Sam Harris
Book Recommendations

  • Superintelligence

    Superintelligence

    Superintelligence

    Nick Bostrom
    Computers
    3.86 (15,019)

    Superintelligence asks the questions: what happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? will artificial agents save or destroy us? nick bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. the human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. it is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. if machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful--possibly beyond our control. as the fate of the gorillas now depends more on

    Sam Harris

    Sort of philosophy/science that I’ve been greatly influenced by of late.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • A History of Western Philosophy

    A History of Western Philosophy

    A History of Western Philosophy

    Bertrand Russell
    4.11 (35,386)

    Since its first publication in 1945 lord russell's a history of western philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject—unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. in seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. among the philosophers considered are: pythagoras, heraclitus, parmenides, empedocles, anaxagoras, the atomists, protagoras, socrates, plato, aristotle, the cynics, the sceptics, the epicureans, the stoics, plotinus, ambrose, jerome, augustine, benedict, gregory the great,

    Sam Harris

    One book I recommend on philosophy...It’s a fun read, provided you care about the history of Western philosophy.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • Stumbling on Happiness

    Stumbling on Happiness

    Stumbling on Happiness

    Daniel Todd Gilbert
    3.81 (59,276)

    • why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? • why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? • why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want? • why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment

    Sam Harris

    also a good book which I recommend.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • The Madness of Crowds

    The Madness of Crowds

    The Madness of Crowds

    Douglas Murray
    Political Science
    4.24 (10,809)

    Douglas murray examines the twenty-first century's most divisive issues: sexuality, gender, technology and race. he reveals the astonishing new culture wars playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and homes in the names of social justice, identity politics and intersectionality.we are living through a postmodern era in which the grand narratives of religion and political ideology have collapsed. in their place have emerged a crusading desire to right perceived wrongs and a weaponization of identity, both accelerated by the new forms of social and news media. narrow sets of interests

    Sam Harris

    Reading it to the end, I felt as though I'd just drawn my first full breath in years...

    Sep 18, 2019 — Source

  • The Flight of the Garuda

    The Flight of the Garuda

    The Flight of the Garuda

    Godemchan,Guru Chowang,Keith Dowman,Padmasambhava,Patrul Rinpoche,Shabkar
    3.94 (145)

    Flight of the garuda conveys the heart advice of one of the most beloved masters of tibet. the itinerant yogi shabkar communicates the essence of the dzogchen teachings through song both poetic and poignant.along with shabka's songs, keith dowman has translated four other seminal dzogchen texts, including one by patrul rinpoche that is new to this edition.. dzogchen practice brings us into direct communion with the most subtle nature of experience, the unity of samsara in nirvana as experienced within our own consciousness, bringing the mediator face to face with

    Sam Harris

    There's one book called The Flight of the Garuda, which I think is especially beautiful and wise

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • The Anatomy of Disgust

    The Anatomy of Disgust

    The Anatomy of Disgust

    William Ian Miller
    3.76 (168)

    William miller embarks on an alluring journey into the world of disgust, showing how it brings order and meaning to our lives even as it horrifies and revolts us. our notion of the self, intimately dependent as it is on our response to the excretions and secretions of our bodies, depends on it. cultural identities have frequent recourse to its boundary-policing powers. love depends on overcoming it, while the pleasure of sex comes in large measure from the titillating violation of disgust prohibitions. imagine aesthetics without disgust for tastelessness and

    Sam Harris

    He also wrote a book on disgust called The Anatomy of Disgust, which is also fun. These are very interdisciplinary books.

