Saturday, November 29, 2014

Something to be proud of?

Among the popular 'New Atheists' Sam Harris has always one been of the most controversial, probably because he defies easy categorisation.

He promotes equality and human rights and then turns around and advocates the kind of profiling that would target people of certain religions and age groups. He exhorts people to use their capacity for reason and then argues in favour of extremely liberal gun laws using arguments that I at least would call paranoid. He is a neuro-scientist, he believes that science can answer ethical questions, and he rejects compatibilist conceptions of Free Will, but at the same time he promotes spirituality, which is surely a concept heavily contaminated with religious baggage if there ever was one.

The latter is what his newest book is about: Waking Up - A Guide to Spirituality without Religion. I have not read it, nor do I plan to; I need spirituality about as much as a tattoo of a mermaid on my arm. Each to their own I guess.

However, when idly browsing a book store at Wellington Airport yesterday, I was bemused to note that with writing Waking Up Harris has achieved a new placement in book stores: instead of being sorted with popular science as before, he can now be found between the esoterica and self-help books written by people like Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey.

I am not sure he is proud of that association...

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