Samuel Benjamin Harris is an American author, neuroscientist, philosopher and podcast host. His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, philosophy of mind, politics, terrorism, and artificial intelligence. Since September 2013, Harris has hosted the Making Sense podcast (originally titled Waking Up), in which he interviews guests, responds to critics, and discusses his views. In September 2018 Harris released a meditation app, Waking Up with Sam Harris.

  • Behave

    Why do we do the things we do?,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 the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs–whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a person’s brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.,Sapolsky keeps going: How was that behavior influenced by structural changes in the nervous system over the preceding months, by that person’s adolescence, childhood, fetal life, and then back to his or her genetic makeup? Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than one individual. How did culture shape that individual’s group, what ecological factors millennia old formed that culture? And on and on, back to evolutionary factors millions of years old.,The result is one of the most dazzling tours d’horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do…for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, , is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.

  • Enlightenment Now

    If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.,Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.,Far from being a na??ve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature???tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking???which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.,With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

  • God Is Not Great

    In the tradition of Bertrand Russell’s , and Sam Harris’s recent bestseller ,, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion.,With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.,With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope’s awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.

  • History of Western Philosophy

    Hailed as ???lucid and magisterial??? by The Observer, this book is universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject of Western philosophy.,Considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of all time, the History of Western Philosophy is a dazzlingly unique exploration of the ideologies of significant philosophers throughout the ages???from Plato and Aristotle through to Spinoza, Kant and the twentieth century. Written by a man who changed the history of philosophy himself, this is an account that has never been rivaled since its first publication over sixty years ago.,Since its first publication in 1945, Lord Russell???s A History of Western Philosophy is still unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace, and its 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, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and lastly the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is most closely associated???Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, coauthor with Russell of the monumental Principia Mathematica.

  • Hitch-22

    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 not revealed to him until her suicide.,In other words, Christopher Hitchens contains multitudes. He sees all sides of an argument. And he believes the personal is political.,This is the story of his life, lived large.

  • Humiliation

    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 behind them. In his view, our lives are permeated with sometimes merely uncomfortable, sometimes hair-raising rituals of shame and humiliation. Take the unwanted dinner invitation, the exchange of valentines in grade school, or the “diabolically ingenious invention of the bridal registry.” Readers will have no trouble recognizing the social situations he finds indicative of our often perilous dealings with each other.,Educated as a literary critic and philologist, by profession a historian of medieval Iceland, by employment a law professor, Miller ranges comfortably beyond his areas of formal expertise to talk about emotions across time and culture. His scenarios are based on incidents from his own college town and from the Iceland of the sagas. He also makes incursions into the emotional worlds represented in the Middle English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in some of the works of Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and others. Indeed, one theme that gradually becomes specific is how meaning travels from one culture to another. Ancient codes of honor, he insists, still function in contemporary American life.,Some of Miller’s narratives are unsettling, and he acknowledges that a certain ironical misanthropy may run through his discussions. But he succeeds in cutting through a mountain of pretensions to entertain and enlighten us.

  • I Am That

    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”., 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 timelessness of being. He taught that mind must recognize and penetrate its own state of being, “being this or that, here or that, then or now,” but just timeless being.

  • In Cold Blood

    The most famous true crime novel of all time and one of the first non-fiction novels ever written; In Cold Blood is the bestseller that haunted its author long after he finished writing it.,On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. ,As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

  • Machete Season

    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 of being a moral adult.”

  • Mortal Questions

    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.

  • On Having No Head

    Headlessness, the experience of “no-self” that mystics of all times have aspired to, is an instantaneous way of “waking up” and becoming fully aware of one’s real and abiding nature. Douglas Harding, the highly respected mystic-philosopher, describes his first experience of headlessness in “On Having No Head,” the classic work first published in 1961. In this book, he conveys the immediacy, simplicity, and practicality of the “headless way,” placing it within a Zen context, while also drawing parallels to practices in other spiritual traditions.If you wish to experience the freedom and clarity that results from firsthand experience of true Being, then this book will serve as a practical guide to the rediscovery of what has always been present.

  • Our Final Invention

    Elon Musk named Our Final Invention one of 5 books everyone should read about the future.,In as little as a decade, artificial intelligence could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and 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, and more alien than we can imagine.,Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, James Barrat’s Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?

  • Reasons and Persons

    Challenging, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity, 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 moral views 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.

