Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Dan74 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:24 pm

alan wrote:There is a danger in taking quotes out of context. Most of all when the person you are quoting thinks in long sentences.
I've read both his books twice and find no reason to believe he was "for the war on terror". Rather, he tells it like it is. Maybe Muslim society was great at a certain time in the past--ok. But now, it is radicalized. What do we do with this fact? And how do we, living in a world composed both of rational, progressive societies, and backward, ideologically constricted theocracies, deal with this situation?

As I said before, read and understand before commenting.


This is the sort of a black and white thinking that Harris is unfortunately complicit in. "It is radicalised"? I am in Turkey right now and I don't find it radicalized. The top Muslim cleric here has just spoken out to urge the government to rebuild a Christian monastery and study centre, saying that all religions should be able to train their priests with good facilities in Turkey.

I don't think Indonesia is radicalised. I don't think Tunisia is radicalised. And here you find at least three vibrant progressive Muslim societies.

This "thinking in long sentences" part is his ability to persuade. Good lawyers can be very persuasive even in the absence of a strong cogent reasons. "No reason to believe he was for the war on terror"? How about reading Sam Harris:

http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/the-end-of-liberalism/

But more than that Harris becomes rather sloppy with the truth in order to advance his own agenda. For instance he insists:

“The Israelis are confronting people who will blow themselves up to kill the maximum number of noncombatants and will even use their own children as human shields. They’ll launch their missiles from the edge of a hospital or school so that any retaliation will produce the maximum number of innocent casualties. And they do all this secure in the knowledge that their opponents are genuinely worried about killing innocent people. It’s the most cynical thing imaginable. And yet within the moral discourse of the liberal West, the Israeli side looks like it’s the most egregiously insensitive to the cost of the conflict.”


Whereas Amnesty International has found that Israeli army rather than Hamas used children as shields and Des Travers of the Goldstone report wrote:

“We found no evidence that Hamas used civilians as hostages. I had expected to find such evidence but did not. We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. ”


http://harpers.org/archive/2009/10/hbc-90006003

Harris asserts

“In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.” ( The End of Faith, p. 134)


While in reality, a Joint Statement by American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society and Muslim Public Affairs Council, stated:

American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the attacks in New York and Washington "horrific"
and added in a televised statement: "Egypt firmly and strongly condemns such attacks
on civilians and soldiers that led to the deaths of a large number of innocent victims."

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said "I send my condolences, and
the condolences of the Palestinian people to American President Bush and
his government and to the American people for this terrible act," Arafat told
reporters in Gaza. "We completely condemn this serious operation. . . . We
were completely shocked . . . It's unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable,"
says a visibly upset Arafat.

In Iran (yes, Iran!!) huge crowds attended candle-lit vigils for the victims with 60000 people attending in Tehran alone.

Even Gadhafi whose son was murdered by the US government before then called the attacks "horrifying" and urged Muslim aid groups to
offer help "regardless of political considerations or differences between America and the
peoples of the world." Gadhafi said, "Irrespective of the conflict with America it is a human
duty to show sympathy with the American people, and be with them at these horrifying
and awesome events which are bound to awaken human conscience."

I think it is shameful to dishonestly vilify Muslims like this. I see Harris driven by emotion rather than his scientific integrity here. And he should be called out on it.

A lot more can be said about his views especially from the Buddhist perspective. From advocating torture to attacking pacifism, I just fail to see how Buddhists of all people can find his views defensible. Whatever Dzogchen teacher he has, should give him a good whack between the ears to point out the rigpa, I say. :D
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby alan » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:35 pm

There is a funny thing I've noticed about posting stuff online. No matter how clearly I define it, no matter how perfectly I express the terms, there will always be people who completely don't get it. Sometimes, they will also make up nonsense, which has no relevance to what I'm tying to say, and use that as a response. Which is why I agree with Sam Harris. We need to refocus our schools on teaching rationality, and the ability to analyze. If not, the stupid people will take over. And if they do, we are doomed.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:36 pm

alan wrote:Where did he say that?

He's claimed about ten thousand times that we are "at war with Islam," most recently in the Washington Times.

In The End of Faith, he claimed:

"It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe."

Again:

"The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense. This is what the United States attempted in Afghanistan, and it is what we and other Western powers are bound to attempt, at an even greater cost to ourselves and to innocents abroad, elsewhere in the Muslim world. We will continue to spill blood in what is, at bottom, a war of ideas."

There are about eighteen Huffington Post blogs espousing his support for extrajudicial torture, racial profiling, and obvious discrimination towards those with religious beliefs - a category, I might add, that we all fall under.

