Sam Harris’s first book, The End of Faith, ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people—from religious fundamentalists to nonbelieving scientists—agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. It is also the primary reason why so many secularists and religious moderates feel obligated to "respect" the hardened superstitions of their more devout neighbors.
In this explosive new book, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge. Harris urges us to think about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a "moral landscape". Because there are definite facts to be known about where we fall on this landscape, Harris foresees a time when science will no longer limit itself to merely describing what people do in the name of "morality"; in principle, science should be able to tell us what we ought to do to live the best lives possible.
Bringing a fresh perspective to age-old questions of right and wrong and good and evil, Harris demonstrates that we already know enough about the human brain and its relationship to events in the world to say that there are right and wrong answers to the most pressing questions of human life. Because such answers exist, moral relativism is simply false—and comes at increasing cost to humanity. And the intrusions of religion into the sphere of human values can be finally repelled: for just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, there can be no Christian or Muslim morality.
©2010 Sam Harris (P)2010 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
“Sam Harris breathes intellectual fire into an ancient debate. Reading this thrilling, audacious book, you feel the ground shifting beneath your feet. Reason has never had a more passionate advocate.” (Ian McEwan)
“A lively, provocative, and timely new look at one of the deepest problems in the world of ideas. Harris makes a powerful case for a morality that is based on human flourishing and thoroughly enmeshed with science and rationality. It is a tremendously appealing vision, and one that no thinking person can afford to ignore.” (Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate)
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.
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.
As usual, Sam Harris does not pull any punches and analyzes thoroughly the current state of thinking and science (mainly experimental psychology and neuroscience) as they relate to morality, well-being and the concepts of right and wrong.
& science. I've never read any book before that breaks down the basics of what humans have been questioning for centuries
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