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mcbernier

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  1. Howdy. I only have about two minutes to spare, so I hope what I say is coherent. Interesting. I was only attempting to defend a very flat understanding of basic libertarian freedom. But you are right to call attention to other concepts. I don't know Schopenhaur, but I have some knowledge of Kierkegaard's freedom--somewhat radical stuff, actually (the self IS freedom, not just an activity of an agent). Your suggestion on Kant is interesting, given that time is not metaphysically absolute on his account--it's more a condition for experience. Also, I think Augustine had a conception of the soul as being outside time, and yet able to causally interact with the body. Well, that's all I have time to add.......
  2. Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated): (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe" (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?) (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom. There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning. But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle. Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't. Your reasoning goes along these lines: (A) You claim: "choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made." (B) Why is there no choice being made? Because:"There is only ever one possibility." © And why is there only one possibility? Because:God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand. (D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because:If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge. (E) Therefore:If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom. Not quite. There is only one future, God knows what it is. That future is set, and cannot be changed. That means it is impossible to deviate from what must come to pass. If you have two choices, and they are so close that it really could go either way, then up until the choice is made, the future is in flux. Things might go one way, or the might go the other. If the future is not in flux, if in fact the future is set, then all choices made must be the choices that lead toward that future. You might think you could go either way, but you couldn't - if you went the other way, there would be a different future, but as that future did not happen, it therefore cannot happen. All choices that you have yet to make are already made before you make them. And as they are already made, then in the moment of choosing, you are not actually choosing, and therefore lack free will. Yes, actually. If the future is determined by choices in the past, then there is no actual future until the choices have been made. Is the time traveller seeing what might come to pass, or what will come to pass? If it's only a maybe, there exists the possibility of changing it. If there's no maybe, if this is the future, the only possible one, and it must come to pass, then it does mean that there is no free will. As God looks down the corridor of time, he sees everything that will come to pass, every fork in every path taken. And as he looks at the past, he sees every choice taken then, but the choices taken then must be taken, cannot be taken otherwise, or the future God has already seen wouldn't exist. A future set in stone is incompatible with free will, and you've done nothing to explain how it could be. In the moment of every decision being taken, the decision is already taken. It was set in stone before that moment. You can no ore change a decision in the moment than you can rewrite the past and have something different for breakfast yesterday. Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will. The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge. You've yet to explain how the route can be set, unchangeable, yet you can still have the power to make a choice. Before the choice is made what the choice will be is already known. Not so. It only requires that the dominoes be set up - once the push is given, they will fall as they must, because that is the only outcome from the preconditions given. The "creator" can just be the one who gives the push. It's the same with any inanimate object - they obey the laws of physics, we do not need to create some fig leaf of volition to make them feel like their existence has meaning. How? If you have a privileged access to the whole picture, that means the whole picture is already painted. So, from the perspective of those within the picture, their actions are what leads to the creation of the next part of it, and so they think they control the story being told. It's not hyperbolic in the slightest, merely accurate. You didn't answer the question, I see. How do you choose something other than pancakes? There is already a future, a real future, not merely a possibility, in which pancakes were chosen. Before you ever started making them, before you bought the ingredients, before you learnt how to cook, before you were born, and all the way back to the first moment of time, that future, the one with the pancakes, has always been there. There exists no possibility of a future in which you do not choose pancakes - how is that compatible with free will? Before you make the choice, the choice is made. Certain inputs produce certain outputs - as the output is already known, then the inputs cannot be changed. You're still dodging the point. There are no possible timelines - the events in them had no chance of happening. There is only what did happen. If you are so predictable that your actions can be known with absolute certainty, then, per your definition, you have no libertarian freedom - your decisions are set by antecedent conditions. Under these inputs, you will produce this output. If there existed the slightest possible chance