Determinism: Delusions and The Hive

Some painter named Raoul Martinez doesn’t want to be held responsible for his choices and actions.  He lays out the standard case for determinism in one of those slick little youtube infomercials:

What’s interesting to note about this form of scientism is how it supports my contention that determinism will eventually become part of social justice atheism. 

The first give away is when Martinez portrays determinism as

threatening to systems of power and privilege that dominate our world.

Did someone say privilege?

Martinez also frames free will as a

highly convenient way to justify extreme inequality

The painter then begins to engage in some rather twisted thinking, arguing that determinism  produces a powerful kind of empathy that’s a truly liberating force.  Yes, he thinks determinism is “liberating.”

In fact, he even uses determinism to peddle visions of utopia by informing us that once we all deny the existence of free will, it

will turn conflict into peace, division into unity, and hate into compassion

This deterministic utopianism is delusional nonsense as there is no evidence that determinists excel at turning conflict into peace, division into unity, and hate into compassion.  Consider, for example, all the New Atheist determinists.  Are these the traits that characterize their handling of the religious issue?  According to their determinism, no one is truly responsible for being religious.  And the fact that Dawkins, Coyne, and Harris are atheists is simply a matter of luck.  Yet when it comes to religion, I see no evidence that their determinism has turned their hate into compassion.  I see no evidence of a willingness to co-exist with the religious in an effort to turn conflict into peace and division into unity. None.

Martinez’s dreams for determinism exist only in some freakish fantasy land.

And let’s go back to the notion that determinism is threatening to systems of power and privilege that dominate our world.  I’m not so sure about that.  It would seem to me that if we can convince everyone they are just a cog in the machine, then this would empower the systems of power and privilege.  Because once you take away the notion of free will and responsibility, the determinists must resort to an insect-like hive mentality to enforce order on society.  Here’s Martinez displaying that mentality:

We still have a right to defend society from those who pose a dangerous threat and it’s still important to establish incentives for socially beneficial behavior.

Notice the focus has been taken completely off the individual and placed solely on the Hive.  In fact, did you also notice these are exactly the arguments used by social justice activists to attack free speech?

Of course, that is the poisonous nature of determinism.  The reason humans are not supposed to be responsible for their actions is that they are just machinery.  They are not agents.  And thus you can’t hold a machine morally responsible for its actions.  Yeah…..and neither do machines have rights.  Those machines exist only to serve the needs of the system of machines known as “society.”  So if the system of machines determines they are best served by jailing an individual machine voicing dangerous and threatening words, then so be it.

And in the end, if it is too much trouble or too expensive to fix a malfunctioning machine, what do you do with it?

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4 Responses to Determinism: Delusions and The Hive

  1. Regual Llegna says:

    – It is noted that those who try to sell deterministic ideas to others pass it off as a poison against the rationalization and methodology, and always have an argument for ideal (artificial) control over the masses.

    – But in a deterministic line of thought, WHO is the one who truly makes the definitions of what reality is. WHO rule the hive:
    1.- A person or group.
    “We still have a right to defend society from those who pose a dangerous threat…”
    2.- Or maybe in the mind of the determinist a not so durable form of pure convenience.
    “…and it’s still important to establish incentives for socially beneficial behavior.”

    Note: In some portion of the video, after he blames religion and ideology, he seems to blame the parents for “imposing” the idea of responsibility. How he plan to be a parent without teaching at least a form of responsibility to his children.

  2. TFBW says:

    No doubt there are many ways in which one could criticise this presentation. The aspect which strikes me as most worthy of comment, however, is how disastrously nihilistic it is. It essentially denies human agency, and no amount of wealth and power redistribution can make up for loss of agency. If you accept the central premise of the argument, then humanity does not exist — we just have humanoid meat-bots populating the planet. If you act consistently with that conclusion, you will be a monster. A well-intentioned monster, perhaps, but that’s how the road to Hell is paved.

  3. stcordova says:

    Utopianism is the consequence of desperately needing something to fill the place of God which they swear does not exist. So they make up their own substitute god be it a socialist government, social justice, transgenderism, scientism, deterministic ideaology, whatever. This substitute god will supposedly usher in utopia and fix all the ills of the world.

  4. Dhay says:

    > And in the end, if it is too much trouble or too expensive to fix a malfunctioning machine, what do you do with it?

    If the machine is dangerous but useful it could be allowed to continue running but cordoned off with people at a safe distance; or if dangerous and useless, scrapped.

    Ah, it’s a rhetorical question based on a metaphor: that translates to whole-life-imprisonment; or an executed death sentence.

    *

    I see that Raoul Martinez is another who argues by brain tumour: Sam Harris and, following Harris’ lead, Jerry Coyne have both referred to an actual case where a killer was made murderous by the growth of a brain tumour, and where its successful treatment also cured the murderousness, then argued that genes and environment also make people into what I’ll call criminal puppets; Martinez floats the (implausible?) idea that a brain tumour might cause someone to become a paedophile; a Guardian writer with neither a good understanding of what a sophisticated philosophical argument looks like nor any acquaintance with the long history of Harris arguing similarly writes:

    What makes [Martinez’s book] exceptional is its sophisticated philosophical argument, one that is all the more intriguing in that it was developed by someone outside academia. …
    Consider, he suggests, the case of a paedophile called John. He has a tumour in his brain, but when surgeons operate to remove it, his paedophile tendencies cease. Later the tumour grows back, and his paedophile tendencies return. The point of Martinez’s story is that the discovery of the brain tumour makes John seem to us more victim than moral deviant and deserving of our compassion. In a sense, we are all Johns, luck’s playthings, doomed by our genes and our upbringings to be sinners, saints, have nots or have yachts, or, most likely, bumblers in a world we didn’t create and can’t imagine mastering.

    Now imagine if John never had a tumour. “Would you feel more justified in blaming John if, say, his addiction had been the product of childhood abuse rather than the abnormal growth of brain tissue?” Martinez asks. “If so, why? We no more control our upbringing than we do cell growth in the brain and formative experiences have a profound impact on the way we develop.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/13/raoul-martinez-writing-creating-freedom-artist

    Yep, it’s an argument long familiar to me from Harris’ version of it, echoed by Coyne.

    I note that Martinez’s choice of a paedophile as a prime example of someone “more victim than moral deviant ” is unwise: paedophiles are notoriously resistant to reformation and many or most will remain repeat offenders dangerous to children throughout their lives.

    When adopting the Martinez/Harris/Coyne determinist viewpoint, the obvious answer to “what to do about those paedophiles (/psychopaths/etc) who turn out to be untreatable” … is whole-life-imprisonment or an executed death sentence.

    *

    Reading the rest of that Guardian article, Martinez comes across as a mixture of clear-eyed cynic eg “Elections must be exposed as a shabby trick on a deluded populace, a lie of democratic choice in a system controlled by money”, and starry-eyed gullible idealist who can see the many horrendous problems in (British) society but not — a few world-wide scattered examples of workers’ collectives and the like excepting — not any solutions; who has no realistic programme of solutions and how to implement them.

    *

    Once again, predictably, Free Will and it’s alleged absence, determinism in both Harris’ and Coyne’s Incompatibilist Determinism and Martinez’s Compatibilist Determinism (gun control, etc etc etc) … once again these are proxies for opposition to their political opponents’ views; that is, they are a but side-show to the serious business of the view-holders’ politics.

    Jean-Paul Sartre somewhere commented that man is the only creature who defines himself as what he isn’t: I wonder how many define themselves as atheists in opposition to what they consider repressive and objectionable social attitudes by [let’s use Franklin Graham as a representative example].

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