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Publisher's Summary

Sam Harris has discovered that most people, from secular scientists to religious fundamentalists, agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, science’s failure to address questions of meaning and morality has become the primary justification for religious faith. The underlying claim is that while science is the best authority on the workings of the physical universe, religion is the best authority on meaning, values, morality, and leading a good life. Sam Harris shows us that this is not only untrue; it cannot possibly be true.

Bringing a fresh, secular perspective to age-old questions of right and wrong, and good and evil, Harris shows that we know enough about the human brain and how it reacts 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.

Using his expertise in philosophy and neuroscience, along with his experience on the front lines of the cultural war between science and religion, Harris delivers an explosive argument about the future of science, and about the real basis of human relationships.

©2011 Sam Harris (P)2011 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sam Harris is the tits.

Sam Harris is who Jesus should have been. The ideas expressed here lead to true compassion and empathy. Prepare to have your eyes and mind opened to the objective truths of your existence.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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More moral than the bible

If only the common man put this much thought and consideration into how to conduct yourself in life. If this doesn't set your mind racing, nothing will

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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This is what the word must-read is for.

An absolutely convincing argument for the science of morality, highlighting both the wrongly perceived difficulties as well as the actual difficulties.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent outlook on the human condition!

I was able to listen to this while enduring a particular shitty time in my life and it definitely helped foster perspective into my life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking and, at times, brilliant

Thought provoking and, at times, brilliant. I "read" it twice as the content is quite deep and i found i agreed with Harris on many levels

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Real thinker

The book really made me consider the complexities of morality & its development over our evolution.

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Sam harris is best

This books provides a clear concise and crisp way to ignite your thinking on moral matters.

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Great book but be warned

I love the subject matter and feel we need to rewrite the Bible on morals and hopefully the conscious awakening of mankind will tip soon but I'm writing this review to warn you about the psychopath section; there is a story about a "psycho" that I kinda didn't need to hear, it still plagues me a bit. If I was warned I'd still have listened though I guess.... if your sensitive maybe you might want to skip that part?

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A must read for anyone who thinks and cares...

A must read for anyone who thinks and cares about the future of humanity. A compelling and meaningful alternate to anyone doubting or questioning their faith.

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Moral Landscape Review

It has definitely made me question some of my judgements and be more aware of what is actually going on in our world. Brilliantly written. Fluently read once again. Thank you Sam

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  • Radu Antoniu
  • 26-08-2018

Not what I expected

The message of the book is that scientic facts can help answer moral questions. However, Sam doesn't provide concrete examples for how this can be done.

I expected something like this:

Moral question: Should pornography be legal?
The opinions of people today: Yes, because it represents free speech and people should be allowed to express themselves. No, because it's sinful.
Scientific facts: Pornography significantly reduces the well-being of those who watch it and the people who produce it. Porn users are less satisfied in their relationships, have reduced activity in some parts of the brain, are more accepting of of violence towards women, can suffer erectile dysfunction, and consider women less capable and less valuable than men. Children who grow up watching porn have tend to avoid intimacy and have a distorted view of sexuality. All women are affected by pornography because they are increasingly valued based on their looks rather than their skills. Women who discover their spouses watching porn are deeply hurt, some developing post traumatic stress disorder.
Answer to moral question: Research shows pornography reduces the well-being of society in many ways. Therefore, to maximize well-being pornography should not be legal.

This is a concrete example on how science can answer a moral question. I expected the book to be filled with them.

But Sam rather makes a philosophical case for this. Which is alright but a few examples would have been much more convincing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 14-08-2012

The most important thinker of our time

If you could sum up The Moral Landscape in three words, what would they be?

Probably the most elucidating book ever. The very idea that science can contribute to and has something to say about morality is eye-opening. I recommended this book for my brother who just entered medical school. Harris's arguments are overwhelmingly persuasive and if, God forbid ;), he died today, his contribution to society would have equalled 50,000 lifetimes of ordinary men. Bravo, Mr. Harris. I'm still speechless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Cate
  • 09-04-2012

Science is the closest thing to finding what moral

Where does The Moral Landscape rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's one of the top books I've listened, and will enjoy repeating the experience again.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Realizing that we have more power, knowledge and vision now to discover and understand fundamental truths about our lives, such as morality, values and spirituality. We're underestimating ourselves and let people from 3000 years ago decide what's wrong and right for us.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jónsi
  • 10-10-2018

very interedting

the book was very interesting and provided many very good points. Although I was expecting more mind blowing stuff which might just be my bias.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-04-2018

Does not refute Humeian is/ought distinction

Waste of time, doesn't attempt define "wellbeing" while claiming it's the only worthwhile moral value.

