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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

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  • E. Li
  • Sacramento
  • 03-15-17

Original

A seminal work, Sam Harris includes many original insights and weaves a tight argument that universal morality exists and science is not only an endeavor to uncover what is, but what ought to be.

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Tough read for people who don't keep open mind, Do you?

It is always an experience to read any of Sam's books because his IQ and his aplomb make one wonder why people don't adopt such approach when it really hurts no body and has nothing but respect for all people!!

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Well presented thesis: Morality via Science

I find little to argue with here outside Sam's commitment in defending determinism over compatiblism. He seems to agree with Dennet on compatiblism but talk they often talk past each other based on their definitions of the word "Free Will." At this point, however, this discussion seems worthless to have in general. The concept of Free Will is about as ill-defined as god and with about as many varied and conflicting definitions.

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Great book & Innovative idea

Same Harris keeps impressing me with his intelligent thoughts and prospective about the world. I hope I could have the chance to meet him in the future. Wonderful thinker!

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Brilliant!

To explain where I'm coming from, I was raised Mormon and became an atheist in my mid 20's--nearly 20 years ago now. Religion has remained a fascinating topic for me, and I've spent some time over the years discussing it with believers and non believers alike.

The most challenging topic has been morality. Certain believers are adamant that there is absolutely no basis of morality without a God to give the rules, keep score, and inflict judgment. Is that true? Taking a step back, what causes a thing to be moral or immoral, regardless of whether there is a god or not? Or is morality something that doesn't actually exist in the real world?

In The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris discusses this issue head on. The tone is intelligent, insightful, optimistic, and humble. Yes, morality exists, and yes, in principle at least it is accessible to science. There are many very tough questions regarding ethics and Harris doesn't shy away from them or pretend to have all the answers. But he has a few answers, including a clear understanding of how the problem should be framed.

I've read a couple of books by "new atheists" Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and frankly wasn't that impressed. Attacking religion is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel, and can lead to being a little lazy in how you describe things. This book is completely different--it's a thoughtful and insightful discourse on a challenging and important topic.

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Wishful Thesis (I mean that as a compliment)

I'm a bit of a Sam Harris fanboy, so I obviously enjoyed the book, but I agree with some of his critics on how it isn't completely clear on how science is supposed to guide us in terms of morality, so in that regard there's a certain allure of manifesto to his thesis.

I see it as a starter's pistol on breaking the taboos protecting ''questionnable'' morality from criticism, akin to how The End Of Faith started the new atheist movement. Sam Harris has never shied away from his mission as a hopeful primer for honest conversation and The Moral Landscape certainly fits this M.O.

I would also ad that, as it is always the case, I find that author reading his/her own work ads to the experience.

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Brilliant

Sam Harris is over of the great intellectuals of our time. misunderstood by many on the right and the left but for those willing to really listen, he is a fascinating and enlightening.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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excellent book

loved it. Sam Harris is hands down one of the greatest minds of the generation. recommend this book to everyone.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One for the history books

I absolutely loved it. Good argumentation to convey that there are moral truths we can discover. He expressed the need for a science of morality which I am on board with, yet also presented that at the very least we could have a moral system that maybe is less science like and more economics like (not a science yet not guesses).

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Sam never disappoints

With an uncanny ability to make his case in clear powerful language and examples he again makes the case for universal morality on a continuum in this book. His work should stand the test of time.