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Sam Harris

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Samuel Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host. His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, philosophy of mind, politics, terrorism, and artificial intelligence
20 books on the list
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Superintelligence
Paths, Dangers, Strategies
Nick Bostrom - Apr 30, 2016
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A New York Times bestseller Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life.The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
There’s another work of philosophy here. Sort of philosophy/science that I’ve been greatly influenced by of late.The philosopher, Nick Bostrom, wrote a book called “Superintelligence,” which has impressed many people for the thoroughness with which he has argued that we have a serious problem looming with respect to the birth of intelligent machines.     source
Waking Up
A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion
Sam Harris - Jun 16, 2015 (first published in 2014)
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For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’s latest New York Times bestseller is a guide to meditation as a rational practice informed by neuroscience and psychology.From Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, Waking Up is for the twenty percent of Americans who foll...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
I suspect many of you want recommendations on books about meditation and spiritual experience. There’s no book out there that is free of the superstition and religiosity you tend to get with books aboutBuddhism or Advaita Vedanta, the Hindu teachings of non-duality. I can’t really recommend those books without caveat. I wrote the book that I think needed to exist, “Waking Up,” which was my last book. I am reluctant to include my own book in a list of books everyone should read, however. But there was a reason why I wrote that book, because there’s really no book I could point rational people, students of science, critics of religious mumbo jumbo, with a clear conscience.     source
Also recommended by
Naval RavikantSusan Cain
Hitch-22
A Memoir
Christopher Hitchens - Jun 03, 2011 (first published in 2010)
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Over the course of his 60 years, Christopher Hitchens has been a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has been both a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the U.S. war against Islamic extremism in Iraq. He has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a legendary...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
If you haven’t read Christopher Hitchens, you should. He was a brilliant writer and also a brilliant speaker. You can get the benefit of both his voice and his writing if you listen to his audiobooks, the ones he read himself. “God is NotGreat,” and “Hitch-22” are two of those. I don’t know if he read any of the others. But it’s great listening.     source
God Is Not Great
How Religion Poisons Everything
Christopher Hitchens - Apr 06, 2009 (first published in 2007)
Goodreads Rating
Whether you're a lifelong believer, a devout atheist, or someone who remains uncertain about the role of religion in our lives, this insightful manifesto will engage you with its provocative ideas. With a close and studied reading of the major religious texts, Christopher Hitchens documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of ...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
If you haven’t read Christopher Hitchens, you should. He was a brilliant writer and also a brilliant speaker. You can get the benefit of both his voice and his writing if you listen to his audiobooks, the ones he read himself. “God is NotGreat,” and “Hitch-22” are two of those. I don’t know if he read any of the others. But it’s great listening.     source
The Qur'an
M. A. S. Abdel Haleem - Jun 15, 2008 (first published in 650)
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One of the most influential books in the history of literature, recognized as the greatest literary masterpiece in Arabic, the Qur'an is the supreme authority and living source of all Islamic teaching, the sacred text that sets out the creed, rituals, ethics, and laws of Islam. Yet despite the growing interest in Islamic teachings and culture, ther...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
I think everyone should read the Holy Koran.Very few of you have read the Koran. Many of you have heard me make unpleasant assertions about it. Read it. It’s much shorter than the Bible. You can read it in a weekend and you will be informed about the central doctrines of Islam in a way that you may not be and it’s good to be informed, given how much influence these ideas have currently in our world.     source
Stumbling on Happiness
Daniel Gilbert - Mar 20, 2007 (first published in 2006)
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• Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? • Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? • Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want? • Why do pigeons seem to have s...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
There’s a lot to be said for having kids and that really is not a rejoinder to the research that suggests that people are made, for a very long time, reliably less happy as parents. You can find this in Daniel Gilbert’s work on effective forecasting, which he summarised in a book “Stumbling upon happiness,” which is also a good book which I recommend.     source
