#115- Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and Matt Dillahunty (1) A Live Recording from New York City Center in NYC

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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29 January 2018 00:45
 

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Lawrence Krauss and Matt Dillahunty about the threat of nuclear war, science and a universal conception of morality, the role of intuition in science, the primacy of consciousness, the nature of time, free will, the self, meditation, and other topics. This conversation was recorded at New York City Center on January 13, 2018.

#115 - Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and Matt Dillahunty (1) A Live Recording from New York City Center in NYC

This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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29 January 2018 15:53
 

I don’t wanna overstate this, but, Lawrence Krauss is the greatest podcast guest ever in the history of everything.  They discussed the Doomsday Clock the last time he was on, as I recall.  That was before the little false alarm mishap in Hawaii.  And, fortunately for everyone, President ClownPants reacted by finishing his round of golf before asking the secret service to take him for ice cream.  A lack of concern leads to complacency, and too many drills leads to doubt, but I still think Mr. Krauss oversold the fear factor.  Slightly.  The game has changed with the proliferation of nuclear players.  So…between the time it takes from notification–to establishing the source of the threat–orchestrating an appropriate response–and making the drastic decision…hopefully cooler heads will prevail in the depths of Cheyenne Mountain.

 
 
Rodrigo
 
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Rodrigo
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02 February 2018 11:00
 

I really admire Sam, but I find him very confused about free will. In this podcast he says he takes no pride in anything because there is no free will, but he also says that he believes in punishment and reward. That seems very inconsistent to me because we can see pride as just a specific form of reward, one that comes from oneself and approves of a specific set of actions taken in the past. Just like other types of rewards, it’s a way of reinforcing actions that contribute to our goals.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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02 February 2018 14:34
 

Maybe the way Mister Harris refers to the illusion of self causes people to recoil because of the human reluctance to surrender the feeling of autonomy. 

When he describes the feeling of achieving an egoless state it usually involves either a chemical induction, of sorts, or deliberative meditation.  If we have to go to great lengths to reach that particular state, spending the majority of the time under the impression we are somebodies, it stands to reason those brief, temporary and fleeting moments would feel more like the illusion.  When we strip everything down to our basic sensory perception everything feels automatic and we are merely an observer.  When we thrust ourselves into the chaotic ratrace of reality we fulfill the feeling of freedom.  Even though it makes more sense the other way round.  I tend to think it’s all determined but I’m not gonna close my eyes while driving down the highway.  Not for long anyway.

I think the more time we spend paying attention to how we perceive the more this concept would sell its illusionary self.

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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02 February 2018 21:03
 

Krauss’s novel spin on objective morality was interesting - from what I could tell, questioning the very idea that we should put a great deal of faith in any axiom, even one like “strive for well-being”. There is actually something kinda Buddhist about this (in the Buddhist context, the idea that one paradoxically increases well-being by letting go of striving for well-being), which I thought was pretty cool. Regarding Harris’s take on objective morality, I found myself disagreeing in all of the usual places. It’s fine to say “We should strive for well-being / happiness / general ‘good stuff’ however you want to frame it etc.,etc.” - but this seems to me to be so vague that it has almost no real-world content (or, where it does, that content is generally not in dispute anyhow.) Morality tends only to be invoked where there is a zero sum situation of some sort regarding the ‘currency’ of subjective states, so to me this is like saying “We should structure economies around the fact that it is better for people to have more money”. Well, I mean yeah, in very broad strokes, but almost no one disagrees on that - the question is which people, and why, and how that exchange is going to work, and based on what justification, and so on.


Krauss was a really pleasant presence overall. Maybe it’s the nature of the work he does or maybe that’s just his personality, but he comes across as such a lovable goofable in a world where so many stances are high stakes and defended with such ferocity that people tend to be forced into their own little bunkers as time goes by. I know he says he can’t do the mindfulness thing at all, ha ha, but it seems as if maybe he does some version of it in the very nature of the work he undertakes. Seeing intuitions smashed over and over again and the outward nature of reality disproven as many times might be a sort of mind-opening analytical meditation in its own right.

 
 
Alexmahone
 
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Alexmahone
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18 March 2018 18:54
 
Rodrigo - 02 February 2018 11:00 AM

I really admire Sam, but I find him very confused about free will. In this podcast he says he takes no pride in anything because there is no free will, but he also says that he believes in punishment and reward. That seems very inconsistent to me because we can see pride as just a specific form of reward, one that comes from oneself and approves of a specific set of actions taken in the past. Just like other types of rewards, it’s a way of reinforcing actions that contribute to our goals.

Good point. Maybe Sam was just being modest. smile