02/14/23 Biking & Listening

Biking is something else I both love and hate. It takes a lot of effort but does provide good exercise and most days over an hour to listen to a good book or podcast. I especially like having ridden.

Here’s my bike, a Rockhopper by Specialized. I purchased it November 2021 from Venture Out in Guntersville; Mike is top notch! So is the bike, and the ‘old’ man seat I salvaged from an old Walmart bike.

Here’s a link to today’s bike ride. I obviously favor my pistol route.

Here’s a few photos taken along my route:

Here’s what I’m currently listening to (via Spotify):

MAKING SENSE OF FREE WILL–Episode 5 of The Essential Sam Harris

Here’s a link to this podcast.

Here’s another link to this podcast.


February 14, 2023

In this episode, we examine the timeless question of “free will”: what constitutes it, what is meant by it, what ought to be meant by it, and, of course, whether we have it at all. We start with the neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky who begins to deflate the widely held intuition and assumption of “libertarian free will” by drawing out a mechanistic and determined description of the universe.

We then hear from the philosopher who has long been Sam’s intellectual wrestling opponent on this subject, Daniel Dennett. Dennett and Sam spar about definitional and epistemological frameworks of what Dennett insists is “free will,” and what Sam contends could never be.

The author and physicist Sean Carroll then engages Sam with more attempts to find a philosophically defensible notion of free will by leaning on the unknowable nature of the universe revealed by quantum mechanics. We then listen in on Sam’s engagement with the mathematician and author Judea Pearl who focuses on matters of causation to tease out a freedom of will.

After a historical review of Princess Elizabeth’s famous exchanges with Rene Descartes, we hear from the biologist Jerry Coyne, who firmly agrees with Sam that a deterministic picture of reality leaves absolutely no room for anything like free will.

We then hear from the curiously entertaining mind of comedian and producer Ricky Gervais who was thinking about free will while taking a bath when he decided to phone Sam.

We conclude with Sam’s own response to concerns that an erasure of free will inevitably result in fatalism, loss of meaning, and passive defeat. Sam insists that the loss of free will actually pushes us in the opposite direction where we begin to see hatred and vengeance as incoherent and start to connect with a deeper and truer sense of genuine compassion.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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