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Thread: Free Will

  1. #1
    Enthusiast Pyro Mecha's Avatar

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    Apr 2008

    Free Will

    I just finished reading the book "Free Will" by Sam Harris, which states that free will is nothing but an illusion. After reading it, the concept makes sense, and I would say that I support it. If you think about it, every decision you make is based on other neurological and environmental factors in which you have no control over. You can't control what you like or dislike, or how you feel one day or another; it just happens. You are who you are thanks to events you have experienced and the way you were raised. You may be given the freedom to make any choice you want, but you have no control over how you prefer one choice over another.

    So my question to you is; Is free will an illusion, or do we really have full control over our actions?
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  2. #2
    Veteran Enthusiast
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    May 2006
    Midlands, UK

    Re: Free Will

    Sam Harris is brilliant in his work pertaining to theism and deism, but I'll disagree with him out of the gate on this one:

    A reductionist by definition removes the possibility for choice, and he's applying reductionist logic to past events, the only way his argument could be true is if he was able to demonstrate his theory in a formula applicable to present events, with 100% accuracy, predicting the future.

    Until that point, he's really just shoe-horning evidence to meet the argument surely?

  3. #3
    Senior Member

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    Jul 2008

    Re: Free Will

    I never really understood why people were so concerned about the free will concept. If you can decide whether or not you can pick a cup up, to turn a page, to turn a corner, then that's free will enough to be able to cope. Whether that decision was entirely your making doesn't really matter, because as far as you know, you've made it.

  4. #4
    Fresh Newbie Noah Haley's Avatar
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    May 2012

    Re: Free Will

    This is eerie. I agree with it at a certain extent.
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  5. #5
    Enthusiast Osprey's Avatar

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    Aug 2008
    New England

    Re: Free Will

    I didn't know Sam Harris had a third book. I'm reading "The Moral Landscape" now, and I agree with some of Harris's ideas, but don't like how he presents them. If you haven't read David Eagleman's books, I recommend them. "Incognito: The Secret Life of the Brain" gives information on the subject without being as biased and argumentative as Sam Harris, which I think is a much more interesting way of learning about the subject.

    Eagleman explains that the thoughts and reactions you have, have been in production for some time before you even experience them, and that it takes the brain about half of one second to process stimuli into something that you can hear/see/feel. It can react much faster than that, meaning that your brain sometimes controls your choices and movements before you even realize that anything has changed.

  6. #6
    Veteran Enthusiast Picto's Avatar

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    Oct 2006
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    Re: Free Will

    I've discussed this a lot with my friend Jake (Hazzystan on here) and from what I've read, all arguments that free will doesn't truly exist are fairly compelling. I don't know enough to have a definite opinion on it, but if we go from the assumption that free will DOESN'T exist and is merely an illusion; you can then ask yourself "does it really matter?". Not really. It doesn't prevent you from doing anything that that doesn't feel like free will.
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  7. #7
    Newbie icn_fr0z3nf1r3's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Mogadishu Somalia

    Re: Free Will

    You don't even have the choice to decide to do something you were conditioned to like (for example) or not to. Unless you assume cause and affect break down in the brain some how, Strong free will is completely ludicrous.


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