Skip to content
November 11, 2012 / JayMan

Sam Harris on free will

Here is an excellent talk by Sam Harris on the non-existence of free will, as discussed in his book Free Will:

This is an excellent summation of why free will does not exist, and why our perception of it is an illusion, as I’ve discussed before.

There is one point of exception I’d take with his view, about the rationality of hatred and the desire for vengeance. An irrational burning desire for retribution against transgressors—and, more importantly, clear demonstration of the willingness to carry this out—is itself an extra deterrent for would be transgressors. I mean, who are you more likely to offend, someone who will coolly weigh the appropriate punishment and exact whatever limited form of reparation they believe is due, or someone who would unrelentingly hunt you and anyone you care about down? As well, hatred motivates one to confront and destroy or at least neutralize threats. That’s not to say that these aggressive responses are at all good for society or civilization, but they do have some logic behind them.

That said, a more utilitarian, pragmatic view of crime and punishment is called for. Sure, would-be criminals need to have the knowledge that their crimes will be punished, otherwise the deterrent effect is undercut, but the reality of the situation is that people vary in their ability to respond to the deterrents we’ve put in place, and we need to recognize that if we want to elicit the desired behaviors from people. Indeed, this works with a lot of things, and this is the fundamental purpose of all ideology and political thought: how to get people to act in the ways we want them to act.

Because of the very non-existence of free will, I don’t expect most people who read this to understand, but it’s important to realize that people are limited in their range of behaviors and responses to stimuli. This especially evident when I hear people throw out the word “addiction” in response to some discovery from neuroscience that illustrates compulsive behavior—as if those who speak of the addicted are somehow less compelled to behave the way they behave. I will expand on this point in a future post.

In any case, the non-existence of free will is why classic tragedy works so well, and why it has been with us since the time of Sophocles: it really is a sound reflection of the human condition. This human tragedy and the problem of crime and the criminal minded described by Harris is  captured well by this scene from The Dark Knight:

About these ads

47 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. norek / Nov 11 2012 1:33 PM

    Isn’t free will necessary for validity of science? How can you perform free experiments, when you in fact must make experiment in the way that law of nature tells you to do? You can’t even interpet results. You just do what you must do, so in the end it’s just laws of nature who are discovering laws of nature?

    • JayMan / Nov 11 2012 1:54 PM

      Determinism (even quantum determinism as is actually the case, which is only probabilistically deterministic) doesn’t preclude the existence of choice or thought. The acts of thinking and learning we go through in our everyday lives are real, even if those thoughts are the product of the world and not “the other way around”, so to speak.

  2. asdf / Nov 11 2012 10:27 PM

    I hate to go back to old territory, but…

    If you give up on free will you give up on all meaning. Who gives a fuck about utilitarianism or any other principle if there is no free will? If you did any serious philosophy (and I know from our conversations you don’t) you’d realize what a non starter determinism is for any philosophical system.

    But we’ve been down this road. Most of your misunderstandings about the world will always come back to bad first principals.

    • Denise / Sep 27 2013 10:03 PM

      The philosophical system has primacy over physical reality? I don’t think so.

    • JayMan / Sep 27 2013 10:08 PM

      @Denise:

      Hmmm… I don’t follow…

    • Denise / Sep 29 2013 4:14 AM

      “If you give up on free will you give up on all meaning.” Kind of like how if you give up God then you give up all meaning. But God doesn’t exist just because we created a philosophical system that requires him to exist.

      I’m interested in free will as a scientific question. What the implications are for philosophers is irrelevant to me.

    • JayMan / Sep 29 2013 7:06 AM

      @Denise:

      Great point!

  3. szopeno / Nov 12 2012 6:10 AM

    This does not matter whether “Free will”, as defined by being to able to choose freely without influence of hard wiring of your brain, exist. It simply is irrevelant. We must act as IF it exists. Because brain structure may be changed also by peoples behavior and the choices they do (e.g. brains of taxi drivers changed as function of the time they spent as the taxi drivers).
    The whole presentation Sam Harris makes no sense whatsoever.

    Seems that you, Jayman, seem to understand that too by saying that ” would-be criminals need to have the knowledge that their crimes will be punished, otherwise the deterrent effect is undercut”, despite saying later totally irrevelant “people vary in their ability to respond to the deterrents we’ve put in place, and we need to recognize that if we want to elicit the desired behaviors from people. “. You can’t behave properly according to our principles, because you are hardwired? Sorry. Your brain makes you kill people, and since you have no free will, you cannot be really responsible? I don’t care.