     — Source

  • Our Final Invention

    Our Final Invention

    Our Final Invention

    James Barrat
    Computers
    3.74 (3,128)

    In as little as a decade, artificial intelligence could match, then surpass human intelligence. corporations & government agencies around the world are pouring billions into achieving ai’s holy grail—human-level intelligence. once ai has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. we may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful & more alien than we can imagine. thru profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs & groundbreaking ai systems, james barrat's our final invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of

    Sam Harris

    ...we have a serious problem looming with respect to the birth of intelligent machines. Our Final Invention by James Barrett is also good.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • A History of Western Philosophy

    A History of Western Philosophy

    A History of Western Philosophy

    Bertrand Russell
    Philosophy
    4.11 (35,386)

    Since its first publication in 1945 lord russell's a history of western philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject—unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. in seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. among the philosophers considered are: pythagoras, heraclitus, parmenides, empedocles, anaxagoras, the atomists, protagoras, socrates, plato, aristotle, the cynics, the sceptics, the epicureans, the stoics, plotinus, ambrose, jerome, augustine, benedict, gregory the great,

    Sam Harris

    One book I recommend on philosophy, just to get your bearings, is Bertrand Russells A History of Western Philosophy.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • Stumbling on Happiness

    Stumbling on Happiness

    Stumbling on Happiness

    Daniel Gilbert
    Psychology
    3.81 (59,281)

    • why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? • why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? • why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want? • why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment

    Sam Harris

    You can find this in Daniel Gilberts work on effective forecasting, which he summarized in a book Stumbling Upon Happiness, which is also a good book which I recommend.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • Machete Season

    Machete Season

    Machete Season

    Jean Hatzfeld
    History
    4.04 (2,348)

    During the spring of 1994, in a tiny country called rwanda, some 800,000 people were hacked to death, one by one, by their neighbors in a gruesome civil war. several years later, journalist jean hatzfeld traveled to rwanda to interview ten participants in the killings, eliciting extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetrated. as susan sontag wrote in the preface, machete season is a document that everyone should read . . . [because making] the effort to understand what happened in rwanda . . . is part

    Sam Harris

    If you want to see what its like when things go about as wrong as they can go, read Machete Season, which is a short book about the Rwandan genocide...

     — Source

  • On Having No Head

    On Having No Head

    On Having No Head

    Douglas Edison Harding
    Enlightenment (Zen Buddhism)
    3.55 (11)

    'reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down... i forgot my name, my humanness, my thingness, all that could be called me or mine. past and future dropped away... lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, i was nowhere around.' thus douglas harding describes his first experience of headlessness, or no self. first published in 1961, this is a classic work which conveys the experience that mystics of all times have tried to put words to.

    Sam Harris

    What is it like to see the world and simultaneously notice that your head is not appearing in it?

    Nov 29, 2018 — Source

  • Reasons and Persons

    Reasons and Persons

    Reasons and Persons

    Derek Parfit
    Philosophy
    4.26 (1,477)

    Challenging, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity, derek parfit claims that we have a false view about our own nature. it is often rational to act against our own best interests, he argues, and most of us have moralviews that are self-defeating. we often act wrongly, although we know there will be no one with serious grounds for complaint, and when we consider future generations it is very hard to avoid conclusions that most of us will find very disturbing.

    Sam Harris

    I also recommend Derek Parfits book, Reasons and Persons, which is just brilliant and written as though by an alien intelligence.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • Mortal Questions

    Mortal Questions

    Mortal Questions

    Thomas Nagel
    Philosophy
    4.06 (606)

    Thomas nagel's mortal questions explores some fundamental issues concerning the meaning, nature and value of human life. questions about our attitudes to death, sexual behaviour, social inequality, war and political power are shown to lead to more obviously philosophical problems about personal identity, consciousness, freedom, and value. this original and illuminating book aims at a form of understanding that is both theoretical and personal in its lively engagement with what are literally issues of life and death.

    Sam Harris

    ...he has a book called Mortal Questions, which is a collection of essays. There are some very good essays in there that were very influential in philosophy...

