A BELIEF IN FREE WILL touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.John Horgan, who writes the Cross Check blog for Scientific American, has had an ongoing intellectual dispute with Harris's ideas, and this new book is no exception. I also disagree with Harris on a lot of the same issues, so I thoroughly enjoyed this column. Too bad he didn't actually read the book - he's responding mostly to Harris's previous arguments in a talk on free will at Cal Tech.
In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.
Horgan's key point:
With this I am in total agreement.Just because I don’t have absolute freedom doesn’t mean I have no freedom at all. Saying that free will doesn’t exist because it isn’t absolutely free is like saying truth doesn’t exist because we can’t achieve absolute, perfect knowledge.
About the Author: Every week, John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A former staff writer at Scientific American, he is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's Books, January 2012).