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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.

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

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„I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one’s own consciousness.“

—  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) <nowiki>[audio version https://soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-life</nowiki>]
2010s
Contesto: The “war on drugs” has been well lost, and should never have been waged. While it isn’t explicitly protected by the U. S. Constitution, I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one’s own consciousness. The fact that we pointlessly ruin the lives of nonviolent drug users by incarcerating them, at enormous expense, constitutes one of the great moral failures of our time.

„There is, I'm happy to say, a religion of peace in this world, but it's not 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.

„How difficult would it be to improve the Bible?“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, “Re-Evolution” Debate, 18/11/2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKWZ3a4XlQI&t=35s
2000s
Contesto: The truth is that religion, as we speak of it – Islam, Christianity, Judaism – is based on the claim that God dictates certain books. He doesn’t code software, he doesn’t produce films, he doesn’t score symphonies, he is an author. And this claim has achieved credibility because these books are deemed so profound they could not have possibly been written by human authors. Please consider for a moment how differently we treat scientific claims and texts and discoveries. Isaac Newton went into isolation for 18 months starting in the year 1665. When he came out of his solitude he had invented the calculus; he had discovered the laws of motion and universal gravitation; he had single-handedly created the field of optics. No one thinks this was anything but a man’s labor. And it took 200 hundred years of continuous ingenuity on the part of some of the smartest people who ever lived to substantially improve upon Newton’s work. How difficult would it be to improve the Bible? Anyone in this room could improve this supposedly inerrant text scientifically, historically, ethically, spiritually – in moments. If God loves us and wanted to guide us with a book of morality, it’s very strange to have given us a book that supports slavery, that demands that we murder people for imaginary crimes like witchcraft. The true basis for hope in our world is open-ended conversation, and religion has shattered our world into competing moral communities. What we have to convince ourselves of is – that love and curiosity is enough for us – and intellectual honesty is the guardian of that.

„Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, "The View From The End Of The World" (9 December 2005)
2000s
Contesto: The problem with faith, is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason, why you do not have to give reasons, for what you believe.

„The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming. Observant Jains will literally not harm a fly.“

—  Sam Harris

Q&A with Sam Harris (2005) http://www.samharris.org/press/Q&A-with-Sam-Harris.pdf
2000s
Contesto: The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming. Observant Jains will literally not harm a fly. Fundamentalist Jainism and fundamentalist Islam do not have the same consequences, neither logically nor behaviorally.

„In a world that has long been terrorized by fratricidal Sky-God religions, the ascendance of Buddhism would surely be a welcome development.“

—  Sam Harris

2000s
Contesto: One could surely argue that the Buddhist tradition, taken as a whole, represents the richest source of contemplative wisdom that any civilization has produced. In a world that has long been terrorized by fratricidal Sky-God religions, the ascendance of Buddhism would surely be a welcome development.

„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.

„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.

„Death is, in some ways, unacceptable.“

—  Sam Harris

Sam Harris, Big Think Sam Harris On Death http://bigthink.com/ideas/3127 (4 July 2007)
2000s
Contesto: Death is, in some ways, unacceptable. It’s just an astonishing fact of our being here that we die. But I think worse than that is if we live long enough, we lose everyone we love in this world. I mean people die and disappear, and we’re left with this stark mystery: just the sheer not knowing of what happened to them.

„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

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.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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