A closer inspection on "Free Will and the Reality of Love":
Many readers continue to express confusion—even outrage and anguish—over
my position on free will. Some are convinced that my view is
self-contradictory. Others are persuaded of its truth but find the truth
upsetting. They say that if cutting through the illusion of free will
undermines hatred, it must undermine love as well. They worry about a
world in which we view ourselves and other people as robots. I have
heard from readers struggling with clinical depression who find that
reading my book Free Will, or my blog articles on the topic, has only added to their troubles. Perhaps there is more to say…"
"Confusion", "self-contradictory","upsetting","undermine love", "people as robots" and "added to their troubles".These are the consequences of Atheist dogma and pretty much sums up Harris' position.But he rejects the inevitable conclusions drawn from the premises he so dearly clings to and aims to correct these misunderstandings...or does he?
First, I’d like to address the common charge that it is simply
self-contradictory to talk about the illusoriness of free will while
using words such as “choice,” “intention,” “decision,” “deliberation,”
and “effort.” If free will is an illusion, it would seem, these
qualities of mind must be illusory as well. In one sense, this is true.
It would perhaps be more precise to speak of “apparent choices.” But the
distinction isn’t generally relevant at the level of our experience. In
terms of experience, there is no contradiction between truth and
appearance. Even in the absence of free will, I find that I can speak of
choices, intentions, and efforts without hedging"
Okay,so far I've gathered that the contention amongst his peers and admirers lies in the apparent contradiction between Harris rejecting free will and still co-opting terms which are either synonymous with free will or implicates it,such as "choice,intention,decision,deliberation",etc. Perhaps Harris has found a miraculous way to bypass the laws of logic,namely the law of non-contradicition.Let's see how he does it.
Consider the present moment from the point of view of my conscious mind:
I have decided to write this blog post, and I am now writing it. I
almost didn’t write it, however. In fact, I went back and forth about
it: I feel that I’ve said more or less everything I have to say on the
topic of free will and now worry about repeating myself. I started the
post, and then set it aside. But after several more emails came in, I
realized that I might be able to clarify a few points. Did I choose to
be affected in this way? No. Some readers were urging me to comment on
depressing developments in “the Arab Spring.” Others wanted me to write
about the practice of meditation. At first I ignored all these voices
and went back to working on my next book. Eventually, however, I
returned to this blog post. Was that a choice? Well, in a conventional
sense, yes. But my experience of making the choice did not include an
awareness of its actual causes. Subjectively speaking, it is an absolute
mystery to me why I am writing this."
Skipping over what I can only assume are early symptoms of ADHD - Harris rejects possible free will as a cause in favor of "mysterious" causes,that way his material beliefs are still intact.
My workflow may sound a little unconventional, but my experience of
writing this article fully illustrates my view of free will. Thoughts
and intentions arise; other thoughts and intentions arise in opposition.
I want to sit down to write, but then I want something else—to
exercise, perhaps. Which impulse will win? For the moment, I’m still
writing, and there is no way for me to know why—because at other times
I’ll think, “This is useless. I’m going to the gym,” and that thought
will prove decisive. What finally causes the balance to swing? I cannot
know subjectively—but I can be sure that electrochemical events in my
brain decide the matter. I know that given the requisite stimulus
(whether internal or external), I will leap up from my desk and suddenly
find myself doing something else...
Finally,I found the central thesis to Harris' article.What appears to many as "choices" are merely impulses and the strongest impulse takes center stage.That eliminates free will nicely but there are some obvious problems:
-All our behaviors have now been redefined as impulsive without proper justification.Irrational to say the least.
-What about those who choose to voluntarily abstain/refrain from instinctive activities be it food,drink,sex,etc.?Surely it's irrational to define the ability to self regulate such behaviors as also being based on an impulse or urge.
-Our ability to reason,to be cautious,to be discreet and to inhibit certain actions or processes are a few counter examples that can veto impulses or urges.
-Self-control is the ability to resist an impulse.Just because Harris lacks this ability doesn't mean everyone else does too.
-Harris needs to either provide evidence or get universal opinion on his side.Both are highly unlikely.
"As a matter of experience, therefore,
I can take no credit for the fact that I got to the end of this
Harris then ends the paragraph with a very "modest" tone.He just cannot allow himself to take credit.Humble indeed.Then upon whom shall we bestow the honor of this fine piece of work Harris?"
"But the apparent reality of choice remains intact. It isn’t wrong to say
that I decided to write this post—and it certainly isn’t wrong to say
that my writing it requires some conscious effort. I can’t write it by
accident, or in my sleep. The writing itself is clearly the product of
my unconscious mind—I cannot know, for instance, why one word or bit of
syntax comes forward and another doesn’t—but the entire project requires
consciousness to come into being. Certain things cannot be thought or
done unless they are warmed by the light of conscious awareness. I am,
after all, writing about what it is like to be me at this moment—and it
would be like nothing to be me without consciousness"
And the credit goes to... his unconscious mind but not to Harris because they are apparently two distinct and separate entities.Clearly his humility becomes suspect as it contradicts his position.
"What many people seem to be missing is the positive side of these
truths. Seeing through the illusion of free will does not undercut the
reality of love, for example—because loving other people is not a matter
of fixating on the underlying causes of their behavior. Rather, it is a
matter of caring about them as people and enjoying their company. We
want those we love to be happy, and we want to feel the way we feel in
their presence. The difference between happiness and suffering does not
depend on free will—indeed, it has no logical relationship to it (but
then, nothing does, because the very idea of free will makes no sense).
In loving others, and in seeking happiness ourselves, we are primarily
concerned with the character of conscious experience."
First of all,the truth of the premises has not been established,ie. they have no evidence attached,so any positive sides that may be implied are question begging.Secondly,we have to consider the full implications of living a life without the "illusion" of free will.That would remove consent,since we cannot agree to something over which we have no control over.For example,I cannot grant the weather permission to rain because I cannot influence it.All impulses an individual feel can be executed without considering the impact it has on others.To evaluate and veto any urges whether positive or negative imply I have a choice in the outcome of the matter and should be held responsible.
"Hatred, however, is powerfully governed by the illusion that those we
hate could (and should) behave differently. We don’t hate storms,
avalanches, mosquitoes, or flu. We might use the term “hatred” to
describe our aversion to the suffering these things cause us—but we are
prone to hate other human beings in a very different sense. True hatred
requires that we view our enemy as the ultimate author of his thoughts
and actions. Love demands only that we care about our friends and find
happiness in their company. It may be hard to see this truth at first,
but I encourage everyone to keep looking. It is one of the more
beautiful asymmetries to be found anywhere."
What Harris is doing here is nothing short of an appeal to emotion fallacy.Instead of demonstrating the link between love,impulses and Materialism - he simply gives assertions and not arguments,which requires justification.Also,if "True hatred
requires that we view our enemy as the ultimate author of his thoughts
and actions",then we could equally assert that true love requires that we view our fellow man as the ultimate author of his actions and thoughts.But either position validates free will and Harris does not seem to care about the implications of his reasoning.If the reader is confused at this point,it's because contradictions,inconsistencies,irrational reasoning and lack of evidence are common themes in Atheist articles.
Besides,Harris knows very little about love because it is not demanding and not limited to friends.Love is unconditional,it does not require recognition nor does it need to be reciprocated.
As an Atheist he is spiritually bankrupt.His pathetic attempt to explain what he deems to be mere chemical reactions or urges ,has by his own admission caused others even more despondency.