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Timeless Block-Universe Determinism


Block-universe determinism and autonomous control

The experienced world can be modelled as an ultimately unchanging, 4-dimensional spacetime block. The time axis combines with the 3 dimensions of space to form a 4-dimensional block universe, or crystalline ground of being. Conceiving of the world as a fixed spacetime block leads to the astonishing potential of experiencing ego death, because the logic of ego's control power is coherently disrupted. If one consistently adopts the mental model of the block universe, the usual sense of exerting the power of initiation/choice disappears, and the logic of personal self-determination effectively cancels itself out.

Causal-chain determinism overemphasizes predictability and perfect seamlessness of the chain of cause and effect, and cannot tolerate the slightest bit of true randomness or disjoint in the chain of cause and effect. More relevant to discovering ego death is that each point on any timeline is predetermined (preset; determinate), and the future permanently exists, elsewhere in the spacetime block. The hypothesis about the eternally unbroken causal chain, in which the past eventually controls the future, is excessive, delicate, and irrelevant to higher experience. Even if there is some true randomness in the world, the future remains predetermined, because of the illusory nature of the flow of time, and the inability to the ego-entity to be the ultimate origin of its own thoughts and choices.

Each intermediate personal action is fated, not just the outcome. The will itself is fated at every moment. Fatalism emphasizes the fixity of the personal future actions, without committing to an unbroken chain of causality.

The mind is virtually free: it is free on the practical, visible level, while predetermined on the underlying, hidden level. The underlying block universe is at a higher level in the hierarchy of control than the practically free actions that take place within the stream of personal actions within the block universe. The universe forcefully controls the stream of personal control-actions, then the stream of control actions exerts its secondary power. One can postulate a control agent at an even higher level in the control hierarchy; one would then hope that it is a compassionate agent that defined the actions of the cybernetic puppets inside the spacetime block.

The choice of thoughts and actions is practically free, but thoughts are forced into the mind from the underlying plane; the mind is a slave to the free acts of will injected by the underlying block universe. Time, change, flexibility, variability, and movement are all fixed at all points along the time axis or branching axes. The stream of personal control-actions such as decision-making is frozen and predetermined at each point in time. The stream of consciousness and control can be seen as a set of distinct time-slices, with the events at each particular time-slice permanently fixed.

The world casts forth the entire set of time-slices of an object or stream of actions all at once; actions at two adjacent time-slices are isolated, and slightly different. The later action is not predetermined simply because it is caused by the first, but because both actions have always been permanently pre-set; the entire set of actions came into existence all at once. The similarity of each time-slice of a stream of actions produces the sense of continuity of the ego-entity across time and the sense of smooth motion through time. Self-control is unable to forcefully reach across time to control one's thoughts, will, and actions in the future.

Fatalism is more robust than determinism

>The other day, I was considering fatalism and whether or not we truly are captive to fate, or if we have a free-will. If a person has to make a decision between several different options, is that person capable of choosing anything but the option he chooses? Perhaps a better way of thinking about it would be if a person has such a decision to make, and makes it, if that has the opprutinity to make the decision again, and that person has no recollection of the previous occasion, or the results which came of having made that choice, and the environment is the same and any variables which might affect that person's reasoning are the same, is that person capable of choosing anything but what he chose to begin with?

I've suggested some of the best readings in the "free will is bunk" topic. You should also read my other posts which I just posted in the following topics:

science vs. mysticism

God is dead

humanism is alive in today's world!
determinism and rationality
the self-aware universe
the death of ego
free will is bunk

It is difficult finding books about fatalism. I'm going to research it in a large university library soon. Not determinism, not divine (Christian) providence, not foreknowledge, but fatalism. Determinism is always defined in a way that emphasizes the wrong things -- linearity, domino-chain, predictability-in-principle. Hand me that razor. Fatalism is much more clear-headed and does not overextend itself. It undercuts the free will objections right off the bat and makes no shaky claims to give you any power of prediction. Note that even the eastern mystics and the ancient Greeks waffle on this... they understand fatalism and "believe in it" yet they also take freedom half-seriously, though fatalism says that freedom is essentially illusory. In any case, what is really needed is a more robust conception and portrayal of exactly what it means to be "only illusorily free." This has not been done yet.

Fatalism, or block-universe determinism

Block universe, poor definitions of determinism and free will

'Variables' -- now that is a suspect idea. I don't believe in
variables. The universe is entirely made of constants. That is,
variability is not absolute; things can only "vary" in a restricted
sense. Everything is frozen along the time axis, as in Rudy Rucker's
well-illustrated semi-comic-book format _The Fourth Dimension_. This
is what William James and the turn of the century Einstein gang refer
to as the "block universe".

