Listing books by Sam Harris

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Full title The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Publisher W. W. Norton
Category Religion
Publication year 2004
ISBN 0-393-32765-5 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 348
Synopsis

The central thesis in End of Faith is that faith is dangerous, because beliefs unsupported by evidence, when put into action, can't be reasoned with. Harris gives a lot of historical examples of this (indeed, the book has a pretty extensive bibliography in the back), and the book is peppered with endnotes (and a few pages-long ones, at that!).

The last two chapters are called A Science of Good and Evil (where Harris tries to map out an emerging science of morality) and Experiments in Consciousness (where Harris basically advocates meditation as a rational way of garnering knowledge about subjectivity, and where he doesn't reject the notion of consciousness surviving physical death). While I reject the notion that personhood survives death (that is, I think consciousness is dependent upon the brain being able to function properly and that when it eventually succumbs to decay, that'll be the end of us), I can wholeheartedly join Harris in admitting ignorance on that question.

Review

While I can't say the book was an entirely enjoyable read, it's definitely well-written and engaging. What turned me off was the incessant referencing to past atrocities. However, that was in part (I think) the intent of the book, and in that sense it succeeded. I can definitely recommend it, nonetheless.

Images Back of The End of Faith.Spine of The End of Faith.Front of The End of Faith.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  1. Reason in Exile
  2. The Nature of Belief
  3. In the Shadow of God
  4. The Problem with Islam
  5. West of Eden
  6. A Science of Good and Evil
  7. Experiments in Consciousness
  • Epilogue
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Full title Free Will [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Category Philosophy
Publication year 2012
Pages 96
Synopsis

Using psychology, results from neuroscience, and clever reasoning, Sam Harris shows how free will is an illusion.

Full title Letter to a Christian Nation [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Category Religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 0-307-26577-3 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 96
Synopsis

This book is a criticism of religion. Specifically, it criticizes the inherently stupid things being done by humans in the name of the particular branch of religion that they happen to have been brought up with (like opposing abortion, stem-cell research, and embracing the idea of martyrdom). It's written as an open letter to a Christian, so it didn't particularly speak to me, but I imagine a Christian might have a mind-opening experience if he read it.

Images Back flap of Letter to a Christian Nation.Back of Letter to a Christian Nation.Spine of Letter to a Christian Nation.Front of Letter to a Christian Nation.Front flap of Letter to a Christian Nation.
Full title Lying [permalink]
Language English
Authors Annaka Harris (editor) and Sam Harris (author)
Categories Essay, philosophy and psychology
Publication year 2011
Original publication year 2011
Pages 66
Synopsis

Lying is a very short book about the implications and morality of lying. In short, Harris argues (successfully, in my opinion) that one should never lie, even about the smallest things, if what you're trying to do is build good relationships with people. He even goes into border cases, such as a wife asking her husband if she looks good in a dress (one can answer the sub-text of a question, not necessarily the literal meaning of it) and someone hiding a Jew when a Nazi comes a-knockin' on the door (in that case, you're not really trying to build a lasting relationship with the person).

Review

Sam Harris is a really talented writer, and reading his material is never boring. This book is no exception, and the fact that it's as short as it is, is a point in its favor. It's the perfect length when all you're doing is making an argument, not laying out in detail a theory. (I wish more writers would be similarly inspired to brevity.)

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • What Is a Lie?
  • The Mirror of Honesty
  • Two Types of Lies
  • White Lies
  • Trust
  • Faint Praise
  • Secrets
  • Lies in Extremis
  • Mental Accounting
  • Integrity
  • Big Lies
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
Full title The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Publisher Black Swan
Categories Philosophy and science
Publication year 2012
Original publication year 2010
ISBN 978-0-552-77638-7 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 380
Images Back of The Moral Landscape.Spine of The Moral Landscape.Front of The Moral Landscape.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction: The Moral Landscape
  • Chapter 1: Moral Truth
  • Chapter 2: Good and Evil
  • Chapter 3: Belief
  • Chapter 4: Religion
  • Chapter 5: The Future of Happiness
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

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