Determined: Life Without Free Will (Hardback)Robert M Sapolsky (author)
Making a persuasive and meticulously researched case for the absence of free will in human biology, the author of Behave delivers a provocative volume that is disturbing and liberating in equal measure.
One of the world's greatest scientists of human behaviour shows that free will does not exist - and challenges us to rethink the very notion of choice, identity, responsibility, justice, morality and how we live together.
Behind every thought, action and experience there lies a chain of biological and environmental causes, stretching back from the moment a neuron fires to the dawn of our species and beyond. Nowhere in this infinite sequence is there a place where free will could play a role.
Without free will, it makes no more sense to punish people for antisocial behaviour than it does to scold a car for breaking down. It is no one's fault they are poor or overweight or unsuccessful, nor do people deserve praise for their talent or hard work; 'grit' is a myth. This mechanistic view of human behaviour challenges our most powerful instincts, but history suggests that we have already made great strides toward it: where once we saw demonic possession or cowardice, for example, now we diagnose illness or trauma and offer help.
Determined confronts us with our true nature: who and what we are is biology and nothing more. Disturbing and liberating in equal measure, it explores the far-reaching implications for society of accepting this reality. Monumentally difficult as it may be, the reward will be a far more just and humane world.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 528
Weight: 779 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 45 mm
A bravura performance, well worth reading for the pleasure of Sapolsky’s deeply informed company … he makes a moving case that [our lack of freedom is] a reason to live with profound forgiveness and understanding … absorbing and compassionate - Oliver Burkeman, Observer
Excellent . . . Outstanding for its breadth of research, the liveliness of the writing, and the depth of humanity it conveys - Wall Street Journal
[A] highly entertaining account of why … we should and must overcome the infuriating conspiracy of mind that insists we are the authors of our actions. Anyone who believes otherwise needs to read it - Philip Ball, Times Literary Supplement
Wonderfully readable ... humorous and warm and humane - Justin Webb, Today (BBC Radio 4)
Robert Sapolsky explains why the latest developments in neuroscience and psychology explode our conventional idea of Free Will. The book's chock-full of complex and often counter-intuitive ideas. It's also a joy to read. That's because Sapolsky is not only one of the world's most brilliant scientists, but also an immensely gifted writer who tells this important story with wit and compassion. It's impossible to recommend this book too highly. Reading it could change your life - Laurence Rees
In his usual frank and amusing style, Robert Sapolsky argues that free will is an illusion. His stance is both hard to accept and hard to deny. An utterly fascinating topic with mind-boggling implications for human morality - Frans de Waal, author of Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist
Fascinating, provocative and profound. This book tackles all sorts of big issues: how the human brain works, what makes us different, and what underlies everything we do. If Sapolsky is right, we might need to rethink justice and law, and for each of us personally, what it really takes to be happy and successful - Daniel M. Davis, author of The Secret Body
Provocative … If Sapolsky’s ideas were widely accepted they would lead to profound societal changes, not least within the criminal justice system - Sunday Times
Fascinating and challenging - though I'm not sure if I really had a say in the matter - New Scientist
Sapolsky’s decades of experience studying the effects of the interplay of genes and the environment on behavior shine brightly . . . He provides compelling examples that bad luck compounds . . . convincingly argues against claims that chaos theory, emergent phenomena, or the indeterminism offered by quantum mechanics provide the gap required for free will to exist - Science
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