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CLH Book Group 📚 Determined by Robert Sapolsky

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Rebekah B.
CLH Book Group 📚 Determined by Robert Sapolsky


March's book: Determined: A Science of Life without Free Will by Robert Sapolsky

One of our great behavioral scientists, the bestselling author of Behave, plumbs the depths of the science and philosophy of decision-making to mount a devastating case against free will, an argument with profound consequences.

Determined offers a marvelous synthesis of what we know about how consciousness works--the tight weave between reason and emotion, and between stimulus and response, in the moment and over a life. One by one, Sapolsky tackles all the major arguments for free will and takes them out, cutting a path through the thickets of chaos and complexity science and quantum physics, as well as touching ground on some of the wilder shores of philosophy. He shows us that the history of medicine is in no small part the history of learning that fewer and fewer things are somebody's "fault"; for example, for centuries we thought seizures were a sign of demonic possession. Yet as he acknowledges, it's very hard, and at times impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others, and to judge ourselves. Sapolsky applies the new understanding of life beyond free will to some of our most essential questions around punishment, morality, and living well together. By the end, Sapolsky argues that while living our daily lives recognizing that we have no free will is going to be monumentally difficult, doing so is not going to result in anarchy, pointlessness and existential malaise. Instead, it will make for a much more humane world.

The meeting starts at 7:15. At 7:30 pm we will break up into small groups. Those familiar with the CLH Book Group meeting know how this works: in each group we take turns introducing ourselves and giving our 1 minute thoughts on the book. It's important not to go over a minute and not to interrupt other people's minute so that everyone gets a chance to participate. After this first round, each group discusses for another 20 minutes or so.

We then shuffle the groups so as to talk to as many different people as possible and in the new groups repeat our introductions and 1 minute thoughts. We'll do this a couple of times before coming all together at the end in one last big group.

While we are very social and welcoming, the book group's primary focus is on discussing books. Feel free to turn up if you haven't managed to finish this month's book but note that the group works best when we have all read at least half of the book and are prepared to share our opinions.


£3 per person to attend. If it's your first time, come and try us out for free!
If you prefer, you can pay online, by clicking here.

We encourage dialogue, debate and sharing of information on our site but ask people to keep their comments cordial. Any views expressed here are those of the individual posting them and may not reflect those of CLH.

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