ידיעה ובחירה

שו"תקטגוריה: פילוסופיהידיעה ובחירה
M' שאל לפני 2 חודשים

Apologies that I am writing in English. Please feel free to respond in Hebrew. I can read fluently but I can express myself much better in English.
My name is M'. I also have smicha and a doctorate in Physics, although I have spent my professional career as a Computer Scientist. I once had the pleasure of attending a neighborhood lecture of yours on a Shabbat afternoon when I was visiting with my daughter and family (Aliza and Elie Deutsch) who were part of the garin Torani in Lod for a few years, but they moved to Efrat about 5 years ago. My wife and I live in the US. I have since discovered your books and wish that I had appreciated your amazing work earlier. 
I have the משחק בקוביות book which I just discovered at a seforim store in Efrat during my last visit. Are you working on an English translation? The transliterated English words especially kill me. I wish someone would make a rule that any english words have to be written even in a hebrew book in English letters. I am sure I will have questions about that book when I make some more headway on it. 
The book that I am reading more successfully is the Science of Freedom, obviously because it is translated into English. The book is masterfully written and I cannot believe that it was translated because it reads so clearly and coherently. I don't have any comments yet on the central thesis of the book, other than the development is superb. I want to ask you about one peripheral issue you discuss – the contradiction between free will and G-d's foreknowledge. 
The answer you give to the contradiction is that G-d really does not know what we will do until we do it. if I understand this correctly, then you are not reading the mishna in pirkei avot in a straight way. Is this what is meant by הכל צפוי והרשות נתונה? The mishna clearly means to posit the contradiction. I do not understand why (especially physicists) do not prefer the answer given by Rav Moshe Almosnino in his book on pirkei avot פרקי משה. I imagine you know his answer; it is quoted by תיו״ט on that mishna in pirkei avot and also by the אור שמח on the Rambam Hilchot T'shuva where the Rambam discusses the contradiction. His answer is quite advanced for the 1500's when he lived. I think it represents Einsteinian physics notions of space-time. And yet neither yourself, nor Professor Natan Aviezer (a really close family friend) seem to like his answer. Natan, as I am sure you know, gives the same answer as you do.
(If you are not aware of it, you can access a copy of Rav Almosnino's book here: https://hebrewbooks.org/65071 and his answer is on page ק״ג. His answer has been described as the "continuous present" concept in which G-d is essentially outside of time, an therefore G-d "experiences" כביכול everything as happening in the present, even though human beings who live in time experience events as happening sequentially on a timeline.  His explanation is amazing when he says that if person A sees person B running in the present, person A's knowledge is not causative of person B's actions. He is just witnessing the event. So too if G-d is above time, and he is צופה עד סוף כל הדורות, that knowledge is not causative and does not contradict my free choice. This seems to be absolutely rational. G-d may choose a presence in the world מלא כל הארץ כבודו, but with lack of corporality and dwelling on-high, I don't see a strong claim that G-d should live in our concept of space, and by implication of the four-dimensional space-time,  He should not live in time either. So much of the prophetic tradition and so many midrashim are about G-d's transcendence of time 9not just space), היה הוה ויהיה and G-d's selective sharing of future events with Biblical and even Talmudic figures. So why is that answer not the best one?
I referred to the space-time concept above, but I also want to reference physicists like Carlos Riveli (Brief Lectures) exploring the nature of time and coming to the conclusion that there is nothing physically fundamental about time. The only reason the arrow of time moves to the right is because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and the increasing disorder of the natural world. G-d's presence does not decay, get more random, or anything like that. So G-d cannot experience time. Riveli says that the concepts of past present and future are not defensible from a theoretical point of view. So maybe our own experience of time hangs by a tenuous tread?
So why does a scientist who is well versed in the sources NOT prefer Rav Moshe Amnosino's answer to one which is against the simple meaning of the mishna and the Rambam and limit's G-d's omnipotence and transcendence? 
Kol Tuv, Shabbat Shalom,

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1 Answers
מיכי צוות ענה לפני 2 חודשים