>I use the word variable as an occurance that is affected by something else. Everything does work out to be a constant, since there are infinite variables and infinite relationships. I use variable because the mathematic term comes closest to describing an outcome that is dependant on many other changing facts.

>ie K = F(J(G(Q(x))))... etc.. The result is constant since the functions F, J, G, Q... (infinite) are all inter-dependant. Also, what you fail to understand is, I'm not simply limiting the equation to the "block universe" or any single universe. For instance: General_function F(x) may encapsulate our universe (where the standard laws of physics apply as we observe them), but 'x' is dependant on every single other function, even those not existing in our comprehensable knowledge. Anyway, iif you want to look at F(x) itself, no, it is not a constant in and of itself.

This sounds like what I call "fractal creation" -- similar to Cosmic Anthropic Principle. The giant universe-fractal pops into being, a holistic net of reflections, all at once.

What if gamblin' God has put a little speck of pure randomness in your universe? Won't the whole thing explode? Or do the variables and equations handle that?

Is it possible to write an equation that describes an arbitrary, purely random distribution of points?

Do you picture the future as unravelling as these equations work themselves out? Or is the future already calculated and existant?

Do your equations themselves change, or are they all fixed?

>In the bigger picture, it is... I guess this is where we differ.

That's where I differ from everyone. I have a disagreement not with this isolated historical argument or that, but with the entire approach, the entire pictures of the universe that have been built up. I'm operating out of a different paradigm and I will never get anywhere if I have to get embroiled in the traditional misconceived arenas of debate and unravel other people's confusion -- let them unravel their own damned confusion! They're the ones who are confused, not me! It's more important to paint a fresh picture than to try to repair a beat-up, torn canvas they've wrecked.

>As for me believing any of those above terms; I don't claim to have ever taken philosphy, and I really have no clue which one encases what ideas.

Just as well. I can tell you this - I would never have defined 'determinism' to inherently include all the hocus-pocus about predictability-in-principle that has caused that position nothing but trouble.

And 'free will' is defined in just as crippled, in its way -- it is too busy endlessly re-affirming existential decision-making to do the real work of analyzing the other, truly problematic implications of the notion of "genuine freedom". No one denies existential decision-making. The problem is the overtones and embellishments of meaning of the idea of "genuine freedom", besides the incontrovertible datum of experience, of choice-making. Freewillists fail to address the real issue, of the subtle nature underlying the act of choice. Sure, there is choice, but what exactly is its nature? Sure, you "could have done otherwise" -- but what is the nature of this could? Is it absolute, or only relative or virtual could-ness?

It's only virtually true that you could have done otherwise; it's not genuinely or absolutely true. The alternatives were ghostly hypotheticals.

Block-universe determinism can handle true randomness, while conventional determinism is destroyed if there is any true randomness

What if gamblin' God has put a little speck of pure randomness in your
universe? Won't the whole thing explode? Or do the variables and
equations handle that?

>Randomness? How can you put randomness into an equation that is randomness itself. What we explain is randomness is due to the difference between our perception of a simple four-dimensional function and the true function itself. God? Perhaps a glob of so-called 'variables'.
Slippable turns of phrase are interesting. "An equation that is randomness itself" -- what sort of a randomness would that be? It took me a few more sentences to become sure of your meaning. Equations generate pseudo-randomness, not pure randomness, according to the usual concepts of 'equation' and 'random'. The usages of these terms can slip around ambiguously. There is pure 'randomness', and apparent or virtual 'randomness'. There are 'equations' in the ordinary sense, and 'equations' in a wide open, unspecified sense.

In the uniquely muddy waters of the free will debate, you must firmly lock down which of these two meanings you have in mind, to prevent the possibility of ambiguity and miscommunication. I think I know what you intend, but others might not, and it's possible to say it more directly: "There is no true randomness, only apparent or virtual randomness of the type produced by deterministic pseudo-random number algorithms."

>Is it possible to write an equation that describes an arbitrary, purely random distribution of points?

>Yes, but points, spacial graphing, and randomness are all impossible. You

Hold on. Is this really mathematically possible?

>Yes, but points, spacial graphing, and randomness are all impossible. You

I am not convinced that randomness is impossible. A devout determinist need not hold that pure randomness is impossible. There is a form of determinism that can accomodate pure randomness yet still believe in universal predetermination, because univesrsal predetermination is actually distinct from the issue of randomness. I bracket off the hypothetical possibility of pure randomness, and remain agnostic about the types of randomness that actually exist in this world, and still pronounce everything to be eternally predetermined.

