Freely Determined: What the New Psychology of the Self Teaches Us About How To Live

Basic. Nov. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781541620360. $29. PSYCH
Philosophers and psychologists have long debated whether humans have free will. Sheldon (psychology. Univ. of Missouri) debunks the deterministic mindset suggesting such a view cannot explain behaviors and personality. Based on extensive research, Sheldon concludes that free will not only exists but is inescapable. Denying its existence leads to unhappiness and even increases immoral behavior. Readers are introduced to the concept of the symbolic self, the lynch pin of free will, which sets goals, considers options to achieve them, and then acts on the best ones. Readers will learn the happiest people feel competent, autonomous, and connected to others. By selecting the goals that are congruent with what the individual wants, rather than what others want them to do, they will be happier. The author also discusses the concept of group consciousness and suggests that, over time, humans may evolve to develop a group consciousness. Even staunch determinists will have difficulty finding holes in Sheldon’s cohesive argument. Philosophy, psychology, and sociology students interested in the concept of free will won’t be disappointed.
VERDICT General readers with an interest in the relationship between happiness and personal choice will appreciate Sheldon’s clear, accessible writing. Highly recommended.
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