What you think represents who you are” might well be something other people also share.

It is only through an understanding of commonality that individuality can be recognised. So instead of embarking on an impossible search to find “who you are”, it might make more sense to instead search for “what do people have in common?” This might sound a bit vague. So let’s look at it in a few different contexts.

First let’s say we have a therapist who is trying to help people with their mental heath. The therapist is currently focusing on what is unique among his patients, and treats them all as a case not related to the others. But unbeknown to him, there are specific beliefs which each person with the same psychological issues have in common with each other, and all these patients would require the same treatment to recover from those issues. In order to discover this, the therapist would need to start comparing his patients and looking for common factors.

Another example is the subject of “life purpose”.  Whenever I hear someone talking about finding their purpose in life, they almost always assume that purpose is different for everyone. Instead of looking for the common purpose of life, they instead get lost trying to fabricate their own unique purpose. Often this “purpose” is actually more a set of “goals”.

In reference to the idea that reality is different for everyone, you could try lining up thousands of people up in front of a truck, and ask them what they see. The fact they they would likely all come back with the word “truck” or an equivalent, indicates that there is something between all their individual experiences that they share in common – that is the experience of seeing a truck. This common shared experience is that of reality and there is only one!  If everyone created their own reality communication between people would be impossible – there would be no common ground to start from.

Lastly, we can look to the human body for an example of commonality and individuality. If you look at every human body you will find a lot of commonality – most people have the same organs and their body largely operates in the same way. This was discovered from years of comparing people’s physiology – looking for commonality in how the system works. How silly would it be to ask “oh my lungs allow me to breathe, but what do yours do?”.  Hmmm. But of course after such commonality is noted, you can then identify certain people who’s physiology might have difference. One persons lungs may have an infection, or cancer. So there may be some people who say “well my lungs aren’t working too well!”.

So, every person has both things which are common to all and things which are more unique. But ignoring the commonality in favour of individuality, as society often does, cannot be the best way to unravel truth.