This combination of agnosticism about randomness and certainty of predetermination is logically consistent, if you abandon the claim to predictability-in-principle. I have defined my model of determinism such that it holds whether or not there is randomness. Should there in fact turn out to be some pure randomness, your model, the Determined Universal Equation, dies from its allergy to randomness.

Put another way, your model only applies to those worlds that happen to contain no pure randomness. If it is possible for a gamblin' God to exist in some world, and if He can and does will a speck of pure randomness in that world, your model cannot apply to that world. Your system is vulnerable to the possible existence of such a whimsical, willful creature. My model, however, applies to all worlds, whether any of these possible worlds are whimsically random or seriously determined. All I had to do to gain that independence from the hypothetical possibility of pure randomness is abandon predictability-in-principle.

You make one more claim than I dare to, a risky and burdensome claim that early 20th century scientists were willing to make, in their lust for the power of prediction and control. I strive to be amenable to the chaos of pure randomness, and still maintain that all is predetermined. I achieve this goal, of arguing for predetermination, through a simpler, more direct route, with fewer arbitrary assumptions.

Whether randomness is pure or merely apparent is irrelevant to the predetermined status of all events. They are all predetermined, whether or not there is some pure randomness. It seems you are saying that events are predetermined because they are not really random. That is where I part ways with standard 'determinism'. I say that events are predetermined because the time axis cannot itself flow and change. There is no change, because of the nature of time, not because of the underlying nature of random chance.

You and I agree that events and choices are predetermined, but we disagree as to the reason why or the argument for why they are predetermined. You say events are predetermined because of non-randomness, but I say that's not relevant: events are predetermined because of the nature of time and change. We agree about change: there is no change. I make that my whole foundation, whereas you feel it is insufficient and you also turn nonrandomness into a cause of predetermination.

Of course this notion of the unchangingness and nonrandomness being the "cause", and predetermination being the "effect", is itself problematic. All these dynamic factors of time, change, randomness, freedom, and predetermination are interwoven into the structures of our models and our ways of speaking.

>are taking my ideas too mathematically. I am only using mathematics in order to get a "general" idea across. There is no way it can be explained in any language, or comprehended by anything. I may be wrong, but it

I don't agree with that way of speaking. These equations and this universe can be comprehended and explained in more or less ordinary language. Perhaps we disagree about the nature of comprehension and explanation.

>seems as if you're viewing my model as if you were looking at a three or even four dimensional function, and that's missing the point.

But certainly 3- and 4-dimensional spacetime models are highly relevant. Time is the house in which freedom resides. I would be cautious about escaping into n-dimensional mysteries. You might get lost in that jungle and abandon comprehensibility, and then you will be prepared to abandon thought and jettison the power of explanation -- "There is no way it can be explained."

Do you picture the future as unravelling as these equations work themselves out? Or is the future already calculated and existant?

>Work themselves out? Umm... time itself is but a small variable in the equation. Future? The four dimensions (spacial dimensions, and time) are finite, and may be constant to our perception and universe, but are nothing more than puny modifiers.

Do these equations pop into existence from beyond time and space? Was the future created after the past, or did all events at all times spring into being? I assume that these specific questions are pertinent and can coherently be addressed to your conceptual system..

>Do your equations themselves change, or are they all fixed?

>My point is, there is no change.

I agree that there is no change. Of course there is change, but no change of change, so to speak. All change is frozen, as a road "changes" from uphill to downhill relative to the point of reference of a "travelling" vehicle.

>Time may be a variable, but the equation cannot exist solely in time and/or space.

This is similar to my idea of the world as a fractal floating in cyberspacetime.

>That's where I differ from everyone. I have a disagreement not with this isolated historical argument or that, but with the entire approach, the entire pictures of the universe that have been built up.

>It's sorta eerie... if you view my so-called 'equation' without the false preconceptions of the human universe in mind, you might be less bound to our faulty math system and see what I'm getting at.

Our preconceptions and math system are mostly correct; it's only a matter of modifying them, as Newtonian's form of 'relative motion' was superceded by Einstein's revision of the network of all the concepts involved.

I can only vaguely picture your Equation Universe. Beware of retreating into overly vague, general concepts. I advise you to smash your system against other arguments and conceptions and identify your specific differences. Make the effort to show what the different pictures of the universe are, and the different starting assumptions.

Developing your system would mean making it more detailed in its application to specific established topics and ideas, such as quantum physics and ethics.

What exactly is your stand on this and that issue? This is admittedly difficult when false preconceptions and distortions abound. With different starting assumptions and mental models, it is hard to reconcile systems of concepts and converse between, or interconnect, two systems of explanation. Alternative paradigms or theories are incommensurable, but you can detail the differences between them.

