Free Will and the Reality of Love

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Many readers continue to express confusion—even outrage and anguish—over my position on free will. Some are convinced that my view is self-contradictory. Others are persuaded of its truth but find the truth upsetting. They say that if cutting through the illusion of free will undermines hatred, it must undermine love as well. They worry about a world in which we view ourselves and other people as robots. I have heard from readers struggling with clinical depression who find that reading my book Free Will, or my blog articles on the topic, has only added to their troubles. Perhaps there is more to say…


First, I’d like to address the common charge that it is simply self-contradictory to talk about the illusoriness of free will while using words such as “choice,” “intention,” “decision,” “deliberation,” and “effort.” If free will is an illusion, it would seem, these qualities of mind must be illusory as well. In one sense, this is true. It would perhaps be more precise to speak of “apparent choices.” But the distinction isn’t generally relevant at the level of our experience. In terms of experience, there is no contradiction between truth and appearance. Even in the absence of free will, I find that I can speak of choices, intentions, and efforts without hedging.

Consider the present moment from the point of view of my conscious mind: I have decided to write this blog post, and I am now writing it. I almost didn’t write it, however. In fact, I went back and forth about it: I feel that I’ve said more or less everything I have to say on the topic of free will and now worry about repeating myself. I started the post, and then set it aside. But after several more emails came in, I realized that I might be able to clarify a few points. Did I choose to be affected in this way? No. Some readers were urging me to comment on depressing developments in “the Arab Spring.” Others wanted me to write about the practice of meditation. At first I ignored all these voices and went back to working on my next book. Eventually, however, I returned to this blog post. Was that a choice? Well, in a conventional sense, yes. But my experience of making the choice did not include an awareness of its actual causes. Subjectively speaking, it is an absolute mystery to me why I am writing this.

Written By: Sam Harris
continue to source article at samharris.org

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  1. Subjectively speaking, it is an absolute mystery to me why I am writing this.

    Sam, here’s a hint, its a big red banner at the top of your web site that says “Free Will is now Available: Get the Book”. Its actually kind of interesting that he doesn’t even mention promoting his book as a possible reason for the article. I think it shows how even the best of us aren’t always aware of all our intentions and as Trivers points out we are hard wired to deceive ourselves that we make choices for altruistic rather than selfish reasons.

    I’m sure he has a publicist and that publicist is encouraging him to promote the crap out of the book. BTW, I’m not begrudging people making money or promoting their work, I wish I had a book like that and if I did I would be promoting it as well. But I would like to think I would have enough self awareness to include that as part of the reasoning behind a decision to write an article about the topic of the book.

  2. I agree with Sam about hatred. When we accord the hated the excuses that we make for ourselves and our own behaviour, then hate becomes impossible. But about love, well, who cares…enjoy…

    But as it grows older

    So love grows colder

    And fades away

    Like the morning dew.

  3. I think love, the way Sam is describing it is more “fondness.” I know people get bent out of shape when science says “love is nothing but a chemical reaction” but that shouldn’t stop Sam from acknowledging love is not really much of a choice either. That too, is an illusion. We think we fall in love with somebody because of their attributes, or “enjoy their company” because of said attributes, but I’ve seen too much in my life to contradict that theory.

    I like thinking about it in terms of “don’t take things personally.” We tend to take the fact that someone loves us to mean that we’re loveable. But, when someone hates us, we don’t think of ourselves as hateable. Whether someone loves or hates us has to do with them, not us. It is nothing personal that someone either loves me or hates me. Therefore, it is quite easy for me to see that loving someone or hating them is essentially two sides of the very same coin. All in my head — and illusory at that.

  4. Why is the non-existence of free will controversial for anyone who accepts science? All particles that we know of and have ever observed obey the laws of quantum mechanics. The laws of quantum mechanics are well defined. They obey a wave function which is deterministic. We are simply bags of these particles arranged in a special way to give rise to consciousness. However, the laws of quantum machanics don’t suddenly stop working once consciousness arises.

    • There’s an easier resolution to the paradox of determinists talking about “choice” – the critics are using circular reasoning by assuming “choice” is free will based in the first place. Simply point out that the phenomenon of choice itself is a mechanism in its own right, not a supernatural ghost inhabiting a machine. Making decisions is what the brain evolved to do. “Choice” cannot be assumed to be separate from deterministic underpinnings merely because traditional language implies that it is.