שלום רב.
חן חן על דבריך. לגבי שאלתך, התייחסתי לכל זה בהרחבה בסדרת טורים באתר שלי. ראה שם מטור 299 והלאה (בדילוג על טור 300): https://mikyab.net/posts/66608
ככלל, הטענה שאלוהים הוא מעל הזמן עונה על שאלה אחרת: כיצד הוא משיג את המידע? אבל שאלת הידיעה והבחירה היא שאלה שונה: בהנחה שיש לו את המידע עכשיו כיצד ייתכן שיש לי חופש לבחור מחר? לכן איני מקבל את כל התשובות מהטיפוס הזה (שהוא מעל הזמן, כל יכול וכו').
תורת היחסות לא מוסיפה כאן מאומה לדיון, שכן מחוץ לקונוס האור אין דרך להעביר מידע, ולכן העובדה שיש לקב"ה את המידע אומרת שהוא עבר את קונוס האור, וזה לא אפשרי. וגם אם תאמר שהקב"ה כל יכול ויכול לעבור את קונוס האור, זה עונה על השאלה כיצד הוא השיג את המידע, אבל לא כיצד יש לי חופש לבחור, וכנ"ל. מעבר לזה, הוא יכול גם להעביר אליי את המידע הזה (אם אני נביא). האם אז תהיה לך בחירה? כשאני כאדם (ולא רק אלוהים) יודע מראש מה תבחר.
לגבי זמן ותרמודינמיקה, גם זה לא נוגע לדיון שלנו. העובדה היא שהסיבה צריכה להיות קודמת למסובב על פני ציר הזמן, והזמן בעולם שלנו זורם קדימה. גם אם זו תוצאה של התרמודינמיקה (ולדעתי זה ממש לא), עדיין זוהי העובדה. למה זה משנה אם מה שגורם לעובדה הזאת היא התרמודינמיקה או משהו אחר?
ה"מחקרים" שהזכרת בעיניי הם בדרך כלל בלבול קטגוריאלי ומושגי. כאן אעיר רק הערה על העניין: אם כיוון זרימת הזמן הוא רק תוצאה של הקטנת האנטרופיה, אתה עדיין צריך להסביר מדוע יש כיוון אחד שבו האנטרופיה קטנה ובכיוון השני לא. זו עצמה אינדיקציה לכיווניות של ציר הזמן עוד לפני האנטרופיה. שלא לדבר על המצב כשהמערכת פתוחה שאז האנטרופיה יכולה לקטון גם קדימה בזמן. כל אלו סתם משחקי מילים בעיניי.
תוכל לראות על חזרה בזמן גם בטור 33: https://mikyab.net/posts/1660
ועל סיבתיות מהופכת בסדרת הטורים שמתחילה ב-459 (בדילוג על 460): https://mikyab.net/posts/75264
שבת שלום,

M' הגיב לפני 2 חודשים

Thank you so much for responding so brilliantly and for pointing me to your טורים. I cannot find how to access the following טורים numbered 301+. It’s not clear from the menu where the טורים are. I read 299. I read what you wrote below. And I disagree as follows:
The existence of knowledge “somewhere” (like a book in my library that time travelled from the future back to my present) does not remove my free will. If I never read the book, then the knowledge it contains does not cause my future behavior. I have free will because only my own choices are causative of my future actions. The fact that the knowledge exists does not preclude me from acting differently. In the multi-universe theory, the fact that someone knows what I will do in my universe does not preclude my theoretical ability to act in my universe the way it is recorded. That is the point made by Rav Amosnino. Do you insist that Knowledge is causative? That makes no sense to me.

מיכי צוות הגיב לפני 2 חודשים

הלינקים ששלחתי מפנים אותך לטורים מסוימים. אבל הטורים הללו נמצאים באתר שלי, ושם באתר מופיעים כל הטורים וכל מאמריי. הלינק לאתר נמצא כאן למטה. תוכל להיכנס לשם ובדף הראשי שאליו אתה מגיע תראה לשוניות שונות למעלה. עליך לחפש בלשונית "כתבים", ובתוכה "פוסטים", וברשימת הטורים להגיע לאן שאתה רוצה. בנוסף לכך, יש גם חיפוש גוגל באתר שמאפשר לך לחפש בתוך כל החומר שמצוי בו.
בטורים שם הסברתי את העניין. אני עושה היררכיה בין ערך אמת של טענה שבוודאי אינו סיבתי (זו הטעות של הדטרמיניזם הלוגי), לבין מידע שיש לו ערך סיבתי, לבין סיבה ממש (אירוע שקובע סיבתית את העתיד). המידע לא קובע סיבתית את התוצאה, אבל קיומו של מידע על הבחירה העתידית שלי, מכתיב את תוכן הבחירה באופן לא סיבתי. פשוט אם אבחר הפוך נגיע לסתירה לוגית. לכאורה ניתן לפתור זאת על ידי משל הסרט, כלומר שהקב"ה צופה מראש בסרט על העתיד ויודע את תוכנו אבל זה לא משפיע על תודעתו של מי שפועל בסרט (לזה התכוון הראב"ד בפ"ה ה"ה מהל' תשובה, "כידיעת האיצטגנינים"). אלא שבכל זאת יש בעיה, ואני מדגים זאת דרך הפרדוקס של ניוקומב. זה מופיע גם בספרי 'מדעי ההחופש'.

M' הגיב לפני 2 חודשים

My apologies again for my English. This is a long note.