  • Stumbling on Happiness

    Bringing to life scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, this bestselling book reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. ,In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.

  • Superintelligence

    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 humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.,But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?,This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom’s work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.

  • The Anatomy of Disgust

    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 vulgarity; imagine morality without disgust for evil, hypocrisy, stupidity, and cruelty.,Miller details our anxious relation to basic life processes: eating, excreting, fornicating, decaying, and dying. But disgust pushes beyond the flesh to vivify the larger social order with the idiom it commandeers from the sights, smells, tastes, feels, and sounds of fleshly physicality. Disgust and contempt, Miller argues, play crucial political roles in creating and maintaining social hierarchy. Democracy depends less on respect for persons than on an equal distribution of contempt. Disgust, however, signals dangerous division. The high’s belief that the low actually smell bad, or are sources of pollution, seriously threatens democracy.,Miller argues that disgust is deeply grounded in our ambivalence to life: it distresses us that the fair is so fragile, so easily reduced to foulness, and that the foul may seem more than passing fair in certain slants of light. When we are disgusted, we are attempting to set bounds, to keep chaos at bay. Of course we fail. But, as Miller points out, our failure is hardly an occasion for despair, for disgust also helps to animate the world, and to make it a dangerous, magical, and exciting place.

  • The Beginning of Infinity

    The , bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge,???Dazzling.??? ??? Steven Pinker, ,???,In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe???and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress???which he argues is potentially boundless???can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, , explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.

  • The Flight of the Garuda

    Dzogchen, a tradition of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, is considered by many to be an extremely powerful path to enlightenment. This ground-breaking book offers translations of four sacred texts of the Dzogchen tradition: Secret Instruction in a Garland of Vision, The Flight of the Garuda, Emptying the Depths of Hell, and the Wish-Granting Prayer of Kuntu Zangpo. With an informative introduction by the translator, Flight of the Garuda is an invaluable resource for both practice and scholarship.,Flight of the Garuda conveys the heart advice of one of the most beloved nonsectarian masters of Tibet. Ordained as a Gelug monk, the itinerant yogi Shabkar was renowned for his teachings on Dzogchen, the heart practice of the Nyingma lineage. He wandered the countryside of Tibet and Nepal, turning many minds toward the Dharma through his ability to communicate the essence of the teachings in a poetic and crystal-clear way. Buddhists of all stripes, including practitioners of Zen and Vipassana, will find ample sustenance within the pages of this book, and be thrilled by the lyrical insights conveyed in Shabkar’s words.,Along with the song by Shabkar, translator Keith Dowman includes several other seminal Dzogchen texts. Dzogchen practice brings us into direct communion with the subtlemost nature of our experience, the unity of samsara in nirvana as experienced within our own consciousness. Within the Nyingma school, it is held higher than even the practices of tantra for bringing the meditator face to face with the nature of reality.

  • The Last Word

    If there is such a thing as reason, it has to be universal. Reason must reflect objective principles whose validity is independent of our point of view–principles that anyone with enough intelligence ought to be able to recognize as correct. But this generality of reason is what relativists and subjectivists deny in ever-increasing numbers. And such subjectivism is not just an inconsequential intellectual flourish or badge of theoretical chic. It is exploited to deflect argument and to belittle the pretensions of the arguments of others.,The continuing spread of this relativistic way of thinking threatens to make public discourse increasingly difficult and to exacerbate the deep divisions of our society. In The Last Word, Thomas Nagel, one of the most influential philosophers writing in English, presents a sustained defense of reason against the attacks of subjectivism, delivering systematic rebuttals of relativistic claims with respect to language, logic, science, and ethics. He shows that the last word in disputes about the objective validity of any form of thought must lie in some unqualified thoughts about how things are–thoughts that we cannot regard from outside as mere psychological dispositions.

  • The Path of Purification

    One of Buddhism’s foundational texts, the Visuddhimagga is a systematic examination and condensation of Buddhist doctrine and meditation technique. The various teachings of the Buddha found throughout the Pali canon are organized in a clear, comprehensive path leading to the final goal of nibbana, the state of complete purification. Originally composed in the fifth century, this new translation provides English speakers insights into this foundational text. In the course of this treatise full and detailed instructions are given on 40 subjects of meditation aimed at concentration, an elaborate account of Buddhist Abhidhamma philosophy, and explicit descriptions of the stages of insight culminating in final liberation.