Yes I would second the shittiness of Harris, but I don’t think taking ideas from him is a moral failing as the tone above kinda implied; inspiration can come from lots of places and most philosophers, to be honest, are white men with some shitty beliefs about things when pressed in the right places.
But I think more pointedly: its important to recognize precisely where something like Harris’s little intervention takes place, and how it appeals to certain presuppositions about subjectivity and science that are far from these unquestioned pillars of philosophical thought about such things. This problem of free will against a causal, scientific universe goes back to Kant, and all the developments of philosophy of mind and the grab bag of psych and social science Harris takes from above still renders the basic Kantian problematic for the most part unchanged (this would require some argument).
Modern thought, especially of this “new atheist” vein, takes for granted that something like “science,” hard science specifically, as a privileged discourse about reality. Now, this is not an unjustified claim, and the capacity of science to talk about the world is immanently proven by the way such activities change our world and reveal certain things that are cool or useful or whatever.
Now, without getting all postmodern about science too quickly (or even just… mentioning its historical contingency, its necessarily political/economic nature) I think its a little more interesting and challenging to just consider the other variable here and show how such questions of free will seem so trippy and viable to ethical (or aesthetic) problematics only because it is even more tacitly presupposing something else: namely the certain idea of a subject or subjectivity. This is why Kant is so important here: not because he asked the question of free will best or whatever, but because he set up this whole way of thinking at all because he first and foremost decided on a concept of subjectivity that was meant to answer to a scientific world he saw threatening to morality or whatever.
But since Kant, philosophy in the west has really not troubled itself with any one thing more than actually questioning the Kantian subject! Talk about Harris’s racism, Kant himself was a Western chauvinist, and we can do nothing better but question why a subject understood as an idealistic subject, as a dynamic but still predetermined relationship to the world, is maybe not the best way to think about our existence these days.
For one thing: is the problem of my free will just the same as that of some feudal serf? What about: is my free will as a white cishet just as much an illusion as a black trans person? Is there just one kind of subject? Harris, I would bet, would say yes to all of these things, because he believes that this problem is more fundamental, more “cosmic,” than such conditions as that. I am not so sure.
But even more interesting: does even the idea of the self-authorship of my actions (this has Kantian roots as well) capture what intuitively feel is the paradigm expression of free will? Are there other ways to understand it? What would I “write” when I author these actions? Are they something like words? Or are they different? This is where, I think, art or music is an interesting point here.
If free will is an illusion, this statement functions like “god is dead.” Because it is at once a claim and a rally. But i’d like my art not to rally for things (unless they are politically productive). I’d rather ask my art what kind of subjects are possible. What choices are already made for me? How am I groping or not? What am I to even be a creature to be tripped out by the loss of something I called free will? Art allows us to think about those things from a point of view that is not political-juridical, the domain that gets Harris so wet we can see throughout that video with his fuckin nasal smirk.