Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers "yes!" Using an array of provocative formulations, Dennett sets out to show how we alone among the animals have evolved minds that give us free will and morality. Weaving a richly detailed narrative, Dennett explains in a series of strikingly original arguments - drawing upon evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, and philosophy - that far from being an enemy of traditional explorations of freedom, morality, and meaning, the evolutionary perspective can be an indispensable ally. In Freedom Evolves, Dennett seeks to place ethics on the foundation it deserves: a realistic, naturalistic, potentially unified vision of our place in nature.
©2003 Daniel C. Dennett (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Letting the rest of the world go by
I enjoy the author's approach to our deterministic universe and the perspective of free will with moral responsibility for our own actions. As always, the author is never in your face with his beliefs and practices the art of critical reasoning better than anyone. He puts others contrary viewpoints in their most effective forms and systematically shows why they are not right and are not as effective as they might seem at first glance, and then goes on to build a coherent consistent system.
For me, I enjoy the author's writing style, but I realize it can be dense for others and the author himself refers to some of his previous writing as "obscure and difficult". I guess I like obscure and difficult when I know at the end I'll understand the subject matter better than I have ever before.
He says that "if you make anything small enough than everything will be external". By making the role of the individual insignificant you will make free will outside of the person and free will belongs within us not outside of us. Also, he says that "we all want to be held accountable for our own actions", both at the individual and societal level. That makes free will within us.
As the author steps the reader through the development of freedom, he also gives the listener some of the best takes on why homo sapiens are so different from any other species known in the universe.
Most of what is in this book seems to be covered in his other books I've read, Consciousness, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and Intuition Pumps. For those who don't have the time to read those three books (2 of which are fairly long listens), this book would act as a great surrogate for them.
Yes. I think free will is an interesting topic. It is also third on my list of questions which are hard to answer, after the existence of God and abortion. Prior to reading this book, I had concluded that free will did not exist, but I eventually came to doubt this conclusion. To make sure that I was correct about free will's nonexistence, I read this book. After I read it, I continued disbelieving in free will, but I had stronger and stronger doubts as I came to better understand the compatibilist arguments. Ten weeks after reading this book, I concluded that the ability we have to make choices warrants the name "free will". I'm glad I ironed out the truth on this complicated issue.
This book is a bit dry in spots, so prepare yourself. It is one of those books that is hard to get through, but awesome after you finish it. Just like all of the books by Dennett. I always hate his books while I am listening to them, but after I finish I love his books and buy more.
"I must get more cleverer"
I may get a print edition to study the hardest parts without having to fight the urge to ignore the narrator. I learned a lot and found it solidifying ideas in his other books as well as introducing loads of new concepts too.
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