that you would choose something different, then God's foreknowledge could not be absolute. This may be the one time when you don't do what you probably will. You've yet to explain how absolute foreknowledge is compatible with freedom. I've already explained how they are incompatible. If every possible outcome comes to pass, that likewise invalidates free will, as I've already addressed - it removes the option to not choose something. If understanding of what will happen is absolute, that means it cannot be deviated from. If it cannot be deviated from, then there is only one possible choice. If there is only one possible choice, then there is no free will. If foreknowledge is not absolute, that doesn't mean free will exists, but it does leave space in which it might exist. May I assume that you've studied some of the philosophical issues involved in our friendly exchange? Either way, you've thought about these questions, which is nice. They are deeply complicated, and at the heart, quite mysterious. I used to think along the same line that you are arguing. I had read a lot of Leibniz (not sure if you are familiar with him or his work on this subject). Leibniz argued with great conviction that libertarian freedom is incompatible with God's foreknowledge, and I think one of his main claims was that libertarian freedom is in itself absolutely impossible (something we are not debating). But another point that I think comes out of the Leibnizian picture (though I don't think he argued for this) is that God creates according to an absolutely complete conception of the world, down to the smallest detail--he called this concept a "possible world." In theory, God should be able to look at each possible world before creation, and on that basis he could choose which world to create. But if we have libertarian freedom, then there is no way for God to know, simply by looking at a possible world, which world he would be creating. Why? Because there is no basis for knowing "ahead of time" which choices we will make, and therefore, which world would ultimately be created. Our choices would in part determine the overall possible world that is created, and this determination would not be contained in the concept God looks at before creation. So on Leibniz's model, divine foreknowledge is inconsistent with libertarian freedom. The above is roughly the view you've been giving. So, I do understand the basic position you are taking, and I think it has an intuitive plausibility. But as I said, I no longer hold to it. Built into that sort of explanation seems to be certain commitments to the nature of time, and the relation a being like God would have with time. All very tricky stuff. So, from a certain perspective--yours, and Leibniz's--it looks like there can be no freedom, since "everything is already determined." But this really doesn't say all that much. To insist that (1) freedom absolutely requires the ability to "choose otherwise," and to say that (2) there is no other possible choice if there is divine foreknowledge, is in my opinion to misconstrue the situation. First, even if we grant that the whole of history is in some sense "determined," including our choices, we still must answer: what has determined our choices? One answer might be causal determinism (where every action merely follows from a "first cause"). Another option is that the determination occurs from within history, occurring at discrete points and events, namely, the particular choices of human agents. The whole of history would then not be determined in a flash, as a whole, but would occurs as history seems to occur to us: moment by moment. The whole would then be determined by the parts, and not the other way around (and not from a first cause). To illustrate how a divine agent may foreknow free actions, I suggested the example of the time traveler. He goes to the future, witnesses Johnny freely choose to read A Memory of Light, then goes back to his own time to tell everyone with total certainty that Johnny will read A Memory of Light on such and such a day. The time traveler's knowledge is not inconsistent with Johnny's freedom. I further suggested that God could be thought of as having foreknowledge similar to the time traveler's. Foreknowledge and freedom are inconsistent only if we assume that God cannot look "down the corridors of time" in this way (or a similar way) to see what will occur. There are more complicated theories that I won't go into. So maybe the time traveler will work. One last issue, before my stamina runs out. You have claimed that freedom absolutely requires at least two "real" or "legit" possible choices. But this is really somewhat controversial--in fact, I'm not sure I believe it. Here is a famous example (I change some of the details). Suppose you have been abducted by a mad scientist who wants you to vote for the Green Party in the coming election, and he plants a chip in your head that can force you to choose the Green Party. You don't remember any of this, and you go to vote. The mad scientist is monitoring your thoughts, and if you think of anything that will cause you to vote against the Green party, he will flip the switch and make you vote GP. Otherwise, he won't do anything and he will let you vote GP. You go to vote, and vote GP without the mad scientist influencing or overriding your choice. In this example, there was really only one possible outcome: voting GP. Yet, even so, you still made your decision without any outside influence, and made up your own mind. Your choice was among several options, even though one of those options was "determined"--it was still ultimately determined by your choice. I hope I've been clear enough. I realize these are difficult issues. Some brilliant minds in history--like Leibniz--have taken your position, even though I now disagree with it.