Again, I highly recommend Rudy Rucker's _The Fourth Dimension_. It is fun and accessible and portrays the block universe clearly.

Is cause and effect an illusion?

Topics: consciousness
consciousness in the vapid New Age mode
mysticism and consciousness

You must keep writing and editing your posting until it has adequate connections to each of those topics, such that people reading in those groups will send you enthusiastic email thanking you exuberantly for your groundbreaking insights.

>created all at once, in a holistic, integrated lightning bolt shooting across all of time. Everything causes everything else.

>This is a viable theory of infinite variables and equations but which should, if it works out, produce a kind of asymeteric wood grain of reality(s) which resemble(s) causal time.

I don't mean to go to extremes and say that "everything causes everything"; I mean that somewhat loosely, just to emphasize that the 'causal' patterning across time can be seen from an eternal perspective as well as the habitual modern forward-linear perspective which all the determinists are stuck in. My real intention is to describe causality from the eternal timeless perspective, not to declare that everything is related in calculatable, non-arbitrary ways.

The wood-grain metaphor well describes this static causality that produces the appearance of causal time. The holistic web of cause could still contain arbitrariness and genuine randomness or chaos in places. And it need not have infinite variables and equations. I could accept a little chaos and less than infinite variables.

I wouldn't make too much out of all those options. This sort of metaphysics is easiest if you make the starting assumptions of finite variables and no pure randomness -- the clockwork deterministic universe. Then later you can modify that model with more complicating assumptions: infinite variables and randomness. If you add these complications to a robust and well-built metaphysical model of spacetime and causality, then that metaphysical model perseveres and remains viable.

The problem of causality should be framed this way: some form of 'causality' exists, but what is the actual nature of this 'causality'? Is it apparent causality, or real causality? What would be the difference in the mental associations of 'apparent' causality as opposed to 'real' causality? What relationship does causality have to time? Do we need to reconceptualize time, to properly reconceptualize causality? What is the connection between ego and temporal causality, if the true character of causality is to be seen through the eyes of eternity rather than through the eye that moves along the rut of linear, progressive time? If ego is in some way illusory, then is the ego's causal efficacy only a charade?

If the causal ego is a charade, then the power of will power is cancelled out by the force of logic. But not just impotent, passive logic -- by control logic, which when it falls, brings your whole inner being crashing to the ground.

Cause and effect in the a-temporal block universe; a temporal thread arises all at once, outside time

All events and postings could be said to arise as an effect not of the events and postings prior to them in time, but rather, prior in eternity, outside of time. Every posting was created all at once, in a holistic, integrated lightning bolt shooting across all of time. The crystalline thread of postings popped into existence all at once, the first in the same eternal instant as the last. We could as well say the last post "causes" the first. Everything causes everything else. All these consistent conjunctions of events and postings that are consecutive along the time axis mutually cause each other in an interlocked web of patterning. We can single out aspects of this pattern and label those aspects 'cause', 'effect', and 'causality', but that is an arbitrary definition of terms that we then embellish. This embellished result becomes reified and grows into an exagerrated literalness. Causality is a fact, but what is the nature or sense or meaning of this fact? For pragmatic reasons, we subtlely distort this fact and turn the original, true causality into a delusion.

Block-universe fatedness is invulnerable to randomness, and more relevant to mystic insight; it's more robust and relevant than conventional determinism

Ali wrote:

>The sense of freedom is not only incontrovertible, it's uncontroversial, as a sense.

Existential freedom is an excellent account of this phenomenon of
freedom. Decisions really arise and are hard to make, involving
mental labor. But this poses no problem for determinism. There
simply is no problem in "reconciling" existentialism and
determinism. Anyone who thinks they are unreconcilable either doesn't
understand what the real position of existentialism does and does not
assert, or they don't understand what the real position of determinism
does and does not assert.

Ali writes the following, which is not fatedness, but rather, the standard version of determinism. He is thus stuck with the weakness of determinism: linear causality that is not amenable to even the least bit of randomness.
>I agree that fatalism is the only rational alternative.

>It's obvious that when two particles collide, they'll always end up going the same ways given identical starting conditions, just as it's obvious that 1+1 will always equal 2. Since the universe is just particles w/energy (or energy with mass, my physics are pretty sketchy), they're going to follow one specific path, following the laws of physics, mathematics, and their present conditions. As such, the universe has a destiny--it will end up as something, which is determined by the present state of things and the laws of math, logic, etc. Predicting the course of the universe is impossible, due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, but it does have an unchangeable course. My choices are determined--what I will do depends upon my current state and the interactions between me and my environment--all ultimately reducing to the interactions between the particles in me, my brain, and the environment--governed by the immutable laws of physics.

