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#4732 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    #4732 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz The Nonduality Highlights http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights/ ... Dustin LindenSmith I recently
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      #4732 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz
       
      The Nonduality Highlights
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights/
       
       
       

       
       
      Dustin LindenSmith
       
      I recently finished my second, more careful reading of Sam Harris's great little book called “Free Will.” The topic seemed much less dense on my second reading of its scant 66 pages, although this is admittedly one of my first real engagements with a thorny philosophical topic such as this one.

      For those unfamiliar with Harris or his work, he's a Stanford philosophy grad and UCLA neuroscience Ph.D. who authored the amazing 2004 book, “The End of Faith,” and who co-founded a foundation in 2007 devoted to promoting science and secular values called Project Reason. In "Free Will," he lays out a cogent argument against the existence of free will in human beings; or to be more precise, he describes in objective, scientific (and subjective) terms why our apparent freedom of will is an illusion.

      A common response to this argument is that “if we have no free will, why do anything?” Or, “if we have no free will, where does moral responsibility and ethical behaviour come from?” I really enjoyed the following rejoinders to these kinds of arguments by Harris in Chapter 5, in which he reflects on his personal experience with losing his own belief in free will:

      “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. … 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. Just as one wouldn’t draw a lasting conclusion about oneself on the basis of a brief experience of indigestion, one needn’t do so on the basis of how one has thought or behaved for vast stretches of time in the past. 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. … Getting behind our conscious thoughts and feelings can allow us to steer a more intelligent course through our lives (while knowing, of course, that we are ultimately being steered)."

       
      Sam Harris's books are availabe at Amazon.com and are listed here:
       

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