Yes, I felt like I learned a lot from it.
Yes, to gain a better understanding of one atheistic view on how morality and scientific thought intersect.
Sam Harris is a little dull at times but not bad. It would be a bit easier to listen to if he were to add a touch more emotion to his voice.
I generally agree with Sam Harris. The idea that we can use the scientific method to find ways to optimize our general well being seems almost implicit. Growing up as a member of the LDS church I found this to be a common assumption intermingled within their spiritual teachings (although that was far from being completely accepted and I certainly applied my own personal bias to that understanding). Because of the bias I brought to this book at times I felt like the arguments he was making were so implicit that they didn't need to be presented so emphatically. I recognize that this understand could very well be due to my inexperience outside my own frame of reference.
However, as such, I would have appreciated some statistical figures whenever Harris claimed that moral relativism was prolific within scholarly social spheres. Each time he told of yet another scholar who refuted his claims I always found myself thinking that he seems to be basing his idea that moral relativism is wide spread on his personal anecdotal experience. He may very well be right, but I was a little disappointed that he didn't back this specific claim up with any actual statistical information.
My only other qualm with this book runs along the same lines. He would often ask the reader to make assumptions. Reasonable as those assumptions were, it still felt like he had to fall back onto assumptions a little often. Because of this his conclusions seemed to be based on too little evidence to be as sure of himself as he came across.
That said I thought his arguments otherwise were extremely informative. I especially appreciated his expertise in psychology and neuroscience and how he was able to integrate those fields into supporting his general thesis. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who seeks a greater understanding of how science and morality interact.
Clearly reasoned, written, and read, the Moral Landscape takes obscure and sensitive subject matter seriously. Sam expresses his concerns and critiques without obscurantist rhetoric and, while some readers will inevitably detect condescension toward certain world views, Sam never relies on tone or characterization to do more than give color his arguments which are always backed up with examples and sensible comparisons. When discussing scientific particularities, such as brain structures and experimental procedures, he is explicit without getting bogged down in jargon, minutia or interminable lists. All sources are clearly cited. I personally believe that anyone who takes morality and questions of social good seriously is obligated to read this book.
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.
This book was phenomenal. A beautiful and rich blend of philosophy and science that lends itself to intriguing argument on nearly every page.
The concepts themselves are novel and well developed. The opposing arguments well considered. You can certainly hear Sam's overall ideology throughout, not least of all when approaching religion head on, but even so it doesn't seem to sour the purity of his thoughts with any sort of poisonous bias, simply the inherent kind that is inescapable.
The audio version being narrated by Sam made the experience better than I'd imagine it would've been otherwise. The regular speed sounded painfully slow for some reason, as if he were drowsy (atop his already naturally slow cadence). 1.25x speed sounded more like his regular dialogue and 1.5x was perfectly swift workout losing any mental footing when attempting to keep up with his postulates.
Highly recommended, probably the most interesting read of the year for me thus far.
Listening to books like this are very inspiring and make me feel much more optimistic for the future. Sam discusses complex and sensitive real-world issues and articulates them in such a way that is truly awe inspiring. I think this book is easy enough for anyone to understand and so I would would recommend to anyone. I feel like he speaks for many individuals(myself included) that want everybody to understand that through only the power of science and reason can EVERYONES lives be improved.
Harris mixes profound insights with a dry humor that really underlines many of his more brilliant points. Not that he needs humor to make them, but it makes reading the book that more enjoyable.
I used to be annoyed by Sam Harris' voice, but I've come to love it after listening to many of his lectures. He's very calm in his speech, almost to the point of being lulling. Also, having the book read by its author is always a plus as far as I'm concerned.
This is one of the best books on the subject on human morality one can read. Even if you don't agree with Harris you would be the poorer for letting it pass you by.