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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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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a better title would be "unsure"

Any additional comments?

my simple understanding is we can't know where thought comes from, so all that comes from thought cannot be known. free will being something i had assumed came from thought through consciousness. sam harris suggests we cannnot know that we have free will if we are unsure of the source for decisions or thoughts. how can we know what is next? how can we know that we made the choice or decision if we do not know from where it came?<br/><br/>so do we have free will? sam harris says we can't know. <br/><br/>i am not convinced. do we have less free will than most think, i would say yes. i think most people would think their life is solely because of their own 'free will' decisions in life. in this example 'most people' are wrong. it doesn't take into consideration the luck and uncontrollable circumstances everyone is put into which is part of the argument in the book that i do agree with.<br/><br/>if we have some free will, then it is still free will. if free will is an illusion, what is not an illusion?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Highly recommended!

I have not written a review here before but I am so excited about this book I feel compelled (lol) to do so. I first purchased the Kindle edition of this book and enjoyed it so much that I figured it would be worth one of my credits to have Sam read it to me. I wasn't disappointed. The book is highly engaging, and Harris's arguments are elegant and compelling. The book says everything it needs to say with conciseness and clarity. I was sorry to reach the end and will be listening to this one multiple times.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • KT
  • Vermont
  • 04-30-12

Not so profound

Would you try another book from Sam Harris and/or Sam Harris?

Of course, but not based on this one.

What could Sam Harris have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

The part where the woman stands in front of a target with an apple on her head and...

Any additional comments?

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".

8 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Interesting stuff right here.

The gears will be turning all night. I've seriously never even considered free will from this angle. I need someone to listen to or read this so I can have a discussion with them about it. Now. Sam Harris, you're a beauty.

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Very concise, very precise!

Excellent narration by the author, with very relevant examples. Not overly technical but does give technical pointers for those interested.

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fascinating

Really goes in depth and uses really good examples for his claim. Highly recommend it.

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Meat puppets

It's all an illusion in consciousness. I'm convinced. Mr. Harris make a compelling and convincing argument. If you are open minded, I highly recommend this book.

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wow

Idk how this book got any good reviews, it's terrible. What u have is either Harris freely writing a book proving freewill doesn't exist which destroys itself OR Harris being compelled by his biology(wtf) to write a book proving freewill doesn't exist which then why the hell should I listen to it? What makes his biological makeup right and mine wrong, why should I trust it? He presupposes God and all things non material don't exist, which of course he's an atheist. He attempts to say his theory is true even if the soul exists, but then he equates the soul with the brain and gives it material properties like they do with the mind so he can sound fair but still retain his a priori adherence to naturalism. He's a brilliant man with a robust vocabulary and a mastery of word manipulation, but a horrific philosopher. Read for a laugh, but don't expect anything substantive. "Nonsense remains nonsense even when it's spoken by high powered scientists. " - John lennox

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Free Will Thoughts

"It's not the spoon that bends. it's only yourself. There is no spoon." Matrix. A perfect quote for a good read. I have read this book before and enjoyed it. The same applies to the audio version -- perhaps even better. In the sense, the listen (I) has the pleasure to listen to Sam Harris give his rendition.

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Absolutely mind-blowing material.

Sam Harris is clever and articulate, as always.
He makes a strong and often funny case against free will, and I don't think any other narrator could bring these points to life the way that he did.