I have read the 4 essays from the טורים and I am humbled by your knowledge and clarity of thought. I admit that I don’t understand all of it in depth. Some of the terms are unfamiliar to me such as model logic and the like. But I think I understand enough to pose some questions to your conclusion.

I first want to say that your conclusion does not bother me theologically at all. You have made a very good case why there is no contradiction to כל יכול if your assumptions stand up. There is also the idea of צמצום where הקב״ה diminishes Himself to fit in to our world. So it’s not that I find it impossible to conclude that הקב״ה doesn’t know what I will decide, but it’s just not the simplest answer given the assumptions of our tradition. The Mishna in Pirkei Avot is usually understood in the sense of implying the contradiction. So the “Occam’s razor” approach is to assume that Hashem does know but there is no contradiction with free will.

I think you basically agree with me, because you emphasize that you chose number 3 only because answer number 2 is completely wrong from a logical point of view. That 2 leads to an impossible contradiction based on Newcomb’s paradox and Osmo’s library book. You seem to concede that answer number 3 is a last resort, a “Sherlock Holmes conclusion”. So if I can show that answer 2 is not necessarily wrong, you should prefer it. It is only because you conclude that answer 2 is definitely wrong that you are forced to answer 3.

Answer 2 states that there is a different concept of time that applies to Hashem. You “prove” that any way in which perfect knowledge exists “at the time” that I make my decision the mere existence of that knowledge compels me to make the decision contained in that knowledge. You say that any explanation must be logical because our world has to make sense for us. Our world must be logical and conform to our laws of nature.

I think that your approach has two weaknesses:

1) You assume that the entire existence of G-d has to conform to our understanding

2) you assume that science is a settled discipline and that our current understanding of the boundaries of what is possible is missing nothing. We know based on experience that this has never been true, and Thomas Kuhn’s philosophy of science says that the essence of science is revolution from one generation to another.

First I want to explain point #1:

It is possibility for knowledge to exist במחיצתו של הקב״ה and yet not in any way create the same contradiction as Newcomb’s paradox.

You write (Tur 299) (free translation by me): “Can we leave for ourselves logical contradictions on the premise that G-d is above logic and we can apply to Him a “unity of opposites”? But this is nonsense. We are not talking about G-d, but we are talking about us. We are being asked to believe in two tenets which are in logical contradiction with each other. So [because of logical contradiction] we cannot really believe in both simultaneously.”

I think that this dismissal is too general and לא מדוייק.

Let’s focus instead on how to separate out contradictions in logic about our world, and contradictions posed by the infinite transcendent existence of G-d which is beyond our human capacity to understand. I agree with you that it is problematic to argue that logical contradictions should apply to our world. The way you frame the problem, the contradictions of Divine knowledge and free will lie in our world, similar to the Newcomb paradox. What I will argue here is that the contradictions only arise in G-d’s abode, and we are only meant to acknowledge that the combination of a finite world in contact with an infinite G-d is itself an acceptable contradiction that has no resolution. The logic applied to our world is intact. I will use Time as the main center of the contradiction in this case.

G-d is transcendent. That means He has no form, no presence in our space-time. And yet here is the real contradiction: מלא כל הארץ כבודו. How can G-d be both transcendent AND also inhabit our world? This is literally unfathomable, and this duality is a matter of faith. You cannot say that we have to understand the totality of how G-d works simply because he has contact with our world. The transcendent G-d inhabits (כביכול) a non-physical realm in which He spans all time. In this realm time has no meaning and from our vantage point into the transcendent we call it His continuous present. In his continuous present, G-d only finds out what we do AFTER we do it in our world. But since He lives in the continuous present, that information is available to Him throughout His existence. There is no flow of time at all in the transcendent realm. There is time flow in our world, but that is decoupled from G-d’s realm.

When we map G-d’s existence to OUR world, it is really an impossible exercise to map from the transcendent to the finite. We can say like you do (in answer 3) that G-d only knows what we are going to do after we do it. But we can ALSO say that G-d’s knowledge is not confined by our clocks. Since G-d lives above and outside of time, he learns about our action AFTER we act in our time scale, but anything G-d learns at any time exists for all time in His realm. The knowledge came to Him after we did it, as measured on our clock. But in G-d’s realm there are no clocks. His knowledge does not enter our world but exists in His realm. When we map the results of G-d’s knowledge to our clocks, we have to say that his knowledge of our action always existed. But it only existed in G-d’s realm. This explanation is consistent with the Rambam’s language, as explained by Moses Almosnino who I already mentioned.

