Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 Under: Books
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Thought-Provoking Book!,
July 16, 2012
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This review is from: Free Will?: An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book (Paperback)I recommend this entertaining and well-argued, mind-blowing book in which the author examines a notion we all seem to take for granted in the West, i.e., our dearly beloved notion of free will. In this book we learn that in spite of the overwhelming dominance of this cherished notion deeply embedded in our cultural, legal and religious belief systems, it is clearly scientifically and demonstratively false and does not exist. First, the author gives us the basic definitions of terms, then examples, philosophical and historical arguments, important religious positions and rebuttals. One of the author's early hypothetical examples is about a couple going out to dinner and trying to decide what to eat. To "choose" to have pizza, the couple has to rely on many reasons determined by a variety of known and unknown facts concerning their biology, psychology, economic status, childhood and the environment causing their preferences and showing their overriding susceptibility to these kinds of influences that leave no room for a free choice on their part. After the author brought up this couple for the third time, I had to put my Kindle down and go to the kitchen and heat up a pizza! I was falling under the discussion's suggestion that pizza would taste pretty good right now and I realized I was demonstrating the author's point about human susceptibility to suggestion and lack of free will by my own spontaneous behavior!
The author convincingly shows that determinism is borne out in countless recent scientific discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, biochemistry, physics and genetics which new findings are important and have wide application in all aspects of our lives. There is a new dawn of knowledge exploding around us and our lives depend upon our absorbing many new scientific discoveries in many complex fields. We cannot blame a god or a devil for our circumstances; the author deftly dispatches them from the new matrix. We have to get with the new paradigm and look at how we can improve our critical thinking, how we can make better economic decisions, how we can use our new scientific knowledge to create new art, how we can see one another in a more compassionate light and how we may reform education and the criminal justice system. I recommend this book because we need to make a lot of informed decisions every day and we need all the rational help we can get to understand our common humanity and to develop the full power and beauty of our finite being.
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