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Do we choose what we do, or do we only observe the world?

I was writing an essay about a week ago, and got into thinking.
Do we actually have a choice of what to do in a specific moment, or is it all already set?
I mean, people are trying to make computers that could make choices on their own without people telling them what to do, but think this way:
when you combine oxygen and hydrogen, you will always get sulfur. Every action has specific reaction. Therefore, brain will always react to something the same way if under the same conditions.
So do we really get to choose of what are we going to do, or are we just on observers?
And if we are observers, than making a computer that can compute fast enough and with enough memory to contain all variables would make us possible to see everything that happened in the past, present and the future.
And it's pretty weird that I got to here from essay title 'The world is beautiful and life is a gift from heaven'.

I just wanted to know what do you think about it...

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    Dec 30 2011: this is a ridiculous question.
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    Dec 28 2011: ask yourself a question:

    if everything is predetermined, happens according to a Big Script, what kind of experiment could you conduct to prove this?

    alternative formulations of the question:

    what kind of observations could prove predetermination? what kind of observations could disprove predetermination?

    and finally a tricky, but valid question:

    if we could somehow prove predetermination, what difference would it make?
  • Jan 1 2012: I believe that everything in the universe can be explained by an equation. So it is predetermined how we will react to situations.

    We all like to think we are in control of our actions but this is just an illusion. We may have many different ideas and thoughts on every decision we make but ultimately you pick just one. Your brain has chosen what it has deemed the most logical answer to the situation. Your mind is like a calculator and the dilemma of choice is the equation and your decision is the answer. If this is repeated with the same conditions the outcome would be the same every time.

    However with the invention of computers we have invented a machine capable of true randomisation which rather frustratingly goes against my belief that everything in the universe is the result of just some maths equation

    For an example of this, if you were to choose a number between 1 and 10, and you chose the number 6 and you went back in time and repeated this over and over the outcome would always be the same.
    If we were to get a computer to randomly generate a number between 1 and 10 and it also chose the number 6 it would most likely not pick the same number over and over again.

    Despite the illusion of choice being seemingly pointless it is the very thing that brings beauty to our lives. This illusion is not to say we are not responsible for our actions. If you do believe we have no choice in what actions and decisions we make and use it to justify immoral behaviour just remember there is always the possibility that your beliefs could be wrong.. if we can all try to make positive decisions we could make the world better for all
    • Jan 1 2012: It is only logical to see that the environment only has potential influences on behavior and does not 100% cause them to happen.
    • Jan 2 2012: that's what i meant.

      i think that our brain is like a computer. it follows series of processes which ultimately lead to result which is always influenced by conditions.

      and the fact that the computer is able to choose random numbers has nothing to do with this, as people are unable to. no man is able to select 100% random number to use. every number has different meaning to uus, and therefore, there are no random numbers for us. and this topic really is all about human brain.

      and i don't think that computer ever selects completely random numbers. they seem random because we can't find any pattern to connect given numbers, but there must be a pattern... everything hhas its pattern...
      • Jan 2 2012: There is no absolute pattern. Behaviors do not have guaranteed patterns, but they can be in probable patterns. Our mindset is different in the computer in the sense of the cognitive process, hence behaviors are not that predictable.
  • Dec 30 2011: you all believe we have a choice, but we will always have a choice depending on conditions under which it occurs. you can select only one option at a time, so how do we know that this is really our choice if we can't go back to change it?
    and if we could travel through time, we would do the ssame or different choice in a specific moment that we also wouldn't be sure that it is ours.

    but thanks for your replies. i wanted to know how others think about it...
    • Dec 30 2011: No, the environment only influences our choices and does not pick certain choices to happen. We still maintain control of what choices we can make.
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    Dec 30 2011: I'm in the side of the point: we have a choice what to do in every passing second.
    Basically, for the same object or event (or whatever), what we think about it in the previous second or minute would not be the same as that of present minute and even in the next minute.
    And obviously different thinking causes different action that would end up with distinct result.
    Moreover, the fact that we choose what to do is a solid evidence to make us distinguish from machines with predefined programs.
  • Dec 30 2011: We are simple beings that can make simple decisions which can create a ripple in the universe as we know it. The decisions we make are only influenced by the environment, but this is only a potential influence and not a definite influence. I may be from a horrible environment, but I may be a nice person. Keep in mind, there are many different forms of learning other than observational learning such as latent and associative learning and even those are not a definite influence.
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    Dec 29 2011: My first try at Ted..... this is probably the best contribution I can offer and it is the importance of choice. We make the choices that govern our every day life we as individuals make choices from what clothes to wear for the day to what career you wanna pursue. That being said the good choices we make that work out we remember as being a success of that choice even if it fails in the future we stick to it cause it felt right, it worked out right, we remember. The choices that had a wrong outcome we regret. A memory yes, but always with the feeling of regret, wanting to go back or imagining a what if scenario. When things go awry we register it as a out of control so we feel we are not in control. Like you said it is the opposite reaction when things go right. I say rain or shine your acceptance of the day is up to you. The world is this way because it seemed like a right choice 500 years ago... reverting to the past (in my opinion) only gives the conscious permission to do the familiar and deny your own fear of trying the new.
  • Dec 29 2011: Man's character is based primarily off of his experiences in the world. Hypothetically, two people (exactly the same in every manner imaginable) can go through the same life granted that they make the same choices. Change the behavior of one party and you will not only have a different person but a different life all together. Furthermore, the power to make that change lies completely in the hands of the individual living that life. I can chose to react in whatever way I want based off of my experience and the perception I have of a situation based off of that prior experience's wisdom.
  • Dec 28 2011: We choose.
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    Dec 28 2011: It depends on your attitude. If you are responsible for your life, you will think that you choose what to do. If you are just reactive, you will think that you are an observer.

    My point of view is purely responsible based on this logic: there is nothing in my life I have ever done I didn't want to. Even in case of threatening, I always have the choice of accept the consecuences or follow the orders.