    Utilitarian principles I find morally disgusting and immoral, in addition.

    • JayMan / Nov 12 2012 1:31 PM

      This does not matter whether “Free will”, as defined by being to able to choose freely without influence of hard wiring of your brain, exist. It simply is irrevelant. We must act as IF it exists.

      The non-existence of free will does not mean the inability to respond to external conditions, including the dis-incentive towards crime presented by punishment.

      Because brain structure may be changed also by peoples behavior and the choices they do (e.g. brains of taxi drivers changed as function of the time they spent as the taxi drivers).

      This is not under dispute, nor is free will required for this to happen.

      You can’t behave properly according to our principles, because you are hardwired? Sorry.

      That’s not what I said. Although some people are much less capable of doing so than others.

      Your brain makes you kill people, and since you have no free will, you cannot be really responsible? I don’t care.

      The purpose of punishment is to place incentives to get people to behave rationally. Just because brains aren’t “free” doesn’t mean that they are stuck doing the sames things regardless of the outside circumstances. These circumstances are part of the environment that (probabilistically) determines how brains behave.

      I think the important takeaway is to remember that brains are computers. Like computers, they generate output in response to input. The “inputs” influence the output. But, like computers, brains are limited in the range of output that they can generate in response to inputs, hence, why the ability to influence behavior in necessarily limited.

  4. lukelea (@lukelea) / Nov 12 2012 5:47 PM

    Here’s a pretty good discussion of free will, believe it or not:

    http://tinyurl.com/bgcars5

    • JayMan / Nov 13 2012 9:28 AM

      Interesting little video, and interesting presenter! :)

      With respect to free will, she’s fairly spot on.

      Of course, she’s a bit wonky on the racial part, because she apparently denies the importance of heredity.

  5. lukelea (@lukelea) / Nov 12 2012 5:56 PM

    Same woman discusses free will in a somewhat larger context, thus proving that hotness and brains are not mutually exclusive:

  6. lukelea (@lukelea) / Nov 12 2012 6:58 PM

    Predestination was a central idea of Calvinism, a highly influential Christian sect. Clearly they did not believe in free will. Also, if you believe you will suffer if, say, you are cruel to others, quite apart from any punishment your fellow human beings might be able to administer, then clearly that belief, however ill founded, will have a deterrent effect. Thus fear of God can be a force for good, depending on your conception of God: if you believe that God is just, that with what measure you meet, it shall be meeted unto you, that there is mercy for the merciful, forgiveness for the forgiving — if you believe these things then obviously those beliefs, even if unfounded or false, can have a good effect. It all come down to your conception of God. There are many conceptions of God in the Bible, which, after all, is not a book but rather a collection of texts, so this should hardly be surprising. The notion of an omnipotent, omniscient being is only one of them, not necessarily the most influential — in fact I would argue that it is mainly the conception of theologians, not ordinary believers.

    As for my personal belief, the most I can say is that pleasure and pain may be correlative phenomenon in such a way that there is a kind of rough justice over the course of your life. Pope describes this in his Essay on Man. If you believe there may conceivably be such a symmetry — and it would have to be based in biology and neuroscience (about which we know little) — then I submit that that possibility is the functional equivalent of the idea of a just God.

    Obviously I was born with a religious temperament, but I am also committed to an empirical view of reality. It’s just that there are a lot more possibilities than many atheists can imagine. Not that I think there is anything wrong with being an atheist, certainly not one like Sam Harris. He said nothing with which I disagreed.

    • asdf / Nov 12 2012 10:13 PM

      Calvinist are nuts, their theology is garbage. And it’s led to a lot of evil in the world. Modern leftism is an offshoot of their puritan cousins.

      What’s wrong with being an atheist is that by definition atheism = nihilism = evil. Thankfully being a complete atheist is impossible, it would imply non existence itself. So all we get are atheist hypocrites who say they believe in something they can’t possibly believe. It’s unfortunate for their souls but I suppose it beat the alternative of authentic atheists.

  7. lukelea (@lukelea) / Nov 12 2012 7:02 PM

    You can’t set God up as a straw man. Or, rather, you shouldn’t: it is a cheap way of winning an argument. You could just as easily condemn the entire human race on the basis of the worst examples in history.

  8. szopeno / Nov 13 2012 3:36 AM

    @Jayman

    The purpose of punishment is to place incentives to get people to behave rationally.

    It’s not. It’s only one of purposes. Another is to satisfy the justice.

