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Free Will by Sam Harris

Free Will (2012)

by Sam Harris

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6442921,830 (3.71)1 / 11



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A tiny little thing - all of 80 pages and won't take more than a couple of hours at most. Easy enough to absorb, it presents the argument that free will is an illusion without getting too technical with the neurological and philosophical issues. ( )
  adam.currey | Nov 17, 2018 |
Definitely poses some serious problems for the notion of free will. We are slaves to our neurology. When you dig deep, you really don't know what made you decide to do what you do. It always leads to a dead end, which is your brain chemistry, which is designed by your genes and your development, both of which you did not control. I do agree with this, I just don't yet know what to do with this information. I'm not yet ready to write assholes off as being victims, but for now it gives me a little more peace in that I see them as less conniving than I thought before. ( )
  rnmdfrd | Sep 19, 2018 |
What I got from this, mostly, was that we don't choose what resonates with us. Okay! I am with you there, Harris. And that is most of this essay, so okay! 3 stars.

But this essay also jumps around and I'm like, huh? So there was something about, if I was another person, then I would BE that other person, which is like, well... yes? Huh? And before that something about scientists knowing what you are gonna do before you do it because of... IDK, sciencey stuff. What is what I was interested in, but I don't really think that was what Harris truly cared about (he is interested in philosophizing on new scientific discoveries, and IMHO extrapolating to the stars or just about). Something about atheism in there (well, if you are extrapolating might as well go all out to the heavens, ammiright, folks)?

Oh, and at the end something about how punishments might still be honky dory even without free will, even if we figured everyone's brains out to the level where people's preference for vanilla ice cream or just killing that bastard when he gets you mad was something you could know, you could see, uh... scientifically. "I had no choice but to knife that guy, officer! Honestly!" and he would be right! haha. I would really like to have some understanding of what justice would be in this scenario, that wasn't simply revenge and the broken (scientifically) people put somewhere out of the way of the unbroken people. Harris really wasn't selling his vision of it though, though he really really wants it to work. Uh... I don't really remember what he was saying about it. I'm terrible with philosophy! So many things I have to take as a given, practically on faith, in other people's thought experiments. haha, I am aphilosophic. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
About the author: quoting from the book's cover, "Sam Harris is the author of the best-selling books 'The End of Faith,' 'Letter to a Christian Nation,' 'The Moral Landscape,' and 'Lying.' 'The End of Faith' won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing has been published in over fifteen languages. . .His writing has appeared in 'The New York Times', 'Los Angeles Times,' 'The Times (London). . .and elsewhere. Dr. Harris is cofounder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular value in society. He received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. Please visit his website at www.samharris.org." Oliver Sacks said of this work, "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.' This book includes notes and is well indexed.
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  uufnn | Jun 24, 2017 |
Sam Harris can surely pack a lot into a short book. I find myself agreeing for the most part with his presentation, but it will require a reread before it fully sinks in. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
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In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that free will is an illusion but that this truth should not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom; indeed, this truth can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.… (more)

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