>I realize this is an oversimplification and based on premises such that cannot be deductively proven, but its in the right direction. Sometime, I'll get around to posting a proof starting with "existence exists" which doesn't presuppose anything.

You have missed my two main points.

1. A predeterministic view does not require the domino linear-causality view of time. The eternal timeless perspective, in which the future already exists, is superior.

2. There are patterns that more or less smoothly connect past events and future events. The future events already exist in themselves and are not necessarily calculable deterministically from the past events. There may or may not be pure randomness. We should not wed ourselves to causally rigid relationships between all past and future events. Whether or not there is pure randomness, the future is predefined, in itself. It is fixed because it already exists, not because it will eventually come about due to dominoes and particles hitting each other this way and that, as time ticks along.

These are original ideas, so you will have to read my previous postings for it to sink in. The standard view of determinism that you are promoting is brittle and says we should assume there is no true randomness, implying that the only form of determinism is that which shuts out the possibility of true randomness. But that is false: we do not need to assume the lack of true randomness, in order to believe that the future is already decided.

The future is already decided because of the nature of time (and the illusory aspect of agency, by the way), not because of the nature of linear causality. The future is predecided whether or not there is pure randomness. Pure randomness is an unwarranted and unnecessary assumption that renders determinism too vulnerable and limits its applicablity to only one kind of world. My theory of predetermination, 'block universe determinism' or 'block universe fatalism', is superior because it is more robust. My theory holds whether or not there is pure randomness. Predetermination is provably true -- that is, logically consistent -- without bringing in the unnecessary hypothesis of the lack of true randomness.

My block universe can hold pure randomness, or not. It holds (remains viable), either way. The linear domino perspective falls down if there is the least bit of pure randomness, and is thus ineffective at justifying the view that the future is predecided. I have engineered a viable conception of future predecidedness, a conception or model that is independent of the possibility of pure randomness.

You can prove that the future might well be predecided, without even addressing the possibility of pure randomness. Swerve all you want, particle, be indecisive all you want, particle, future events will be the way that they have already come to be. "The future already exists" -- over there -- whether or not there is pure randomness.

Block-universe determinism

In this posting, I re-label my system 'block-universe determinism', rather than 'fatalism', because 'fatalism' is nearly identical to 'determinism' and suffers the same problems in its standard definition.

(This 'standard fatalism' position I'm referring to is distinct from the atrocious position of what is called 'lazy fatalism', which no one ever held.)

Reading this book about Fate in ancient Greece, I find they grappled with just the same questions and standoffs as the determinists. So it's not helpful as I hoped, to use the term 'fate' or 'fatalism' as opposed to 'determinism'.

I'm putting quotes around 'fatalism' and 'determinism' because they are the key terms at issue, and they have been poorly defined, with problematic assumptions and overtones.

Can someone verify this, that the standard definition of 'fatalism' or 'fate' is exactly the same as the standard definition of 'determinism'? While 'determinism' has been defined so as to include a scientific sort of predictability, 'fate' was defined so as to include "divination", which amounts to the same assumption or hope.

We must remain agnostic about whether there is pure randomness, and therefore agnostic about the possibility of divination (prophecy, precognition) and predictability-in-principle. These things are not sure, and introduce many messy problems that are a liability that greatly weakens the case for 'determinism' when they are arbitrarily attached to the definition of 'determinism'.

Historically, standard 'fate' and 'determinism' are exactly the same position: they both overemphasize the highly hypothetical determinate chain of causality that says the future "comes from" the present. They are both too much psychologically motivated by the wish to control the future; by the desire for power.

Therefore 'fatalism' as historically defined does not provide the 3rd alternative. Whether I label my system 'fatalism' or 'determinism', I will have to make the exact same modifications to the standard definitions of those positions:

  1. Welcoming pure randomness
  2. Treating the future as causing the present as much as vice versa (holistic puzzle-locking)
  3. Being agnostic about predictability-in-principle
  4. Emphasizing existential freedom and decision-making, with underlying restrictions distinct from the conscious-level freedom

There are a couple of small ways that 'fatalism' is different than 'determinism' -- historically, 'fatalism' seemed to emphasize that the end result of actions is fixed, but that the path there involves genuine freedom. It thus treated the future's fatalism as different from the present conditions, in practice. In this way, fatalism was safely pushed away to build a bubble of freedom in which to live.

