Sam Harris on Joe Rogan Podcast 192

 

Joe Rogan: Okay

 

Sam Harris: Did you get one?

 

Joe Rogan: Yes

 

Sam Harris: Who do you think of?

 

Joe Rogan: Georges St-Pierre

 

Sam Harris: Okay. Now why didn’t you think of Matt Hughes?

 

Joe Rogan: Aaah..

 

Sam Harris: Okay but now. So whatever story you’re gonna tell

 

Joe Rogan: Yeah, whatever

 

Sam Harris: is meaningless.

 

Joe Rogan: Right, meaningless.

 

Sam Harris: The truth is you’re not in a position to know why you thought of Georges St-Pierre.

 

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: And so okay, there’s all these MMA fighters whose names you know and you know them as well as you know Georges St-Pierre’s name. You could have thought of Overeem or I mean

 

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: there’s a hundred you could have thought of, right?

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: Let’s say you could have thought of a few and then you settled on one for the purpose of telling me

 

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: So you thought of.. you got Hughes.. You got Overeem. You got St. Pierre. And I say, who was, and you say, well St. Pierre, right? You can’t explain why you fixated on him as opposed to Hughes or whoever the other candidates

 

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: were in your mind. All of that has been driven from behind unconsciously and there’s no way to ever, even if it wasn’t, even if there was no time left, even if we knew the neuro-physiology and the conscious thought were truly simultaneous.

 

So there was no part of your brain that was going Georges St-Pierre before you were aware of it

 

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: It’s still a mystery as to why it is, what it is.

 

Joe Rogan: Why but that sort of an answer to a question with no consequence. When it comes to something with consequences and their free will, well then someone contemplates the you know, the results of our actions.

 

I mean isn’t that what we truly consider to be free will? As you look at something, so should I hit this old lady with my car.

 

Sam Harris: Right

 

Joe Rogan: No, I should not because I have free will. I mean even if there is you know, some sort of decision that had green lit in your brain,you know, seconds earlier than that, no we’re no gonna run over this old lady.

Sort of, that’s free will, right? What leads someone to murder someone? Is every murderer innocent?

 

Sam Harris: Correct

 

Joe Rogan: ‘Coz they don’t have free will? Are they accumulation of their past history and our emotion responses have various stimuli good or bad in their environments that led them down this road and here they are in this moment in time, in this physical altercation and they murder somebody.

 

Did they not have free will?
Sam Harris: Right. Yeah. Well, all good concerns, uhm, clearly there’s a difference between voluntary and involuntary reactions. And so we can talk about that difference without their invoking free will.

 

So there are things I choose to do and I’m reaching for the water because I want to pick it up and that’s different from me accidentally knocking it over or, or.. so and those differences matter.

 

Joe Rogan: Right

 

Sam Harris: So if you intentionally shot me, that’s one thing. You’re a murderer. An attempted murderer. Uhm, if you accidentally shot me because you were cleaning your gun.

 

There was no intent and that says a lot.. you’re a very different person in the world. You’re not the person who intentionally shot me. Uhm, so we don’t have to worry about you in the same way.

 

So for the purposes of our legal system, the difference between intent and lack of intent is huge. But it’s huge because it says a lot about what someone’s likely to do in the future.

 

That the payoff is that, there are one I think, understanding that the incoherence of free will does subtlety change your morality and would change our legal system in small but crucial ways.

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