Paul's Reviews > Free Will

Free Will by Sam Harris
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 09, 2012

it was ok
Read from April 07 to 09, 2012

I was looking for something to challenge my belief in free will. This book did nothing of the sort and if it had been any longer (it was only about 90 pages) it would have been a waste of time. It is anglo-american school analytic philosophy in all it's reductionist absurdity. The science is tenuous and almost non-existent, resting on the wafer-thin logic that our neurons determine our actions before we're conscious of them so that means our neurons are running the show. (all hail the neurons) We're just biological meat-machines acting out what has previously been decided by our genetics, parental upbringing, luck and other external factors. Most of his gibbering comes down to "I'm not ABSOLUTELY aware of why I desire - therefore I'm not free"... well here's a question for you; free from WHAT? Whaaaa you thought "freedom" was some concrete thing you could meet down the street? You think freedom is an absolute? Fuck this stupid science chasing it's own tail bull shit.

This is the kind of dry, philosophical discussion of free will that seems to not really help us very much on an existential level.
7 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Free Will.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Alexander Actually he outlined in detail how accepting free will as an illusion of an illusion is in fact beneficial to society as a whole. Not that it in fact matters, since his argument still holds, but I'm just pointing out that he did address the moral and social implications of determinism.

Paul Yes, the author did comment on the moral and social implications. I didn't. I'm not really concerned with the implications, because the "illusion of an illusion" as you call it is not an infinite regress of determinism, it is your choice.

Let's put it this way; the author says where we are at right now is due to luck, genetics, parental upbringing, etc. Sure. I don't disagree. But within each of us is the CAPACITY to go any certain number of directions, become self actualized, or even achieve enlightenment. In other words, inside everyone is the "seed" waiting on you to put it in the right situation to grow - for better or worse. Just because it is in you doesn't mean it is going to grow, you have to make the choices necessary for it to take hold.

You can control your desires. You can reconfigure your hardware to make the right decisions. At any point there is a fractal jump of infinite possibilities and by making the slightest change to undesirable traits you've acquired to more desirable traits, you've exhibited that you have free will and opened up a new fractal jumping off point available to your reality.

Alexander I guess you didn't understand his argument. Your wants are also the product of thoughts and other things originating in the unconscious, and follow the same regress as I already mentioned. I'm beginning to wonder if you even read the book.

Kurt Keefner Hi Paul, I think Harris' book makes dangerous unstated assumptions about the nature of consciousness, misinterprets the science and stacks the deck with loaded examples of "choice." I wrote about it here: Free Will: A Response to Sam Harris

back to top