    Anyway, with free will it’s like with the responsibility: If you have no free will, then how you can claim responsibility (hm.. somehow this argument sounds weaker in English than in my native Polish…)? Someone without free will can’t be held responsible for anything, not just crimes, anything.

    And if you can’t, then how you can claim moral grounds for paying for the work, for getting credit for hard work, for ownership etc? All those rights would have to be also be based on utilitarian grounds, i.e. you don’t get paid because you did something and you deserve this, but because it will be an incentive for others to work.

    PS: I know that you may claim that I am hardwired to think that way, but again, that doesn’t change much the argument.

    • JayMan / Nov 13 2012 9:14 AM
      The purpose of punishment is to place incentives to get people to behave rationally.

      It’s not. It’s only one of purposes. Another is to satisfy the justice.

      It is a purpose, and is perhaps the primary purpose of punishment for lawbreakers. The need for vengeance, codified in civilized societies as the need for justice, is itself something that evolved to also serve as a deterrent against committing transgressions against society.

      Anyway, with free will it’s like with the responsibility: If you have no free will, then how you can claim responsibility (hm.. somehow this argument sounds weaker in English than in my native Polish…)? Someone without free will can’t be held responsible for anything, not just crimes, anything.

      One of the points of Harris’s talk, and one of the finer points that even he doesn’t expect most people to understand, is that societal responsibility is distinct from and ultimately doesn’t depend on physical responsibility. None of are truly “responsible” for anything we do, because we are physical systems and what we do is the product of the physics in that system. However, the concept of societal responsibility is something different—even if most people who execute it are unaware of this. The notion that we will hold you “responsible” for your actions ultimately is to affect the mental calculus that goes into behavior, since knowledge of the consequences is something the brain must take into account when making its decision.

      PS: I know that you may claim that I am hardwired to think that way, but again, that doesn’t change much the argument.

      Actually, that is quite likely the case! :)

    • szopen / Nov 14 2012 5:28 AM

      Jayman, I can’t re-listen to harris points, don’t know why – but i can’t install anything on laptop I am using now to fix this problem. I am searching for text transcirpt of harris points. Maybe my misunderstanding is really just result of missing some points of harris speech. After all, I am not native speaker, and you english speakers quite often have this awful tendency to speak fast and in unintelligible way :)
      Because it seems to me that Harris is making his own version of free willl and responsibility, which is somehow different from definitions I’ve read in past.

      But again this is means, that I have no inherent “moral rights” to property, right? If this”societal responsibility” is meaning that responsibility is simply something resulting from being part of society…

      It means that such rights are merely societal constructs, which can be uphold because they are good for a society. In other words, it’s not that society MUST give me this right not because it is good for society, but because it is moral – it is society gives me those rights, because it is good for a society.

    • JayMan / Nov 14 2012 12:08 PM

      Because it seems to me that Harris is making his own version of free willl and responsibility, which is somehow different from definitions I’ve read in past.

      But again this is means, that I have no inherent “moral rights” to property, right? If this”societal responsibility” is meaning that responsibility is simply something resulting from being part of society…

      It means that such rights are merely societal constructs, which can be uphold because they are good for a society. In other words, it’s not that society MUST give me this right not because it is good for society, but because it is moral – it is society gives me those rights, because it is good for a society.

      Bingo! All morals are social constructs, and that’s they key point that asdf is missing in his flawed philosophical arguments for God. But, the other key point he misses, and what makes morals and ethics indispensable, is that society is the only option we’ve got. Unless one plans to live life as hermit, one must be part of a society, and society can’t exist without some sort of rules on how to treat one another.

      In other words, it’s not that society MUST give me this right not because it is good for society, but because it is moral – it is society gives me those rights, because it is good for a society.

      The belief that morals are eternal truths that are written in the stars—wrong as it is—serves its purpose well. Because we can’t help but be part of a society, and that society must have rules of “proper” behavior, those morals might as well be written in the heavens.

  9. szopeno / Nov 13 2012 3:39 AM

    @asdf
    I don’t get your argument. I am atheist and I find no reason to associate the belief in God with belief in some other non-rationally explained facts, like e.g. existence of good and evil. Unless you will redefine atheism to mean “believe only in rational things”, that is: to define atheism the same as materialism.

    • asdf / Nov 13 2012 7:56 AM

      Yes, I am equating atheism with materialism. Materialism is by defintion nihilism.

      If you reject materialism you need to accept some kind of spiritualism, free will, and an objective good (which implies a certain kind of God). However, I agree that the details are a lot less certain to us then any one religion claims. For instance I don’t really take much of a stance on reincarnation vs one life. However, these questions are all infinetely less important then the original question of materialism vs spiritualism.