      In reply to #4 by Axulus:

      Why is the non-existence of free will controversial for anyone who accepts science? All particles that we know of and have ever observed obey the laws of quantum mechanics. The laws of quantum mechanics are well defined. They obey a wave function which is deterministic. We are simply bags of the…

      I should think it was obvious. People set a lot of moralistic and political weight on certain ideas being true, if only because they’ve come to believe that deviating from those ideas can only be disastrous. Any contrary evidence is potentially subversive of something that seems to be working very well, so it has to go. Free will would merely be an interesting artefact of historical thought, were it not deeply wedded in most people’s minds with moral foundations. And since it seems to work, anything that threatens its basis is itself not just intellectually irresponsible but downright immoral. With such opposition, amoral science that doesn’t pack nearly as much emotional punch is at best a viable target for compartmentalization. People who accept the science are not necessarily more likely to like the results, if only because there are lots of reasons why they accept the science, and not all of them rely on keen critical thinking.

      • In reply to #7 by Zeuglodon:

        There’s an easier resolution to the paradox of determinists talking about “choice” – the critics are using circular reasoning by assuming “choice” is free will based in the first place. Simply point out that the phenomenon of choice itself is a mechanism in its own right, not a supernatural ghost inhabiting a machine. Making decisions is what the brain evolved to do. “Choice” cannot be assumed to be separate from deterministic underpinnings merely because traditional language implies that it is.

        It is always a strange paradox when theists claim that understanding the mechanism negates the process.

        It is also ironic that those who assert dualist “free will”, indulge in indoctrination which suppresses “free thought”!

    • In reply to #4 by Axulus:

      Why is the non-existence of free will controversial for anyone who accepts science?

      I have a hypothesis why that might be true. One of the interesting areas of work in cognitive psychology right now is on identifying cognitive “modules” pre-defined systems of reasoning that people hypothesize are hard wired into our genetic code. Some of the candidate modules include biology, morals, and physics. So for example the physics module would have encoded information about how objects react to gravity and force. You can do experiments with infants and you can see by the way their eyes move that they are surprised by computer simulations when objects do unexpected things.

      Another possible module is human agency. So ideas about our own intentions, desires, etc. those may be in some sense hard wired into our genes. If that is true it could be that we are in some sense hard wired to believe in free will, to believe that we can control the world and our own happiness as a result of our actions. When you think about it there seems to be obvious survival benefit in thinking that.

      Nothing that I’ve said says anything about whether free will actually exists. A lot of things we are hard wired to believe are true. But then again a lot aren’t.

      • In reply to #45 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #4 by Axulus:

        Why is the non-existence of free will controversial for anyone who accepts science?

        I have a hypothesis why that might be true. One of the interesting areas of work in cognitive psychology right now is on identifying cognitive “modules” pre-defined systems of reasoning th…

        I don’t agree with you about it being hard-wired, though I agree that a hard-wired way of thinking about people and moral agency was a foundation of the notion of free will. However, it seems to me that free will is a cultural construct rather than a universal idea, and not even found in all religions. There are Calvinistic versions of Christianity alone that stress the predetermined nature of things, and many Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism acknowledge a deterministic worldview.

        I think a more likely competing hypothesis, therefore, is that people have a tendency to treat people as different from physical objects (something a determinist could agree with), but that free will is an exaggeration of this tendency that is supplemented by culturally fleshed-out or invented ideas (something a determinist couldn’t agree with). I don’t think mere treating of people as different from other things is sufficient to result in free will because it doesn’t explain the widespread diversity of opinion across modern and ancient cultures and subcultures on the issue.

        • In reply to #51 by Zeuglodon:

          There are Calvinistic versions of Christianity alone that stress the predetermined nature of things, and many Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism acknowledge a deterministic worldview.

          Yeah, but they all tend to replace “free will” with “no free will” thereby failing to recognise any degree of indeterminacy, instead of just ditching the entire concept as a bad way of looking at our subjective human experience of freedom.

    • In reply to #4 by Axulus:

      Why is the non-existence of free will controversial for anyone who accepts science?

