Science Can Answer Moral Questions | Sam Harris | TED Talks

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Get Embed Code Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and sh...

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  • @ Lucis:

    Comment on part 2. Humanity has evolved an evolutionary trait called imagination.  This trait offers to the individual an ability to go beyond instinct, to see, build and act upon patterns.  A donkey may fail to see the potential possibilities a stick can be made use of, but the human brain can, for instance as a tool for hunting or fire making.  Imagination offers the individual the sense of "I" (ego), stepping beyond mere instinct (choice) and the ability to see the beauty and integrity of another living thing (empathy.)  Imagination offers only the ability to step outside of instinctive responses, a greater survival advantage to follow new creative patterns towards living, growing and procreation.  The same imagination is also fatal, if it is not grounded with reason, hence it gives rise to hubris, the notion humanity can survive a nuclear war, or can carry on in their current unsustainable progress without consequence, or believe in mythological impotent entities rather than taking responsibility and the initiative to solve their own problems.

    "Natural laws" are the truth, only humanity will seek contrary viewpoints that are only ignorant opinion.  Strife is a universal principle in nature, thus it is the law that must be followed, contrary to the ignorance of opinion of notions such as "balance" and "peace".  If ever peace of balance happen then death, non-existence and stagnation follow.  War is the common law of nature, people forget that at their peril. Nature is always moving and changing, another common natural law; but humanity think all forms of control are a desirable outcome; but control is contrary to nature, leading to entropy and ruin, because it does not allow systems to renew through motion and change.  I say the wise individual follows the truth, which is found by following the common patterns of nature, rejecting opinion. 

    As far as I am concerned my view on morality is different from yours.  I suggest morality is built upon opinion, a forced artificial pattern necessary to survive in the situation we call human civilisation.  It is necessary in a city that individuals co-exist by such moral laws as never cheat, steal or kill.  But in nature, everything is killing, cheating and stealing from each other.  The difference between nature and the morality that humanity seems to spin about itself is stark.  Those in the Left Hand Path will have to see the illusion of morality by contrasting it against nature, then by stepping out of the illusion, they can through a harmony between nature and human civilization work with clear seeing eyes a path of wise reason and choice their own rules to live by. 

    Of magick.  I gave an example in some other thread on this forum that when someone stole some property from me, I invoked magick to get it back.  Whilst I went through the practical motions of trying to find the stolen item, it was a matter of chance that I discovered the item and recovered, the individual who stole from me went to prison.  There is a methodology in magick that needs to be followed for it to be potent, it certainly fails if the individual limits their magick to an equivalent of putting their hands together and praying to Jesus.

  • @ Lucis:

    Comment on part 1.  I reject both "left" and "right" viewpoints, yet another foolish attempt to put individuals in a neat category of explanation.  I refer you to Heraclitus, which is a core component of my personal philosophy:

    Most people are too stupid to have an opinion of what "left" or "right" category they prefer to be in, their only interest in nature is if they can consume it.  Most of those people are oblivious of the existence of nature unless it stings or bites them.  Most people are too stupid to realise what an oak leaf looks like, or that the beef steak they buy from the supermarket comes from a once living bovine animal. 

    The starting point for anyone in the Left Hand Path is to cut away the bullshit and find the truth of a thing.  Because nature is universal, the sum of everything and the ultimate authority, upon which all science comes from, it is a good starting point to build a personal philosophy against.  People should leave behind their silly theories, books and opinion, get out in nature and observe, experience and learn through demonstration the brutal and beautiful reality of what nature is. 

    The individual has no need to be politically "right" to exploit nature, to see themselves as in some manner separate and superior to it.  It is hubris, a dumbass opinion that leads to people building their homes in flood zones or natural fire paths, then wonder why their homes were destroyed, blaming their misfortune on Satan.  Your so-called leftist claim about conservation is another version of hubris, control and the disrespect of nature that humanity tend to entertain.  Heraclitus offers the insight that opinion is child toys, that it is best to follow the common patterns of nature.  One common pattern of nature is that it is ever changing and moving.  A second insight of nature is that strife is the chief principle of nature, and strife will judge the stupid, destroying them. 

    I follow the path of sustainability, which is my own definition "action in harmony with nature." This means that if I have an orchard, I will have bee hives near, because the harmony between the fruit trees and bees mean I enjoy a 30% increase in fruit, and a greater harvest of honey.  Sustainability means I will exploit a forest for raw materials, but I will plant new trees so that I am always increasing not exhausting my sources of materials.  Likewise I have the exact same attitude to my business, to my relationships and to my life, since the principles of nature work in all situations.  By observing nature I am alsways coming up with new innovations and strategies, which gives me a clear advantage over most people who are oblivious or hubristic towards nature.

