Author: Sam Harris
Type: Non-fiction, single subject
I read it: May 2012
Sam Harris, the wizard of clarity, brings yet another level argument to light. He claims that free will is an illusion, then explains how this need be neither frightening nor destructive (though many seem to think a lack of free will is both). Harris illustrates how the feeling of being in control of our autonomous selves is only that: a feeling.
“Thoughts and intentions simply arise in the mind. What else could they do?” While parts of the book are worth reading slowly because they are not quite so clean cut as this slice, Harris is at his best when using simple thought experiments which any reader can understand. Obviously the philosophy on the topic runs deep and there is not one particular ah-ha moment which sorts it all out, but Harris’ knack for getting plainly to the point advances the conversation significantly. After all, if what we mean by free will is only a feeling, then we all have something to say about it. After reading this slim volume, I (seem to) choose to agree with Harris that the dismissal of free will allows us to dismiss pride and shame, “and those were never much fun anyway.”