Friday, November 11, 2005

The End Of Reason?

I'm going to do something dangerous here. I'm going to recommend a book only moments after finishing the first chapter. I'm still wet from the bath and I encourage anyone who likes what I write to go and pick up a copy of Sam Harris' The End Of Faith. It's worth your fourteen bucks for the first chapter alone.

I think that I will be writing quite a bit about this book, and it's late so I'll be brief. I will say that in the first chapter Harris articulates many of my own ideas with more eloquence then I can muster. His book is essentially about how, in an age where our technology has created weapons on a scale to threaten human existence, we simply cannot afford any longer the luxury of myth.

Unlike many critics of religion, I also appreciate that Harris' book does not read like a polemic against belief; rather than an indictment, it is more a cross examination. He remarks in his first chapter that there is much about spiritual experience, what he refers to as a "change in subjectivity", that we simply do not know; and while, like E.O. Wilson in his classic Consilience, he holds out hope that science will eventually explain such experiences, he does not say that we can or should always rid ourselves of them across the vail of life (although one suspects that he probably much admires the ancient cynic who stands unbowed before death).

Anyway, pick it up. Join me in reading it. When I post about it, make comments. Form a dialectic. One chapter in and I feel, just like I did with Consilience, just like I did with a dozen different books at St. John's College, that this one could be something big. The paradigm might have slipped an inch.


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