These statements fly in the face of the Buddha's teachings and should not be endorsed by those who claim to be followers of the Tathagatha. Whether or not killing people preemptively based on belief or nuclear strikes/torture/bombings on civilians constitute wholesome action is not a matter of opinion in Buddhism. I'm not trying to be dogmatic, but, if you are a Buddhist, I find it immensely irresponsible to say that an advocate of such actions is "intelligent, thoughtful, [and] rational." That doesn't mean that certain things he says aren't valuable, or that Ben has done something horrible or offensive by posting a fairly well-written article by him; however, anything someone like Harris says should be taken with a huge, huge disclaimer that many of his ideas have no place in the Buddhist worldview. I absolutely stand by my statement regarding his vicious Euro-centricism, bigotry, and violence.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Dan74 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:40 pm

alan wrote:There is a funny thing I've noticed about posting stuff online. No matter how clearly I define it, no matter how perfectly I express the terms, there will always be people who completely don't get it. Sometimes, they will also make up nonsense, which has no relevance to what I'm tying to say, and use that as a response. Which is why I agree with Sam Harris. We need to refocus our schools on teaching rationality, and the ability to analyze. If not, the stupid people will take over. And if they do, we are doomed.

......

Hmmm....

Time to drag my sick carcass away from the computer and talk a stroll among the mosques, I say! :D

Edit: "Hot under the collar" content removed. Apologies for misunderstanding!

The stroll was magnificent. There may even be pictures forthcoming!
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby alan » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:54 pm

LY: I don't remember reading those passages. Can you tell me which pages you are referring to?
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby alan » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:21 pm

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/dec/1/20041201-090801-2582r/
This was referenced.Notice the publication date.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:28 pm

The publication date is the end of 2004. I don't see how this is considered relevant.

The quotes I found on his blog, but they are taken from The End of Faith.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:21 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
In The End of Faith, he claimed:

"It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe."


How should one behave if faced with kamikaze who have nuclear weapons?

If a child has something sharp in his mouth that can cause death if not pulled out, should a wise parent extract that sharp piece out even if it means that a but more blood will be produced - but the child will recover and be healthy?
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:03 pm

Alex123 wrote:How should one behave if faced with kamikaze who have nuclear weapons?

If a child has something sharp in his mouth that can cause death if not pulled out, should a wise parent extract that sharp piece out even if it means that a but more blood will be produced - but the child will recover and be healthy?

First off, Harris is absolutely wrong in painting sovereign Muslim nations and even Islamic extremists as being death-junkies craving death. In traditional Hitchens/Dawkins/Harris style, he completely ignores the economic, political, and sociological issues that motivate violence against the United States.

With that said, even if there was a cabal of murderous fanatics out to die in glory, it is absolutely non-Buddhist to support killing them in order to "save" innocents. Taking life is always unskillful.

Killing, you gain
your killer.
Conquering, you gain one
who will conquer you;
insulting, insult;
harassing, harassment.

And so, through the cycle of action,
he who has plundered
gets plundered in turn.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:05 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:With that said, even if there was a cabal of murderous fanatics out to die in glory, it is absolutely non-Buddhist to support killing them in order to "save" innocents. Taking life is always unskillful.


So, do you support killing of much more people?

This is a problem with morality:

If one can kill one person and thus prevent death of millions, should one do it?
If one does it, one saves millions and kills one.
If one does not, millions of people die - indirectly because one didn't act.

If one could prevent death of millions, but didn't do it - how would history books call such a person?

If someone could have killed Hitler before WW2, but out of "morals" did not, how do you call that person?!
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:09 pm

Alex123 wrote:So, do you support killing of much more people?

I don't support killing in any way. If other people are going to kill, I will oppose that in any way I can that does not involve killing myself. But killing to stop more killing 1) historically doesn't work, and 2) is morally indefensible from a Buddhist standpoint.

If someone said, "Hey, if you don't rape twenty women, I'll go and rape forty women," I would definitely not do so. So why is it any different with killing?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:13 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:I don't support killing in any way.


So if you have opportunity to stop the death of millions and don't use it, how moral is that?

LonesomeYogurt wrote:If other people are going to kill, I will oppose that in any way I can that does not involve killing myself.


If there is no other way to stop a kamikaze who wants to die anyways... Would you allow him/her to kill millions?

LonesomeYogurt wrote: But killing to stop more killing 1) historically doesn't work, and 2) is morally indefensible from a Buddhist standpoint.


If someone could have killed Hitler prior to 1930s, and out of morals did not, how "moral" is that? How would we call that person?

LonesomeYogurt wrote:If someone said, "Hey, if you don't rape twenty women, I'll go and rape forty women," I would definitely not do so. So why is it any different with killing?


In this case you need to talk the other guy out of it. The above horrible case is not as bad as kamikaze with nuclear weapons and doesn't require such drastic measures.


We live in 21st century, not 5th Century BC. They didn't have nukes. One guy couldn't kill many people, and it would take him a lot of effort to do so. Today, with ICBM it can take few clicks to launch them and destroy millions if not more people AND animals.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:38 pm

Alex123 wrote:So if you have opportunity to stop the death of millions and don't use it, how moral is that?

