No, it’s not complicated: Response to Lex Fridman, David Wolpe, Sam Harris and Peter Hitchens on Free Will

LEX ET ALL: the free will debate is conducted in ‘childlike terms’ so to speak. It doesn’t have to be.

1) All sophistry consists of incomplete sentences in non-operational language. All grammatically truthful statements and questions consist of complete sentences in operational language (human actions) that meet the criteria for “continuous recursive disambiguation to the point of unambiguity”. The free will question when stated incompletely and non-operationally is in that category of frauds of the liar’s paradox: there is no paradox. Words don’t mean things, people do. “I promise everythign in this box is a lie” violates continuous recursive disambiguation on purpose – ergo the author lies. This is the differencde between performative truth (sciencde and law) and textual and scriptual interpretation (literature and religion).

2) the purpose of the free will question is legal (formal) or normative (moral): Do we hold you accountable for those actions WITHIN your capacity to choose legally and morally – or not? That’s the meaning of free will. It’s legal. It’s practical. It’s purely empirical.

3) We can’t demonstrate perfectly free will because (a) we are ignorant (b) because we are ignorant many questions are undecidable (c) in the absence of decidability we need a bias to allow us to decide (d) group evolutionary strategies consists of metaphysical, mythological (religious), method of decidability for no other reason to both prevent us from conflict and to provide us with stress reduction (fear reduction) that we call ‘mindfulness’. Spiritual is a pseudoscientific term for an (large) set of biases that have evolved as methaphyiscs, traditions, norms, values and institutions both informal and formal to ‘train’ us so that we are not reliant of fallible reason. But instead, we are forgiving of one another’s failings as long as we ‘fail’ by the criteria suggested even if not stated in our metaphysics, traditions, norms, values, and institutions both informal and formal.
4) Sam is a practitioner of pilpul and critique which are culturally different from sophistry and justification practiced by european philosophers. Pilpul and critique evolved from semitic mythologizing just as semitic law and semitic reason evolved from mythologizing and the sophistry possible under mythologizing. This is because normative, moral, and religious between tribal peoples are conducted under relativism in order to reach some sort of compromise or agreement. This is the opposite of european (greco roman germanic anglo) civilization where we developed law and lawful testimony first, then the state, and only a weak religion by comparison. The reason is that europeans after the indo european expansion, developed the ‘ethics of pirates’ which we call ‘contractualism’ or ‘democracy’. (yes the origin of democracy is in piracy (cattle raiding) on the steppe using carts and then chariots. So europeans developed materialism under which everything is NOT relative, instead of spiritualism where everything IS relative. ( I cover this subject in depth elsewhere.) So any student of Sam’s method of argument can easily dismantle anything he says that’s nonsense (and some of it is, but not all of it) once you learn to identify when he’s engaging in pilpul and critique and relativism. None of us completely escapes our traditions. It’s impossible. We can only minimize their undesirable influences.

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