Cover photo
Eric Piteau


Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
A psychological analysis of Trump...

It is generally believed today that all politicians lie, or at least dissemble, but Trump appears extreme in this regard. Assessing the truthfulness of the 2016 candidates’ campaign statements, PolitiFact recently calculated that only 2 percent of the claims made by Trump are true, 7 percent are mostly true, 15 percent are half true, 15 percent are mostly false, 42 percent are false, and 18 percent are “pants on fire.” Adding up the last three numbers (from mostly false to flagrantly so), Trump scores 75 percent. The corresponding figures for Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, respectively, are 66, 32, 31, and 29 percent.
A psychologist’s guide to an extraordinary personality—and Donald Trump’s possible presidency

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
We cannot think a thought before we think it...nor can we desire a desire before we desire it. So, if the ability to make choices and follow our own desires depends on the ability to originate our own thoughts, then free will cannot simply be a question of semantics...

Free will must then be an illusion. -- where, we "feel" free to choose from our determined options.
A Brief Thought Experiment ~ The Semantics of Free Will

When people talk of individual freedom, many things come to mind. Of primarily importance is the question of whether you free to do what you want to do.

Someone locked in a room tied in a straight jacket is clearly less free than you are at this moment. You are more free because you have more options.

In a broader sense, we can say that a free society is more valuable than an oppressed society precisely because one is more able to do as they wish. Few would argue that this freedom is worth having.

But is this truly what it means to be free?


In a recent discussion on free will, Dan Dennett, one of the world's most renown philosophers of consciousness, proposed the following scenario:

Imagine a chess program that contains a flaw that limits the movement of its queen to only one square at a time. (1)

This limitation would considerably decrease its chances of winning against a program of comparable strength without this flaw. In fact, if given the opportunity to gamble on a series of games, you'd be crazy not to put all your money on the program without the flaw.

Yet look at what's really the difference here. One program has more "freedom" of moves than the other solely on the basis that its queen is not constrained. But is this kind of freedom really what we think of when we talk of free will?

Hardly. We know each program is fully tied to its data. Every move is merely a calculation predetermined by its programming. If you could understand its code, you could predict its move in every sense.

Thus by any genuine sense of the word, no one would attribute freedom to this program, despite one being described as more free than the other.

Isn't what's really important far more significant than just having more options?


Perhaps we should define genuine freedom as having some sense of control. When we are free, we are able to influence the behavior of things or the course of events. This would seem a sensible way to differentiate between the type of freedom you and I have versus that of a chess playing computer.

Yet this also has issues related to semantics. As Dennett explains, if a pilot gives up control of the plane to an auto pilot program, then the program designed to run that auto pilot is, by all definitions, controlling the plane in that moment.

This is true, made evident by the fact that the pilot could be sleeping while the auto pilot navigates the plane, a situation where the pilot is clearly not in control of the plane.

Yet is an auto pilot program "free" in any useful sense of the word? Isn't it just as tied to the data as the chess playing program?

It seems control isn't enough either. We need something better than control to convey the type of freedom we have. But if having options and control is not enough to illustrate genuine freedom, then what is?


Perhpas the missing ingredient that demonstrates genuine freedom is the ability to act on one's desires.

This would surely differentiate the type of control we have over that of an autopilot. For as much as it is in control of the plane, it is not doing this because it wants to, it does so because its programmed to fly. It has no desires.

So we can say that the freedom we attribute to ourselves that genuinely differentiates us from a computer program is not simply having more options, or having the ability to do as we wish, its the ability to have those wishes in the first place.

Options, control, and desire. No sensible human would suggest we don't have all three. So why isn't this case closed?

Genuine Freedom

The reason is that for many, its not enough to simply say we can act on our desires. That's top level stuff. What's really important is the root of those desires. Our thoughts.

Famed German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer noted this issue almost two centuries ago when he said, "Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants." (2)

Isn't genuine freedom of will best defined as the ability to consciously originate and control our own thoughts and desires? Consider what it would mean to not have this ability.

Suppose every thought you had all day was merely placed into your mind by your neighbor. Though you would be aware of the thoughts entering your consciousness and could follow along with the process of deliberation, you would have no control over any thought.

In such a scenario, you'd be at the behest of your neighbors desires. In what possible way would anyone describe this situation as being free? Thus consciously initiating our thoughts is genuine freedom.

Initiating Thoughts

Luckily, because susceptibility to influence, no other person is in control of our thoughts. But are we consciously initiating our own thoughts?

It sure seems so that way. Yet there's no logical manner to demonstrate the ability to consciously initiate a thought because for that to be possible, you'd have to think a thought before you thought it.

There is no logical way to conscious author our own thoughts because each thought either pops into our consciousness for reasons we're not aware of, or they each require a thought of their own.

Though it may feel like we are consciously originating our thoughts, the idea is nonsensical.

The Endless Loop

And thus we end up with two distinct ideas of free will that keep the world's top thinkers endlessly debating. It ultimately comes down to what you value.

If the ability to make choices and to follow your own desires is how you define free will, then surely have it.

But if you value the notion of consciously originating your thoughts, actions, and desires, there is no logical manner in which free will is possible. You cannot think a thought before you think it.

