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 […]

Intelligence – a learnable skill

Summary: Intelligence is viewed by most people as a fixed quantity, determined by genes and unchangeable. What if that isn’t true? What if, like any complex set of skills (such as swimming or driving), people can learn to improve it? Read what the research shows. And read also about which intellectual movement opposed such research. […]

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 […]

The will is free even in the face of powerful emotions

In the last post, it was shown that an emotion cannot be willed out of existence. The reason is that an emotion is a consequence, and so it cannot be controlled directly. What can be controlled are the thoughts and values that underlie the emotion. These are within one’s power of choice. Once the thoughts […]

Free will cannot include willing an emotion to disappear

Recall in the introductory post that willing an emotion to disappear is not included in free will. Why is that, and what is the relation between emotion and free will? Do those who say that an emotion “made” them do something have an argument against free will? In this post, the first of these questions […]