Also recommended by
Maria PopovaDerek Sivers
Machete Season
Jean Hatzfeld - Apr 18, 2006 (first published in 2003)
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During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called Rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. Several years later, journalist Jean Hatzfeld traveled to Rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings, eliciting extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetr...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
If you want to see what it’s like when things go about as wrong as they can go, read “Machete Season,” which is a short book about the Rwandan genocide that is, if I recall correctly, entirely borne of interviews with some of the main perpetrators of this genocide. So not merely the people who were swinging the machetes, but the people who were running those gangs and enforcing people’s membership therein.They invite you in there and they give you the full tour. It is uncanny that circumstances can come together culturally, neurophysiologically and otherwise so as to produce this kind of behaviour again with a clear conscience. So it is a short book and a very sobering one worth reading, if you can stomach that sort of thing.     source
The Last Word
Thomas Nagel - Oct 31, 2001 (first published in 1996)
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If there is such a thing as reason, it has to be universal. Reason must reflect objective principles whose validity is independent of our point of view - principles that anyone with enough intelligence ought to be able to recognize as correct. But this universality of reason is what relativists and subjectivists deny in ever-increasing numbers. And...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
Nagle is a very fine writer, a very clear. Just as a style of communication, I think he’s worth going to school on. I would recommend you read his little book, “The Last Word,” which champions rationality in a very compelling way.     source
The Anatomy of Disgust
William Ian Miller - Sep 30, 1998 (first published in 1997)
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William Miller details our anxious relation to basic life processes; eating, excreting, fornicating, decaying, and dying. But disgust pushes beyond the flesh to vivify the larger social order with the idiom it commandeers from the sights, smells, tastes, feels, and sounds of fleshly physicality. Disgust and contempt, Miller argues, play crucial pol...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
There’s a writer – William Ian Miller –who I think is unfairly neglected. He writes some fascinating books. Several have been on negative emotions. One book is entitled “Humiliation,” which was a great read. Just on the phenomenon of being humiliated and differentiating it from embarrassment and other similar emotions. He also wrote a book on disgust called “The Anatomy of Disgust,” which is also fun.These are very interdisciplinary books. He is a lawyer, I believe or a professor of law. But he goes deep into the relevant sociology and these are cool books.      source
The Flight of the Garuda
The Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism
Keith Dowman - Sep 01, 1994
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Flight of the Garuda conveys the heart advice of one of the most beloved masters of Tibet. The itinerant yogi Shabkar communicates the essence of the Dzogchen teachings through song both poetic and poignant.Along with Shabka's songs, Keith Dowman has translated four other seminal Dzogchen texts, including one by Patrul Rinpoche that is new to this ...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
There’s one book called The Flight of the Garuda, which I think is especially beautiful and wise.And among the Hindus who teach Advaita Vedanta, the non-dual teachings of yogic meditation that really just talks about pure consciousness and the illusion of the self – don’t be confused about the assertion of the existence of the big Self, capital S. They’re just talking about awareness in that case.      source
Reasons and Persons
Derek Parfit - Dec 31, 1985 (first published in 1984)
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Challenging, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity, Derek Parfit claims that we have a false view about our own nature. It is often rational to act against our own best interests, he argues, and most of us have moral views that are self-defeating. We often act wrongly, althou...
Sam Harris
Jul 08, 2015
I also recommend Derek Parfit’s book, “Reasons and Persons,” which is just brilliant and written as though by an alien intelligence. It’s a deeply strange book filled with thought experiments that bend your intuitions left and right.It’s just a truly strange and unique document and incredibly insightful about morality and questions of identity and well worth reading if you are of a philosophical cast of mind.     source
Also recommended by
Will MacAskill
A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
Behave by Robert M. Sapolsky
Our Final Invention by James Barrat
On Having No Head by Douglas Edison Harding
Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel
The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch
I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj
Humiliation by William Ian Miller
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote