BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

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Ben Iscatus
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by Ben Iscatus »

A classic! But we must add in a couple of quotes from the book:

“What I've dared, I've willed; and what I've willed, I'll do! They think me mad—Starbuck does; but I'm demoniac, I am madness maddened! That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself!"

“He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.”
bkastrup
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by bkastrup »

bkastrup wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:06 pm I am quite sure Harris will never debate me. Too much to lose and nearly nothing to gain. So there is no point trying to be falsely friendly towards him, in hopes that he might accept; he won't and I know it. My first challenge to him was in 2012, almost 10 years ago, as a reaction to a disgusting piece he wrote on Eben Alexander, dragging Eben's character and reputation through the mud, and even suggesting that Eben is a butcher instead of a surgeon ("Eben Alexander cuts brains, he doesn't study them"). More here: https://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/11 ... ed_13.html.
Influential people have already tried to organize this debate several years ago, and more than once. In the meantime, even his wife has debated me. So no, the chance he will debate me approaches zero very fast, and I know it. As such, I might as well just speak my mind, for I have nothing to lose either. I will make it at least uncomfortable and embarrassing for Harris NOT to debate me. And if he does, hey, I will be positively surprised and delighted to be in the ring with him; it would be cathartic.
I know a part of my readership is fond of Sam. Maybe you are. This is your right, as it is my right to dislike him (which I do). I hope you can keep these things in perspective and not get offended because I shot at a sacred cow. This is not a congeniality contest, but about content. I hope you like my content, not me, for idealism is whatever it is whether I am alive or dead, and so is the truth, which is what we are all interested in over here. I reject comparisons between me and Harris because I see myself as someone very different from Harris. As a matter of fact, although I won't blame anyone for making the comparison (I understand what might motivate it), to me, personally, the comparison is offensive. Arrogantly perhaps, I don't see myself as thin on substance, shallow in depth, provocative for effect, and more package than content, more image than substance, more delivery than argument.
More generally speaking, that I am almost violently critical of the output of some people is no news. If you expected me to be an enlightened being full of love and understanding, then you haven't been paying attention. I've been doing this kind of thing since the beginning and am well known for it. More than once I've elaborated on why I use this aggressive style (https://www.bernardokastrup.com/2020/01 ... nsion.html). So if you're disappointed, too bad, but you haven't ever been misled by me; I've never pretended to be different or to act any differently. I am not your projections or hopes or expectations. I am just me. And you are not required to agree with or even like me.
Now, I have engaged in repeated public and private exchanges with some of my readers (probably members of this forum too). I used to to it more in the early days, because I am structurally incapable of regarding myself as anything other than a regular person, just like you, and because I know that academic degrees or the lack thereof often mean very little. However, there is one peculiar thing I've experienced now multiple times, the first time with the very first administrator of my original forum: people begin to mistake my accessibility for a kind of personal intimacy that gives them license to patronize me and 'put me in my place,' so to speak. I don't quite understand the psychology behind it, but it happens quite consistently, so it's not a peculiarity of any one single person. There seems to be a threshold in the number of personal exchanges I have with a particular person that, when crossed, leads to this phenomenon. This is part of the reason I interact less. But anyway, the point here is this: my criticism of Harris seems to have pushed a button in some people that promptly activated the phenomenon I am speaking of. So I'll just ask here: please don't make that mistake. I will treat trolling from anyone as just trolling.
If you are wondering what I really think of Harris, I will share it here: I really do not like his output and, frankly, as a normal person that sees others through subjective lenses, I don't like him either. I consider his work shallow, immature, thin on substance, full of fallacious generalizations that appeal to people's worst prejudices, often misleading and overall deleterious to the discourse. I abhor his broad generalizations of religious groups, his flirting with bullshit 'race science' (We don't even have a proper definition of intelligence, so it's just preposterous to even suggest that certain races are more intelligent. Hell, we don't even have a good scientific basis to talk of race in the first place!) and his unbelievable ignorance of basic philosophy, be it metaphysics, philosophy of mind or moral philosophy. Frankly, he may come across as smart and erudite to people who haven't studied these subjects in depth, but to me, in my personal opinion, he is a farce. With him it seems to be mostly about image, about form, and very little about substance and depth. You may not like it, but that's what I think. And I also despise what I perceive as the smug conceitedness with which he takes the moral or intellectual high ground and dishes out superficial nonsense from there.
There are many things that I disagree with and am very critical of in Harris's output, but for the vast majority of it I refrain from public criticism. Why? Because in my book one should open one's mouth only if one is versed enough on the subject matter to speak intelligently about it. I am not a moral philosopher. I am not a sociologist. I am not an anthropologist. I am not a political scientist. I am not a whole bunch of things that Harris writes prolifically about. And so I keep my mouth shut, even though I disdain it. But you can expect me to continue to be very publicly critical of him if he talks about philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and even AI, computer science, etc., if he ever decides to speak on these other fields as well. I consider Harris a negative force in the culture and my behavior shall remain consistent with this view.
I wasn't sufficiently accurate on one point. It's not that some of my readers, who feel they have developed some personal intimacy with, try to "put me in my place," as I wrote above. It's more specific: they start telling me how I should -- and shouldn't -- do my work. It's as if they felt so invested in it that they figure they are in the same boat and thus have a say on how I should move forward.