  3. Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated): (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe" (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?) (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom. There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning. But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle. Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't. Your reasoning goes along these lines: (A) You claim: "choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made." (B) Why is there no choice being made? Because: "There is only ever one possibility." © And why is there only one possibility? Because: God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand. (D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because: If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge. (E) Therefore: If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom. Basically, since you think there is no other explanation for foreknowledge, it follows that freedom would be impossible--the only way to explain foreknowledge is through some sort of comprehensive determinism that fixes choices before they are made. You've denied that a person could determine his choice. It's clear what motivates this claim (the worry over being able to explain foreknowledge), but it is less clear what actually supports it. I think this is what you think supports it (quoting you): "To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not." Obviously, "past," "present," and "future" are terms that refer to moving targets, and even for us the content of past, present, future, is not essentially distinct. These are terms that refer to points of view relative to our position in the timeline. But if God (or some being) were to see history "all at once," does this imply that there is no freedom, as you suggest? No. It doesn't imply the absence of freedom any more than a time traveler seeing the future implies that the people he watches don't have freedom. The time traveler, let's say, witnesses the future, then goes back to his own time and he knows what certain people will choose. God could "see" the future, "looking down the corridors of time," as it were, seeing "the whole at once," seeing everything clearly, but like the time traveler, seeing free choices made in their own respective moments. Why could not a being such as God have this sort of privileged access to time and history? Why must it be as you suggest, that everything must be determined in such a way (which, by the way, is not completely clear on your model) that there is no freedom? Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will. The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge. But see my comments above--a time traveler may know what you will do tomorrow, and yet, that does not imply that what you do is determined. God could have a similar access to history. As for your example of the dominos. If the creator sets up the domino line and pushes the first domino, then you are incorrect, since the creator has in fact determined every single detail. But this is not necessary for foreknowledge. All that is necessary is having a privileged access to the whole picture, "seeing down the corridors of time," and this seems to be consistent with freedom. You write: "If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast?" I think your language here is slightly hyperbolic. You can choose something other than pancakes, but you don't. And God can know what you will choose. Can you change your choices? That's a strange thing to consider--when would you, or anyone, have the opportunity to change a choice? You only have one moment to make a choice. You write: "You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will." Libertarian freedom is roughly defined like this: the ability to choose A or not A, where this choice is not determined by any external factors or antecedent conditions. And in principle, if you were placed in the exact same position again and again, you could make a different choice every time. But history doesn't give us the chance to do things over and over again. We face each choice only once. There is but one timeline, while there are many possible timelines. But there is no inconsistency with saying that God knows the actual timeline, which includes the decisions free beings will make. Even if you could have chosen differently, God can know what you will choose. Even if your choice was a very near thing, and you almost made the opposite choice, God can know what you do choose. Foreknowledge is a perfect knowledge about what is actual, about what actually happens, and this only requires a privileged access to history, which does not entail the loss of freedom.
  4. This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator. Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No. Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast. Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways. You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will. Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself. A statement that makes no sense. If I am capable of making a choice, there exists the possibility that I will not choose pancakes. God cannot know, with absolute certainty, what I will choose, even if he knows the outcome of any choice I might make, and what I am most likely to choose. What you are saying is that God will know what I will choose before I have chosen it, and therefore I have no option to choose something different, but my will is still free because...? God's knowledge of what I will do cannot be completely accurate unless I have the option to choose to do something different. Knowledge of the sort you propose is only possible where there exists no possibility of my making a different choice, and therefore despite the claim that my will is free you merely prove that it isn't. Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.blockquote> The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future. In other words, it is not God's knowledge that denies free will, but God's knowledge is the proof that free will is denied. We could still lack free will even if God, or some other atemporal observer didn't exist. The choice you are going to make tomorrow morning is, from your perpective, in the future, but from a more accurate perspective it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. If you are unable to change any decision even before you have made it, then how is your will free? You have a choice of A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it. As there exists no possibility of doing something other than A, the idea that you freely chose it is laughable. lockquote> Sorry, but I think there is some confusion here. I claimed that the fact of God (or supercomputer) knowing the future does not entail that there is no freedom. Your response is to say (let me paraphrase) that the only possible way that there could be such knowledge is if there is no freedom. But you have moved the debate. The original issue was whether knowing the future entails determinism or lack of a particular kind of freedom (libertarian). It doesn't. Your claim here (and perhaps in earlier posts I didn't read carefully) has to do with the ground for such knowledge. Note there is a difference between knowledge and its ground--that is, explaining how someone knows something. You may not care for the distinction, and may consider it splitting hairs, but it can be an important distinction to make. And so you claim: "The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future." In other words: " it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. ... You have a choice between A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it." I think that in these claims there is contained the heart of the difficulty. It seems you are conflating "possibility" and "actuality," "can" and "cannot." Simply because it is true today that I choose to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, does not mean that there is no other possibility. It is certainly true that it is possible for me to choose eggs, even though my actual choice will be pancakes. There is a distinction between possible choices and an actual choice. And if it is true that "tomorrow morning I choose pancakes for breakfast," this only entails that it is false that I choose eggs, or toast, or fruit, etc. It does not entail that these other possibilities are not possible choices--only that I do not in fact make these choices. So, if God knows it is true that tomorrow I choose pancakes, this certainly doesn't entail that there are no other choices available. If God knows what is true, he knows what I will choose. So, it doesn't follow that the mere fact of knowing what will happen entails that there cannot be any other possibility (as you suggest). Of course, it is extremely difficult explaining the ground of God's knowledge of the world--how do we explain omniscience? But that is a different question altogether. Look back on your future. Can you change any of your choices? No. They are fixed. And yet, did you make any free choices? I think you did. And are these not free choices even though you cannot change them, that nothing can change them now? Your perspective on your future is similar to the perspective of an atemporal being, having a point of view "outside of time" (if such a perspective is poss ible). The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future. God doesn't require omniscience. Omniscience doesn't preclude free will, depending on what is meant by omniscience - knowing every choice that could be made, knowing all the outcomes to all those choices, but not knowing which potential future is the real one until it happens, that allows free will. Knowing what will happen requires that there exists no possibility of it not happening, of it happening differently. Thus there are no possibilities, only certainties - what will happen, and what will not. Thus, no ability to choose between different possibilities. Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated): (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe" (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?) (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom. There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning. But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle. You attack the same problem from a different angle: at other places in what you wrote you seem to suggest that my choice tomorrow morning for pancakes cannot be free, since it is the one and only possible choice. I don't like this way of stating it, since it seems to confuse possibility and actuality. Rather: among the possible choices only one is in fact the actual choice made. We can say only one possibility will be the outcome. But what makes this the case? Perhaps it is my choice that makes it so. My choice tomorrow morning is the "truth-maker" for the truth today that "tomorrow I will choose pancakes for breakfast." So, the fact that "only one possibility is going to be actual," and that this is fixed, says nothing about whether or not there is freedom. It all depends upon what makes the proposition true. (note: this is a very complex issue though) You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument. I don't know why what I wrote ended up nested in the quote. Weird. And it happened again here! Haha!
