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A BELIEF IN FREE WILL touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.
In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.
An okay guide to no free will
I have been arguing against free will for years now and have participated in many debates on the subject. When I heard Sam was releasing a book on the subject arguing against us having free will I was excited. Well, the book is just okay, not exceptional. Sam goes over some common topics that have to do with free will and why we don't have it but never goes in depth enough. It is a good but short beginners guide to why we don't have free will. People new to the subject might find it refreshing. But vet free will deniers like myself will find it lacking in detail and thoroughness.
I think a thorough breakdown of "self" should have been examined to show how "I" am a product of the environment. Self must be defined and understood to understand why we don't have free will.
While there is a chapter on cause and effect, the causality topic should have been a bigger part of this book to better demonstrate how deterministic nature is and how it makes it possible for us to make any meaningful predictions at all. If this was thoroughly examined it would show how there is no room for free will in our universe governed by the laws of physics and causality. Direct and indirect chain of events should have been examined.
There are many other topics to cover that I will keep to myself for now and just release in my own book. There are few books on no free will, so I appreciate this effort and it will be an ok introduction to some people.
Flawed but worth reading (listening)
"Free will", authored by Sam Harris, is about persuading the reader, through factual analysis and reasoned argument, that free will doesn't exist. It is not even a coherent concept, Harris contends.
The significance of the concept of free will and it's lack of existence, is enormous. The concept determines our collective view of morality, the nature of our justice system as well as one's sense of self-worth.
Free will is the belief that we are the conscious creators of our thoughts and that we can choose from a range of possible alternatives at any given moment of conscious awareness.
Harris succeeds in putting these illusions to an end, in my mind. He also suceeds, in my opinion, in demonstrating that we don't need to believe in free will personally or collectively to live a good life. It is not a necessary illusion.
Free Will is well written. It is short, to the point and easily digestible. The only problem is Harris's muddled thinking in places.
He suggests that we can have no conscious awareness of our motives for any given behavior we commence. I think he is mistaken. Our motivations are not always completely unconscious and we don't always confabulate at the conscious level.
Harris also fails to understand compatibilism and his refutation of compatibilism falls flat as a consequence. The point is, we are no more constrained than we are free, as conscious creatures.
Free will vs determinism worthy of more
The book was very short for such a complex topic.
- Category: Science & Nature
- Published: Mar 06, 2012
- Publisher: Free Press
- Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
- Print Length: 96 Pages
- Language: English