This has nothing to do with Newcomb’s paradox, because Newcomb constructs a case where the knowledge is available in our world and where the future in our world affects the past in our world (so too Osmo’s library book, which anyone can read). The prophet did something the day before my decision based on what he knew I was going to do in the future. That is not analogous to the “G-d’s realm” construct I have presented. Even though in G-d’s realm the knowledge of what I did is always available, it does not have any feedback loop to the past in OUR world before I “decided” it. G-d’s knowledge is outside of our world and does not contradict what is in our realm. As you said, future knowledge which is only learned after I do something does not affect the past.

I do not think it is correct to say that if the knowledge exists ANYWHERE – even in G-d’s realm – that it prevents our free will. G-d’s realm is beyond our fathom and it should not be considered within a logical framework for the human mind to grasp. Grasping time in G-d’s abode is for us like the circular triangle which you point out makes no sense.

Now let me explain point #2:

Imagine a scientific discovery which creates a new breakthrough like the quantum theory, the theory of relativity or the Big Bang. Only this new breakthrough discloses a higher dimension which exists and which is superimposed on our four-dimensional space time. If such a construct exists, then it is possible that even in our realm you might tolerate the contradictions which you claim are impossible. Knowledge can exist in this hyper-dimension, at the time of my decision and not contradict my free will. The difference between this approach and my first approach is that in my first approach I had to argue an outer-worldly dimension of existence due to the transcendence of G-d. In this argument I am postulating that over the next decades or centuries, another breakthrough could prove that such a construct is theoretically possible in our world and will be supported by some experimental result.

We accept the fact that the quantum theory dictates that Schrodinger’s cat is both dead and alive before I open the box. Is this logical contradiction between knowledge and free-will any more nonsensical? Is the wave-particle duality of light and elementary particles any less contradictory? Does it make logical sense? Is it rational that two twins can undergo different journeys and can meet again and the one who travelled to space can be many years younger? Yet in each case the science is incontrovertible that these contradictions are borne out by experiment. During the 19th century, all scientists had no idea how little of our world they really understood!

There are so many current scientific mysteries that have no explanation – the most mystifying is dark matter and dark energy. We don’t understand the nature of gravity. Other revolutionary theories are likely imminent if we are to explain these and other mysteries.

So, I am not convinced that the logical argument that you make today is necessarily stable. I suggest that you need to modify the certitude of the claim. It is correct that with today’s understanding of the dimensional realities of our universe, the existence of certain knowledge at a time precludes the falsification of that knowledge. But to claim that what is understood today will always be certain has not been borne out by the history of science. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions sets this pattern up as the paradigm for how to view current knowledge. It is firm but tentative.

Perhaps this argument is unconventional. But you claim that answer number 3 must be right because there is no other possibility. This is another possibility, not so far-fetched!

Thank you so much for taking the time out to respond to my previous emails and having given me such a rich and brilliant set of ideas to think about.

Best wishes,

מיכי צוות הגיב לפני 2 חודשים

שלום רב.
קשה לי קצת לדון במרווחי זמן כאלה (כי איני זוכר את הסבבים הקודמים).
א. אני לא מניח שהעולם שלנו חייב להתאים לחוקי הטבע. אני טוען שהקב"ה החליט שהוא יפעל כך.
ב. כל הרעיון שלי הוא שהבעיה בידיעה מראש של בחירה חופשית אינה קשורה לחוקי הטבע אלא ללוגיקה. טענתי שאלוהים כפוף בהכרח לחוקי הלוגיקה, אבל לא לחוקי הטבע. והסיבה לכך מוסכמת גם עליך בתחילת הדברים.
ג. לכן כל הדיונים על השתנות של המדע (ולא צריך את קון בשביל זה) אינם רלוונטיים לכאן.
ד. אם ייתכנו סתירות באמונתנו לגבי אלוהים, כפי שאתה טוען, אז גם אם אני מאמין שהוא קיים אני יכול בו בזמן להאמין שאינו קיים. ושהוא טוב ורע גם יחד. ושהוא יודע ולא יודע את העתיד גם יחד. אתה מרוקן את האמונה שלך עצמך מכל תוכן (כידוע בלוגיקה, מסתירה ניתן לגזור כל מסקנה שהיא). אמונה היא מצב של הקוגניציה שלנו ולא של הקב"ה, ולפחות אנחנו כפופים ללוגיקה.
ה. אין שום בעיה באמירה שמלוא כל הארץ כבודו ושהוא טרנצנדנטי. הגמרא עצמה מסבירה זאת בברכות ה, שמדמה את הקב"ה לנשמה שממלאת את כל הגוף. מה שממלא את העולם הוא "כבודו" ולא הוא עצמו. השראה ממנו ולא הוא.
ו. אני חוזר שוב ואומר שהעובדה שהוא מעל הזמן מאפשרת לו אולי להשיג את המידע, אבל לא פותרת את הקושי כיצד אני בוחר עצמאית אם הוא יודע את התוצאה מראש. הסברתי שאלו שתי שאלות שונות.

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