  5. This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator. Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No. Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast. Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways. You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will. Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself. A statement that makes no sense. If I am capable of making a choice, there exists the possibility that I will not choose pancakes. God cannot know, with absolute certainty, what I will choose, even if he knows the outcome of any choice I might make, and what I am most likely to choose. What you are saying is that God will know what I will choose before I have chosen it, and therefore I have no option to choose something different, but my will is still free because...? God's knowledge of what I will do cannot be completely accurate unless I have the option to choose to do something different. Knowledge of the sort you propose is only possible where there exists no possibility of my making a different choice, and therefore despite the claim that my will is free you merely prove that it isn't. Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.blockquote> The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future. In other words, it is not God's knowledge that denies free will, but God's knowledge is the proof that free will is denied. We could still lack free will even if God, or some other atemporal observer didn't exist. The choice you are going to make tomorrow morning is, from your perpective, in the future, but from a more accurate perspective it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. If you are unable to change any decision even before you have made it, then how is your will free? You have a choice of A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it. As there exists no possibility of doing something other than A, the idea that you freely chose it is laughable. Sorry, but I think there is some confusion here. I claimed that the fact of God (or supercomputer) knowing the future does not entail that there is no freedom. Your response is to say (let me paraphrase) that the only possible way that there could be such knowledge is if there is no freedom. But you have moved the debate. The original issue was whether knowing the future entails determinism or lack of a particular kind of freedom (libertarian). It doesn't. Your claim here (and perhaps in earlier posts I didn't read carefully) has to do with the ground for such knowledge. Note there is a difference between knowledge and its ground--that is, explaining how someone knows something. You may not care for the distinction, and may consider it splitting hairs, but it can be an important distinction to make. And so you claim: "The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future." In other words: " it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. ... You have a choice between A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it." I think that in these claims there is contained the heart of the difficulty. It seems you are conflating "possibility" and "actuality," "can" and "cannot." Simply because it is true today that I choose to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, does not mean that there is no other possibility. It is certainly true that it is possible for me to choose eggs, even though my actual choice will be pancakes. There is a distinction between possible choices and an actual choice. And if it is true that "tomorrow morning I choose pancakes for breakfast," this only entails that it is false that I choose eggs, or toast, or fruit, etc. It does not entail that these other possibilities are not possible choices--only that I do not in fact make these choices. So, if God knows it is true that tomorrow I choose pancakes, this certainly doesn't entail that there are no other choices available. If God knows what is true, he knows what I will choose. So, it doesn't follow that the mere fact of knowing what will happen entails that there cannot be any other possibility (as you suggest). Of course, it is extremely difficult explaining the ground of God's knowledge of the world--how do we explain omniscience? But that is a different question altogether. Look back on your future. Can you change any of your choices? No. They are fixed. And yet, did you make any free choices? I think you did. And are these not free choices even though you cannot change them, that nothing can change them now? Your perspective on your future is similar to the perspective of an atemporal being, having a point of view "outside of time" (if such a perspective is possible). The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future. God doesn't require omniscience. Omniscience doesn't preclude free will, depending on what is meant by omniscience - knowing every choice that could be made, knowing all the outcomes to all those choices, but not knowing which potential future is the real one until it happens, that allows free will. Knowing what will happen requires that there exists no possibility of it not happening, of it happening differently. Thus there are no possibilities, only certainties - what will happen, and what will not. Thus, no ability to choose between different possibilities. Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated): (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe" (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?) (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom. There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning. But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle. You attack the same problem from a different angle: at other places in what you wrote you seem to suggest that my choice tomorrow morning for pancakes cannot be free, since it is the one and only possible choice. I don't like this way of stating it, since it seems to confuse possibility and actuality. Rather: among the possible choices only one is in fact the actual choice made. We can say only one possibility will be the outcome. But what makes this the case? Perhaps it is my choice that makes it so. My choice tomorrow morning is the "truth-maker" for the truth today that "tomorrow I will choose pancakes for breakfast." So, the fact that "only one possibility is going to be actual," and that this is fixed, says nothing about whether or not there is freedom. It all depends upon what makes the proposition true. (note: this is a very complex issue though) You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.
