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Author Topic: On the predjudices of... (ch. 1), section 21  (Read 647 times)
LostInAShaftOfSunlight
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« on: 23/02/09 @ 08:22 »

Here's the part i'm having the most difficulty with.

'i mean the un-free will, which is basically an abuse of cause and effect'

'in the ''in-itself'' there is nothing like ''causal association'', ''necessity'', or ''psychological un-freedom" '

'we are the ones who invented causation'

________________

So the idea of free vs. unfree will falls prey to his general attack on the faith in opposite values.  Completely free will is a piece of ''boorish naivete'' and turns a blind eye to the influence of things like biology, ancestry, society, and chance to name a few.  I start to lose the plot, and my brain begins to atomize and float out of my skull into the surrounding air, when this stuff about causation comes up...

In the notes or overview section of your online guide (the graphic organizer styled one - nice work on this by the way), you sum up this as "proposed solution to free will/determinism problem".  Is this that it''s a false problem/false dichotomy and that it''s ''really a matter of strong and weak wills"?

And what is this abuse of cause and effect?
« Last Edit: 19/04/09 @ 20:09 by Gareth Southwell » Logged

Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.
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« Reply #1 on: 24/02/09 @ 09:41 »

As far as I understand it - and I agree with you about the "brain atomizing" effect of this topic! - Nietzsche sees the notion of will as a useful concept. So, just like causation in general, or the notion of the "I", it is not something that necessarily exists separately from human language and concepts.

The "abuse" that he talks of would therefore seem to involve forgetting that this is the case. So, both determinists and libertarians take a way of talking for actual reality: if we think that causation (which is what will amounts to) has a centre (an "I", for instance) which is an uncaused cause, then we are simply creating stories that we want to believe (no uncaused cause actually exists); on the other hand, if we assume that all causes are determined, then we are forgetting why we created this idea of cause in the first place (to help describe our interaction with the world).

However, this is still perhaps a tricky position, and one is always tempted just to interpret Nietzsche as a form of determinist (strong wills win out over weak).
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LostInAShaftOfSunlight
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« Reply #2 on: 19/04/09 @ 17:15 »

bear with me...

In section 16 he says: "the thing in itself contains a contradictio in adjecto" (i've got a hazy notion of the contradiction, but am not brave enough to try to set it out in my own words yet), which clearly indicates some kind of problem with the concept.

But here he seems to be using it to make a point.  What's up with that?

(great, now it looks like i've only read sections 16 and 21!)  Angry

to further complicate things, you say:

Quote
determinists and libertarians take a way of talking for actual reality:

Does this commit us to saying that there is a real world (i.e. things in themselves), an actual reality, and that our thought and language are seperate from this.  In other words there's an actual reality and a human one.  If it does, do we want to say this? 
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« Reply #3 on: 20/04/09 @ 08:12 »

A "contradictio in adjecto" (literally, a 'contradiction of adjectives') is simply what is commonly termed a "contradiction in terms". So, for example, a married bachelor, or a runny solid (I know there are probably ways in which these phrases could make sense, but the point is that some things are conceptually impossible).

Now, Nietzsche wants to use this idea to point out that certain philosophers are guilty of supposing the impossible in order to justify their ideas. So, Descartes for instance argued that "I think therefore I am" (the Cogito) was a case of "absolute knowledge" and "immediate certainty". It also implies that the self (the "I") is the uncaused cause of thought - a causa sui. These three examples are, for Nietzsche, contradictions in terms: you cannot have absolute knowledge (only knowledge relative to your perspective - 'perspectivism'); you cannot have immediate certainty (because knowledge always relies on interpretation, assumption, and deduction); and you cannot have a causa sui (because the notion of cause implies effect, and vice versa).

Nietzsche sees these examples as springing from a sort of 'never never land' of the intellect. In other words, they are made up to try to justify a set of personal prejudices and desires (a desire for truth, certainty, etc.). But, he asks, even if these things could be proven, the more interesting thing is why you should choose to do so! It's like psychologists who look for mathematical ways of understanding human behaviour: even if you could do this, why would you want to? Because of deeper desires or motives (probably unconscious). The same goes for philosophy.