      There’s a science series in the U.S. with Morgan Freeman called ‘Through the Wormhole’. A recent episode was regarding the existence of freewill. Pretty much only scientists are interviewed. The first half of the episode showed scientists and evidence against it and the second half it interviewed scientists who believed we must have freewill. The first half had facts and research evidence and the second was pretty much just pragmatic and esthetic arguments. I believe there was even a comment alluding to what Red Dog mentioned regarding our need to believe we have it.

      Our whole social and legal structure is built upon the idea of moral agency. If you pull the pin of individual responsibility out of the moral hand grenade then the whole thing blows up. Anyway that’s the way I think a lot of people feel about. Even compatiblists redefine terms to make excuses for it.

    • Since people seem to like answering rhetorical questions:

      In reply to #4 by Axulus:

      Why is the non-existence of free will controversial for anyone who accepts science?

      Religion. “Free will” enables the conception of thought crime. Consider how we are commanded to both love and fear God.

  5. A choice is not an illusion. Let’s say I decide to buy a car and then want to decide on make and model. I have a lot of work to do researching the possibilities, extracting key features, imagining life with a fancier but more expensive choice, imagining life with a simpler cheaper choice. It make be my choice was a foregone conclusion, but they is no way I can make the decision without doing the work.

    Basically making a choice requires a computation, some work, even if the outcome could be predicted by an expert knowing my requirements.

    • In reply to #6 by Roedy:

      A choice is not an illusion. Let’s say I decide to buy a car and then want to decide on make and model. I have a lot of work to do…

      So you’ve done the work; you have agglomerated the relevant data into a form that facilitates choice. How do you actually make the choice? Perhaps you might be systematic by allocating weightings to features and multiplying them by scores for each model, but in that case how would you weight the features? One person might consider fuel consumption to be an important feature; another might value performance or colour more highly. If your weightings are determined by your predetermined requirements, then the process of ‘choice’ occurred in arriving at those requirements.

      I suggest that if you correctly identify the moment at which you actually made a choice, rather than followed a process, you will find that you did not really have a choice!

  6. “Eventually,however,I returned to this blog post.Was that a choice?Well in a conventional sense ,yes”

    It is a choice non the less in any sense.

    “but my experience of making the choice did not include an awareness of its actual causes”

    The most likely actual cause is the mental process of evaluating the merit of the options at Sam.s disposal,a) writing,b) not writing.

    “Subjectively speaking,it is an absolute mystery to my why I am writing this”

    It is more of a mystery to my that Sam did not know why he wrote the article.

  7. Disclaimer: I don’t know much about the Freewill/Determinism debate and invite being corrected. That said, isn’t it really a question of causation? Which is to say: there are three kinds of causation: proximate (right now), mediate (a while ago), and distant (a long time ago).

    Sam’s proximate cause for writing this article may have been prompts from visitors to his blog to do so. His mediate cause may have been to sell his book on Freewill. His distant cause may have been his initial interest in philosophy and writing for the public.

    For every action or thought that we have (shall I eat now or later; shall I get up or sit down; shall I scratch my nose or call that long-lost friend; shall I write that blog or go down the pub), we have an infinite number of proximate, mediate and distant causes.

    It could be anything from the annoying itch on the back of your ear all the way back to your birth, your ancestors’ births, and the birth of the universe. All these causes play some role in every thought and action that you perform — they determine, to a lesser or greater extent, the actions or thoughts or decisions that you make.

    How much control or freewill do you have over any of these causes?

  8. I have read a number of Sam’s essays on this topic. To me, they come across as handwaving, more the beginning of a idea than an exposition of it. The essays suggest why it might be true, not why it must be true. It needs a more direct explanation. It really needs to be expressed mathematically to be convincing.

    • In reply to #12 by Roedy:

      I have read a number of Sam’s essays on this topic. To me, they come across as handwaving, more the beginning of a idea than an exposition of it. The essays suggest why it might be true, not why it must be true. It needs a more direct explanation. It really needs to be expressed mathematically to be convincing.

      I am no neurologist or mathematician, but I would guess that if the state of a brain (including time-dependent parameters) is represented by Q, then the state a moment later is given by

      Q` = f(Q,R,S)

      where f is a function determined by the way the brain is ‘wired’ at that moment, R represents all random influences (if there are any), and S is the totality of all the inputs to the brain…

      Can you think of any variable that I have omitted from the right hand side? If you cannot, then there would seem to be no room for free will because, given values of Q, R, and S, there can only be one Q`.