  10. Brian Bolsh / Nov 13 2012 4:40 AM

    He’s right. But I think he was born too late. He, Christopher Hitchens & Co. have been much happier in the Cheka or NKVD, executing and torturing non-believers. Then again, the way things are going, he might get a chance for some non-freely-willed fun in the future anyway.

  11. szopeno / Nov 13 2012 8:46 AM

    @asdf
    Not really. I am not believing in any spirits or gods. Arguing that I should believe in spiritual beings just because i believe in distinction between evil and good is just like arguing that I shouldn’t believe in existence of colours, or in love, or in anything. I cannot understand how you can equate materialism and nihilism.

    Simply put, any set of beliefs at their core has some kind of axioms, which are taken as given, and can’t be proven. There is no system of beliefs without some axioms, though axioms in one system may be provable in another system.

    My atheist set of beliefs also assume some axioms, I just take them for granted, and I feel no urge to prove them, because they are, well, axioms. People who seem to be bewildered by that seem not to understand that their set of beliefs have also some unprovable axioms at the core, and they never felt an urge to prove that those axioms are “right” (though most people don’t even know wht their axioms are, even if they have – it’s just judgmental, it’s statement of the fact).

    • asdf / Nov 13 2012 10:59 AM

      “Arguing that I should believe in spiritual beings just because i believe in distinction between evil and good is just like arguing that I shouldn’t believe in existence of colours, or in love, or in anything”

      True materialism is the void. The absence of God is nothingness itself. Non-existance.

      “I cannot understand how you can equate materialism and nihilism.”

      I’ve got dozens of books for you if you want.

      “Simply put, any set of beliefs at their core has some kind of axioms, which are taken as given, and can’t be proven.”

      Duh. Everything must begin with faith.

      “My atheist set of beliefs also assume some axioms, I just take them for granted, and I feel no urge to prove them, because they are, well, axioms.”

      If you go back to your core atheist axioms and take them to their logical conclusions you end with nihilism.

      The closest thing to an atheist taking his ideas seriously is the person who, upon seeing “proof” the non-existance of God, killed himself. This is the only rational reaction to such a belief. Of course I believe true 100% atheism is impossible (as it would mean non-existance itself), but this is the closest thing to an honest atheist.

      “With God’s existence disproved, finally, there is nothing left for me to do”, Roswell said in his brief suicide note.

    • szopen / Nov 14 2012 5:01 AM

      asdf, seems to me you don’t get it. I could admit that everything beings with a faith, if you insist on call it that – and it does not matter whether you start with axioms like “there is God” and “category of >good< is decided by God" (that's TWO different axioms, because you had to believe not only in God, but also you must believe that if God decides that something is Good, then this is indeed the objective good). Or you can start with belief "you can categorize things into good and bad".

      Seems to me you have created your own version of what atheism is. Absence of God is just absence of God (s), nothingmore and less. It's like if I don't believe in dwarves, then it means, that I am nihilist, since someone else argues that dwarfs (or fairies) are necessary to being able to decide between Good and Bad). It's like arguing that because we all have category of green and red, then those categories must be created by God, and if I don't believe in God, then I have to conclude that colors do not exist. They do exist, and it is possibly to create objective criteria, what would be called "green" and "red", which could be easily applied by everyone. Existence of God is not just unnecessary,

      Now, here are some of my axioms:
      "There is possibility of dividing actions into good and bad"
      "I want to be good man"
      "good man must do only good actions"
      Now, you have those axioms too, even if you don't realise them. How's that the existence of God is necessary for me, and without it I end up with nihilism? Nihilism is that the life has no purpose, and that morality is subjective. I believe that life has a purpose, and this purpose is having a good life, that is, good in moral sense. I believe that morality is no subjective, no more than "green" is subjective.

    • asdf / Nov 14 2012 8:37 AM

      I disagree. I used to think the way you do because I never thought about it deeply enough, but if you really study this stuff and take it to its natural conclusion you can’t have “good” and “bad” without God. Presented with the evidence I found the conclusion undeniable.

      I don’t expect to convince you with a blog post though. It took mountains of study, books, and life experience to finally arrive at the conclusion. With luck you will come to the same conclusion in time. It is the inevitable result of following your line of reasoning to its natural conclusion unhindered by pride.