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  • Martin Hellen Schei
  • 22-02-2018

Good!

Interesting! Worth to listen to. Could give you a new perspective on morality and life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-10-2017

FANTASTIC. We, humans, have a long way to go.

Read this book and se how far from perfection we are. We are still very primitive an so preprogrammed by evolution. And most people are not aware of this and therefore the madness Continues.

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  • Petr Kubat
  • 09-09-2017

Weird structure

I like Sam's Waking up podcast so I am quite used to Sam's arguments and his reasoning. And I tend to agree with most of his arguments in general. So I wanted to read this book to have some structured view on this one topic. But this is not it. I found this book to be quite unstructured. Sam spends time arguing his opponents, other ideas or religion, rather than explaining his point of view extensively. Overall I had different expectations and thus I was partly disappointed. But on the other hand I wouldn't say that the book itself is bad. I just like different structure better. Author narrates the book himself which I always like the best. However sometimes the narration was quite quick and also Sam assumes listener/reader already has basic knowledge of philosophy.

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  • Thomas
  • 12-01-2017

the book that changed my life

a wonderful refutation of moral relativism, and the belief that there is a bright line between science and philosophy

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  • André
  • 05-08-2016

The most important book I've encountered!

The Moral Landscape, written by Sam Harris, offers context on subjects which are often ignored in daily society. The landscape he presents explores the peaks and valleys of the psychology behind human understanding and interaction, exposing fields of thought which may otherwise have been occluded.

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • shufflingB
  • 28-05-2011

Thought provoking, perhaps a little antagonistic

The central (and highly thought provoking) proposition behind this audio book is that as a race we should seek to give primacy in decisions about human morality and values to neuroscience and the scientific method. The assertion is that by doing this, as opposed to following the dogma of organised religions and other irrational beliefs, we will be creating a better society.

Whilst this is not an "easy" listen, the author does an admirable job of dealing with the science, logic, philosophy in order to make his case, whilst technically the recording and the reading are very good. I found listening to it a deeply engrossing, thought provoking and enjoyable experience and will certainly listen to it again in the near future.


So why four stars.


Well I think the authors assertion is almost certainly correct; we would be much better of removing religion from the equation. However for my money I think the book could have communicated this more effectively to a wider audience, if it had focused more on its own ideas and rather less on a sustained sniping at organised religion and its excesses. (The downside of this negativity is that there is unfortunately likely to be more people put off reading and understanding the excellent ideas in the book than will be attracted to it).


In summary, an excellent thought provoking listen, possibly flawed in a counter productive antagonistism towards religion and its adherents, otherwise very highly recommended.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. J. M. Ainsworth
  • 25-09-2013

The Third Horseman of the Apocalypse - Brilliant

Having been overawed by the the works of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, I have now very much enjoyed my introduction to Sam Harris, the third of the four so-called "Horsemen" whose works I have now begun to consume (the fourth being Daniel Dennett). Speaking from his expertise in neurology and philosophy, Harris makes a powerful argument in favour of the existence of an objective standard for determining good and evil. His argument is illustrated by the moral landscape, in which there are peaks of human flourishing and valleys of human suffering. It follows that as a society and individuals ascend the peaks. Crucial to Harris' argument is the idea that science is the only way to determine good and evil in this context; and religion must be left behind.

Whilst I am not yet convinced by his argument that good and evil can be objectively determined, the case he makes is persuasive. He presents his evidence in detail and he considers the contrary arguments of others and thoroughly rebuts them. Along the way his argument is furnished with fascinating scientific case studies, and a good dollop of lambasting of the suffering caused by religion.

His narration of the audio-book is clear and engaging. I'm glad to have heard him present his argument in his own voice. This is an unmissable six hour lecture in science and morality.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher Wilton
  • 22-06-2011

Excellent Book

An excellent book, very listenable, packed with the kinds of scientific details and statistical observations that make Harris so popular. I'm not (as yet) sure whether I agree with Harris' central thesis, there's some complex ideas in the book that request and require some detailed, analytical thinking that are not always the priority of a first hearing, but - gladly - it's short enough to allow for multiple readings without any major innconveniance.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Judy Corstjens
  • 23-07-2012