Please give me one possible situation in which my actions could 1) actually prevent the immediate death of millions, and 2) actually prevent any single human being from eventually dying.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:If there is no other way to stop a kamikaze who wants to die anyways... Would you allow him/her to kill millions?

There is a big difference between nihilistic allowance and murder. You're acting as those the only two options are "Let them do whatever they want with no resistance" and "hunt them down and kill them all."


If someone could have killed Hitler prior to 1930s, and out of morals did not, how "moral" is that? How would we call that person?

Well, considering an Arahant is incapable of killing a human being, I would probably call such a person well on their way towards enlightenment.

Do you really think killing Hitler would have suddenly made everything better? Do you think that violence and hate can stop violence and hate? Because if so, the Buddha disagreed with you.

In this case you need to talk the other guy out of it. The above horrible case is not as bad as kamikaze with nuclear weapons and doesn't require such drastic measures.

And there's no reason to assume that we couldn't "talk the other guy out of it" in your case too, provided we stopped pillaging their economy, murdering their countrymen, and defaming their culture.

Again, you're acting on the hypothesis that these terrorists that Harris speaks of are some kind of cabal of death-seeking freaks. In reality, they have political, economic, and sociological reasons for their actions. Not that, of course, those actions are in any way excused.

We live in 21st century, not 5th Century BC. They didn't have nukes. One guy couldn't kill many people, and it would take him a lot of effort to do so. Today, with ICBM it can take few clicks to launch them and destroy millions if not more people AND animals.

I'd like to think the Buddha's teachings are a little more universal than that.

All tremble at violence;
all fear death.
Putting oneself in the place of another,
one should not kill
nor cause another to kill.

All tremble at violence;
life is dear to all.
Putting oneself in the place of another,
one should not kill
nor cause another to kill.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:56 am

I have been wanting to read Harris' books for some time so received them in the mail yesterday (End of Faith & Letter to a Christian Nation) and just finished End of Faith.

The parts about philosophy and morality, good and evil, were good. The last chapter, "Experiments in Consciousness" was excellent and included a section on "What are we calling 'I' "? and "The Wisdom of the East" and "Meditation". He does not use Buddhist terms, but basically makes the case for anatta and other Buddhist concepts.

The above almost makes up for the bad parts, but the bad parts were really bad. The chapter "The problem with Islam" was the longest chapter in the book where he goes on a tirade against Islam. He appears to have a picture of Islam and Muslims in general as if they are all fundamentalist-extremists. Anyone who has visited a Muslim country (except perhaps Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan when controlled by the Taliban) knows that the extremists are few and far in between. The majority are moderate, peaceful and not much different than others in any other nation; with their concerns toward their families, work, taking their kids to school, driving to work, to the movies, etc.

Harris implies or outright calls for torture in the war on terror as well as accepting collateral damage. In earlier chapters he complained (rightfully so) about the Inquisition and the use of torture and how often 'heretics" and "witches" had to confess under duress of torture so that the death would then come swifter, but then in later chapters argues in favor of torture! :?

In the afterword section, it was sort of funny to see the volume of complaints and where the complaints emanated from and his responses. Most of the complaints were from the Christian right (Harris critiqued them too). Ironically, he also received complaints from atheists who felt he was really promoting Buddhism, meditation, and Eastern religions with his praise for it in the final chapters.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:40 am

David N. Snyder wrote:In the afterword section, it was sort of funny to see the volume of complaints and where the complaints emanated from and his responses. Most of the complaints were from the Christian right (Harris critiqued them too). Ironically, he also received complaints from atheists who felt he was really promoting Buddhism, meditation, and Eastern religions with his praise for it in the final chapters.


Yes, he gets that too on his website and the other related website "Reason Project". Harris has attended a vipassana course for medical doctors and scientists that was held at IMS, Barre some years ago.

As I continue to say, his ideas are compelling. Some of his arguments may not be to our own predelictions or morals, but they are arguments that are worthy and need serious consideration. End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation were born out of the aftermath of 9/11 and Harris was responding, in part, to an enemy (al quaida and its variants) who were so committed that martyrdom either via combat or suicidal operations was/is a preferred method to inflict terror. And for the record, I don't agree with Sam Harris on every issue.

