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Sam Harris‘ next eBook — Free Will — is now available for preorder (in paperback and Kindle editions)! In it, he argues that free will doesn’t exist.
The book will be released on March 6th. Some more information on it can be found here.
Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.
In it, he argues that free will doesn’t exist.
He had to say that.
Well, thanks for ruining the ending for me!
What do you mean “he”? From what I’ve read elsewhere his position is that the self doesn’t exist. You see it’s all an illusion. Who is being tricked by this illusion? Apparently, no one, as silly as that seems. How can you have an illusion without a “self” to deceive? The question doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind.
Yeah! Who the heck does he think he is?! …Or isn’t? …Or doesn’t? …What mind could it have crossed? …?
I (this is merely a linguistic convention) had to say that.
Which kind of free will? It’s common practice in philosophy to pick a definition for “free will” so as to get the yes/no answer desired.
Want mainstream acceptance? Pick a version that lets you affirm free will.
Want to be controversial? Pick a version that justifies denying free will.
Want to be controversial among professional philosophers? Pick the second kind and affirm it anyway.
He will agree with Coyne: in order for free will to exist, it can’t be a function of the brain. According to him, free will must require an external, inmaterial something that handles the body. He sneers people who disagree as victims fooled by the long tradition of dualism.
In other news, individuals don’t exist. It’s all about clumps of single-cells, you know.
It’s a discussion about the words we assign to things, not about what we can and can’t do.
Some people need sneering at.
While that may be true, Coyne’s position is flawed the very fact that humans do not always act in their best possible manner for themselves and thus do not conform to the ideal of the lack of free will. A dingle episode of Deal or No Deal would easily disprove Coyne.
Will is innocent.
Question, could you have chosen differently? Or better question, how did I come up with the first question?
As usual Harris is taking on topics that need to be explained in the most effective way, at which he is today’s pro. So far I see comments about philosophy, but nothing about neurobiology/biopsychology yet. Buy this book and get an education on some of that.
I’m glad I don’t have free will. Waaaaaay too many decisions to make on my own. My mammalian brain is my buddy who takes care of the things my newcomer frontal lobes can’t handle… it’s been doing that for my ancestors for millenia and is pretty good at it.
Since you are a mammal isn’t your entire brain mammalian? Are you trying to come across as sarcastic, or are you serious? Do you realize you wrote that with a dualist assumption, you floating unencumbered by physical embodiment while your brain does all the work. Isn’t your brain a subset of you. Thus isn’t your brain doing something the same as you doing it?
I just yelled AAAAAH!!!! I totally have to get this book because I have been becoming more and more certain that we don’t have very much free will at all…. but I have nothing to back it up! Can’t wait to read this.
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