Friday 5 January 2018

How might foresight/ prevision work?

I think visions or knowledge of the future, for example in dreams, are something that happens only sometimes and to only some people - and the previsions are (so far as I know) always imperfect in their precision and/ or accuracy.

How might such things happen?

Well, I regard life as being destined - that is unfolding according to an overall plan - but insofar as there are being exercising their agency (free will) these plans must continually be modified.

So - with respect to means and ends - if divinity to to reach certain ends, then the means must be flexible.

In other words, if the deity wants some specific thing to happen - some specific outcome to be reached, then the plan for how to reach it needs repeatedly to be modified to take account of the choices (agency) of the participants in the plan.

This, I take it, is why previsions are not wholly accurate - because the plan now is not going to be exactly the same as the plan next week - because in the mean time, some people have used their agency in unpredictable ways; so the vision of the future we have now, will not be exactly the same as the future as it turns-out - due to the interference of agency.

Indeed, the previsions are most likely relating to means rather than to ends - they are not (not usually) end points or aimed-at outcomes, but previsions are usually rather trivial and contingent things, presumably en route to the actual aimed-at situations.

(This scheme only makes sense when it is understood broadly what deity is trying to accomplish with destiny... and that this is a matter of (put ultra-simply) providing experiences from-which individual men and women can learn, aimed at enhancing the long-term post-mortem spiritual progression of specific individuals in a multitude of individual ways.)


Chiu ChunLing said...

I have never understood the assertion that free will must necessarily be unpredictable. When people can't predict their own actions, it is most commonly because their own volitional capacity has been impaired by outside circumstances they did not anticipate. Or because they are self-deceived as to their own benevolence (but this is also a species of impairment of free will, though not arising from externalities).

When my will is completely free, and I am not subjected to unexpected difficulties, then it is the easiest for me to accurately anticipate my freely chosen actions, because they arise from and conform to desires which are familiar and well known to me. Of course, I have difficulty making others understand what I will do, because others have difficulty seeing my desires and my thought process just as I have difficulty seeing theirs.

But why should these particular difficulties apply with God? God is not surprised by the events which surprise us, they are part of His plan. God is not deceived by our pretenses to have virtues we only profess for social reasons. God is not limited in His access or understanding of our thoughts and intentions. So why should the imperfections in our visions be attributed to God really not knowing?

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Yes but IF our choices could be predicted externally with perfection, then there is no space for agency to operate. The reality is that nothing external can fully know our ultimate and eternal self. WHether this is important in any particular situation/ prediction is something that itself cannot be known.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I still don't understand this assertion. It's functionally equivalent to saying that, if someone else can observe our actions, then we aren't really fully accountable for them ourselves.

I suppose that there is the connection to the valid observation that, if our actions can be observed, and we know this, then we generally take into account the likely response of the observer. But knowing that, in the long term, our actions have inevitable consequences for ourselves makes us more free, not less. After all, the idea that, if no person observed our actions, they would be without consequences, is merely a delusion. Another way of drawing the connection is that a person who can foresee our actions would be in a position of power to prevent us from making our own choices. But the fact that God could abrogate our free will by His superior power doesn't mean that He must.

After all, God is already in a position of power to prevent us acting any other way than as God dictates, our bodies only exist and function at all because God made them, we could not have made them ourselves. They respond to our will not because we have created them thus but because God has.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - My point is the opposite of your framing. I'm saying that if a prevision *must* be true, yet does not know our agency - then there is no room for that agency. but agency is real, therefore prevision cannot be known-to-be always absolute/ certain/ precise when agency is involved. It is always of an if-then nature.

Chiu ChunLing said...

But why wouldn't a prevision from any licit source know our agency?

And why would we need to explain the incorrectness of visions from illicit sources?

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - "But why wouldn't a prevision from any licit source know our agency?
" - Because that makes agency a nonsense!

I have a pretty clear feeling for what agency is - maybe you dont?

Chiu ChunLing said...

I can understand how it would make our agency ineffective if all our actions could be predicted and countered by a hostile super-being. This is why it is crucial to me that God must respect the agency of even those who will use it for nothing but evil (on any other view than their own, at least).

But as long as the being that has the power and knowledge to determine all our ends against our will does not actually do so...why then it has not actually been done. Yes, God, by His pure superiority in power, could deny us life and conscious existence, but that does not mean that, He having denied us neither, we don't actually have them.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - You seem to be looking-at agency from outside, inferring-it; but agency is an active process of creation, emanating from the real-divine self.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Well, and that brings up the question of whether we are properly distinguishing agency from volition. I indeed can only view volition from without, it is of little concern to me whether I even have such a thing myself, I am entirely indifferent as to whether anyone else really has it.

With agency, on the other hand, the causal relationship to one's own actions, I am necessarily deeply involved. It may be questioned whether my involvement encompasses the felt qualia of what you would call concern, but I no longer trouble myself over that. In fact the qualia of my existence generally doesn't seem to map to general human experience.

Bruce Charlton said...

MT - I don't understand what you are getting at - your comment is ambiguous.