While I sincerely appreciate the sentiment of solidarity, frankly, I've been doing this for almost 15 years now, and full-time for the past year. I've experimented with different approaches, have made mistakes and have learned a thing or two in the meantime. And for a while now I have been consistent in my approach, for reasons that are entirely satisfying to me. If someone else thinks they know better, good for them, they should go and try their own hand at it. But I'll do it my way.

Frankly, how likely is it that I (or any other author) will change my whole tone and approach to my work, having thought it through carefully for years, just because a reader who feels personally invested in it pesters me online to act differently? So please, the patronization won't help anyone. It will just force me to ban people from my social media presence that I don't want to ban.

I hope the relevant people will read and heed this sincere appeal. For the rest of you, the vast majority of this forum, my apologies for bringing up this negative subject that has nothing to do with you.
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Soul_of_Shu
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 2:31 pm A classic! But we must add in a couple of quotes from the book:

“What I've dared, I've willed; and what I've willed, I'll do! They think me mad—Starbuck does; but I'm demoniac, I am madness maddened! That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself!"

“He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.”
Brilliant ... I'd forgotten just how much deeper than a diving whale that novel goes.
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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Soul_of_Shu
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

bkastrup wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:14 pmI hope the relevant people will read and heed this sincere appeal. For the rest of you, the vast majority of this forum, my apologies for bringing up this negative subject that has nothing to do with you.
Well, Ashvin introduced it here, so no apologies needed. The frank admission and elaboration of what you take issue with regarding SH hopefully puts it in some nuanced perspective—at least from this perspective, as I've never been able to warm up to him. Neither have I had much interest in the prospect of you debating him, but much prefer the kind of dialogos you've had with Vervaeke, as an exercise that can actually go far deeper. Still, that interview with Lex Fridman now having attracted over 1M views in a month, if such a discussion were to ever come about, it would make for a significant audience to whom can be offered a substantive alternative in stark contrast. In that regard, likewise so would a chat with Jordan Peterson garner much attention, which I for one would be far more interested in ... not that I'm telling you it would be a worthwhile endeavour, just a suggestion. ;)
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
bkastrup
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Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:04 pm

Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by bkastrup »

Soul_of_Shu wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:04 pm
bkastrup wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:14 pmI hope the relevant people will read and heed this sincere appeal. For the rest of you, the vast majority of this forum, my apologies for bringing up this negative subject that has nothing to do with you.
Well, Ashvin introduced it here, so no apologies needed. The frank admission and elaboration of what you take issue with regarding SH hopefully puts it in some nuanced perspective—at least from this perspective, as I've never been able to warm up to him. Neither have I had much interest in the prospect of you debating him, but much prefer the kind of dialogos you've had with Vervaeke, as an exercise that can actually go far deeper. Still, that interview with Lex Fridman now having attracted over 1M views in a month, if such a discussion were to ever come about, it would make for a significant audience to whom can be offered a substantive alternative in stark contrast. In that regard, likewise so would a chat with Jordan Peterson garner much attention, which I for one would be far more interested in ... not that I'm telling you it would be a worthwhile endeavour, just a suggestion. ;)
I am totally open to talking with Peterson. It probably wouldn't be antagonistic though, so less fireworks.
Ben Iscatus
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by Ben Iscatus »

At some point major exposure is destined. I feel it in my bones.
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Soul_of_Shu
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

bkastrup wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:13 pmI am totally open to talking with Peterson. It probably wouldn't be antagonistic though, so less fireworks.
We've been working on prodding him into an invitation. You could always revise your 'Inception Dialogues' and invite him.