'Fatalism' also took on a certain mood or attitude of lazy resignation which is questionable. You might say "that attitude follows necessarily" -- yet, surprisingly, 'determinism' does not seem to be associated with this emotion of resignation.

I shun the term 'determinism' because of its standard problem-prone definition. 'Fatalism' shares almost exactly the same problems, in the way it has been defined. So I cannot simply call my position 'fatalism'.

Here is a better label for my system:


Or, 'a-temporal, chaos-compatible, existential, block-universe determinism'. It is a 3rd position distinct from 'determinism' or 'free will'. It is distinct from standard 'determinism' in ways 1 through 4 listed above. I feel that the term 'block-universe determinism' is sufficient, rather than a longer label.

I will not defend 'determinism' because there are incorrect associations with it. The same goes for 'fatalism'. But I will promote the idea I will call 'block-universe determinism'.

This could also be called 'block-universe fatedness', but I'll go with the more scientific-sounding term.

The book describing the block-universe concept is _The Fourth Dimension_ by Rudy Rucker. It's very accessible -- you can just read the pictures and captions.

The main feature of the block-universe concept is the idea of space-like time. The future is like another place that already exists. All events sit statically and eternally in their respective spacetime coordinates. The total life-history of a chooser-entity is a worldline floating forever in the frozen marble block of spacetime. The time axis itself does not flow; it sits forever.

The standard conception of 'determinism' stands or falls with universal intercausality. This is a very weak foundation, because there very well might be some pure randomness in the world. The time axis itself is eternally frozen -- that's the reason that there is no genuine freedom, only the sense of freedom. Universal intercausality is not the reason there is no genuine freedom. Choice, movement through time, and the power of agency are all epiphenomenal and largely illusory, whether or not there is pure randomness. My theory of block-universe causality is immune to the fact of whether there is pure randomness. Future acts are predetermined whether or not there is pure randomness. Future acts are predetermined because of the real nature of time and agency, not because of universal intercausality that is completely devoid of any pure randomness. My system is a simpler and more robust "proof" of the plausibility of predetermination.

Phil wrote:

>Determinists (Not your brand I'm sure - but still relevant in this case and easier seen), and many scientists who must think of matter totally reducible to atoms or lower entities (Not being able to reduce itself to noth ingness) are as much implying an autonomous idea. The epiphenomal aspect of these particles as they relate to each other, and as they relate to our own human consciousness, the exact relation never being understood or found, becomes as magically artificial at its foundation as many people consider "free will" to be.

>When theoretical physics plies the depths down to sub-atomic particles, what will it find at the bottom? - a link that implies "free will" as the universal constant between all matter and beings, and not just a simple autonomous entity. Weirder shit has happened.

>I'm trying to learn more about math and physics. I wouldn't mind if you give me your interpretation of "The comic book understanding of space-time?"

What was sacrificed in the crucifixion? Truth and Jesus's human-driven government. What was thereby purchased? The semblance of metaphysical freedom [along with linear time and individual isolated ego-consciousness]. God lied, claiming his government was defeated, in order to effectively give us our own sovereign self-government as free, responsible moral agents travelling through time.

The Greeks (in tragedy), the Christians, etc know that egoic freedom is flawed -- but the moral agency delusion still has a certain forceful utility, though it is hollow and ill-founded. At that level of development, we were forced to become virtually-free egos, right in the face of fatedness -- just like in LCBS, when you see the illusory and illegit aspect of egoic control power, that power is still forced upon you. When you have reason and LCBS together, ego is created -- the ego is constructed and engaged, by the very virtue of seeing its flaws; seeing the flaws and constructing and engaging the ego, all happen together. The egoic mode is created in the process of seeing the invalidity of the proposed egoic worldview.

Proper fatalism, conventional determinism, and the block universe

You should think about time, fate and self-control too. They are key. Read Watts: _This is It_ -- chapter "Zen and the Problem of Control".

Also read Rudy Rucker: _The Fourth Dimension_. He talks about the block universe and shows it with cartoons.

In modern philosophy, 'fate' has been completely misinterpreted. Modern philosophy has not refuted fatalism, but has misunderstood what the position of fatalism actually claims. Your position essentially is fatalism.

Not only is the end-point fated, but all actions and thoughts at every point along the way is fated.

I have never heard what I consider an attempt at argumentation in support of free will. Only the insistence that we are free, that freedom "must be admitted" or else society would fall apart. Which is mistaking pragmatic necessity for metaphysical necessity.

