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Author Topic: The Moral Landscape  (Read 832 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jetavan
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« on: October 12, 2010, 03:06:55 PM »

Sam Harris' new book, The Moral Landscape:

"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."


Oh, he's re-discovered "natural law". Smiley
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 03:07:15 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2010, 03:24:38 PM »

Sam Harris' new book, The Moral Landscape:

"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."


Oh, he's re-discovered "natural law". Smiley
Good for him.  Wink
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2010, 03:26:19 PM »

It was much more fun in the 1700's... at least then there was a lot of quasi-pagan imagery and poetic rhetoric.
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2010, 08:41:58 PM »

I read his end of faith a few years ago.  I never could figure out where he got his ethics from, and I found his solution to the radical Islam problem interesting, since he was always complaining about the "violence" that came from religions.
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2010, 08:53:59 PM »

I wasn't aware of this book, thanks for the heads up. I just ordered a copy from amazon.com. I'll admit that I wasn't exactly blown away by The End of Faith. And some of his ideas I just plain disagree with (especially his thoughts on moderate religion). However, I have found the lectures and interviews of his that I've viewed online to be fairly thought provoking. Also, I'll give him credit, he's the only one of the "new atheists" that I've read who 1) embraces spirituality, albeit a non-religious form of it, and 2) has been willing to question atheist orthodoxy (e.g. in one talk I watched he argued that people identifying themselves as an "atheist" does more harm than good--I don't know if that is his actual position, but at the very least he wanted to try and argue for that position to make people think about it)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 08:55:43 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2010, 10:31:21 PM »

I'll give him credit, he...has been willing to question atheist orthodoxy (e.g. in one talk I watched he argued that people identifying themselves as an "atheist" does more harm than good...).
Did he argue that atheists should describe themselves as "bright" instead?
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2010, 10:49:21 PM »

I'll give him credit, he...has been willing to question atheist orthodoxy (e.g. in one talk I watched he argued that people identifying themselves as an "atheist" does more harm than good...).
Did he argue that atheists should describe themselves as "bright" instead?

Brights? As in Light? As in Illuminati? I smell conspiracy!!!  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2010, 12:34:23 AM »

I'll give him credit, he...has been willing to question atheist orthodoxy (e.g. in one talk I watched he argued that people identifying themselves as an "atheist" does more harm than good...).
Did he argue that atheists should describe themselves as "bright" instead?

No. Actually he mentioned brights among the labels that should not be used. Here's the video.
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2011, 07:28:18 AM »

Got around to reading this and I was surprised to find such a weak argument that science could determine morality. He embarrassingly uses a chess game and that you can make good or bad moves, as an example or morality. However this is false because there is no evil or praiseworthy goodness of the moves you make in Chess, you either make good or bad moves to win the goal of the game. It's also like saying I'm having an argument with orthonorm and my logic is bad, it's not morally bad but logically bad.

The most dangerous part about Harris' assertion of human flourishing, is the darker side of his argument that is namely: eugenics. So in order for the "well being" of the human, or in fact mankind, it must eliminate the undesirable qualities from the genepool. This means increasing the abortion rate and infantile genocides in the name of a race that would be free from any genetic disorders, abnormalities, defects and handicaps. This is how one would justify human attrocities in the name of flourishing.

It's a red herring on Harris part to presume that you need God to discern moral duites. However to ground moral values objectively, you need to have a trandescdent source, namely God.

One more example is how atheists blink when they stare in the face of atheism and see its consequences. So few modern atheists have the courage that Nietzche had to look atheism in the face and undestand the consequences of death of God and they cannot live with the moral nihilism that results. So you get these salvage operations which make grauititous assumptions about the nature of the good and human flourishing and therefore try to provide a secular subsitute for a religious foundation on morality.

Here was a fantatic amazon.com review from an atheist...it's pretty lengthy, but I wanted to showcase the last part of the review because of the truth it contains:

"Of course, a belief that makes people happy is no more likely to be true than one that makes people miserable, but if you're writing a book about the importance of well being, how can you pooh-pooh free will and then fail to address these issues? Oh, at some point he gives a back-pedaling, apologetic disclaimer that (don't slit those wrists yet, folks!) human choices are still meaningful, but it rings false...coming, as it does, directly after a detailed argument that our "choices" arise from things we have no control over. He wants to have his cake and eat it too.

The book is a conversation starter, to be sure. But by the time I got to the end, I was left with no real answers and with a feeling that Harris, like everyone else, is just frantically dog-paddling to escape the quagmire of moral emptiness that's forever sucking at our postmodern minds--while tipping an intellectual bow in its direction.

Here's the point where a reluctant nihilist fails to find moral direction in science and has another beer.
"

http://www.amazon.com/review/RW49KN1IMGW1B
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