Repost: Sam Harris: the worst kind of guru/more on free will question
Harris is quite the guru and has a new video: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/ask-sam-harris-anything-2/
As gurus go Harris is close to being the worst kind, beware. This man is smart/stupid: the new type created to promote scientism. They are polished, slick, and, well, suspected of trading veracity for celebrity, but in any case, mediocre minds. Nota bene.
The question of free will is a fixation with Harris: he has no intelligent reason for such dogmatism, not even scientific consistency, given the history of this subject.
I think a dialectical approach should be adopted here. Negate, and affirm free will.
Note: it is doubtful if Harris has even read the literature on this issue, instead taking the oversimplification of reductionist science as a answer to everything. Smart people like Harris should be helping people through a Kantian approach. Instead we get his second-rate (uneducated) take on a complex subject. If you want a large audience of idiots, this is the way to go: reductionism. Like Darwinism, designed for instand comprehension.
The religions have their faults, but they have always addressed the issue of free will and supported it. We can now see the reason why that is important. The destruction of beliefs in free will would harm society greatly, so we have to wonder what these fellows are about???
The question of free will is very hard, very simple: we should make an operationally assumption in the existence of free will, and challenge the dogmas of physics.
We can always debate the question, but be wary of these ‘scientists’: they won’t allow debate. They will tryto control public opinion, as with Darwinism, and after that dissent is an uphill struggle for intellectuals who will shut up to conform, and keep their jobs. I doubt that could happen with the free will question, but it might.
The best approach is the Kantian one, or variants. We should consider that ‘free will’ has a noumenal and phenomenal aspect, and that the action of free will stands beyond space and time, perhaps (with a temporal component). Does that infuriate scientists? Good, laugh at them, but be critical of such thinking yourself, and keep working on its.
Destroying belief in free will is also an attack on your dignity, freedom, autonomy, and makes you what scientists want: a controllable item.
Free will is not a completely coherent question: if it was, it would be mechanizable, and no longer free will.
The indirect proof of its reality lies in what happens when we negate it.
The idea of ‘faith’ has been so wrecked by Xtians that we can no longer used it. Use the idea of ‘operational assumption’ instead. We cannot easily do without such an assumption, however we take it.
But here’s the kicker: if we could prove anything about free will, reductionist science would take control of it and unwittingly destroy it, so to speak. The point: free will as a question is undecidable, we need a quite of faith in it to proceed.
Don’t be seduced by confused thinkers like Harris, subtlety is beyond their capacity. He is totally bound by his success: he cannot deviate from that without losing his celebrity. And he cannot deviate from his scientism because he knows what would happen if he did.
The other issues in this video can be discussed later, but don’t amount to much.
Note that Harris wishes to destroy buddhism, negate the reality of enlightenment, and deny the legacy of knowldege about rebirth. By any standard that should describe a kook.
That should be a reminder that he is simply off the wall.
The question of free will has two aspects, physics, and history. The causal assumptions of physics tend toward negation, history toward affirmation. The question of history makes no sense without assuming free agency. Try reading a history book in your mind’s eye that consider the whole of history to be a mechanical event.