      To view this from another perspective, if your present state of mind is Q, why would you want anything other than Q and S to influence Q`?

  9. I saw a presentation on free will at the British Humanist Association’s meeting in Leeds recently. It was interesting and, of course, highlighted the mechanical role that our brains take in initiating actions. However, at the end of all the articles, books, blogs etc. It seems to me that, since the world operates as though we have free will, that the study of free will is in line with RD’s view of Theology – it’s a non-subject.

    • In reply to #15 by stuhillman:

      since the world operates as though we have free will, that the study of free will is in line with RD’s view of Theology – it’s a non-subject.

      That is a good example of what I consider Atheist Fundamentalism. For you every intellectual question comes down to “can this help promote or mock religion?” If the answer is promote the thing is bad if the answer is mock the thing is good and if neither its irrelevant — a “non subject”. You evaluate everything based on your desire to attack religion.

      • Troll alert, Troll alert.
        Or,at least, an ad hominem attack from someone who has no idea who or what I am.

        In reply to #19 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #15 by stuhillman:

        since the world operates as though we have free will, that the study of free will is in line with RD’s view of Theology – it’s a non-subject.

        That is a good example of what I consider Atheist Fundamentalism. For you every intellectual question comes down to “can this…

      • In reply to #19 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #15 by stuhillman:

        [...]

        That is a good example of what I consider Atheist Fundamentalism. [...] You evaluate everything based on your desire to attack religion.

        Hmmm. Yes. Isn’t it interesting how some people read everything with a predetermined bias; always looking to read way more into something than is actually there. To read everything in the least favorable light. To ignore the major substance of what is written while inflating the importance of minor details. All so they can make their pet point? No irony there.

    • In reply to #15 by stuhillman:

      [...] at the end of all the articles, books, blogs etc. It seems to me that, since the world operates as though we have free will, that the study of free will is in line with RD’s view of Theology – it’s a non-subject.

      It is true that, even if free will is an illusion, it is an illusion we can only escape with enormous difficulty and in a limited way. This is partly because the only tool we have with which to study the phenomenon is our consciousness, which is hardwired for subjectivity. The perception of free will seems to come factory installed. It is also because the illusion is a damn good one! In most areas of our life we can act as though free will is real without causing enough dissonance to draw attention. In fact, the illusion is so good, and the presumption so ingrained, that we may often have no choice but to act as though free will is real (see what I did there?)

      However, it is always beneficial to refine our perception of reality into better alignment with objective truth. If in fact free will is illusory, pursuit of a better understanding of that fact would be anything but a non-subject. From what I have read on the subject we DO have adequate reasons to doubt whether the popular understanding of free will is real, and therefore to pursue the subject in hopes of better understanding.

      That is the difference between theology and inquiry into free will. Theologians may be brilliant and they can make extremely intricate, even brilliant displays of reasoning, but the entire field stems from the unsupported assumption that there is in fact a God about which we can reasonably speculate. If the first impetus for study is invalid THEN a field is ripe for dismissal.

      Besides, many of our social structures, especially our legal, ethical and moral structures, have evolved based on the supposition of true free will. If that supposition is wrong (even subtly so) it would behoove us to understand exactly how…if we have any interest in improving society.

      • In reply to #25 by BanJoIvie:

        It is true that, even if free will is an illusion, it is an illusion we can only escape with enormous difficulty and in a limited way.

        This is why I do not like describing “free will” as an illusion, because thereby we are acknowledging that “free will” at least exists subjectively. When I examine my own day to day subjective experience there is nothing which feels like anything I would describe as “free will”. My choices are determined by causality, my thinking processes are constrained by logic. Like Sam says, the illusion of “free will” is itself illusory.

          • In reply to #31 by groo:

            So, Free will is floating around…

            “Free will” is a causa sui, like “God”. People may believe they are experiencing it, but that’s just because they aren’t paying close enough attention to their own experience.

        • In reply to #30 by Peter Grant:

          In reply to #25 by BanJoIvie:

          Like Sam says, the illusion of “free will” is itself illusory.

