Short but to the point. Among the strengths of the book is the fact that his argument against free will does not strictly depend on the assumption thaShort but to the point. Among the strengths of the book is the fact that his argument against free will does not strictly depend on the assumption that materialism is true. As much as I am convinced that materialism best describes our universe, I find this line of argumentation to be both clever and useful. It focuses the debate on free will itself, rather than on the metaphysics of it, which I find to be a common misdirection on the part of libertarians and some compatibilists. It is a development of Schopenhauer's view that a person can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills. Or rather, that I can do whatever I want, but I cannot want what I want. He then shows how compatibilists often solve this problem by ignoring it.
A very valuable part of book is his sharing of his own experiences in getting rid of the illusion of free will. Very different from what common sense would suggest, dispensing with the notion of free will does not entail moral nihilism or a downward spiral into gloomy cynicism. According to Harris - if anything - it can make you more compassionate, forgiving and understanding of fellow human beings, and - ironically - more in touch with the limits of your own capacities, strengths and weaknesses.
I wish he would have elaborated more on the repercussions of letting go of the illusion of free will on the legal system and on politics, but his words on these subjects are enough to refute misconceptions like "no free will = no personal responsibility = collapse of the legal system" and get you thinking about them, which I guess was one of his intentions with this book....more