Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some Preliminary Thoughts on Sam Harris's Ebook Lying

I'm reading Sam Harris's short ebook, Free Will, in which makes a case against its existence. I'm about 1/4 way through and a struggling to see something in his argument.

Like with his ebook, Lying, I find myself disagreeing right from the outset with the reasoning. But even though I disagree with Harris, as so far I do, I welcome his books and arguments and enjoy reading and thinking about him

His virtue, or rather one of them, is that he engages great themes in an entirely accessible way, making his thesis clear and then arguing for it in plain spoken and clear terms. You don't have to be an academic philosopher or an academic to get with Harris. So his books are great instances of public reasoning in a very good sense.

If anyone wants to bat around Harris's argument, I'd be happy to.

Part of my beef with it is so far that to deny free will because:

1. we don't have dominion over the brain processes and events in our experience informing them;

2. and because what we do can be mapped as interior processes before we do it;

is to reduce mind and choice to some of their constituents and thus reduce the whole to the part and is thus to embrace a denuded conception of free will.

As well, it's an odd argument that is so intensely untrue to our essential experience and conception of ourselves. Not for one minute does Harris, nor do any of us, in his gut and his true mind believe that he doesn't have free will and doesn't exercise choice.

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