Are we really Freethinkers?
I have not read the book, but I have listened to his lecture on Free Will and read a few rebuttals on the subject. I have also considered this topic for some time prior to Sam Harris’s evidence-based claim that free will is a myth. I realize there are serious implications if Dr. Harris is correct, but a freethinker does not build beliefs on our preferred answers. We, at least I think this is a ‘we’ statement, accept the truth wherever it leads us and strive to make the best of it.
Borrowing from Sam
Sam presented this experiment to a live audience, but it will work for you as a reader as well. Right now…you are probably only thinking of Sam Harris, because he is the name I have given you. Now, think of another person, any other person.
Who is it? Did you choose who to think of? Where you consciously aware of the impression of whichever person came to your mind before you were aware of that impression? Did you freely choose who you would think of? Did you freely choose to think of another person, or where you prompted by reading the words, “Now, think of another person, any other person?”
Oh look, you just did it again, you just thought again of some person at my prompting. Very likely the same person as before, but possibly not. The point is, you are not directing your thoughts. I am. Well, not me universally, but a perceived influence from existing externally to you.
Cogito Ego Sum
So if you’re reading my blog, then you probably know what this phrase means, and who coined the phrase. If not, Google.
A brief refutation of the external world skeptics: “I think because I am acted upon by an external world.”
Don’t freak out, I didn’t just solve some centuries old philosophical concern, but the idea that we control our thoughts seems weak when I can force you to think of some person. Did you do it again just by the mere suggestion?
On Free Thought
Rather than putting forth a claim, I will continue asking questions. Can we atheists, secularist, believers, and people without labels really call ourselves freethinkers without control over our thoughts? If I prompted any thoughts within you, then I would enjoy hearing what they are, so I could be prompted by your words/ideas as well.
I prompt you a good day, evening or otherwise depending upon when you may encounter this post.