As for Sam, in the unlikely event that you were to ever get together the following quote (not sure of the context) might be a good avenue toward an intriguing discussion, given your own stormy seas metaphor ...

"You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm". ~ Sam Harris
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
Simon Adams
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by Simon Adams »

Presumably Harris does a fair bit of meditating? It seems strange that someone who produces an app on meditation, can so badly miss-understand the experience and the understanding from people who have spent their whole lives doing it?

People who don’t understand even the basics of what idealism is even saying (like Harris), generally seem to think that “consciousness” is the same as meta-consciousness. This then leads them to start from a position where idealism is claiming that nothing is ‘real’, just a mass ‘illusion’ of some sort, and where the consistency of ‘the world’ then makes no sense. I guess some people do have this view of idealism, where there is no universe other than the human experience of it, so you could argue that they are purely rejecting this ‘subjective’ idealism. However Bernardo has explicitly argued for a significant reality to the world.

Maybe using a word like animi instead of consciousness would help this? Or maybe language has nothing to do with whether or not people ‘get it’. Also I don’t want to suggest any crap ideas to Bernardo in case I go down onto the list of annoying forum admins :)
Ideas are certain original forms of things, their archetypes, permanent and incommunicable, which are contained in the Divine intelligence. And though they neither begin to be nor cease, yet upon them are patterned the manifold things of the world that come into being and pass away.
St Augustine
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AshvinP
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by AshvinP »

Soul_of_Shu wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:04 pm
bkastrup wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:14 pmI hope the relevant people will read and heed this sincere appeal. For the rest of you, the vast majority of this forum, my apologies for bringing up this negative subject that has nothing to do with you.
Well, Ashvin introduced it here, so no apologies needed. The frank admission and elaboration of what you take issue with regarding SH hopefully puts it in some nuanced perspective—at least from this perspective, as I've never been able to warm up to him. Neither have I had much interest in the prospect of you debating him, but much prefer the kind of dialogos you've had with Vervaeke, as an exercise that can actually go far deeper. Still, that interview with Lex Fridman now having attracted over 1M views in a month, if such a discussion were to ever come about, it would make for a significant audience to whom can be offered a substantive alternative in stark contrast. In that regard, likewise so would a chat with Jordan Peterson garner much attention, which I for one would be far more interested in ... not that I'm telling you it would be a worthwhile endeavour, just a suggestion. ;)
To be clear, by posting the tweets, I was not suggesting anyone should or should not be doing something or another. Like I said, I just found it entertaining. That being said, I never like SH. He does not seem well informed on any major topic he discusses, especially philosophy and spirituality. Peterson debate with him made that abundantly clear.
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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AshvinP
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Re: BK calling out Sam Harris on his "sophomoric ignorance"

Post by AshvinP »

Soul_of_Shu wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:29 pm
bkastrup wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:13 pmI am totally open to talking with Peterson. It probably wouldn't be antagonistic though, so less fireworks.
We've been working on prodding him into an invitation. You could always revise your 'Inception Dialogues' and invite him.

As for Sam, in the unlikely event that you were to ever get together the following quote (not sure of the context) might be a good avenue toward an intriguing discussion, given your own stormy seas metaphor ...

"You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm". ~ Sam Harris
Yes this would be a fantastic discussion. Perhaps even more so with Jonathan Pageau, who agreed to do it on Twitter a few months ago. I am sure it just got lost in the shuffle of both of your busy schedules. I think he would really appreciate More than Allegory given his own work in the "Symbolic World". It could also spark a few fireworks since he is explicitly Orthodox Christian and therefore not exactly aligned with the instinctive conception of M@L. As Dana said, we have been trying to get their attention on social media, mostly by pointing to DJM, but not very successfully so far. But I still have faith these discussions will happen soon. It is now more important than ever for metaphysics and spirituality to permeate the intellectual spheres of discussion, take root and bear fruit!
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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