  • Part 2;

    Ever since I've first read the Satanic Bible (eons ago) I've noticed among those of the LHP the tendency to observe "lower" more primitive animals, especially predators, then derive some "natural law" and insist that it apply to mankind, ignoring what is unique about mankind, the unparalleled, incomparable degree we posses self-awareness and thus are capable of freewill and rational thinking. We don't merely possess consciousness, but are conscious of consciousness.

    The true irony is that our first exposure to "Satan" in the western world is of Satan/the serpent telling A&E in the garden of Eden that they won't in fact suddenly die, but rather their eyes will be opened unto the truth, and they'll be as gods, knowing good and evil. That is, this is where the demarcation comes into play distinguishing us from animals with a more primitive mind. It's ironic considering how it's often those of the LHP that discount self-awareness and the power of reasoning when they draw up their "natural laws" from observing beings with more primative minds, beings, animals that are not like gods, and are incapable of freewill.

    We are self-aware. Between stimulus and response, there (can be) choice, called freewill. The same cannot be said for a cat or a rat. A "Natural Law" which might indeed apply to a wolf does not necessarily apply to god-like beings. 'god-like in the sense that we are CAPABLE of mastering our own fate, of manifesting our own chosen and desired selves. Generally speaking, daemons and gods, undoubtedly live inside our minds, which are no doubt projections of ourselves, selves that we're uncomfortable admitting exist. The squeamish aspect of ourselves are reluctant to admit that we have a daemon within us, and the self-loathing masochistic part of ourselves are loath to admit that we each have a god within us, capable of creating ourselves, wealth and values, and even entire civilizations. We are capable of being gods in the sense that we are capable of acknowledging and embracing said selves, and manifesting their (our) powers in our own lives, not through typical religious denial, delusion and wishful thinking, but by steely-eyed realism and determination. As I stated in my last post, I consider "morality = rules' to be a classic RHP perspective.

    Morality comes from within, not from without. It's not an external imposition, and an external imposition is not morality, I don't care what sheeple insist otherwise or if it hare-lips the pope. :-)

    If you're calling the self-realization I noted above a form of Magick, then of course that is not contrary to the methodology of science. What I was talking about is the hocus-pocus "magick" of doing a secret ceremony in one's modified closet and thinking that this is going to bring a job offer from overseas with no "mundane" non-supernatural causal connection. This is why I wrote "some" in my last post. It seems that there are a lot of different ideas of what constitutes magick.

    Hail Imaginary Satan,
    Yours in Lucifer,


  • Alex 
    Part 1

    I've noticed that the political left tend to view mankind as separate from nature, deeming HIS actions as something condemnable, yet when one species of plant or animal changes an ecosystem to the detriment of another, there's no condemnation at all. To make these "greenies" happy, man must have zero "footprint" on the planet, i.e. (in any real sense) not even exist.
    Likewise, the rightwing of the political spectrum tend to view mankind as fallen divine beings, separate from "nature" and the non-human occupants of this planet, (plant and animal), were "created" for him to EXPLOIT (even to the detriment of anything or everything else).

    Leftists are "conservative" in the sense that they have a religion of sorts of "conserving nature" i.e. conservation. 'Thinking that nature is somehow supposed to remain stagnant, in some sort of unchanging stasis, and for man to cause change in any ecosystem is unconscionable and "bad" whereas nature de-facto is "good". It's "good" for cats to eat mice alive whilst they writhe in squeaky agony, but "bad" for a man to shoot a bolt through a cow's brain in order to cause a supposedly sudden and painless death. To people of this sort of mindset "all natural" means good, but I fail to see what's good about being hit by an "all natural" lightning bolt or eating an all natural poisonous toadstool.

    With all due respect, I consider this "nature" (i.e. everything excluding man and the tail end of the periodic table) = "good" and man = fallen, depraved, reprobate, sinning, unnatural, full of "hubris" yada yada to be CLASSIC RHP, hatred of mankind style cynical thinking. Mankind IS nature. We evolved just like every other species and nature isn't "good" before we start contemplating it. It just is. Existence exists, A = A.
    Continued in part 2...

  • @ Lucis

    Nature being the ultimate authority, the sum of all things, and universal, is as the philosopher Heraclitus says good.  Good in the ancient Greek philosophical sense something that is true, just and pure.  Humanity being the tainted creatures they are, by their own hubris, judges themselves better and greater than nature, and in so doing, casts judgement upon nature on what is good and evil.  The sun gives life through warmth and burns life away through cancer giving radiation.  A man says a rose is good in their garden, but a dandelion, a weed, unwanted and bad.  A woman says a wasp is bad because it stings, but fails to judge that a wasp provides its own positive contributions to the health of the ecosystems, such as preying on food destroying insects. 

