I wrote about my thoughts on Sam Harris’ book Free Will in a post as few months back. It troubled me at the time that his basic argument seemed to be that since we can’t know all option and control all inputs / our reactions them that it means we can’t control anything.
In the most recent episode of his podcast, Dr. Harris got to sit down with another famed atheist philosopher, Daniel Dennett, who, as best as I can tell, agrees with me. Validation!
As I listened, I can’t help but think that what Dennett seems to grasp (although never naming it this) is the concept expressed in the realm of mathematics by Goedel’s paradox: any formal system can be either complete or consistent. If this idea also applies to non-mathematical formal systems, like free will, Harris seems to want it to be both, while Dennett seems to grasp that there is a pratical approach to free will: we have control over some things and should do our best with those rather than chase after all the things we can’t. Dennett seems quite stoic on this point actually.
I’m just an amateur at all of this (philoshophy and mathematics), so I admit there may be a lot disucssed that is sailing stright over my head and I may also be making some extremely tenuous connections. However, it’s discussions like this that make me love the podcasting medium all the more.