A Critique of Sam Harris
This got a little long for one reading on a device for me. but I did my best graduate school skimming and focusing and picking out parts that seem important, and I got to say been put down a really good explanation and argument for his materialism.
As many of my readers may know, or may not know, I tune on the side of materialism, but to me it’s just a simple statement, as everything is philosophical material.
But I like the simplicity by which Benjamin situates idealism and materialism. And his historical analysis and projections into present political analysis I think hold water.
But philosophically I would have to ask, for example, well sure the church split a long political lines but why did those lines fall where they did?
I think at some point and such and analysis and in pursuit of answering such a question, eventually we would have to come to pure speculation and argument, and I would submit that speculation in arguments are based in ideas, but not merely ideas that are relative to their conditions, but ideas that indeed function as though they are attached to an essential object: idealism.
So to me it’s a chicken or egg situation, and then I even go further and I ask how do you decide whether or not you are on the side of the chicken or the egg? Do you ponder the various arguments of idealism and materialism and then spontaneously something makes more sense to you than the other side? Is that occurring because the conditions create this situation for you (which is just another way of talking about a transcendent ideal), or is it occurring because you are remaining true to yourself (which would be another way of saying a fundamental material of self)? It seems to that to make any argument about what might be true or false or more actual or more true or more Real, that at some point you have to simply act and behave and think as though you are not just a nexus of conditions. It seems hypocrisy and contradiction pop up at every juncture.
This brings me to the radical middle. So to speak. And it is this radical middle that really defies either position, that of idealism or materialism (that is, except the materialism that simply states everything that arises to knowledge is philosophical material). And I think people as world identities have great difficulty realizing this radical middle. It really is that people argue this circularity of their position to avoid recognizing the actual situation that they’re in.
Then we look at history honestly and we can come to no conclusion about whether it was political forces or ideological of forces or idealist forces, that is. We have to admit at some point that it’s all just fashion and that indeed whatever opinion were coming to is a part of that fashion, part of a motion that we really have no say in. Which is to say, except in as much as we maintain an idealist position of our ability and understanding and grasp of thought.