A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!
As the title was ending anxiety arose for I again didn't want it to. So many different thinking points covered and still no Idea where to go from here. I decided to just listen to it again.
I especially enjoyed the controversial section about the non-existence of 'freewill'. I have come across this previously in physics books but never with a clear concise argument against it as found here in this masterpiece.
P.S. If you actually read this far and make it here, the title of this review is a meaningless non-sequitur. lol
Buy this book you will like it regardless of your religious biases...I hope.
Some of the concepts aren't necessarily new, but Sam Harris is able to beautifully articulate how morality can be studied by science. I especially appreciate the recognition that there are many gray areas in discussions of morality, unlike the rigid and sometimes harmful morality that is derived from various religious texts. At times, the book does seem to be treating religious texts as a pinata, but mostly it's required to demonstrate the validity of arguments being made.
If you are willing to listen to philosophical thinking on morality with an open mind, you will love this audiobook. But, if you want to set your thoughts in concrete because you're terrified of change, then you probably should skip this book.
Let me start with what is good about this book. It is well written and easy to follow; at no point did I find the discussion confusing or have to rewind and relisten. Sam Harris does a decent job narrating the book as well, though I do think it would be better if a professional reader had read the text instead.
The bad, unfortunately, is the actual content of the book. First, let me answer the big question; what kind of moral philosophy is Sam Harris putting forth? It's nothing fundamentally new; it's just utilitarianism. His arguments contain all of the strengths and flaws of utilitarianism. He fails to adequately address any of the flaws. Harris also often resorts to the "Can anyone doubt...?" tactic to avoid defending or discussing key premises or assumptions in ethical thought.
I think anyone that is moderately well read in ethical philosophy will gain little from this book. If you're looking to learn about ethics, and you're not well read on the subject, I'd recommend A History of Ethical Thought (also on Audible) over this any day.
The thesis was not thought through very well at all. The author uses the term "SCIENCE", as though he were speaking about a religion and not a structured method of determining cause and effect. For example he writes, [Athough SCIENCE has sometimes exhibited racist or sexist ideas...."]. Science does not exhibit any ideas; people do. But, if you replace the word SCIENCE, with any of the world's religions, the sentence may have some validity.The author uses words like SCIENCE, MORALITY, ETHICS, WELL-BEING, all as uppercase nouns [Science ordered a BLT sandwich at the Deli, even as Islam still maintains it is wrong to eat pork; and by-the-way, some people are still circumcising there little girls]. This kind of thing goes on thoughout the book. I bought this book because I really enjoyed his other book "The End of Faith". But I really wish someone close (such as a friend or editor), would have given him a few constructive boots in the pants.
Proud possessor of the lowest boredom threshhold in North America
For a book that purports to be one of philosophy, I was astonished how conclusory the author's arguments were. The arguments against the credibilty of "religious" sources for moral teachings amounted to little more than stating that (a) early chapters of the old testament advocated killing your children and slavery (not a peep about the new testament) and (b) many Catholoc priests have been pedophiles. I'm not kidding that's the argument. No one's a fan of child abuse, but you can't dismiss Christianity as a source of moral teaching simply be establishing that certain of its adherents were demonstrably moral failures - can you say ad hominem attack? (For the record, I'm not religious.)
I never read a word from the author in support of his central argument that ethical and moral rules can be derived from "science." I read nothing associated with the scientific method in this book. I agree with the reviewer who stated that the author's views amounted to a form of utilitarianism. Is that new? Is that somehow science-based? If so, the author never explained how.
Interesting and enlightening, if not fun. Feeling a little depressed but that's just me. Maybe.
One comment. It's ET cetera.
I expected nothing less from Sam Harris; not only does he provide compelling arguments for his case (which, as many people pointed out, are not entirely original), but he does so with the vocabulary of a professionnal poet.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Sam Harris voices strong opinions about science, scientists, religion, politicians, anthropologists, and humanity's morality, values, and capacity for good and evil. The content is so fascinating and densely packed, I occasionally had to back up the file to listen again to what Harris said. The book requires close, constant attention.
Harris, who does a good job as narrator--similar to Malcolm Gladwell's delivery--believes we have a measure available for right and wrong, and we don't have to turn to religion for guidance. (I don't think anyone would argue that atrocities have been and are committed in the name of religion.) He proposes that we can measure what is good and what is bad by whether actions promote the well-being of the people directly and indirectly involved. Scientific advances have allowed us to quantify neurochemicals released, thereby determining our well-being or its opposite.
One thing in particular that struck me was his discussion of the mutilation of young girls' genitalia. If we conceptualize one eight-year-old girl held down by two men while a third cuts into her, then sews her up, allowing only enough of an opening for urination and menstruation, we are appalled. Multiply that horror by thousands and thousands of girls, and anthropologists say we should chalk it up to religious beliefs and cultural traditions unlike ours, and within that context, respect our differences, excuse, and accept. Whatever the context, Harris says, mutilation is wrong.
And that was only one point Harris makes. I recommend this amazing book.