Discussion Buridan's ass

TheSoulless

TheSoulless

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Buridan's ass is a "paradox" concerning free will. From Wikipedia:

"It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it dies of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision between the hay and water."

I've been waiting for things to get better for five years. As a result, they have only gotten worse. I'm stuck between two options: make an effort to get better or CTB. Neither is particularly appealing to me, so I'm stuck in my personal dark hole where I rot.
 
Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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It's not really a paradox because living things are more dependent on water than food. Also if it came down to survival the animal would have to make a choice one way or the other anyway.
 
TheSoulless

TheSoulless

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It's not really a paradox because living things are more dependent on water than food. Also if it came down to survival the animal would have to make a choice one way or the other anyway.
True. Well, that's what I should do too.
 
GoodPersonEffed

GoodPersonEffed

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@TheSoulless, your dilemma between two equally unattractive goals makes sense. This is something I experience as well with regard to ctb, which is why I'm still here since the peaceful methods I had access to failed, and I know SN will not be peaceful for me. I didn't realize there was something bio-psychological to this problem. I call it that because much of psychology is biologically determined. An interesting read is the laws of emotion.

From the same Wikipedia entry:

Social Psychologist Kurt Lewin's Field Theory treated this paradox experimentally. He demonstrated that lab rats experience difficulty when choosing between two equally attractive (approach-approach) goals. The typical response to approach-approach decisions is initial ambivalence, though the decision becomes more decisive as the organism moves towards one choice and away from another.
 
worried_to_death

worried_to_death

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It's not really a paradox because living things are more dependent on water than food
You're right from a biological perspective, but 'equally hungry and thirsty' would suggest that the donkey is at the exact point where both food and water are equally required for its survival (i.e. may have gone 40 days without food and 4 days without water and be 4 days away from dying either by starvation or dehydration).

A clearer variation says it's stuck at the center point between two identical stacks of hay. How would it choose between one or the other? What other variables would come into play?
 
Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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You're right from a biological perspective, but 'equally hungry and thirsty' would suggest that the donkey is at the exact point where both food and water are equally required for its survival (i.e. may have gone 40 days without food and 4 days without water and be 4 days away from dying either by starvation or dehydration).

A clearer variation says it's stuck at the center point between two identical stacks of hay. How would it choose between one or the other? What other variables would come into play?

You can't eat without being hydrated either. For the two stacks of hay, you could just pick one at random because the outcome is the exact same either way.

Even a donkey wouldn't be stupid enough to just stand there and starve to death between identical options that'd be ridiculous :pfff:
 
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worried_to_death

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Social Psychologist Kurt Lewin's Field Theory treated this paradox experimentally. He demonstrated that lab rats experience difficulty when choosing between two equally attractive (approach-approach) goals. The typical response to approach-approach decisions is initial ambivalence, though the decision becomes more decisive as the organism moves towards one choice and away from another.
That's really interesting.
What causes those rats to initially start moving towards one choice rather than the other?
I'm guessing it's probably too complicated to determine the exact causes that push it in one particular direction, as they're located at a neurobiological and molecular and even atomic level, so would require astronomical mathematical descriptions of the interactions of all those elements, as well as a way of observing them.
 
Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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That's really interesting.
What causes those rats to initially start moving towards one choice rather than the other?
I'm guessing it's probably too complicated to determine the exact causes that push it in one particular direction, as they're located at a neurobiological and molecular and even atomic level, so would require astronomical mathematical descriptions of the interactions of all those elements, as well as a way of observing them.

Could be many things. In the case of a donkey, if the donkey is more right-or-left dominant in it's legs or in it's sight that may trigger which one is moves towards. Even small minute things would act as tie-breakers.
 
worried_to_death

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you could just pick one at random because the outcome is the exact same either way
yes, that just begs the question though...how would that decision be made and would it indicate some kind of free will?
If it's a random decision doesn't that go against the idea that the universe operates deterministically?
And if desire determines action, and decisions are based on desire, how does the donkey choose between two hypothetically identical desires?

I think the level of abstraction of this thought experiment is what you're objecting to though.
It does seem to be a typically impractical exercise in philosophical word and concept juggling.
I've been waiting for things to get better for five years. As a result, they have only gotten worse. I'm stuck between two options: make an effort to get better or CTB. Neither is particularly appealing to me, so I'm stuck in my personal dark hole where I rot.
Hi. I noticed you said you've been 'waiting' for things to get better, which suggests being somewhat passive.
What would it take for you to try to get better in terms of assuming a more active role?
Do you think it's still possible for you to get better?
I think if it's still possible, it's definitely worth trying for it.

"Gonna end up a big old pile of them bones" -- I love that
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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yes, that just begs the question though...how would that decision be made and would it indicate some kind of free will?
If it's a random decision doesn't that go against the idea that the universe operates deterministically?
And if desire determines action, and decisions are based on desire, how does the donkey choose between two hypothetically identical desires?

I think the level of abstraction of this thought experiment is what you're objecting to though.
It does seem to be a typically impractical exercise in philosophical word and concept juggling.

What I mean is that the thought experiment and reality are not tied to one another so determinism is applicable to both. It's like saying square-circles exist because the words square and circle exist or something to that effect.
 
worried_to_death

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What I mean is that the thought experiment and reality are not tied to one another so determinism is applicable to both
ok yes.
But if determinism is applicable to the thought experiment, which isn't itself tied to reality, then in the thought experiment the donkey would in fact die, since determinism/logic would dictate that it cannot make a rational decision between two equal options in the absence of confounding factors.
.
 
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