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Determined : a science of life without free will  Cover Image Book Book

Determined : a science of life without free will

Sapolsky, Robert M. (author.).

Summary: "One of our great behavioral scientists plumbs the depths of the science and philosophy of decision-making to mount a devastating case against free will, an argument with profound consequences. Robert Sapolsky's "Behave," his now classic account of why humans do good and why they do bad, pointed toward an unsettling conclusion: We may not grasp the precise marriage of nature and nurture that creates the physics and chemistry at the base of human behavior, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Now, in "Determined," Sapolsky takes his argument all the way, mounting a brilliant (and in his inimitable way, delightful) full-frontal assault on the pleasant fantasy that there is some separate self telling our biology what to do. This book offers a marvelous synthesis of what we know about how consciousness works--the tight weave between reason and emotion and between stimulus and response in the moment and over a life. One by one, Sapolsky tackles all the major arguments for free will and takes them out, cutting a path through the thickets of chaos and complexity science and quantum physics, as well as touching ground on some of the wilder shores of philosophy. He shows us that the history of medicine is in no small part the history of learning that fewer and fewer things are somebody's "fault"; for example, for centuries we thought seizures were a sign of demonic possession. Yet, as he acknowledges, it's very hard, and at times impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others and to judge ourselves. Sapolsky applies the new understanding of life beyond free will to some of our most essential questions around punishment, morality, and living well together. By the end, Sapolsky argues that while living our daily lives recognizing that we have no free will is going to be monumentally difficult, doing so is not going to result in anarchy, pointlessness, and existential malaise. Instead, it will make for a much more humane world"--

Item details

  • ISBN: 9780525560975
  • ISBN: 0525560971
  • ISBN: 9780593656723
  • ISBN: 0593656725
  • ISBN: 9780525560982
  • Physical Description: print
    511 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
  • Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2023.

Contents / Notes

Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 431-489) and index.
Formatted Contents Note: Turtles all the way down -- The final three minutes of a movie -- Where does intent come from? -- Willing willpower : the myth of grit -- A primer on chaos -- Is your free will chaotic? -- A primer on emergent complexity -- Does your free will just emerge? -- A primer on quantum indeterminacy -- Is your free will random? -- Interlude -- Will we run Amok? -- The ancient gears within us : how does change happen? -- We really have done this before -- The joy of punishment -- If you die poor.
Subject: Free will and determinism
PHILOSOPHY / Free Will & Determinism
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
Free will and determinism
Genre: Informational works.

Currently available copies

  • 5 out of 11 copies are currently available at PINES. (Show)
  • 0 out of 1 copy are currently available at Athens Regional Library System.


  • 2 current holds on 11 total copies.
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Library System: Library Branch Name
Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status  
Athens Regional Library System:
      Watkinsville/Oconee County Library
NONFIC 123.5 SAPOLSKY ( Send Text)
31001006169917 NEW-BKS Checked out

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