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)
I read some of the other reviews before writing this to get an idea of whether or not I'm alone in thinking that this book/essay comes off more as an argument of what the definition of free will is rather than an actual debunking of the concept of free will. Like some of the other reviewers, I listened to Lying by Sam Harris and enjoyed it enough to give another one of his books a try.
The bottom line is this: I think everyone understands that their circumstances and past experiences can have a huge impact on their disposition and their decision making process in the present. Its easy to be conviced by an argument that essentially says who you are and what you do are determined by what you are exposed to, since you can only draw on what you know or experience to make decisions or take action. But that doesn't mean the genetic traits you inherit and your upbringing lock you into a course that you can't deviate from. Not all people who grow up in poor improverished neighborhoods end up being gang bangers. Not all people who were abused as children turn into violent criminals as adults. Not all people raised in a religious family end up practicing that religion or believing in it's tenets.
I can choose to accept what Sam Harris says in this book as the way things are in reality, or I can choose to take the stance that while the argument is thought provoking and entertaining to a point, there are too many examples of people who do not turn out the way their pedigree and upbringing suggeset they should for me to buy the idea that I can't make any choice I want at any given time.
Give it a listen but don't swallow it whole. Books like this are meant to make you think, not to adopt as truth (no matter how educated and articulate the author is).
I listen to learn, gain new perspectives, and grow
I did.. Lying by Sam Harris. I thought it was excellent, and was the reason i got this book, but unlike lying, free will takes much more than an hour to give it any justice. Even though is book brought up a few good points and perspectives, it really is just an opinion piece that is narrow minded considering the subject at large.
Harris is a decent reader. This book explores free will, but honestly is too simplistic and short to really be worth anything more than a dollar or two.
My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.
There is no real ah-ha moment in this book. All of us has free will to do whatever we want and most of our actions leads us to good and bad outcomes, but we are always deciding on what to do next for our own benefits.
For example, one may have free will to rob a bank in order to have money. They are willing to take a risk of being caught and going to prison. On the other hand, most of us also have free will to get a job and earn a living. There is a lot less risk of going to work then robbing a bank. Needless to say, both options is your own free will on what you want to do.
This book fails to capture my attention because it's not ground breaking news that we all have free will.
The book is very light and lacking.
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