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.
©2012 Sam Harris (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
"Free will is an illusion so convincing that people simply refuse to believe that we don’t have it. In Free Will, Sam Harris combines neuroscience and psychology to lay this illusion to rest at last. Like all of Harris’s books, this one will not only unsettle you but make you think deeply. Read it: you have no choice." (Jerry A. Coyne, Professor of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, and author of Why Evolution Is True)
"In this elegant and provocative book, Sam Harris demonstrates—with great intellectual ferocity and panache—that free will is an inherently flawed and incoherent concept, even in subjective terms. If he is right, the book will radically change the way we view ourselves as human beings." (V. S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, UCSD, and author of The Tell-Tale Brain)
"Brilliant and witty—and never less than incisive—Free Will shows that Sam Harris can say more in 13,000 words than most people do in 100,000." (Oliver Sacks)
Of course, but not based on this one.
Not sure. I simply disagree with how he took the book. It amounts to a disagreement on the definition of "free will" which maybe I can't really hold against the book. I was thoroughly disappointed in the depth of his reasoning and the scope of his thought. The book feels like the first 1/3 was leading to something then you are never taken anywhere special. This book should have been 30% the size it is even though its small to begin with.
The part where the woman stands in front of a target with an apple on her head and...
Whenever an author brings up an example of someone else's opinion you have never heard of to contrast with their own, and doesn't successfully defend his point of view against it, one is left feeling let down (in this case Daniel Dennett). Of course free will is nonsensical as we commonly think of it, but instead of stating that directly and moving on, Sam Harris gets stuck in first gear with simply "we don't have free will".
There are a seemingly infinite number of quotable lines in this short book. It's easy to read and lends itself to comprehension even by those who've never spend a second thinking about the topic. Harris presents his arguments in a nearly ironclad way without playing mental gymnastics or by diluting his points with equivocation.
I must say I agree with 99% of what Sam Harris says, and the other 1% is just my not understanding uncommon words (I then Google their definitions). I recommend listening to this and his other books. It's also great that this book is narrated by the author
This is a well-reasoned and clear presetation of the ideas behind the notion that free will is an illusion. While this idea may be off-putting to most, after carefully listening to the ideas and examples presented in this book, the notion becomes less nebulous and accessible to understanding. Sam Harris speaks in clear matter-of-fact tone and presents the ideas and arguments in the form of analogies and thought-provoking examples of the varying degrees to which we tend to judge certain actions ad the results of free will and in so doing brings the reader/listener to consider the thesis more carefully.
If you are scientifically minded and had any doubt that free will is an illusion I think this book will definitely end the argument for you and make it a fact we don't have free will
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Sam is a brilliant and articulate philosopher on many topics, but his arguments have several weaknesses in Free Will that left me wanting for more insightful reasoning. As a cognitive scientist transitioning to the pursuit of artificial general intelligence, I suggest we should have more nuanced distinctions about where it is reasonable and relevant to expect human agency and where it is not. While listening, it was often tempting to add commentary to a transcript of the book pointing out where more nuanced distinctions make sense, but alas, upon deliberation I'm deciding following such a course of action is not worth the time (at least not yet). Overall, still an enjoyable and thought provoking book that makes several insightful points. Short and worth a listen.
You want beer? Why?Who or what decide what you want? Where does your "want" come from?
You like women? Why are you not gay? Use your free will to desire the opposite sex. You can't.
The author raises some interesting questions and proposes a view of free will which places all of the responsibility on blind chance and "luck". While he (Harris) seems to want to replace a traditional understanding of free will he offers nothing in the line of proof against it.
I am a fan of Sam Harris. This was a pleasure to listen too. However, while he does show that there is no 'Free Will' as most understand it to be, he fails eliminate a practical version of it.
ie. We can affect our future thoughts. Even I can predict and therefore edit my future choices - I am the author.
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