  6. This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator. Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No. Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast. Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways. You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will. Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself. A statement that makes no sense. If I am capable of making a choice, there exists the possibility that I will not choose pancakes. God cannot know, with absolute certainty, what I will choose, even if he knows the outcome of any choice I might make, and what I am most likely to choose. What you are saying is that God will know what I will choose before I have chosen it, and therefore I have no option to choose something different, but my will is still free because...? God's knowledge of what I will do cannot be completely accurate unless I have the option to choose to do something different. Knowledge of the sort you propose is only possible where there exists no possibility of my making a different choice, and therefore despite the claim that my will is free you merely prove that it isn't. Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free. The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future. In other words, it is not God's knowledge that denies free will, but God's knowledge is the proof that free will is denied. We could still lack free will even if God, or some other atemporal observer didn't exist. The choice you are going to make tomorrow morning is, from your perpective, in the future, but from a more accurate perspective it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. If you are unable to change any decision even before you have made it, then how is your will free? You have a choice of A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it. As there exists no possibility of doing something other than A, the idea that you freely chose it is laughable. Sorry, but I think there is some confusion here. I claimed that the fact of God (or supercomputer) knowing the future does not entail that there is no freedom. Your response is to say (let me paraphrase) that the only possible way that there could be such knowledge is if there is no freedom. But you have moved the debate. The original issue was whether knowing the future entails determinism or lack of a particular kind of freedom (libertarian). It doesn't. Your claim here (and perhaps in earlier posts I didn't read carefully) has to do with the ground for such knowledge. Note there is a difference between knowledge and its ground--that is, explaining how someone knows something. You may not care for the distinction, and may consider it splitting hairs, but it can be an important distinction to make. And so you claim: "The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future." In other words: " it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. ... You have a choice between A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it." I think that in these claims there is contained the heart of the difficulty. It seems you are conflating "possibility" and "actuality," "can" and "cannot." Simply because it is true today that I choose to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, does not mean that there is no other possibility. It is certainly true that it is possible for me to choose eggs, even though my actual choice will be pancakes. There is a distinction between possible choices and an actual choice. And if it is true that "tomorrow morning I choose pancakes for breakfast," this only entails that it is false that I choose eggs, or toast, or fruit, etc. It does not entail that these other possibilities are not possible choices--only that I do not in fact make these choices. So, if God knows it is true that tomorrow I choose pancakes, this certainly doesn't entail that there are no other choices available. If God knows what is true, he knows what I will choose. So, it doesn't follow that the mere fact of knowing what will happen entails that there cannot be any other possibility (as you suggest). Of course, it is extremely difficult explaining the ground of God's knowledge of the world--how do we explain omniscience? But that is a different question altogether. Look back on your future. Can you change any of your choices? No. They are fixed. And yet, did you make any free choices? I think you did. And are these not free choices even though you cannot change them, that nothing can change them now? Your perspective on your future is similar to the perspective of an atemporal being, having a point of view "outside of time" (if such a perspective is possible).
  7. Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.
  8. This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator. Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No. Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast. Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways. You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will. Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself. Of course, this whole debate in this thread is assuming a particular view of freedom. There have been some philosophers who have argued that freedom is compatible with determinism. But here we are assuming what's known as "libertarian freedom."
  9. I know, in the real world commanders don't have the ability to send instant orders to the field, or watch a battle from above, or send immediate orders to correct something, or...hey, wait a minute! If you think about modern warfare, there is a lot of similar stuff, when you consider the level of fire power we can bring to a fight, or the way we can watch ("real time") what is happening on the battlefield. And yet, we still study the great battles of history. Why? Because the principles still apply. What Alexander the Great did is still relevant. Modern day commanders have this ability. You weren't comparing modern day commanders though, you were making the statement that it's impossible for Mat to have a specific level of control over the battle and citing completely irrelevant ancient battles to support the argument. Maybe you didn't read the whole discussion I was having with the other feller, or maybe you didn't read it carefully (who can blame you? ), but the original point was his (I'm assuming he's a he ). I think it's an interesting critique, and I think I agree with it. But I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's impossible for Mat to have that level of control. It sure does seem unlikely though, when you think it through. If you are interested, read through all the relevant posts. (Also, I didn't cite Alexander the Great as support for this particular conclusion--I originally brought him in, actually, as a counterpoint against this view.)
  10. I know, in the real world commanders don't have the ability to send instant orders to the field, or watch a battle from above, or send immediate orders to correct something, or...hey, wait a minute! If you think about modern warfare, there is a lot of similar stuff, when you consider the level of fire power we can bring to a fight, or the way we can watch ("real time") what is happening on the battlefield. And yet, we still study the great battles of history. Why? Because the principles still apply. What Alexander the Great did is still relevant.