     — Source

  • I Am That

    I Am That

    I Am That

    Maurice Frydman,Nisargadatta Maharaj,Sudhaker S. Dikshit
    4.28 (6,804)

    This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of india, sri nisargadatta maharaj, is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer's life and work and is regarded by many as a "modern spiritual classic".i am that preserves maharaj's dialogues with the followers who came from around the world seeking his guidance in destroying false identities. the sage's sole concern was with human suffering and the ending of suffering. it was his mission to guide the individual to an understanding of his true nature and the

    Sam Harris

    ... the book "I Am That" by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj...I think youre on firmground and that book is very accessible and its in dialogue format. He was an incredibly clear and amusingly irascible guru.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • Humiliation

    Humiliation

    Humiliation

    William Ian Miller
    Literary Collections
    4.11 (45)

    How do we feel when our friend turns up with a holiday present and we have nothing ready to give in exchange? what lies behind our small social panics and the maneuvers we use, to avoid losing face? recognizing how much we care about how others see us, this wise and witty book tackles the complex subject of humiliation and the emotions that keep us going as self-respecting social actors.william ian miller writes astutely about a host of homely and seemingly banal social occasions and shows us what is buried

    Sam Harris

    I think [he] is unfairly neglected. He writes some fascinating books. Several have been on negative emotions. One book is entitled “Humiliation,” which was a great read.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are

    Wherever You Go, There You Are

    Wherever You Go, There You Are

    Jon Kabat-Zinn
    Self-Help
    4.11 (41,829)

    In this book, the author maps out a simple path for cultivating mindfulness in one's own life. it speaks both to those coming to meditation for the first time and to longtime practitioners, anyone who cares deeply about reclaiming the richness of his or her moments.

    Sam Harris

    Books on Vipassana Meditation

    May 10, 2011 — Source

  • Hitch 22

    Hitch 22

    Hitch 22

    Christopher Hitchens
    3.96 (21,920)

    Over the course of his 60 years, christopher hitchens has been a citizen of both the united states and the united kingdom. he has been both a socialist opposed to the war in vietnam and a supporter of the u.s. war against islamic extremism in iraq. he has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a legendary bon vivant with an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and literature. he is a fervent atheist, raised as a christian, by a mother whose jewish heritage was

    Sam Harris

    You can get the benefit of both his voice and his writing if you listen to his audiobooks, the ones he read himself.

    Jul 8, 2015 — Source

  • The Experience of Insight

    The Experience of Insight

    The Experience of Insight

    Joseph Goldstein,Ram Dass,Robert Hall
    Religion
    4.24 (623)

    Here is a modern classic of unusually clear, practical instruction for the practice of buddhist meditation: sitting and walking meditation, how one relates with the breath, feelings, thought, sense perceptions, consciousness, and everyday activities. basic buddhist topics such as the nature of karma, the four noble truths, the factors of enlightenment, dependent origination, and devotion are discussed.

    Sam Harris

    Books on Vipassana Meditation

    May 10, 2011 — Source

  • Mindfulness in Plain English

    Mindfulness in Plain English

    Mindfulness in Plain English

    Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
    4.08 (16,739)

    Author bhante gunaratana, a renowned meditation master, takes us

    Sam Harris

    Books on Vipassana Meditation

    May 10, 2011 — Source

  • God Is Not Great

    God Is Not Great

    God Is Not Great

    Christopher Hitchens
    Social Science
    3.93 (101,640)

    With his unique brand of erudition and wit, hitchens describes the ways in which religion is man-made. "god did not make us," he says. "we made god." he explains the ways in which religion is immoral: we damage our children by indoctrinating them. it is a cause of sexual repression, violence, and ignorance. it is a distortion of our origins and the cosmos. in the place of religion, hitchens offers the promise of a new enlightenment through science and reason, a realm in which hope and wonder can be found

    Sam Harris

    You can get the benefit of both his voice and his writing if you listen to his audiobooks, the ones he read himself.

     — Source

  • Behave

    Behave

    Behave

    Robert M. Sapolsky
    Science
    4.43 (15,389)

    More than a decade in the making, this game-changing book is robert sapolsky's genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.and so

    Sam Harris

    Mentioned on Sam Harris Making Sense Podcast #91

    Aug 9, 2017 — Source