My post ‘Could you have acted otherwise?’ was about freewill and determinism. I have since been reading Yuval Noah Harari’s second book ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’, in which he shows that our three major human concerns of the past were famine, plague and war. These have been largely, but not entirely, overcome, and  our future concerns will be rather different. They will be immortality, happiness and divinity (that is, becoming god-like).

The third part of the book begins with the most succinct rejection of freewill that I have come across. He repeats the argument that if the universe is not deterministic, then events occur at random. Either way, there is no room for freewill. He also echoes Schopenhauer’s belief that Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills:

. . . once we accept that there is no soul, and that humans have no inner essence called “the self”, it no longer makes sense to ask, “How does the self choose its desires?” . . . In reality, there is only a stream of consciousness, and desires arise and pass away within this stream, but there is no permanent self that owns the desires, hence it is meaningless to ask whether I choose my desires deterministically, randomly or freely.

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