02 April 2012

Sam Harris on Free Will

If you haven't had time to read the book (it's only 60 pages or so), then you probably won't have time to watch this lecture either.

But you should do one or the other. Your choice.


TWF said...

I'd agree with about 97% of what he suggests, which happens to coincide with much of how I have put together the world, too.

But I think that he may possibly be overreaching a little bit. I would wager that there is a level consciousness which exists under what can be instantaneously articulated. That is to say that there is a consciousness which makes decisions before they "bubble up" to where we could express them in even the most basic terms, because that act of expression requires additional processing.

For example, if you were playing basketball, you would hinder yourself greatly if you had to express all of your desired actions in words before you carried them out.

However, I feel that all that stuff about environment and physical influences effectively manipulating and limiting your "choice" is right on the money.

Mark Gess said...

I agree with The Wise Fool. Arguing that, because your brain has come to a conclusion before your CONSCIOUS mind is aware that you've come to that conclusion is just a matter of semantics. Are we just the sum total of all our experiences and imputed knowledge? To a degree, yes. But, as Wise Fool posted, the idea that we have NO control over what our brain does is patently ridiculous. Deciding, just for the heck of it, that I am going to raise my arm above my head, for NO good reason, is PURELY an act of free will. I'm doing it right now, as I type this. Random acts like this are quite common. In fact, if there were no such thing as free will, there would BE no such thing as random acts. Just my $0.02...

Steve Wells said...

But, Mark, if raising your arm is a random act, then how is it an act of free will? Does a coin have a choice in whether it comes up heads or tails?