    • JayMan / Nov 14 2012 12:13 PM

      I used to think the way you do because I never thought about it deeply enough, but if you really study this stuff and take it to its natural conclusion you can’t have “good” and “bad” without God. Presented with the evidence I found the conclusion undeniable.

      You most certainly can; see my post to szopen. You just can’t have “good” and “bad” existing as eternal truths onto themselves—in the sense that say space or time exist—without God or some other deity or “supernatural” force. But, that’s not necessary. However, if your mind needs it to be that way, that’s fine.

    • asdf / Nov 14 2012 1:09 PM

      “But, that’s not necessary”

      I disagree. I think if you really thought this through you’ld come to the same conclusion. I do believe in inherint objective “truth”. It’s knowability is another question, but I believe evidence suggests it exists. And if it exists your entire (nihilistic) idea that all things are subjective constructs falls apart.

    • JayMan / Nov 14 2012 1:23 PM

      I do believe in inherint objective “truth”.

      So do I:

      Shut up and calculate | Max Tegmark.

      Math is the one thing that persists no matter what your “axioms” are.

    • asdf / Nov 14 2012 2:05 PM

      Alright, I believe in non-trival objective truth. I.E. Objective moral truth. Math is neither “good” nor “evil”.

    • szopen / Nov 15 2012 3:31 AM

      @asdf
      So, you believe good and bad because of God – in OTOH, good is what God decides is good. THat means you have to believe in “i know what God said is true” (i OTW, e.g. you believe in bible, even though you cannot know). You can never rationally decide whether the God you are believe in is the same God which is good God, who is objective actor setting what is good or not.
      Obviously, “good” may exist as objective, eternal category, without need of God. I disagree with Jayman. Not good as some entity, but simply “category of good”. It’s like arguing that in order to decide whether God exist and is good etc you need an objective external actor, who can decide objectively whether God exists and whether it is good. I find no difference between believing into God and into existence of objective good.

      Now, whether we could determine whether what we feel is “good” is indeed good, is a different matter.
      Because I am hardwired that way, of course I have no choice than to believe that my intuition are correct and superior to any other’s intuition.

    • asdf / Nov 15 2012 7:46 AM

      “So, you believe good and bad because of God”

      Causality is a little silly when you talk of God. However, if you must know I came to it from the reverse. Once I accepted that there was a “good” and “evil” then the existance of God was a given.

      “i know what God said is true”

      Knowledge of God’s will is a totally different question. I don’t believe human’s are capable of fully knowing God’s will. And I don’t ascribe to any one religion as having 100% truth. For logistical/practical purposes I do attend one church, but my mind is very open on the matter and I could always change churches. Perhaps the longer I’m a practicing man of faith I will develop stronger opinions on the different religions or doctrines.

      I’m skeptical of “revealed truth” like the Bible and other holy books, but I don’t totally write them off either.

      “I find no difference between believing into God and into existence of objective good.”

      Then I charge that you simply haven’t thought this through. I spent most of my life like Jayman, believing everything was subjective shit we made up. Once I came to the conclusion that objective morality did exist the path to God was inevitable.

      “Now, whether we could determine whether what we feel is “good” is indeed good, is a different matter.”

      Indeed.

      “Because I am hardwired that way, of course I have no choice than to believe that my intuition are correct and superior to any other’s intuition.”

      Or you could wake up every day mixing experience, intuition, advice, tradition, reason, and any number of other sources to try your best to figure out God’s plan. He’s a pretty merciful God; he is mostly interested in the effort rather then some objective measure of success.

    • szopen / Nov 16 2012 5:37 AM

      asdf, but once again, there is no need for God to exist, in order to “good” to exist. You either take as granted the existence of God, and his existence does not need explanation, or you take for granted existence of good without need of explanation.
      Not to mention that you already said that if you assume God exists, this is good God, and it what he decides is good and evil, it does not change YOUR situation, as you
      1) can’t know for sure whether what you think is good is the same as what is good, as decided by God
      2) if you are christian, you can’t be sure that christian God is the same as this hypothethical good God
      Your situation is exactly the same as mine, except that I believe that there is objective good, even though i may not be possible to find out what this good is, while you believe that there is God which decides what is good, while you may not be able to find out what this good is.

      Give me a try and convince me, that good cannot exist without God. I bet I will find out you have some hidden assumption which I simply do not share.

    • asdf / Nov 16 2012 10:53 AM

      “there is no need for God to exist, in order to “good” to exist.”

      I don’t know how many times I have to say this is wrong. The arguments that convince me of that thesis take a long time to develop, you’d just have to read the texts on your own.