SH is not quite up to the task

I was a bit disappointed. This is a great subject, but I don't feel SH has the historical and intellectual firepower to do it justice (Steven Pinker should take it on). SH thesis is that science should take on moral philosophy and not leave it as a 'separate domain' (NOMA). Well, in France we have been living for a couple of centuries under a social contract with a moral code worked out through logic (rather than revelation) and enforced by police (for antisocial behaviour) and tax collectors (for redistributive charity), so SH seems a little behind the game. He does not properly recognise the key problem of 'ought', but assumes it from his 'axioms' - that consciousness exists and conscious beings suffer. He says, 'We know we should eat less, but often we fail' and, 'We know we should be good, but often we fail.' This is not analogous. Nor does he manage to draw out any startling conclusions from his axiomatic system e.g. that imposing confiscatory taxes on (saved) wealth is wrong, or what proportion of our income we 'should' redistribute. So, I was challenged by no new ideas.
PS: poor old SH also reads in a rather monotonic voice (and says 'human beans' like the BFG) - he should have employed a professional reader to give more expression to his content. That might have helped.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • jim
  • 06-02-2013

Amazing, amazing, amazing!

Regardless of whether you find yourself in total agreement with Sam Harris at the end of the audiobook, I am willing to stake any reputation I may have garnered on the promise of it's having a profound impact on the way you think. There is simply no justification for not engaging with The Moral Landscape. I would also point out that generally the skills of being a truly unique philosopher and being strong with analogies are close to mutually exclusive, however Mr Harris hits the proverbial nail on the head. A glorious, seismic work.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stuart
  • 14-02-2012

The ideas were new (to me) and optimistic

Many people (including myself, prior to listening to this book) think that either your moral opinions come from some dogmatic ancient book (the Bible etc) or else they are completely arbitrary ("moral relativism").
In this book Sam Harris puts forward an alternative that I find to be a helpful way out of this seeming dichotomy.
If you liked 'The God Delusion' then I think you'll like this.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marc
  • 14-11-2011

Controversial, maybe wrong, but important

There are many statements that Harris makes in this book that I ended up disagreeing with and hence I do not agree with his conclusions. But to date, I have not read a better discussion of how we should define what is moral and I feel indebted to Harris for having provided the discourse that allowed me to refine my own views.
I should point out that my disagreement has been strengthened when reading further on the science that Harris is referring to. In my view, like many Neurologists today, I think that the conclusions that are made from the existing experiments are far too broad given the limited scope of what we can really measure.
Having said that, Harris is excellent where he shows how screwed up the public discourse on morality really is and he is offering a valid "arena" in which we could have a meaningful discussion about how we should define morality within society.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Alan
  • 10-07-2011

Interesting

An interesting concept is raised in this book but Sam Harris fails to give me much enthusiasm for it. He also speaks very quickly and uses a lot of jargon which can make it difficult to follow unless you have studied this topic before.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Giedrius Alasevicius
  • 08-11-2018

Thought-provoking

Definitely thought-provoking and worth the time. I have to be honest, I was reluctant to read this because after hearing hours upon hours upon hours of Sam Harris debates and podcasts, I was sure that I had him figured out. So while perhaps his moral and philosophical views were clear, giving Sam a chance to extensively defend his position bears value. 


Having that said, despite Sam's enthusiasm and vigor -  there is really not much reason in the book to stop being skeptical of the possibility of "Study of morality". Nor is Sam himself trying to suggest otherwise. Not only in terms of limitations of neuroscience but also (and perhaps most) in terms of utilization of any such knowledge that may or may not be born in the future. 


Where I believe this book's true value lies is in outlying societal disregard for reason, the pitfalls of pragmatism in the scientific community where none should exist, the negative impact of politics on sciences, the difficult question on how much does one allow his or her personal beliefs impact search for knowledge (and in passing perhaps even how strong are we to conquer our inhibitions of comfortable ignorance) and many more such questions. 


I suggest reading this book with the following question in mind:

What price do we as entire species potentially pay for the ignorance of comfortable conformity with our cultural beliefs? 


Perhaps the demographic that would most benefit from this book are the philosophically minded people, in particular those that have studied it as opposed to merely having read it. While the book does not give any definite answers, its underlying notion demonstrates very well how recent developments in one branch of science could "pull the rug from under the feet" from our general understanding on how the world and people, as part of the world, work. 


That alone in itself is a valuable lesson to take from this book. Admitting it theoretically and being exposed to it in more relatable terms are two very different things. And I think Sam Harris deserves praise for successfully enabling the latter. 

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  • M. Russell
  • 12-09-2018

Strong case for reason over faith in morality<br />

Very timely and well thought out. Sam Harris eloquently puts the case for a scientific morality based on the avoidance of human suffering and the truth if human well being. astonished, as we all should be, that even scientists balk at this idea.