  11. I guess I see it differently. The way Mat was written was the biggest disappointment. But I'm glad you liked it. You bring up an interesting point about tactics and "out-general-ing" Demandred. I don't have a lot of knowledge about military history, but I do know that battles have been won through tactics. Go back to Alexander the Great, and some of the stuff he pulled off, while leading the cavalry on the battlefield, at times against absolutely horrible odds. That's how I always pictured Mat. So I sort of expected Mat to do something similar, and "out-general" Demandred on the field of battle (or whoever the tactical commander was going to be). Tactics can win battles. And sometimes tactics need to be revised while in the heat of battle. But I think your point was that there was a lack of seeing a command structure that would have been capable of carrying out the precision necessary to carry out these battlefield movements. We weren't given much of a sense of this (I don't recall). But maybe the idea was that the one power would have made this easier. I can't explain it to you but....read War and Peace. When Tolstoy stops the story and starts explaining things about the war and Napoleon, he perfectly explains the truth of it. I'm sure it's been explained in a simpler and far less tedious way somewhere else, but it's the only one I can think of. See, in a battle, the chain of command and such given are very different from a single commander sending orders to people which are carried out. In order to handle a large army, as the one in the last battle is, a very complex and different chain of command with people with different expertise and freedom to act upon changes in the situation is created. A single person, even with a view of the battlefield as Mat had cannot correctly judge positions and the flow of the battle and act accordingly, acting as a single commander over the rest. Most commanders will disagree, many orders will be carried out differently, messengers will relay wrong messages....it's just so complicated that you can't explain a battle with the actions of commanders. In most cases, they are carried by the flow of events and their "tactics" matter in just the overall scheme of things - whether the plan is to retreat, flank, advance, etc. The reason history focuses around commanders, generals and individuals is because it is not viable to explain battles in their entire truth. You can say that "Napoleon made his infantry move through the woods and ambush the enemy" or you can spend 7 pages explaining why it REALLY happened, why it was successful and so on. Academically, both are the same, so historians explain them in the simpler, clearer way. Fantasy and sci-fi take this route, because the other one is boring and has no appeal at all. About your use of the tactics of Alexander the Great, for example - the reason his tactics seemed genius is a huge combination of endless factors, mistakes, differences in equipment, etc. etc. etc. It's terribly complicated and boring as hell, hence why I agree that it was OK to portray the whole battle as it was portrayed - my point was that it would have been terrible if Mat had "out-general-ed" Demandred, as such a thing would have shattered any sense of reality. I thought about your point a little more, and you may be on to something. However, the discussion is a little cloudy. I believe the position you articulated is that (a) Mat did not "out-general" Demandred, and (b) if he did it would have been foolish. But I'm not sure this is exactly right. There are fans in this very forum, I believe, who really do think Mat did "out-general" Demandred. Why? because Mat was able to go "toe-to-toe" with him, and prevent a complete destruction of the good guys. So, "out-general-ing" is something of a judgment call. But you're issue has to do more with the fact that all the captains, including Mat, were portrayed as being able to plan--and execute--their battles with unbelievable precision. In short, it was quite literally unbelievable that a commander could have this level of real-time control over a battle. Right? Too many things can go wrong. Too many factors stand in the way. Commanders can only operate on the level of overall tactics, setting the shape of the battle, while the details must necessarily be left to others. I think this is right, and it seems a fair criticism. Perhaps Mat should not have been portrayed as having this sort of control. Maybe he should have outlined a devious plan, in the "war room" beforehand, and then fought on the battlefield--maybe adjusting something here or there, while leading the Band. That's actually the sort of thing I have originally expected. Thoughts? Last, I disagree with your phrasing here: "the reason [Alexander's] tactics seemed genius is a huge combination of endless factors, mistakes, differences in equipment, etc." Alexander's tactics were genius, and their genius was objectively distinct from their execution. When he fought against, I think Darius, it was only because of his battle plan the night before--we are told it came to him on the very eve of battle--that they were able to win against astronomical odds. He formulated a plan that continues to be studied today. Of course, he had excellent troops, etc., but they were outnumbered something crazy, and not by farmers.
