The history of free will thought – the ancients other than Aristotle

Summary – This post presents the views of the ancients other than Aristotle. These philosophers cast doubt on, or turned away from, accepting free will. Atomists presented theories that strongly implied determinism, even if the implications of those theories were left to later thinkers. The Stoics emphasized fate and determinism. Members of both schools tried […]

The history of free will thought – the beginning – with wisdom for today

Summary: A previous post has already discussed the thoughts of the theologians regarding the topic of free will, and distinguished the defense provided here from their attempts. However, the theologians represent the middle of a history. When and where did discussions of free will first begin? What did the great philosophers think about the topic? […]

A unique defense of free will

Summary: Our culture presents a false alternative – either accept science and reason while rejecting free will, or defend free will on the basis of mysticism. These posts reject both sides of this alternative, and defend free will on the basis of science and reason. Can you identify why religion is no ally to a […]

Free will and the subconscious

Summary: Those who deny free will often reference the subconscious as a counter-argument to free will. How can man have free will if the subconscious continuously feeds him ideas he didn’t choose and over which he has no control? Previous posts have identified the need to edit and select from what the subconscious delivers. But […]

A good article on free will

Summary: Although the majority of intellectuals deny the existence of free will, a few have defended it. These posts have already referred extensively to Ayn Rand’s defense of free will as based on a primary choice to think or not. This post will review the work of a scientist who also provides a vigorous defense […]

Two views of the power of man

Summary: Two views of man’s worth and scope of choice are contrasted. One view holds that nature is immensely powerful and humbles man. The other holds that man, while of course subject to the laws of nature, has the power to reshape nature to valuable ends, achieving results nature could never accomplish. This power of […]

Critique of Sam Harris’ book Free Will – Conclusion – Anti-hierarchy

Summary: Harris repeatedly commits the fallacy of hierarchical inversion, which consists of denying a concept or idea on which one’s own argument rests. This fallacy is committed with respect to concepts such as “science,” and with respect to the very descriptions he provides of the experiments supposedly proving that free will is an illusion.

One […]

Critique of Sam Harris’ book Free Will – Part 2 – Sleepwalking

Summary: Harris mischaracterizes choice – describing it only in terms of the split second the choice is made instead of identifying all the thinking, planning and goal-setting preceding it. This narrow lens on free will is used by Harris to assert that man is essentially sleepwalking, making choices and taking actions for which there is […]

Critique of Sam Harris’ book Free Will – Part 1 – Man as Robot

Summary: The book Free Will, by Sam Harris (2012), rejects the validity of free will and proposes that man is an automaton whose every thought and action is determined by his brain neurology. In this and following posts, the fallacies in his argument will be identified, the most basic of which is an arbitrary assertion […]

Free will and mass terror

Summary: Totalitarian and terrorist movements make a direct, explicit attack on the idea of free will. Read how intimately connected the 9/11 Twin Towers attack and the issue of free will are, even moreso than you might think.

The previous post identified the kinds of mental patterns at the root of destructive and criminal behavior. […]