David, with regards to Harris advocating torture and decrying the Catholic Church's use - I think the difference is that the Church was torturing perceived non-believers or heretics because they differed from Orthodoxy and the outcome for those being tortured was (usually) a slow death or a quick death (if one recanted). Where as his advocacy (limited) of torture was as a necessary evil to extract information from one's enemy in a bid to avert a major disaster. One can argue the morality of advocating torture as a means of savings of many people but I think, from memory, what the difference was in his argument.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:55 pm

Related; further reading:

Sam Harris wrote:I will now present an argument for the use of torture in rare circumstances. While many people have objected, on emotional grounds, to my defense of torture, no one has pointed out a flaw in my argument. I hope my case for torture is wrong, as I would be much happier standing side by side with all the good people who oppose torture categorically. I invite any reader who discovers a problem with my argument to point it out to me in the comment section of this blog. I would be sincerely grateful to have my mind changed on this subject.


source

In one section of the book (pp. 192-199), I briefly discuss the ethics of torture and collateral damage in times of war, arguing that collateral damage is worse than torture across the board. Rather than appreciate just how bad I think collateral damage is in ethical terms, some readers have mistakenly concluded that I take a cavalier attitude toward the practice of torture. I do not. Nevertheless, there are extreme circumstances in which I believe that practices like “water-boarding” may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary. This is not the same as saying that they should be legal (e.g. crimes like trespassing or theft may sometimes be ethically necessary, while remaining illegal).


source
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:13 pm

Sam Harris wrote:
While many people have objected, on emotional grounds, to my defense of torture, no one has pointed out a flaw in my argument. I hope my case for torture is wrong, as I would be much happier standing side by side with all the good people who oppose torture categorically.


I doubt Harris will read my post but here's my attempt anyway.

Intention.

If a government/army/soldier tortures an individual, it is the intent to harm, quite graphically and visibly the person. If a bomb is dropped on a specific target and misses slightly, the intent is not completely there. However, I am not advocating dropping bombs on anyone and of course it should be understood that there is typically some error with hitting targets. The technology is improving rapidly and we are not quite at the "perfect weapon" Harris alludes to End of Faith, but getting ever closer (a weapon that takes out only its intended target with no collateral damage).

Or how about many Buddhists and Jains who don't advocate any type of war? In that case there is no collateral damage (no war) and no justification for torture either. But of course I know, Harris has an answer for that too, where in his book he argues against pacifism and argues that it is even immoral.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:27 pm

re: intention, from the second link in my last post:

It seems, in fact, that many people do not understand what the phrase “collateral damage” signifies, and this leads them to imagine that I have drawn a false analogy. Most assume my analogy fails in the following way: torture is the intentional infliction of guaranteed suffering, while collateral damage is the unintentional imposition of possible suffering (or death). Apples and oranges.

But this isn’t true. We often drop bombs knowing that innocent people will be killed or horribly injured by them. We target buildings in which combatants are hiding, knowing that noncombatants are also in those buildings, or standing too close to escape destruction. And when innocent people are killed or injured—when children are burned over most of their bodies and live to suffer interminable pain and horrible disfigurement—our leaders accept this as the cost of doing business in a time of war. Many people oppose specific wars, of course—like the war in Iraq—but no public figure has been vilified for accepting collateral damage in a war that is deemed just. And yet anyone who would defend the water-boarding a terrorist like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad will reap a whirlwind of public criticism. This makes no moral sense (to me)...

"We will not torture anyone under any circumstances unless we are certain, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the person in our custody has operational knowledge of an imminent act of nuclear terrorism."

It seems to me that unless one can produce an ethical argument against torturing such a person, one does not have an argument against the use of torture in principle.


It's probably worth a separate thread; no sign of spirituality of late!
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:42 pm

Sam Harris wrote:We often drop bombs knowing that innocent people will be killed or horribly injured by them. We target buildings in which combatants are hiding, knowing that noncombatants are also in those buildings, or standing too close to escape destruction. And when innocent people are killed or injured—when children are burned over most of their bodies and live to suffer interminable pain and horrible disfigurement—our leaders accept this as the cost of doing business in a time of war.


But as I sort of mentioned in my previous post, maybe we should be questioning doing such things too. 2 wrongs don't make a right, just because the above is wrong do we need to add to it and go further down the immoral slope? Maybe we shouldn't be dropping those bombs knowing that innocent people will be killed and injured.
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Re: Sam Harris's "In Defense of “Spiritual”"

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:11 pm

Hi David,
David N. Snyder wrote:Maybe we shouldn't be dropping those bombs knowing that innocent people will be killed and injured.


I think Harris argues a compelling, if even distateful, case of the morality of using waterboarding to extract information from an enemy who is in possession of information regarding a nuclear strike.
What if we drop a bomb with surgical precision on a military target only to find out later that the enemy regime packed the site with living or dead women and children with an aim of parading their dead bodies to international media following such a strike?
What if we drop a bomb on a military target knowing that by doing so we knock out the ememy's capacity to launch a wmd that would kill tens or hundreds of thousands yet in the process of neutralizing that thread we inadvertently kill tens of innocent people?
I don;t think these hypotheticals are too far fetched. How do we negotiate these situations with our Buddhist sense of ethics?
kind regards,

Ben
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