Feeling a little self-conscious about my “deeply affected” post. There I was, having read the violent crime beginning of the book with news from Sandy Hook Elementary School on my mind.
I’m now nearing the end of the book and have a few thoughts. And I must say, while somewhat satisfied that it’s led me to think through my own concept of free will, I’m fairly disappointed, perhaps feeling a little taken for what I spent on the e-edition. The book, which I consider to be more appropriately called an essay, would have seemed okay as what Amazon calls a “Kindle Single” which would have been well-priced at $.99 to $1.99.
I can appreciate that Sam Harris has his background in neuroscience and all, and can bring a certain perspective to the concept of free will, but to treat his own search for a working definition as definitive in a wider environment, is a bit of a stretch.
I wish the internet, and Amazon, and this approach to marketing would have been available when I first graduated college back in the mid seventies and I might have taken a path to riches by publishing some reasonably well though out musings. Oh well. As I recollect, even Mark Twain died in debt, or so the story came to me, true or false.
In a different vein, I’m entertaining two thoughts about “Free Will”: 1) that our range of options may be obviously limited, almost like being on an elastic leash, held in the hand or our circumstances, moving forward through time with us, and 2) an incomplete idea that what’s really going on is some crucial fulcrum of time, where an unknown number of possibilities lie in the future become suddenly a fixed certainty of our past, although dependent even then on the verities of our memory and outer world record. The future possibilities increase in number with a further projection, and decrease with nearness to the present.
There’s also the sense with certain words that a thesaurus comes into play, rather than the authentic utilization of a versatile vocabulary employed to most clearly share some worthy content with the widest audience. To make something sound more substantive or authoritative than it really is borders on a boastful ego at play. It can even be disrespectful.
And finally, the metaphor of the puppet necessitates the hand of a puppet master, which to me, opens a door to ironically inviting the presence of a higher power, however dressed in neuroscience. This would turn the essay from an exploration of free will to a definition of one person’s higher power. It may even draw a sketch of the face of God. Funny.
I’m looking forward to sneaking a read of my daughter’s copy of “The End of Faith.” Maybe it’ll shake me out of my obvious misunderstanding and lack of appreciation, or the as yet unread conclusion will do it for me.