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Sam Harris

Data di nascita: 9. Aprile 1967
Altri nomi: سم هریس

Sam Harris è un filosofo, saggista e neuroscienziato statunitense.

È l'autore del libro La fine della fede , che ha vinto nel 2005 il PEN/Martha Albrand Award. Ha scritto anche Lettera a una nazione cristiana , una sorta di risposta alle critiche mosse al suo primo libro.

Nel 2007 è diventato cofondatore di Project Reason insieme a sua moglie, Annaka Harris, una fondazione senza scopo di lucro finalizzata alla promozione della conoscenza scientifica e dei valori secolari nel mondo. Wikipedia

Lavori

„Gandhi è stato indubbiamente il pacifista più influente del XX secolo. Il successo che ha riportato nel costringere l'impero britannico a ritirarsi dal subcontinente indiano ha fatto scendere il pacifismo dalle altezze dei precetti religiosi e gli ha dato nuova rilevanza politica. Un pacifismo di quel tipo richiedeva indubbiamente un tipo di coraggio da parte di chi lo praticava e costituiva un attacco diretto all'ingiustizia. […] tuttavia è chiaro che la politica della nonviolenza di Gandhi si può limitare soltanto ad una gamma limitata di conflitti umani. Faremmo bene a riflettere sul rimedio suggerito da Gandhi per l'Olocausto: egli credeva che gli ebrei si sarebbero dovuti suicidare in massa, in quanto tale atto "avrebbe reso il mondo ed il popolo tedesco consapevoli della violenza di Hitler". Potremmo chiederci cosa avremmo fatto in un mondo pieno di pacifisti dopo essere stato così "risvegliato": forse si sarebbe suicidato a sua volta? […] Quello di Gandhi era un mondo in cui altri milioni di persone sarebbero morte nella speranza che i nazisti un giorno iniziassero a dubitare della bontà del loro Reich. Ecco che ci troviamo di fronte ad una situazione paradossale: quando il vostro nemico non ha scrupoli, i vostri stessi scrupoli si trasformano in un'arma nelle sue mani.“

—  Sam Harris, libro La fine della fede

Origine: George Orwell, “Reflection on Gandhi”, in “The Oxford Book Essay”, s cura di J. Gross, Oxford University Press, 1949, p. 506
Origine: La fine della fede, p. 173

„Ebrei, cristiani e musulmani affermano che le loro scritture hanno una conoscenza dei bisogni dell'umanità talmente approfondita che potrebbero solo essere state scritte sotto la direzione di una divinità onnisciente. Un ateo è semplicemente una persona che ha preso in considerazione tale affermazione, ha letto i libri e ha trovato l'affermazione stessa ridicola. Non c'è bisogno di prendere tutto per fede, o essere in alternativa dogmatici, per rigettare credenze religiose ingiustificate. Come disse una volta lo storico Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71): «Io sostengo che siamo entrambi atei, solo che io credo in un dio di meno rispetto a voi. Quando capirete perché rifiutate tutti gli altri possibili dèi, capirete anche perché io rifiuto il vostro.»“

—  Sam Harris

Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity's needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn't have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
Origine: Da 10 myths - and 10 truths - about atheism http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-harris24dec24,0,3994298.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail, LA Times.it, 24 dicembre 2006.

„Considerate, ad esempio, il virus umano papilloma (HPV). Tra le malattie sessualmente trasmesse, ormai HPV è la più comune negli Stati Uniti. Questo virus infetta più della metà della popolazione americana e causa la morte di quasi 5000 donne ogni anno per cancro cervicale; i Centri Per Il Controllo Delle Malattie (CDC) stimano che ogni anno in tutto il mondo muoiono più di 200.000 persone per questo motivo. Adesso abbiamo un vaccino per l'HPV che sembra sia sicuro e funzionante. Il vaccino ha prodotto il 100% dell'immunita nelle 6000 donne che lo hanno ricevuto in un esperimento clinico. Eppure, i conservatori cristiani nel nostro governo si sono opposti al programma di vaccinazione sostenendo che HPV è utile ad impedire il sesso prematrimoniale. Queste persone pie vogliono mantenere il cancro cervicale come incentivo all'astinenza, anche se sacrifica le vite di migliaia di donne ogni anno. Uno degli effetti più perniciosi della religione è che tende ad allontanare la moralità dalla realtà della sofferenza umana ed animale. La religione induce le persone a pensare che le loro preoccupazioni siano morali quando in realtà non lo sono ― perche non hanno niente a che vedere con la sofferenza e la sua alleviazione. Anzi, la religione fa pensare le persone che le loro preoccupazioni siano morali quando in realta sono altamente immorali ― perché attuarle significa infliggere sofferenze terribili e non necessarie su esseri umani innocenti. Questo spiega perché i cristiani spendano più energia "morale" ad opporsi all'aborto piuttosto che a combattere il genocidio. Spiega perché si preoccupino più degli embrioni umani che della promessa di salvare vite che ci giunge dalle cellule staminali embrionali. E spiega perché possano predicare contro l'uso del preservativo nell'Africa subsahariana quando milioni di persone lì muoiono ogni anno di Aids. Voi Cristiani credete che le vostre preoccupazioni religiose sul sesso abbiano qualcosa a che fare con la moralità. Eppure, i vostri sforzi di porre restrizioni al comportamento sessuale di adulti consenzienti ― e persino di scoraggiare i vostri stessi figli dal fare sesso prima del matrimonio ― non sono quasi mai finalizzati ad alleviare la sofferenza umana. In verità, alleviare la sofferenza sembra essere una delle ultime cose nella vostra lista di priorità.“

