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Determined

By: Robert M. Sapolsky
Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

One of the world's greatest scientists of human behaviour, the bestselling author of Behave, shows that free will does not exist - and challenges us to rethink the notions of choice, identity, responsibility, justice, morality and how we live together.

Behind every thought, action and experience there lies a chain of biological and environmental causes, stretching back from the moment a neuron fires to the dawn of our species and beyond. Nowhere in this infinite sequence is there a place where free will could play a role.

Without free will, it makes no more sense to punish people for antisocial behaviour than it does to scold a car for breaking down. It is no one's fault they are poor or overweight or unsuccessful, nor do people deserve praise for their talent or hard work; 'grit' is a myth. This mechanistic view of human behaviour challenges our most powerful instincts, but history suggests that we have already made great strides toward it: where once we saw demonic possession or cowardice, for example, now we diagnose illness or trauma and offer help.

Determined confronts us with our true nature: who and what we are is biology and nothing more. Disturbing and liberating in equal measure, it explores the far-reaching implications for society of accepting this reality. Monumentally difficult as it may be, the reward will be a far more just and humane world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2023 Robert M Sapolsky (P)2023 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

A bravura performance, well worth reading for the pleasure of Sapolsky’s deeply informed company … he makes a moving case that [our lack of freedom is] a reason to live with profound forgiveness and understanding … absorbing and compassionate (Oliver Burkeman)
[A] highly entertaining account of why … we should and must overcome the infuriating conspiracy of mind that insists we are the authors of our actions. Anyone who believes otherwise needs to read it (Philip Ball)
Wonderfully readable ... humorous and warm and humane (Justin Webb)

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Makes you think..

I already didn’t believe in free will, so my mind hasn’t been changed. However, how we should structure a society in a way that is ‘fair’ let’s say, given this fact, is a massive challenge. I feel this book argues slightly more in favour of socialistic principles than capitalistic ones, which I’ve always disagreed with. Whether people have free will or not, societies that work are better that ones that don’t, even if we don’t have free will and no one really ‘earns’ what they have. Nevertheless, this book has challenged my thinking in a lot of these ways, and even though I doubt my political stance will change, it’s certainly encouraged me to aim to think a little more openly on questions of this nature. Absolutely fantastic read.

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