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Harris' Free Will (Cliff Notes by Jon A)

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 5:55 PM
Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them.

The intention to do one thing and not another does not originate in consciousness -- rather it appears in consciousness.

You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.

The idea of free will emerges from a felt experience.

Am I free to do that which does not occur to me to do? Of course not.

. . . the fact that our choices depend on prior causes does not mean that they don't matter.

. . . you are no more responsible for the next thing you think (and therefore do) than you are for the fact that you were born into this world.

. . . you cannot make your own luck.

My choices matter -- and there are paths toward making wiser ones -- but I cannot choose what I choose.

Yes, you are free to do what you want even now. But where did your desires come from?

Losing a belief in free will has not made me fatalistic -- in fact it has increased my feelings of freedom. My hopes, fears, and neuroses seem less personal and indelible. There is no telling how much I might change in the future.

Once we recognize that even the most terrifying predators are, in a very real sense, unlucky to be who they are, the logic of hating (as opposed to fearing) them begins to unravel.

It seems immoral not to recognize just how luck is involved in morality itself.

How much credit does a person deserve for not being lazy? None at all. Laziness, like diligence, is a neurological condition.

In improving ourselves and society, we are working directly with the forces of nature, for there is nothing but nature itself to work with.

Am I free to change my mind? Of course not. It can only change me.

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