—  Sam Harris, Lettera a una nazione cristiana

Lettera a una nazione cristiana

„The illusion of free will… is itself an illusion.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris at Sydney Opera House Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012, Discussion on Free Will http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM3raA1EwrI.
2010s
Contesto: The illusion of free will... is itself an illusion. There is no illusion of free will. Thoughts and intentions simply arise. What else could they do? Now, some of you might think this sounds depressing, but it's actually incredibly freeing to see life this way. It does take something away from life: what it takes away from life is an egocentric view of life. We're not truly separate: we are linked to one another, we are linked to the world, we are linked to our past, and to history. And what we do actually matters because of that linkage, because of the permeability, because of the fact that we can't be the true locus of responsibility. That's what makes it all matter.

„Now Jainism actually is a religion of peace. The core principle of Jainism is non-violence.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, Lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDMOxjHIt0U at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (November 10, 2010)
2010s
Contesto: "Religion" is a nearly useless term. It's a term like "sports". Now there are sports like Badminton and sports like Thai Boxing, and they have almost nothing in common apart from breathing. There are sports that are just synonymous with the risk of physical injury or even death … There is, I'm happy to say, a religion of peace in this world, but it's not Islam. The claim that Islam is a religion of peace that we hear ceaselessly reiterated is completely delusional. Now Jainism actually is a religion of peace. The core principle of Jainism is non-violence. Gandhi got his non-violence from the Jains. The crazier you get as a Jain, the less we have to worry about you. Jain extremists are paralysed by their pacifism. Jain extremists can't take their eyes off the ground when they walk lest they step on an ant... Needless to say they are vegetarian. So the problem is not religious extremism, because extremism is not a problem if your core beliefs are truly non-violent. The problem isn't fundamentalism. We often hear this said: these are euphemisms... The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam.

„I don’t know what happens after the physical brain dies. I don’t know what the relationship between consciousness and the physical world is. I don’t think anyone does know.“

—  Sam Harris

Origine: Sam Harris, Big Think Sam Harris On Death http://bigthink.com/ideas/3127 (July 4, 2007)
Contesto: We just don’t teach people how to grieve. You know, religion is the epitome, the antithesis of teaching your children how to grieve. You tell your child that, “Grandma is in heaven”, and there’s nothing to be sad about. That’s religion. It would be better to equip your child for the reality of this life, which is, you know, we... death is a fact. And we don’t know what happens after death. And I’m not pretending to know that you get a dial tone after death. I don’t know what happens after the physical brain dies. I don’t know what the relationship between consciousness and the physical world is. I don’t think anyone does know. Now I think there are many reasons to be doubtful of naïve conceptions about the soul, and about this idea that you could just migrate to a better place after death. But I simply don’t know about what... I don’t know what I believe about death. And I don’t think it’s necessary to know in order to live as sanely and ethically and happily as possible. I don’t think you get... You don't get anything worth getting by pretending to know things you don't know.

„If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, in
2000s
Contesto: If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion. I think more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than as a result of any other ideology. I would not say that all human conflict is born of religion or religious differences, but for the human community to be fractured on the basis of religious doctrines that are fundamentally incompatible, in an age when nuclear weapons are proliferating, is a terrifying scenario.