It's a game of semantics. How you define free will determines everything. There is nothing wrong with either view, you merely must choose what elements you value most.

(1) Harris/Dennett Free Will Discussion:

(2) Arthur Schopenhauer Quote:

(Artwork by: Matthew Baily)

For lots more on the topic of Free Will and other provocative ideas - visit:
89 comments on original post

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
Is Trump a Sociopath?

Steve Becker, a psychotherapist who specializes in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, has written that “we’ve reached the point where we expect our politicians to behave like psychopaths.” We view psychopathic traits as acceptable, perhaps necessary, and even advantageous attributes of politicians. “Trump’s ‘psychopathy,’ incidentally, is expressive in a less ‘compartmentalized’ form than that of most candidates,” Becker writes, “meaning he’s really more than a ‘political psychopath’—he’s really just broadly, flat-out a psychopath.”
Donald Trump: Sociopath?
Taking his biographer’s claim seriously.
18 comments on original post
Eric Piteau's profile photoNila F's profile photo
Nila F
+Eric Piteau yes, I recon!
Actually I was arguing the same point with a family member who had briefly fallen for the Trump sensation. Their argument was (I kid you not) that Trump is a straight forward no nonsense kinda guy, therefore he was their favored candidate. I didn't know where to begin countering with my argument, so I responded by stating: "well my cat is a straight forward no nonsense kinda guy! Try petting him unsolicited and see it for yourself.. hey maybe he should run for the office"

My cat will not dismantle the constitution.
My cat will not deport anyone, maybe mice.
My cat is color blind and believes in equal rights.
My cat will not be working for the best interest of the wealthy 1%

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 

The idealism of objective morality can simply be expressed as:

The reasonable intent to act in ways which will ensure the maximum well-being to all those affected by the intended actions -- without bias or out-group

To me, the logic of that statement is infallible. Intended subjective morality is always a few degrees short of moral, and moral relativism is a slippery slope.

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
“To be a mass tourist … is to spoil … the very unspoiledness you are there to experience … to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you.” -- David Foster Wallace
Lionel Gaucher's profile photoEric Piteau's profile photo
+Lionel Gaucher
It's more about threading lightly and not having to always feel one has to outdo the out-of-bound extremists to be one with nature ;-)

A good example is the traffic jams up Half Dome and Everest.

It's kinda dumb... might as well go to the mall.

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
Is this the man you want to run your country
Donald Trump’s Bad Bet on Anger
In his speech to the Republican National Convention, the presidential nominee revealed a deeply flawed political strategy.
7 comments on original post
Pamela Mule' Mitchell's profile photoEric Piteau's profile photo
+Pamela Mule' Mitchell
Yeah, if I were American, I would definitely vote for Hilllary, just to stop Donald...

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.
~ Aldous Huxley

(Artwork by: Kobe Abdo)
69 comments on original post

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
So, what will be your Rosebud?

From the article:

_Rosebud is more probably Welles’s intuition of the illusory flashback effect of memory that will affect all of us, particularly at the very end of our lives: the awful conviction that childhood memories are better, simpler, more real than adult memories – that childhood memories are the only things which are real...We all have around two or three radioactive Rosebud fragments of childhood memory in our minds, which will return on our deathbeds to mock the insubstantial dream of our lives... Kane has the plutocrat’s obsession with trying to control those around him in the way that he controls his media empire, whose purpose in turn is to control the way people think. And this is the final unspoken moral of Citizen Kane: a terrible tragedy of ownership and egotism – a narcissistic drowning._

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
How morality has the objectivity that matters

From the article...
"In conclusion, the claim that we need God to provide morality with objectivity does not withstand analysis. To begin with, God would not be able to provide objectivity, as the argument from Euthyphro demonstrates. Moreover, morality is neither objective nor subjective in the way that statements of fact are said to be objective or subjective; nor is that type of objectivity really our concern. Our legitimate concern is that we don’t want people feeling free “to do their own thing,” that is, we don’t want morality to be merely a reflection of someone’s personal desires. It’s not. To the extent that intersubjective validity is required for morality, it is provided by the fact that, in relevant respects, the circumstances under which humans live have remained roughly the same. We have vulnerabilities and needs similar to those of people who lived in ancient times and medieval times, and to those of people who live today in other parts of the world. The obligation to tell the truth will persist as long as humans need to rely on communications from each other. The obligation to assist those who are in need of food and water will persist as long as humans need hydration and nutrition to sustain themselves. The obligation not to maim someone will persist as long as humans cannot spontaneously heal wounds and regrow body parts. The obligation not to kill someone will persist as long as we lack the power of reanimation. In its essentials, the human condition has not changed much, and it is the circumstances under which we live that influence the content of our norms, not divine commands. Morality is a human institution serving human needs, and the norms of the common morality will persist as long as there are humans around."

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
How to be a life coach... even if you're still working on your first reincarnation ;-)

Eric Piteau

Shared publicly  - 
Ever heard of an island of garbage the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific ocean? Watch this Vice episode to find out more...

#recycle   #garbage   #plastic  
Eric's Collections
Collections Eric is following
Basic Information
Looking for
Friends, Networking
Philosophiam Materialisticam