    • szopeno / Nov 17 2012 4:03 AM

      I read arguments that you need “objective” observer to decide, what is “objectively” good or bad. I argue this argument is wrong, because if “good” is objective in itself, then every observer will simply come to the same conclusion, what is good and what is wrong. Just as gravity as a law exists no matter whether there is any observer (indeed, absent any mass, the law still objectively exist).
      Ok, EOT from me.

    • JayMan / Nov 17 2012 10:07 AM

      Precisely, and this is why there is no “objective” morality.

    • asdf / Nov 18 2012 2:28 PM

      szopeno,

      This is all word games. I don’t know if you’ve really thought about what “God” means. If you had your objection is silly. Its like the childhood Sunday school version of God as a dude with the white robes and everything.

      Jayman,

      It’s a little hard to understand who and what your replying to.

    • JayMan / Nov 18 2012 3:29 PM

      @asdf:

      My response was to this, by szopeno:

      I read arguments that you need “objective” observer to decide, what is “objectively” good or bad. I argue this argument is wrong, because if “good” is objective in itself, then every observer will simply come to the same conclusion, what is good and what is wrong. Just as gravity as a law exists no matter whether there is any observer (indeed, absent any mass, the law still objectively exist).

      This is precisely why “objective” morality does not exist.

    • asdf / Nov 18 2012 6:34 PM

      I don’t even know where to start with you Jay. At least with szopeno he is just confused. He already accepts an objective morality (if I’m reading him right). He needs simply get from there to God, which is a smaller step.

      You reject objective morality. I understand how difficult this is because I did so too for a long time. I can’t offer a ready made answer I expect you to accept. Not because it doesn’t exist, but because its rejection has roots in your own pride and is thus resistant to all argument.

      Of the many things that did it the most intellectual was the discovery that subjective morality = nihilism and that nihilism is false. If there is no objective meaning then there is no meaning at all. And I have reason to reject nihilism. I think the devil’s best trick is in convincing people that there is any difference whatsoever between subjective morality and no morality at all (nihilism). That’s worked because we are prideful creatures, and I know you aren’t going to accept arguments to the contrary so long as pride is at the core of your heart.

    • szopeno / Nov 19 2012 2:52 AM

      But if your argument is that objective morality needs an objective being to decide, what IS objective morality, then even assuming this argument is right (which is not) it is not argument for God’s existence. The objective “observer” does not have to be good; does not have to be omnipotent; does not have to be wiseable. Heck, it does not even have to be conscientious – it can be just an “oracle” which, is supported by questions in specific format, can answer whether it is objectively good or evil.
      And of course, objective morality does not require objective observers, though I agree that subjective observers are simply unable to determine 100% sure whether something is objectively good or bad.

    • asdf / Nov 19 2012 11:32 PM

      szopeno,

      I think you are getting rather tripped up with this whole “observer” idea. Some dude in white robes that has an essence similar to our own experience of such a thing.

      “The objective “observer” does not have to be good; does not have to be omnipotent; does not have to be wiseable.”

      I think it does, but that is a subject for a lot more then a blog comment.

      “objective morality does not require objective observers”

      Again I don’t like this “observer” analogy, but it does require God.

  12. Curious Observer / Nov 13 2012 3:09 PM

    While I agree with Harris on thenonexistence of free will, it actually doesn’t surprise me that many (most?) people might suffer a nervous breakdown, or a deep depression, as a result of ceasing to believe in it. I’m reminded of a recurrent theme from HP Lovecraft, of the character whose mind is destroyed or warped by learning too much about the universe, glimpsing truths that human beings weren’t meant to be aware of. There is an element of cosmic horror in the realization that our most basic assumption about ourselves is false.

  13. Fake Herzog / Nov 19 2012 11:02 PM

    asdf,

    The best way for Jayman to “cure” himself of his delusions about free will and God is to hang out at Ed Feser’s blog:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/

    I’m quite sure he’s dealt with the topic of free will, even if only in passing.

Trackbacks

  1. All Human Behavioral Traits are Heritable « JayMan's Blog
  2. Me… « JayMan's Blog
  3. No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why | JayMan's Blog
  4. A Quick Note on Heritability and Changeability, Courteasy “misdreavus” | JayMan's Blog

Comments are welcome and encouraged. Comments DO NOT require name or email. Your very first comment must be approved by me. Be civil and respectful. NO personal attacks against myself or another commenter. Also, NO sock puppetry. If you assert a claim, please be prepared to support it with evidence upon request. Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 948 other followers

%d bloggers like this: