Tom Clark, "Who are you essentially? - challenging the soul and its free will"

It’s often supposed that if determinism is true – if there is just one possible future as determined by natural laws – then we don’t really choose or control anything; we are merely puppets of fate. Many believe instead that we are essentially immaterial souls or mental agents that transcend determinism in becoming who we are and in making choices. We have contra-causal free will, so are ultimately responsible for our actions. But would being an exception to causality add to our powers of control?  And is there any good evidence for the soul or non-physical agent? A naturalistic understanding of ourselves suggests not, and offers a more realistic, effective and compassionate basis for holding each other responsible. This has progressive and humanistic implications for ethics and social policy.

Here is more about Tom from his Secular Student Alliance speakers page:

Founder, Center for Naturalism. Developer of Naturalism.Org, a leading Web resource on worldview naturalism, its implications and applications. Author, Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses and many publications and presentations on naturalism, free will, science, addiction, and criminal and social justice. Host and moderator, Philosophy Café at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA.

Before founding the Center for Naturalism (CFN), Tom Clark was a researcher in addictions and mental health, where he worked on developing a fully naturalistic model of behavioral disorders. As director of the CFN, Tom Clark is now on the cultural cutting edge in articulating science-based naturalism as a comprehensive worldview. In his book, articles and presentations, he argues that in understanding ourselves as completely natural creatures, fully connected to and caused by our biological and social circumstances, we gain in control and compassion. Those wanting a fresh and positive perspective on secularism will enjoy Clark's naturalistic challenges to conventional wisdom on such topics as free will, moral responsibility, criminal and social justice, addiction, and the culture wars. His engaging, fast-paced lectures will encourage students to re-think their fundamental assumptions about the self and human nature, and in so doing give them access to the abundant resources of worldview naturalism. His talks are suitable for general audiences but can be tailored for students in law, science, psychology, philosophy, religion, and social and political theory.


The meeting will start at 7:00 with socializing and a few announcements. The program will start at 7:15, after which we will have open discussion with the presenter followed by more socializing. At 9:00 we usually have an open steering committee meeting which anyone is invited to attend.

(Manager: Maria)

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  • Maria G.

    I freely determine that this meetup had a causal effect of enhancing my understanding of the free will debate and that, if I could rewind time, I would make the decision to attend again. :)

    1 · March 6, 2014

  • Barry

    Would like to be there, but the day has not turned out as planned.

    March 5, 2014

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