          I believe the quality of the illusion can be different for different people and that the quality is mutable by ourselves with outside (cultural) help. Actors and sportsmen and women know that rehearsal of future actions can improve the confidence we can have in future outcomes. Well so too with any of us as most of our actions and action types are anticipated or imagined at some earlier time. And when the moment finally comes we can experience a “failure of will” at that crunch point when a mental clutter may confound smooth deliver or some external suggestion has hijacked us. In one very profound sense we can partake in a willful experience when we rehearse the execution of a desire. No new mechanism of causation of behaviours comes about but more often we could get to say that this (mooted) action is a better reflection of our desires, qualities and experience. It is an action more “owned” by our conscious selves because it has taken part in an evolutionary process where we have consciously observed a parade of alternative future actions vetoed and unconsciously iterated.

          Both love and religion, for all that religion may claim (and as you point out), relieve people of this enhanced ownership of actions.

          • In reply to #33 by phil rimmer:

            I believe the quality of the illusion can be different for different people and that the quality is mutable by ourselves with outside (cultural) help.

            If by illusion you mean the very real illusion we each have of subjective conscious experience, then I agree with all the rest. I don’t find that any conception of “free will” at all improves that experience, in fact being more consciously aware of the causes of my experience actually improves it.

          • In reply to #35 by Peter Grant:

            If by illusion you mean the very real illusion we each have of subjective conscious experience, then I agree

            Yep

            I don’t find that any conception of “free will” at all improves that experience

            “Free will” per se is meaningless. Doing something “of your own free will” is meaningful to the extent that it is understood to have you confirm full ownership of your actions free from external pressures or internal mental aberations that you feel are not representative of you.

            You can improve the level of ownership you have of your actions by rehearsing them more, helping you to carry through with less chance of deflection by non-you factors (your wife or your recent brain tumor for instance). Call it anything you like but it allows you to answer the “of your own free will” question more confidently.

            Free will IS entirely illusory. The range of experiences around it are variously different as are our levels of suggestibility and our levels of concern for our own intellectual integrity..

          • In reply to #36 by phil rimmer:

            Call it anything you like but it allows you to answer the “of your own free will” question more confidently.

            I like volition.

          • In reply to #37 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #36 by phil rimmer:

            I like volition.

            I think that very good. It identifies the right process without the loaded terms.

        • In reply to #30 by Peter Grant:

          This is why I do not like describing “free will” as an illusion,

          While I agree with your sentiment, I’m not sure I accept (or perhaps understand?) your semantic case against the term “illusion.” It seems to me to be the perfect term for the phenomenon as you describe it in #32

          People may believe they are experiencing it, but that’s just because they aren’t paying close enough attention to their own experience.

          How does “something one thinks they perceive due to insufficient examination” fall short of a decent working definition of “illusion”?

          because thereby we are acknowledging that “free will” at least exists subjectively.

          I guess I don’t see how the word “illusion” – as commonly understood – acknowledges any sort of existence, subjective or otherwise. You seem to be making a distinction I can’t quite grasp between something which “exists subjectively” and something which people “believe they are experiencing”. Do you propose a paradigm where an idea can be said to “exist”(subjectively) in some aether state, independent of believing minds? If so, I disagree (implies dualism). If not, I don’t follow you.

          • In reply to #43 by BanJoIvie:

            How does “something one thinks they perceive due to insufficient examination” fall short of a decent working definition of “illusion”?

            Illusions don’t disappear just because we realise they are illusory, our experience of them persists and requires an explanation. Take mirages for example.

          • In reply to #44 by Peter Grant:

            Illusions don’t disappear just because we realise they are illusory, our experience of them persists and requires an explanation. Take mirages for example.

            Ah, now I understand where you are coming from. I don’t think I share your concern, but at least I understand it.

            I agree that some illusions persist in our experience even when we know they are there, but that is not definitionally true; at least not in any of the dictionaries I just consulted. In common usage I haven’t noted the implication of subjective “permanence” which you attach to the term.

            For me, the term Illusion conjurs up a the image of a magician’s trick. I have definitely seen magician’s tricks that are transparent if one knows were to look.

          • In reply to #49 by BanJoIvie:

            For me, the term Illusion conjurs up a the image of a magician’s trick. I have definitely seen magician’s tricks that are transparent if one knows were to look.

            Yes “free will” is a lot more like a magician’s trick, many of which rely more on distraction than true illusion.

    • In reply to #16 by DHudson:

      I don’t understand how you can believe in an omnipotent intervening god and still believe that free will exists.