The real problem is to correctly interpret our experience of freedom, our sense of freedom, or the dynamics of that which we call 'freedom', in such a way as to reconcile it with the logic of determinism. I have not seen anyone attempt this, as such. At least, they have not succeeded in explainin g to the freewillists how all the freewill objections are completely met by the properly underrstood conception of determinism. I don't understand why the argument is still alive at all. All the freewillist objections have been fully met by the better expressions of determinism. Why do people act like the jury is out? The determinists have won, in that their position is consistent, and they have answered all the freewillist objections. It's a dead issue, and yet it lives. Such is the psychological need to feel free, to interpret freedom as absolute freedom with an absolutely open future.

The answer is that neither determinism nor free will have been convincingly reconciled in a way that rings true to all of our experience in its fulness. Determinism is shackled with excessive auxiliary conceptions -- that the universe contains no randomness, that the future does not now, in any sense, exist, but will be calculated and laid out only later, down this chain of dominoes which have not, in any sense, fallen yet.

Determinism, as conventionally defined, puts forth a false conceptualization of our freedom. It is basically correct, but it needs to be re-envisioned. It is too full of conventional, confused thinking about how we "move through" time.

'Fatalism', as traditionally defined, is a very simple position that is much more defensible than determinism, because 'determinism' has been defined as what I call "linear sequential causal non-random predictablism". But I God created the universe with some randomness built in, and a single, static time axis, everything would be frozen and fated forever, but not in a completely orderly way. The universe may or not contain randomness. Thus predictablism is not defensible -- the universe may or may not be ordered and thus predictable in principle -- there is no way we can know which. However, fatalism is a simpler position that is not cluttered and burdened with the shaky load of order or predictability-in-principle. It claims far less than determinism. Fatalism merely claims that the future is frozen, predecided -- not that that future is orderly or predictable. The position of Fatalism has all the advantages of the position of determinism, but without the indefensible auxiliary assertions.

Therefore, fatalism (as correctly, classically understood) is a superior position to determinism. Fatalism is simply frozen-ism -- that the future is as predecided as the past. Determinism as it is always conceived, implies that the future has not happened yet -- that it nowhere exists, yet. But for Fatalism, the future exists during all eternity -- over there, ahead of us on the time axis.

There are new tenseless models of time that fit into this. There is another new book called _The Spatialization of Time_ that supports this.

A great book about this is _Fate, Logic, and Time_ (out of print). You can find it in a library. It shows how the modern philosophers rejected a garbled, crippled version of fatalism. The argument they then used against it was one that was refuted decisively 2500 years ago.

Of course Marvin Minsky in _Society of Mind_ and Douglas Hofstadter in _Godel, Escher, Bach_, and I think Dennett, have written about this in the same mode as you.

Determinists should convert to the slimmer position, fatalism -- and make sure its true conception is communicated perfectly clearly: that every single thought has already been predetermined, and all time is frozen eternally along a single, fixed time axis in the block universe. One writer has called for an adjustment of determinsim into "hyperdeterminism" in their groping toward the ancient position of fatalism, which could be called Universal Static Predetermination.

Fatalism vs. determinism

>Determinism is no threat to free will. This argument hinges upon the finite human intellect. There well may be some causal chain that has already predetermined our choices, since we are finite, we cannot fully comprehend this causal chain. Furthermore, we are faced with decisions everyday. We must choose A or B. It may be determined that you will choose A, however there is nothing to save you from the decision, there are still normative claims being made on you. You have free will in the sense that you must make decisions.

>I understand this line that I am drawing is an epistemic one. I just pieced this togehther in a few seconds. I am looking to initiate some discussion on this.

That's correct. This is the position of determinism -- that decisions happen, but that they work out the way that they must. There is some type of 'freedom', such as existential freedom, but the nature of this freedom is not "genuine freedom" steering into a "truly open future".

The future can only be what it must be. Every thought occurs the only way it can. The standard definition of determinism states that "Every future thought is already specified due to the current state of affairs." But determinism seems to feel that the future does not exist "yet". I say, the future already exists, at a different spacelike point. This has been called "hyperdeterminism" but it is really Fatalism. My synthesis may be unique though; or at least, different from the prevailing standard positions. Certainly my system of philosophy is unique, and this affects the associations I make to the ideas about the will and time. Any one idea I have has been expressed before, including my model of fatalism and my model of time, but the combination is unique, especially with my emphasis on Zen self-control cybernetics... except that I got it from Alan Watts.

See Rudy Rucker's book _The Fourth Dimension_. You will like it - he takes your position.

I don't like the way determinism is framed and conceived. Fatalism is superior, except for the misconceptions about it that distort what it really asserts and does not assert. See, if you haven't already, my thread, Fatalism: The Solution to Free Will vs. Determinism in talk.philosophy.misc.

