Great little book, although the omission of Feyerabend is bizarre. Still, it works very well as a brief and concise introduction to the main problemsGreat little book, although the omission of Feyerabend is bizarre. Still, it works very well as a brief and concise introduction to the main problems within the philosophy of science and to examples of the types of unique problems within each of the sciences. Highly recommended....more
Great little book. Lays out the history of the conflict between science and religion in a succint, yet clear manner. There are some chapters in the miGreat little book. Lays out the history of the conflict between science and religion in a succint, yet clear manner. There are some chapters in the middle of the book that delve into particle physics and quantum mechanics that are very dense and require several readings to absorb completely, though. Being a particle physicist himself, Stenger dominates these subjects but doesn't quite have the ability of Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins to explain complex concepts in an easy to grasp manner to non-experts. Still, a great and enjoyable read for anyone wanting to read an introductory and comparative work of scientific and religious epistemologies. Highly recommended....more
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
Great book. A concise overview of the progress made in the past century, from Hubble and Lemaitre, passing through Einstein and concluding with modernGreat book. A concise overview of the progress made in the past century, from Hubble and Lemaitre, passing through Einstein and concluding with modern cosmology. All the way from the belief that the Milky Way was all there was in a static Universe, to the expanding Universe we now know we are living in, to talk of the multiverse. All leading into the overwhelming and awe-inspiring conclusion that all of this knowledge - in combination with the best of our knowledge from quantum physics - consistently points towards our Universe very plausibly popping into existence out of nothing - sans deities. Some of the physics might take some patient reading to grasp, but the overall point - we know enough to dispense with the necessity of a supernatural god to create the Universe, the laws of physics are sufficient, is very clearly and elegantly presented.
Curiously, Krauss has publicly stated to not have much love for philosophy, and it is precisely the parts where he combines scientific facts with philosophical reflection that shine the most....more
Great book, specially for its criticism of what can be constructed and justified using bad metaphysics as a starting point, in this case, totalitarianGreat book, specially for its criticism of what can be constructed and justified using bad metaphysics as a starting point, in this case, totalitarian political systems....more