      How can free will be given to you if you are a part of a gods plan?

      freewill in gods plan is much like a foreskin….

  10. A lot of the comments on this article indicate that many of you haven’t read Sam’s book in question, Free Will, and so you haven’t quite grasped his argument.

    I strongly recommend reading the book, or check out some of the YouTube videos of his promotional talks for the book.

  11. Sure, determinism writes everything that is written on the blank slate of our minds. But the writing is not the slate itself, the very sense of self around which every influence of our environment gravitates, the idea of First Person Singular in every language . Freedom is not the ability to make a choice (randomness does that) ; freedom is the ability to make the right choice. The right choice for the blank slate, for first person singular, for our most important deterministic influence : ourselves.

  12. In reply to #6 by Roedy:

    A choice is not an illusion. Let’s say I decide to buy a car and then want to decide on make and model. I have a lot of work to do [...]

    But you have already made two decisions before you even start to do any work. The illusion of free will already happened before you started to make your “choice” of vehicle.

    Why did you “decide” to buy a car. Why did you “want” to engage in a rational process of research and option-weighing in order to “decide” on a make and model? Of course you can list reasons (a particularly futile gesture for a hypothetical. Of course I’m not asking you to make some up.) The point is that those reasons MAY in fact be after the fact rationalizations rather than the impetus for a “choice.”

    Say I am offered a refreshing beverage, and I am given a choice between coffee, tea, orange juice, or water. Am I truly free to make my own decision in this matter? If all we mean by “free will” is that no outside agent is compelling me in any direction, then probably yes (depending on the precise meaning of “outside” and “agent”.) However, when I make my uncoerced decision, I will probably consult my preference and choose which ever beverage sounds good to me at the moment.

    BUT, what made me prefer coffee right now over the other options? That preference merely arose into my consciousness unbidden. I had no choice in the matter at all. I might list a bunch of reasons why coffee may be preferable in the current circumstances, but the fact is, none of those entered in to the initial “decision”. Coffee simply sounded better.

    This is true in just about every aspect of thought. Ideas merely arise into our consciousness, the result of processes over which we have no control or even much understanding. We don’t “decide” what to think about next.

    I am free to chose what ever I want to chose, but I am not free to chose what I want…to want.

  13. I think Sam Harris said something along these lines once which I think swayed me towards his view of freewill (the specifics of this example are mine):

    Think of a band, any band. You are free to pick any band you have ever heard of. Now ask yourself if you picked The Travelling Wilburys? Why didn’t you? Because of all the bands you know of The Travelling Wilburys simply didn’t present itself to your conscious mind as a choice. It isn’t correct surely to say you were free to pick any band you know of, at best you were free to choice from a selection that some unknown process delivered on a conveyor belt to the front of your thoughts. The best I can see of all this is that my thoughts occur to me and I have nowhere to stand to be their cause.

  14. Free will and other such problems are so ignored in practice that i think sam harris battle is hopeless. No one cares. im free anyway to post this, unless you can prove it with some double blind experiment that i’m not. Hope you got the computational power to make the experience possible. Make a replica of me in the same state and see if some else comes out or not.

  15. In reply to #51 by Zeuglodon:

    I don’t agree with you about it being hard-wired, though I agree that a hard-wired way of thinking about people and moral agency was a foundation of the notion of free will. However, it seems to me that free will is a cultural construct rather than a universal idea, and not even found in all religions.

    i think we are pretty much in agreement. This is one of those questions where I think deconstructing the answer, what ideas come from culture, memes, etc. and which ones come from our genetic predispositions for certain mental models will be a very complex task.

    But I definitely agree a good portion of the western idea of free will is probably a side effect of the irrational and inconsistent ideas that abrahemic religions have been foisting on our culture for over two thousand years. When you have an omnipotent, omniscient, all good loving God and a world that sucks ass as much as this one does you have to do some fancy juggling.

    Actually, its one thing I wish Harris would emphasize more when he talks about this. If I were going to start a talk on Free Will I would start out by saying something like “where did humans ever get the crazy notion that somehow our actions not only are but need to be somehow independent of the rest of the universe? Where did we get the idea that somehow by force of some mysterious thing called “will” that we could remove ourselves from the laws of cause and effect that control everything else? Like a lot of crazy ideas that put humans apart and above the rest of the universe it came from religion”

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