Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less) in that

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NewAmerica

Banned
Mandarin
Does "or less" refer to "(or actually) less (than an illusion)"?

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Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less) in that it cannot even be rendered coherent conceptually, since no one has ever described a manner in which mental and physical events could arise that would attest to its existence. Surely, most illusions are made of sterner stuff than this. If, for instance, a man believes that his dental fillings are receiving radio broadcasts, or that his sister has been replaced by an alien who looks exactly like her, we would have no difficulty specifying what would have to be true of the world for his beliefs to be, likewise, true.

-Sam Harris

Source: The End of Faith (Page 273)
 
  • Bondstreet

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I assume the alternative version would be:

    "Free will is actually less than an illusion in that...

    It's unnecessarily complicated language...
    .
     
    Does "or less" refer to "(or actually) less (than an illusion)"?

    ***********
    Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less) in that it cannot even be rendered coherent conceptually, since no one has ever described a manner in which mental and physical events could arise that would attest to its existence. Surely, most illusions are made of sterner stuff than this. If, for instance, a man believes that his dental fillings are receiving radio broadcasts, or that his sister has been replaced by an alien who looks exactly like her, we would have no difficulty specifying what would have to be true of the world for his beliefs to be, likewise, true.

    -Sam Harris

    Source: The End of Faith (Page 273)
    Yes. Free will is more than an illusion or less than an illusion.
     

    Facultative

    New Member
    Turkish
    Does "or less" refer to "(or actually) less (than an illusion)"?

    ***********
    Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less) in that it cannot even be rendered coherent conceptually, since no one has ever described a manner in which mental and physical events could arise that would attest to its existence. Surely, most illusions are made of sterner stuff than this. If, for instance, a man believes that his dental fillings are receiving radio broadcasts, or that his sister has been replaced by an alien who looks exactly like her, we would have no difficulty specifying what would have to be true of the world for his beliefs to be, likewise, true.

    -Sam Harris

    Source: The End of Faith (Page 273)

    The clause which begins with "... that would attest to its existence". What is the functionn of this clause? Is it an adverbial clause? Explanation please.
     

    Facultative

    New Member
    Turkish
    "...events...that would attest to its existence." The clause mentioned is adjectival.
    Thank you, now i understand but it is also hard to me to solve the meaning of the last sentence which begins with " what would have to be true of..." can i ask you to explan it too please?
     
    If, for instance, a man believes that his dental fillings are receiving radio broadcasts, or that his sister has been replaced by an alien who looks exactly like her, we would have no difficulty specifying what would have to be true of the world for his beliefs to be, likewise, true.

    Structure: If a man believes X or Y, then we would have no difficulty specifying Z "what would...].

    "what would have to be true of the world" means the circumstances/situation/facts in the world that would make the belief true.

    For example, if a man believes and says, "My dog has been stolen", we can say what must be the situation: i.e. the dog is missing; someone took him and that someone likely still has him.

    If I check the man's basement and find the dog, that fact renders his belief incorrect.
    ===

    Harris's point is that if a man says, for example, "I, out of my free will, chose Sally as my wife" {=I made a free choice of Sally as my wife},

    it's quite unclear what must be true in the world for that to be the case. Does it mean
    1)that he bumped into Sally for the first time and married her 5 minutes later, knowing nothing about her?
    2) that he got to know Sally and considered marrying her, and weighed the pros and cons and found there were more cons--yet nevertheless, inexplicably, he went ahead and married her?
    3) that he got to know her and found she had all the qualities he wanted, found her compatible as well as loving, then had no hesitation asking her to marry him.
    ====
    The last case is most plausible. But then we say, his beliefs and desires determined his choice of Sally as his wife; that does not sound 'free' in the sense of 'no clear cause.'
     
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