  12. I guess I see it differently. The way Mat was written was the biggest disappointment. But I'm glad you liked it. You bring up an interesting point about tactics and "out-general-ing" Demandred. I don't have a lot of knowledge about military history, but I do know that battles have been won through tactics. Go back to Alexander the Great, and some of the stuff he pulled off, while leading the cavalry on the battlefield, at times against absolutely horrible odds. That's how I always pictured Mat. So I sort of expected Mat to do something similar, and "out-general" Demandred on the field of battle (or whoever the tactical commander was going to be). Tactics can win battles. And sometimes tactics need to be revised while in the heat of battle. But I think your point was that there was a lack of seeing a command structure that would have been capable of carrying out the precision necessary to carry out these battlefield movements. We weren't given much of a sense of this (I don't recall). But maybe the idea was that the one power would have made this easier. I can't explain it to you but....read War and Peace. When Tolstoy stops the story and starts explaining things about the war and Napoleon, he perfectly explains the truth of it. I'm sure it's been explained in a simpler and far less tedious way somewhere else, but it's the only one I can think of. See, in a battle, the chain of command and such given are very different from a single commander sending orders to people which are carried out. In order to handle a large army, as the one in the last battle is, a very complex and different chain of command with people with different expertise and freedom to act upon changes in the situation is created. A single person, even with a view of the battlefield as Mat had cannot correctly judge positions and the flow of the battle and act accordingly, acting as a single commander over the rest. Most commanders will disagree, many orders will be carried out differently, messengers will relay wrong messages....it's just so complicated that you can't explain a battle with the actions of commanders. In most cases, they are carried by the flow of events and their "tactics" matter in just the overall scheme of things - whether the plan is to retreat, flank, advance, etc. The reason history focuses around commanders, generals and individuals is because it is not viable to explain battles in their entire truth. You can say that "Napoleon made his infantry move through the woods and ambush the enemy" or you can spend 7 pages explaining why it REALLY happened, why it was successful and so on. Academically, both are the same, so historians explain them in the simpler, clearer way. Fantasy and sci-fi take this route, because the other one is boring and has no appeal at all. About your use of the tactics of Alexander the Great, for example - the reason his tactics seemed genius is a huge combination of endless factors, mistakes, differences in equipment, etc. etc. etc. It's terribly complicated and boring as hell, hence why I agree that it was OK to portray the whole battle as it was portrayed - my point was that it would have been terrible if Mat had "out-general-ed" Demandred, as such a thing would have shattered any sense of reality. This was well said. Thanks. I'll think about it. And War and Peace is in my list. When I get the time!
  13. I guess I see it differently. The way Mat was written was the biggest disappointment. But I'm glad you liked it. You bring up an interesting point about tactics and "out-general-ing" Demandred. I don't have a lot of knowledge about military history, but I do know that battles have been won through tactics. Go back to Alexander the Great, and some of the stuff he pulled off, while leading the cavalry on the battlefield, at times against absolutely horrible odds. That's how I always pictured Mat. So I sort of expected Mat to do something similar, and "out-general" Demandred on the field of battle (or whoever the tactical commander was going to be). Tactics can win battles. And sometimes tactics need to be revised while in the heat of battle. But I think your point was that there was a lack of seeing a command structure that would have been capable of carrying out the precision necessary to carry out these battlefield movements. We weren't given much of a sense of this (I don't recall). But maybe the idea was that the one power would have made this easier.
  14. What was bullshit is Demandred's claim of: AMoL Demandred is centuries old but the War of Power only lasted around 10 years(before that it was unknown during the AoL). The Great Captains should have more practical experience in warfare than he does. Wow, I hadn't thought of that. Seems like a big mistake (but maybe there is a way to explain it?)
  15. I disagree with you. I loved the Mat of the last three books. Boy, it's funny how two people can see things so differently. I completely agree with Suttree, that mat is no longer a rogue but a court jester. I think that's perfectly stated. It felt like I wasn't even reading the same character. Even if the new "mat" were a good character, it was not Mat. This is one of the biggest disappointments I had with BS's writing, since Mat was one of my all time favorite characters (in any book). I can see why it might be difficult to write mat, though, since what was really interesting and enjoyable about him has to do with the complex interweaving of how others saw him, juxtaposed with how he really was. There was a lot of irony at work. The humor of the character was not so much in punchlines or in his prancing, but it was often in the irony (in the difference between the way he really was and the way he tried so hard to see himself, and how others saw him). I loved how others would underestimate him, roll their eyes, but how all the soldiers were in awe of him. And one of the things I really missed in this last book was how others came to see him differently--and from the perspective of enjoying the arc of his character, this was really important (since this played such a big role in the way he was written).
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