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It is in the space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia. · Read more →
From Sam Harris: Many people seem to believe that morality depends for its existence on a metaphysical quantity called “free will.” This conviction is occasionally expressed — often with great impatience, smugness, or piety — with the words, “ought implies can.” Like much else in philosophy that is too easily remembered (e.g. “you can’t get an ought from an is.”), this phrase has become an impediment to clear thinking. In fact, the concept of free will is a non-starter, both philosophically and scientifically. There is simply no description of mental and physical causation that allows for this freedom that we habitually claim for ourselves and ascribe to others. Understanding this would alter our view of morality in some respects, but it wouldn’t destroy the distinction between right and wrong, or good and evil.
From Cosmic Variance blog at Discover magazine: Hell is an imaginary place invented by people who think that eternal torture for people they disapprove of would be a good idea. And it’s the rare religion that says “we approve of all good people, whether or not they share our religious beliefs.” Much more commonly, Hell is brought up to scare people away from deviating from a particular religious path.
From Scientific American: What can science reveal about our “character” — that core of good, or evil, that shapes our moral behavior? The answer, according to a new book, is that there may not be much of a core, after all. In “Out of Character,” scientists David DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdelsolo argue that how we think about character — a conception that dates back to at least the ancient Greeks — is deeply flawed. Our moral behavior, to a surprising degree, is shaped by the context in which we find ourselves.