Monoplata's Reviews > Free Will

Free Will by Sam Harris
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's review
Aug 23, 2012

really liked it

I discovered that I am genetically and environmentally predisposed to really like this conspicuously thin volume. All of it is thought-provoking, and enjoyable, but the essence can be reduced to this excerpt: "You are not in control of your mind- because you, as a conscious agent, living at the mercy of other parts. You can do what you decide to do- but you cannot decide what you will decide to do."

I appreciated the author's candor and clarity, especially when mentioning (in spite of his previous works) that none of this is dependent upon a materialistic view- it is equally valid if our identity is defined not by neurology but by a "soul". Whatever determines if we will get the soul of a killer, or of a saint, determines and influences our destiny just as well as poor pre-natal care, good education, a blow to the head, supportive family, etc. And this deliberate, or random assignment of a certain soul over another, is a matter external to our "self"- thus obliterating the smallest logical chance of any fundamental "free will".

Despite the way this all sounds, the essay is far from gloomy. Harris spins it expertly to reveal that since willpower is itself likely a biological phenomenon, we can change ourselves by changing our environment. So that even if we are not ultimately in control, at least we can enjoy the ride...
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