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Free Will | [Sam Harris]

Free Will

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Masonic Prince 04-16-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great work."

    Interesting science based theory of free will, decision making & Neurology. It's a concise read with good examples used to illustrate the message.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Alexander Savard 03-13-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Life changing"

    Although I've just discovered that free will in an illusion and that my thoughts and opinions are not truly my own in any real sense, my opinion remains:
    This is an excellently crafted book about a truly fascinating and ultimately life changing realization. Free will does not exist and understanding this will change your life for the better.

    Read and decide for yourself.
    Alex//NYC

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip D. Mann Oklahoma City, OK, United States 01-06-15
    Philip D. Mann Oklahoma City, OK, United States 01-06-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Insightful, Short-format, Completely Enjoyable"

    This short-format book -- a long essay, really -- explains the complex issues surrounding the presumptions and assumptions of free will through the enlightening lens of neuroscience. From the philosophical arguments about the nature of free will, to experiments that show a person's choice occurs several seconds before they are aware of the decision, Harris paints a clear picture of the true nature of what we feel is our own will to act or decide, and follows with how the truth about our decisions can and should influence the public debate on crime, punishment, and responsibility. The book is long enough to cover all of the bases and short enough to leave your evening free to discuss it with your mate; I cannot recommend this book more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    qwertyuiop 01-01-15
    qwertyuiop 01-01-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Seductive view of Free Will"
    Would you listen to Free Will again? Why?

    Yes. Since I have read it, I have changed my mind on free will and become a compatibilist, so I would like to go back and listen to Harris's arguments again. Particularly convincing was Harris's comparison between psychopaths, people with brain tumors who kill people, and people who kill "just for the fun of it".


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    It is simply and concise.


    Have you listened to any of Sam Harris’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Unlike his other books, the central thesis is wrong. Free will actually exists. Once you get past that, it is as good as his other books.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When he says that there is no significant difference between people who murder for different reasons because all of them are acting because of factors outside of their control. It demonstrates that we are not the agent of our actions, which most people seem to think.


    Any additional comments?

    If you read this, please also read Freedom Evolves, by Daniel Dennett.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Navar BENSENVILLE, IL, US 08-04-14
    A. Navar BENSENVILLE, IL, US 08-04-14 Member Since 2006

    Ravantra

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    "Interesting subject"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No it was OK


    Would you recommend Free Will to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would not. My friend would not be interested. Different tastes I guess. I would recommend it to others though.


    Which character – as performed by Sam Harris – was your favorite?

    The troll wizard of course…

    Kidding…

    Not Applicable to this book.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No. I can see how this could be a movie.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-20-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-20-13

    Acteon

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    "Not quite satisfying"
    Would you try another book from Sam Harris and/or Sam Harris?

    Maybe, but not if it is as short as this one.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Sam Harris? Why or why not?

    The subject interested me and I started listening with a lot of anticipation, but the most interesting part was the beginning, where a set of very interesting experiments was presented; thereafter, it was all a bit anticlimactic.


    Have you listened to any of Sam Harris’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    It was more a lecture than a book. Which is OK, but I was expecting a book that develops the subject at greater length. But it is not a lecture I regret having listened to.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Woodstock, VA, United States 06-04-13
    Sarah Woodstock, VA, United States 06-04-13
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    "Just wish it were longer"
    What did you love best about Free Will?

    This is the first book I've read from Sam Harris. I loved the subject matter and the conciseness with which it was presented. I also enjoyed his narration. Love that he points out that punishment is still possible as a preventative measure, we didn't need free will, good or evil to legitimize it. We just need to consider the effects of punishment in the long run. Fascinating, I could listen to much more on this subject.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eddie Decatur, GA, United States 03-21-13
    Eddie Decatur, GA, United States 03-21-13
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    "To the Point"

    Harris' style is very concise and he doesn't beat around the bush. The story isn't overly scientific, but nonetheless an intelligent listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RaineDay 02-07-13
    RaineDay 02-07-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Not for lay people"

    I thought I would find scholarly ammunition for what I personally am coming to believe about free will. I usually enjoy and understand Sam Harris, in his blog and in other books. But this was too scholarly and did not reach me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay M Sun prairie, WI, United States 12-31-12
    Jay M Sun prairie, WI, United States 12-31-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Possible life changing views"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, because I think it encourages people to consider a new perspective that they may not have had access to.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The comparisons that are made.


    What about Sam Harris’s performance did you like?

    At first, I found his speaking style alitle hard to follow, but by the time I reached the second or third chapter, I was accustomed to it and it became clear without having to rewind and re listen.One thing I appreciated was that he wrote the book to be accessible to more people by opting for more common words instead of long, uncommon ones... I only had to pause the book maybe 3 times to look up a word.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    FREE WILL... You may beleive in it, but you may not have a choice.


    Any additional comments?

    The possible new perspective is well worth the relatively low price of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Dom
    4/22/15
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    "mind blowing book"

    Really changes the way you think. Very strong argument. Recommended to anyone who is interested. Mind it is quite short so don't blow your monthly credit on it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    3/19/15
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    "Very interesting"

    A nice quick listen which is very well explained. Quite educational as I certainly know more about free will now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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