I managed to read the “Reflections on Free Will” by Daniel C. Dannett twice. This is a review of the book of Sam Harris named Free Will. I read the book twice due to the concern that I may have missed the point. Keeping in mind to not to miss the point is very essential in my point of view specially concerning this type of philosophical work. There are at least three cogent reasons for keeping in mind that the point not be missed. 1) This is a very delicate topic. On a superficial level it may sound artistic and, thus, easy to comprehend, but in reality it demands a lot of attention. 2) Sam Harris is a very elegant writer. There is no doubt about that. In as much as there might be a lot of his critics, I am sured he is admired by many due to his way of writing and the way he translates his thought process on paper (or a computer based book or blog for that matter). I also admire his writing its style and content. He poses very cogent questions at times. But there is one thing about Sam Harris’s writing style that at times it appears that he swings his whole argument. He moves his discourse in a sort of a spiral and comes back to square one. One may really wonder at that instant on as to what is his point. That is why I believe that it is very important to re-read and to try to fully understand what he has really written and implied. Pun not intended! 3) Sometimes we can be shallow readers. Our not too good reading comprehensions, short attention spans, lack of focus, time varying interest, and dwindling energy can actually play a role in us missing the whole point altogether in an otherwise such an engaging and lengthy discourse.
The second aspect about the book is the spectrum of various positions we can assume between free will and determinism. I have still not really understood the deep meanings of various positions such as combatilism, incombatilism etc. I do understand that combatilism implies that determinism and free will are compatible; both of them can exist (I wonder if exist is the right word) at the same time. Incombatilism is the converse. It means if free will can happen, determinism is false and vice versa. The problem is that it is really important to deeply understand these notions.
The third is the understanding of free will. The position Sam assumes is that free will is an illusion. That I have decided to read about free will. That I may have wondered at some stage on as to what it really means to have free will. That I eventually managed to find some thinkable reading material on it. Eventually I am writing about free will now. According to Sam’s framework, I was not really free in choosing to come up to this point. According to Sam, there must have happened events in my life that were beyond my control that may have urged, motivated or influenced me to do all of this. For instance, I may have been impressed by philosophy at some stage. And at some stage prior to that I may have been told that philosophy was an enterprise worth getting impressed about. Daniel has argued that this does not imply that we do not have free will.
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by Tomas Sobek
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