    Indeed, all forms of force are methods of control to deny the sovereignty of the individual to determine their own will and choices.  Once upon a time in England and Europe kings ruled by divine decree, an idea that God had chosen that they rule, and to defy the king was to defy god.  Those that by will or choice argued against such an idea were branded heretics and traitors, and destroyed.  Force was used to maintain an ignorant and tyrannical rule of morality.  Until a few hundred years ago women in the West had no right of vote, education or power to officiate in churches and politics, because a moral rule that women were weak, and liable to fall to temptation, luring men and nations to destruction just as Eve did to Adam.  A foolish idea, but one maintained by force and fear.

    I argue that because morality are rules, they often have the nature to steal the will and choice away from the individual.  People follow the rule blindly because it exists, not by choice, they gave their will and choice to those that benefited from maintaining the rule. 

    I see no conflict in merging science with the metaphysical qualities of Luciferianism or the Left Hand Path, these have been united together since the dawn of human thinking, and only in the last two hundred years have been broken apart.  With the emergence of new information, for instance in quantum mechanics, metaphysics and science are slowly merging together. 

    Magick is of two forms.  The lesser magick deals with changing things, example positive thinking causes the mind to produce positive hormones such as dopamine.  The greater magick deals with creating new things, example I recently created a logo for a new business product.  These examples are mundane, but they are examples of magick in action.

    Health and wellness in theory should be at the heart of the Left Hand Path philosophy, the body of the individual is their temple, and if ill health comes, their options to manifest their choices and will in the Left Hand Path philosophies is greatly restricted.

  • Alex,
    Everything in nature is "good" by what standard? To me, that seems as meaningless as saying that everyone has an above average IQ. In other words, on the face of it, such a statement makes no sense.

    How well one follows arbitrary rules doesn't show us how moral a person is, it shows how well someone complies with the rules. Morality = Rules, I would say, is a flat-out right hand path misunderstanding of morality. This is why Judeo-Christians think that the 10 commandments "set moral standards", when what it really is, is a list of demands from an imaginary terrorist, the penalty for breaking said arbitrary rules is death by stoning.

    Force, compulsion and terrorism does not = morality. How do we know? Reason. Who's to say, those capable of reasoning. Obviously someone doing X because of fear and compulsion shows us nothing about his or her own innate moral capacity, and everything about their moral cowardice and willingness to capitulate to a list of terrorist demands under threat of death.

    Gen 3:5 "...then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." ~ The Serpent AKA Satan

    Morality requires moral choice and moral choice requires knowledge of good and evil. "Satan" brought moral capacity to earth, working within the myth. To say that there's no good and evil because some morons say some bonehead things, (like Allah wants fathers to murder their raped daughters and everything Allah wants is moral) is like saying that there's no health and wellness because some morons say some boneheaded things about health and wellness.

    Are ideas about health and wellness subject to revision? Of course. 'Constant revision, but does that mean that there is nothing to be known about health and wellness, that the subject of health and wellness is purely subjective and completely arbitrary, having no relation to demonstrable, repeatable and independently verifiable facts?

    Indeed, with all due respect, I would suggest that it's HYPOCRISY for many following the LHP to say, 1) they venerate the values of The Enlightenment, i.e. science, technology, physics, the maths, etc, and then turn around and suggest 2) that we can say nothing non-arbitrary and non-subjective about human flourishing and well being. Indeed, I would suggest that some Luciferians are living in a house divided, on one hand embracing science, and on the other hand believing in actual superstitious hocus-pocus magick. I suggest that the two are not only not compatible, but rather irreconcilable.

    Yours in Lucifer,


  • A stallion will run from wolves to preserve its life; but a stallion would fight to the death against another stallion for the right to breed with a mare.  Nature has given to living things basic life goals: live; grow; reproduce.  These goals are further adapted based upon the need to gather and conserve energy to fuel those goals.  These goals are manifested as needs that vary based upon the design of the living thing and the environment upon which it exists in, thus to say rules (since morality is nothing more than rules) can be measured and explained in terms of science.  A vast number of rules for instance referred to as morality is created because of the environment that humans exist in, known as civilisation. 

  • I will take a look at this video later.  As a supporter of Heraclitus I observe the same outlook that everything in nature is good, and it is only humanity who breaks all things into good and bad.  The notion of good and evil is in my opinion a subjective judgement the individual makes against a set of rules.  Humanity follows the common pattern of hypocrisy, changing the rules as they see fit, such as "thou shall not kill" conflicting with the Biblical command to kill witches. 

  • Many on the Left Hand Path insist that "there is no good or evil", that it's PURELY arbitrary. As an Ayn Rand Objectivist, as a Satanic Objectivist, I (and Sam Harris) challenges this notion. 

    Hail Imaginary Satan

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