„It is time we admitted that we are not at war with "terrorism". We are at war with Islam.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, "Mired in a religious war", Washington Times (1 December 2004) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/dec/1/20041201-090801-2582r/
2000s
Contesto: It is time we admitted that we are not at war with "terrorism". We are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. The only reason Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to us is because the fundamentals of Islam are a threat to us.

„So the problem is not religious extremism, because extremism is not a problem if your core beliefs are truly non-violent. The problem isn't fundamentalism. We often hear this said: these are euphemisms… The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, Lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDMOxjHIt0U at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (November 10, 2010)
2010s
Contesto: "Religion" is a nearly useless term. It's a term like "sports". Now there are sports like Badminton and sports like Thai Boxing, and they have almost nothing in common apart from breathing. There are sports that are just synonymous with the risk of physical injury or even death … There is, I'm happy to say, a religion of peace in this world, but it's not Islam. The claim that Islam is a religion of peace that we hear ceaselessly reiterated is completely delusional. Now Jainism actually is a religion of peace. The core principle of Jainism is non-violence. Gandhi got his non-violence from the Jains. The crazier you get as a Jain, the less we have to worry about you. Jain extremists are paralysed by their pacifism. Jain extremists can't take their eyes off the ground when they walk lest they step on an ant... Needless to say they are vegetarian. So the problem is not religious extremism, because extremism is not a problem if your core beliefs are truly non-violent. The problem isn't fundamentalism. We often hear this said: these are euphemisms... The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam.

„The crazier you get as a Jain, the less we have to worry about you. Jain extremists are paralysed by their pacifism.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, Lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDMOxjHIt0U at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (November 10, 2010)
2010s
Contesto: "Religion" is a nearly useless term. It's a term like "sports". Now there are sports like Badminton and sports like Thai Boxing, and they have almost nothing in common apart from breathing. There are sports that are just synonymous with the risk of physical injury or even death … There is, I'm happy to say, a religion of peace in this world, but it's not Islam. The claim that Islam is a religion of peace that we hear ceaselessly reiterated is completely delusional. Now Jainism actually is a religion of peace. The core principle of Jainism is non-violence. Gandhi got his non-violence from the Jains. The crazier you get as a Jain, the less we have to worry about you. Jain extremists are paralysed by their pacifism. Jain extremists can't take their eyes off the ground when they walk lest they step on an ant... Needless to say they are vegetarian. So the problem is not religious extremism, because extremism is not a problem if your core beliefs are truly non-violent. The problem isn't fundamentalism. We often hear this said: these are euphemisms... The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam.

„These chemicals disclose layers of beauty that art is powerless to capture and for which the beauty of Nature herself is a mere simulacrum.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, Drugs and the Meaning of Life http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-life/ (5 July 2011)
2010s
Contesto: I have visited both extremes on the psychedelic continuum. The positive experiences were more sublime than I could have ever imagined or than I can now faithfully recall. These chemicals disclose layers of beauty that art is powerless to capture and for which the beauty of Nature herself is a mere simulacrum. It is one thing to be awestruck by the sight of a giant redwood and to be amazed at the details of its history and underlying biology. It is quite another to spend an apparent eternity in egoless communion with it. Positive psychedelic experiences often reveal how wondrously at ease in the universe a human being can be—and for most of us, normal waking consciousness does not offer so much as a glimmer of these deeper possibilities... But as the peaks are high, the valleys are deep. My “bad trips” were, without question, the most harrowing hours I have ever suffered—and they make the notion of hell, as a metaphor if not a destination, seem perfectly apt.

„You don't get anything worth getting by pretending to know things you don't know.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, Big Think Sam Harris On Death http://bigthink.com/ideas/3127 (July 4, 2007)
2000s
Contesto: We just don’t teach people how to grieve. You know, religion is the epitome, the antithesis of teaching your children how to grieve. You tell your child that, “Grandma is in heaven”, and there’s nothing to be sad about. That’s religion. It would be better to equip your child for the reality of this life, which is, you know, we... death is a fact. And we don’t know what happens after death. And I’m not pretending to know that you get a dial tone after death. I don’t know what happens after the physical brain dies. I don’t know what the relationship between consciousness and the physical world is. I don’t think anyone does know. Now I think there are many reasons to be doubtful of naïve conceptions about the soul, and about this idea that you could just migrate to a better place after death. But I simply don’t know about what... I don’t know what I believe about death. And I don’t think it’s necessary to know in order to live as sanely and ethically and happily as possible. I don’t think you get... You don't get anything worth getting by pretending to know things you don't know.

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