Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sam Harris on Free Will

Free will is an illusion ... Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they  are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them.... (p. 5)

We are free to interpret and reinterpret the meanings of our lives ... [but this is not free will]. (p, 40)

Speaking from personal experience, I think that losing the sense of free will has only improved my ethics -by increasing my feelings of compassion and forgiveness, and diminishing my sense of entitlement to the fruits of my own good luck. (p.45)

Losing a belief in free will has not made me fatalistic- in fact, it has increased my feelings of freedom. My hopes, fears and neuroses seem less personal and indelible. There is no telling how much I might change in the future... A creative change of inputs to the system - learning new skills, forming new relationships, adopting new habits of attention- may radically transform one's life.

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