. . . I think that is my quote that you are attributing to SF but no matter.
Yes that was a misattribution. The older I get the more inevitable my errors become, goddammit.
I think that Dennett only uses the term wrt to determinism. I scratched my head over it some, but I really think that all we wanted to do was to identify the idea that life itself is not entirely physically deterministic. When I think of the concept of determinism, the first thought is the relationship to thermodynamics and the extreme low probability of these biological levels and types. Time seems to be the only answer for what it took to get it started. LIfe couldn’t have originally self organized because there was no self to do the organizing.
However once that simple self arrived on the scene it did in fact grow by revealing different enabling functions in the environment, one of which was the ability to replicate itself into the future. An enabling function would be something that allowed the entity to use some local energy potential to support the organization and replication of the entity, solar, geothermal, chemical…..That entity, had no will in the matter, once the energy was applied that neo mechanism performed it’s function and produce results. It might be said that something shared by all life is this burdensome need to not die and to replicate. Even viral particles resist deconstruction and resist the prevention of replication. We all sort through our local environments doing everything we can to not die.I think that’s why is comes as a shock to us to learn that the universe doesn’t care.
I think if we have will this is it.
In an otherwise deterministic universe we have the freedom to choose not to die, for a while. And that’s a lot of freedom. Turns out there are lots of ways to do that, and it keeps us busy while we’re waiting for the universe to end. .
That’s very interesting. I wish I’d known about Dennett’s take on this back when I was looking for a word such as “life.” I think life answers my question here nicely:
Yes, possibly that was the word you were looking for. In a deterministic universe, the idea of randomness is also in question. There are reasons why coins flip the way they do and what we call chance is our inability to understand and control that reasoning to produce a particular result every time.
But where we don’t have randomness, we do have thermodynamics with the potential difference between order and disorder that provides time with a direction, the arrow of time.
I don’t know that my interpretation of Dennett and “evitability” is correct but this is what I came up with. I think that is why he claims that our notions of free will are “compatible with” an otherwise deterministic universe. Living systems use energy as a prop by which they temporarily stave off the otherwise inevitable. In Dennett-speak, living things practice and re-create evitability, that is what they do. Another way to say that is to say that all living things exhibit a “will to live” which is extra-ordinary in a deterministic universe consistent with thermodynamics. I think that is why Dennett says that we have all the will we could want or is possible. This makes sense,
If we were to invent an artificial life, think how much programming would have to go into the avoidance routines! We’d have to teach it all of the potential consequences to self from gravity…among other things. Natural Selection would just eliminate the robots who could figure it out, immediately.