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- hatefulatheist said: I love Sam Harris personally but I have to admit this topic of his is one of the strangest to me especially since he seems to contradict himself so much within it.
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- doubtingmarcus posted this
It’s only fitting the inaugural post in this series comes from the musings of Sam Harris. Many have already challenged Harris on free will who is, as the phrase goes, often wrong but never in doubt. This is perhaps the most dangerous of all mindsets but I digress before I begin.
Harris’ thoughts on free will in his creatively titled book on the topic, Free Will, often amounts to little more than shouting down the silliest person in the room and then declaring victory. While he declares all forms of free will nonexistent he spends the overwhelming majority of his time on the obviously unworkable notion of libertarian free will, which requires agents to be able to act independently of causality.
I agree with Harris’ repeated assertion that libertarian free will is an illusion, or more an aptly an incoherent concept. However to dismiss libertarian free will doesn’t disprove all notions free will, of which there are many. To argue otherwise is like arguing against strict majority rule democracy, dismiss it as untenable and then declaring “democracy is untenable.” Once you move away from the notion of magical free will that gives agents contra-causal abilities which are independent of physics, there’s far less reason to dismiss free will (indeed I don’t believe there is good reason to do so).
What a pseudo-philosopher Harris is - thoughtful circumspection is such a glaring difference between your essay and any of the lectures or essays I’ve hear/read of him. I won’t read his books. Harris is a cipher for a sick society. What is more disturbing is the acclaim or popularity of him in somewhat intellectual circles. His examples used are so toxic and gruesome - he could just as easily explain the position theoretically as choosing a coke or pepsi, but he chooses homicide cases - sophomorically guiding the reader for walks in the murder’s shoes. He is so phony - the latest e.g “while it is sad to see an old man repeatedly punched in the face…” as a lead in to some vacuous supercilious “revelation”, in his blog about martial arts. He is a violent nihilist. It is a disservice to our brains to read Harris. A philosophy degree in neuroscience is such a joke in his hands - gasoline and a match.
Harris’ popularity is the result of people not wanting to do philosophy courses because of the reading and wanting something “practical”, when they finally get around to wanting to know about philosophy and politics through the current scene violent fools like Harris set the table. And its not because of his interest in martial arts I regard him a nonsensically hostile - its his stylings and examples in his philosophical-political arguments. That that dimension goes generally overlooked by people is symptomatic to me of a low grade tolerance of needless hostility in a field.