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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Ask Sam Harris anything

I might not be able to get a look at this for a while, but do check it out if you have time (those of you who haven't already). Let me know if there's anything I mustn't miss.

Jerry has an interesting thread, though most of it so far is about the issue of so-called transcendent experiences. What I want to know is "Transcendent of what?" I mean, I've had some interesting psychological experiences myself, but I don't believe that I transcended the natural world at any point. I doubt that Harris claims to have, either, but I do fret about this terminology.

Edit: But see the thread below.


Anonymous said...

"What I want to know is "Transcendent of what?" "

The self, as Harris says. I don't agree with his views on the self being an illusion, but that's what transcendental meditation aims at.

Russell Blackford said...

Okay but that sure opens a can of worms if that's what he means. Thanks.

Russell Blackford said...

Okay, I've now watched most of this.

In fairness, let me say that what he actually says about meditation seems quite fair and reasonable to me. It's not the language I'd use, but I think the differences that I'd have with him on this particular point would largely be matters of semantics, emphasis and communication styles. I agree that the self doesn't exist in the specific sense that he defines, but I don't think it's that useful employing this sort of language - it made sense in ancient debates between Brahminical Hindus and Buddhists, but not so much sense today.

But again, his substantive views on this point seem quite fair and reasonable.