Free Will by Sam Harris, Free Press, 2012, pp: 83, ISBN 978-1-4516-8340-0
I always wondered at the American marketing wizardry of bite-size chocolates and peanut butter cups that lure the consumers. If a book on a highly intriguing, tantalizing and no less controversial a subject like Free Will is presented in bite-size, even a die-hard Advaitin can hardly hold his temptation to take a bite! And I did.
Perhaps one should call it a long essay discussed under eight or so subheadings rather than a book. You hardly open the cover and right away, the text begins with “The question of free will touches nearly everything we care about” — no Intros, no Forewords, no time wasted. And then as suddenly, the author explodes the myth of ‘our viewing one another as autonomous persons, capable of free choice.’ He writes:
“If the scientific community were to declare free will an illusion, it would precipitate a culture war far more belligerent than one that has been waged on the subject of evolution. Without free will, sinners and criminals would be nothing more than poorly calibrated clock-work…… And those of us who work hard and follow the rules would not “deserve” our success in any deep sense. It is not an accident that most people find these conclusions abhorrent. The stakes are high.”
The stakes may be high; but Advaitins will surely cheer the author, Sam Harris, a Ph. D. in Neuroscience on those scientific declarations. Continue reading