For Nietzsche, we must avoid what he calls 'reification' - the tendency to treat ideas as if they were things. Quantum physics understands this danger: many of the ways in which we think of subatomic particles has no analogy to the way we see everyday reality - the concepts are just ways of speaking. This is hard to grasp, but Nietzsche's point is that we should not mistake words and ideas for things.

Now, you then ask a very good question: does this mean that, because words are not things, that things exist separately from words, and - perhaps - as Kant argued, we can never experience the 'real' world directly. Well, Nietzsche resists this temptation. Obviously, in a trivial sense, words are not things, but in a philosophical sense, we should not create a metaphysical world where the 'thing in itself' resides, free from all human interpretation. This is a discussion beset with paradoxes and traps: if we claim that there is no such thing as the real world, then it looks like we are left with solipsism (only I and my experiences are real); if we propose that some independent world exists, then we run the risk of metaphysical assumption (how can we know that, or even what it is like?). Nietzsche seems to want to close the gap between perception and reality (perspectivism), and to therefore avoid metaphysics. However, he also (presumably) wants to avoid solipsism and idealism (the idea that only ideas are real, or that everything that exists can be experienced). It seems difficult to do both, but you can see where he's coming from: he simply wants to avoid philosophical traps and delusions. I think for instance, with freewill, he simply wants to say, 'Look, we created these ideas to help us, not to confound us, so let's not get caught up on definitions.'

Sorry for the length - complicated topic...



« Last Edit: 20/04/09 @ 08:17 by Gareth Southwell » Logged

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LostInAShaftOfSunlight
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« Reply #4 on: 06/05/09 @ 10:37 »

Apology accepted.  Actually, i'd like to withdrawal from the content of your last post (though not recoil in horror).  That water's a bit too deep yet.

Okay, going back to free will.  So we recognize our ideas of will (self, too) as a concept that we use to help us describe the world, and dispense with the idea that it is some kind of central point that is either free or determined (and dispense with the self as a central point too). 

This is an unusual picture of ourselves.  Although i see the arguments for it, have already lived with idea of a unified 'me' and i wonder, how do we act on it?  And can we? 


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Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.
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« Reply #5 on: 07/05/09 @ 10:00 »

How do we act on it? Well, I guess we already are! The point is that, whatever the case regarding whether there is a central "I" or not, we seem to have already evolved a way of making decisions, willing certain actions, etc. Now, you might argue that this is an illusion, but we can at least take a pragmatic attitude to it (and not worry about whether we are really in control). So, if I want to give up smoking, then I either want to or I don't. I can get lost analysing whether this is actually the case, but as long as I try to keep in mind that there may be ulterior motives for it, then there is nothing stopping me just trying to give up. I either succeed or I don't, and there is a sense in which any theory of determinism is explanatory, not predictive: if I give up, then my certain drives won out over others; if I don't, then the opposite drives won. However, as long as both are possible (and I don't see why they shouldn't be), then let's just go for it!

I think a good picture (which I mention in another post) is the one suggested by Plato in the Republic, where man is composed of certain faculties - P names three: reason, spirit, and appetite. (Incidentally, by spirit he simply means a sort of competitive and ambitious element, the virtue of which is courage.) In an ideal man, reason is allied to spirit, which in turn rule appetite. So, those appetites which are healthy are encouraged, and unhealthy ones denied. However, there are cases when an individual's appetite can win out over reason, and in extreme cases this may lead to a personality which is purely driven by base instincts (a pure hedonist, perhaps, or a violent thug). Now, N's picture is not so very dissimilar to this: it is more complicated, but it still suggests that the individual is composed of many different aspects, and each has its own agenda. For Plato, the agenda should be a rational one, and we should follow an independent ideal of goodness; however, for N, there being no independent ideal of goodness, it would seem that we need to establish our own ideal. Obviously, this is based in part of what instinctively we have traditionally held as good.

So, in a sense, N's notion of will is not so very different (in spirit) to an old notion that we are composed of potentially competing faculties, and his only difference that it is not so clear as to what their order and purpose should be.
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