Theoretical coherence; fatalism, determinism, predictablism

>Logical consistency is not sufficient for truth. Lots of theories may be logically consistent, without being true. A theory should also make correct predictions before we call it true. Your 'Fatalism'

A theory need not make correct predictions before we can call it true. Predictions are overrated as a sign of truth. Science is too often defined as the system characterized by its ability to predict. Quantum physics greatly loosened our definition of what it means to 'predict', so science should not be so dependent on prediction. Prediction is merely one aspect of models of truth. Logical consistency is another aspect of models of truth. You don't have to have both. Perhaps my favorite quote is Einstein's response when asked whether he was relieved that the measurement of parallax (or some other consequence of relativity) came out as expected. His response was something like "Never mind the data, the theory is correct." It is outmoded to equate truth with predictive power.

>however makes no predictions at all, as far as I can tell; so it isn't even a theory, properly speaking.

Few people would agree that all theories, by definition, must make predictions. And the nature of "prediction" is debatable, as well. What constitutes a prediction, in various fields? I predict that I you learn to think about time and fate along my lines, you will be able to fit together many other ideas and ancient puzzles successfully. The resulting system of conceptions can certainly be called a 'theory'.

theory - 1a. Systematically organized knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, esp. a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena. 1b. Such knowledge or such a system distinguished from experiment or practice. 2. Abstract reasoning; speculation. 3. An assumption or guess based on limited information or knowledge. From Greek 'theoros', spectator, and 'theasthai', to observe. -- American Heritage Dictionary

These definitions of 'theory' diverge greatly from your requirement that a theory provide predictive power or that a theory be falsifiable. My theory of block-universe fatalism, or block universe determinism, is driven by explanatory coherence and explanatory power which reconciles the facts of the world where these facts have been out of joint and unreconciled for ages. No other system of explanation has been able to so fully reconcile our various experiences and concepts of time, freedom, and personal power. If you demand that a 'theory' provide predictive power, then the standard formulations of 'determinism' and 'freedom' are not theories, according to your definition of 'theory', because neither of them has succeeded at this supposed goal of providing predictive power. It is as easy to portray these two standard systems of concepts as invisible pink unicorns, as it is to portray my system of concepts as an invisible pink unicorn.

We will probably continue to make little progress by insisting that a theory of freedom or determinism provide predictive power. By bracketing off and suspending the requirement of predictive power, we are freed to become much more creative in our attempts to formulate a plausible model of the world -- a model much more coherent than the previous models, a model that is able to explain and comprehensibly bring together a greater range of phenomena.

The driving measure for evaluating the worth of a theory these days is explanatory power -- not predictive power and its underlying motive, control-power.

Predictablism is the Achilles' heel of the standard formulation of determinism. Everyone is so fixated on obtaining the power to predict and control the world that they cannot clear up their confusions in their stance toward the world. Demanding predictive power, in order to control, they are too obsessed with and worried about their power of prediction to find a system of basic conceptions that makes sense.

>You call your theory more robust because it can't be falsified by anything as trivial as facts. But this robustness also makes Fatalism completely useless. Fatalism has absolutly no implications whatever.

Falsifiability is a bunk definition of knowledge. Falsifiability is merely one possible way to evaluate a theory in question. You have a rigid positivistic set of requirements for the development of knowledge. Knowledge could never have gotten far by strict adherence to your requirements.

>The best analogy I can think of is the running gag on certain parts of the Usenet called Invisible Pink Unicorns. IPUs are everywhere around us, in our walls, our modems, everywhere. We just can't see them because they are invisible. They also happen to be silent, oderless, and tasteless, and they leave no tracks. The IPU "theory" is logically consistent; moreover no contrary evidence exists. That's because no contrary evidence is possible, even in principle.

>Fatalism is an IPU.

Fatalism connects with many other ideas in very interesting ways, and has the advantage of relevance, which the invisible pink unicorn theory can never have. To fully conceptually grasp the implications of fatalism has a tangible, powerful psycological effect: the actual experience, the classic mystic experience, of having your usual personal power of control seized and taken away from you by the world, or the 'Ground of Being', or 'the Tao', or 'God', or some other source of control beyond or prior to the grasp of your own control. The pink unicorn theory has no such psychological effect, and gives rise to no experiential phenomena.

>The following poem is logically consistant:

>Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

But this nonsensical, whimsical poem of free-floating fantasy lacks relevance; it fails to connect to our most central conceptions and experiences such as the power of agency, the nature of time, and the sense of freedom. My theory of block-universe fatalism has the power to affect our experience of ourselves, and this power could even be treated as a type of predictive power.

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