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Sam Harris' latest book, neuroscience and free will.

I'm going to say 'hi' again, simply because I just registered a short time ago. So hi, everyone.

In his latest book, The Moral Landscape, Sam talks about a famous study by Benjamin Libet (Libet, Gleason, Wright & Pearl, 1983) which shows that, when a human being initiates a 'voluntary action' neuronal firing starts up in the brains' motor regions 350ms before the person feels that he has decided to move.

Sam writes that thoughts simply arise, seemingly out of nothing, and reaches our consciousness, without us being able to control these processes at all. He writes that the fact that we think we have free will is a consequence of most people having very little awareness of how their own minds actually operate. He finishes by saying that the illusion of free will is itself an illusion.

I take this to mean that if we really sit down and observe our minds, any notion of free will would disappear for most of us.

This piece of research, I found to be astonishing and I'd love to know what people on the RD.net forums think about this. What are the implications this might have on how we view ourselves and other people?

I'd also like to add that this just adds another element to what Richard Dawkins has been saying about how we are "just" our genes' way of copying themselves. I'd at least like to think that I (meaning the conscious parts of my brain) am in control of my own decisions and actions, but now it seems I can not even claim that.

TAGGED: BEHAVIOR, BIOLOGY, BOOKS, MORALITY, PSYCHOLOGY, SCIENCE


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