Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • there.

  • Thank you all for coming out.

  • Well, good evening, Dublin.

  • As you've just heard Jordan Beatson, Sam Harris met the first time in person two weeks ago.

  • Now, in Vancouver, they covered an enormous amount of ground on dhe.

  • There is, I think, an enormous amount of ground still to cover.

  • But I've asked them if they would start this evening in the following way.

  • You're all familiar with Straw Manning anyone who follows politics, those straw manning.

  • But I've asked them to do the opposite tonight to start by steel manning the arguments of each other to present in the best possible most fair, most rigorous light what they understand to be the others argument on all of the major issues were about to discuss.

  • I'm gonna ask Sam Harris to go first, and we're gonna go from that.

  • Thank you.

  • So, first, thank you all for coming.

  • It's really it's immense privilege for us to do this on dhe.

  • I should say many of you have sacrificed a lot to come here.

  • People have come from other countries.

  • I'm told you all dealt with a ticketing system that seems like it was run from a cave in Afghanistan.

  • Uh, it's so again.

  • Thank you all because it's one thing for us to put this date on the calendar and say We're going to speak here is another for all of you to show up and this is a privilege We certainly don't take for granted.

  • So that's an immense one.

  • Uh, so Jordan and I should say that though much of our conversation together well, often sound like we're debating it, we'll definitely that none of us are in the in the habit of pulling our punches.

  • There's an immense amount of goodwill here, and it's it's true on stage is true offstage, and we're all trying to refine our beliefs together in conversation.

  • So this is none of us view this as a debate, though we might stridently disagree about one thing or another.

  • Um what?

  • So what?

  • Jordan, I think disagrees with me about it.

  • I think he's worried that I way clearly have a common project.

  • We're both concerned to understand how tow live lives worth living.

  • How can we do this individually?

  • And how can we build societies that safeguard this project for millions of people attempting to do this in in their diverse ways that so it's okay.

  • Many questions immediately come online when you try to do that.

  • But what is the relationship between fax and values, for instance, or science and spiritual experience or our ethical lives?

  • And we have you?

  • As for the moment, differing answers to those Westerns, Jordan is concerned that I, in my allergy to religion, insufficiently value the power of stories in general and religious stories in particular, that there's something more than just nakedly engaging with fax as as they are way don't simply come into contact with reality.

  • We have to interpret reality.

  • We interpret it through our senses and and with our brains, obviously.

  • But you need frameworks and a CZ.

  • Jordan would say stories with which to do that.

  • You don't get fax in the raw.

  • And, uh, Jordan believes that I, because my purpose so often is too counter what I view as the dangerous dogmas within religion.

  • I ignore the power and even the necessity of certain kinds of stories in certain ways of thinking about the world and our situation in the world that not only bring many, many millions and even billions of people, immense value or in fact necessary for anyone, however rational, to build a society where all of our our well being can be conserved.

  • So I think if in brief, that's that's Jordan's concerned about me.

  • So Sam is concerned.

  • I would say above all with the minimization of unnecessary suffering, which seems to me to be a pretty good place to start.

  • And he's concerned that he's concerned that in order to do that, we need to develop an ethic.

  • And that ethic should be grounded in that realization that unnecessary suffering is worth contending with and dealing with.

  • And that and that if we make too much of the divide between facts and values, then we end up in a situation where our value structure has no super subordinate foundational grounding.

  • And then this is a big problem.

  • So generally in the philosophical community, it's accepted, although not universally, that it's difficult, if not impossible, to derive values from facts.

  • But the problem with that proposition is that you end up in a situation where either you lose all your values because they're just arbitrary or you or you have to ground them in something that isn't that it's it's revelatory and Sam is concerned that one of the negative consequences of grounding your fundamental ethic in something that's revealed is the emergent consequence of irrational fundamentalism.

  • And so obviously that's worth contending with.

  • And so he's taking issue with the philosophical idea that facts and values have to be separate and formulating the proposition that we can in fact ground a universal system of values in the facts and that we can mediate between the facts and the system of values, using using our facility for truth, but even more specifically our facility for rationality and that rationality can be the mediator between the world of facts and the world and the world of values.

  • And so the problem I have with that, I guess, if we can skip briefly to problems, is that it isn't obvious to me.

  • Howto produce an ethos with sufficient motivating power to to ground that conception of the minimization of suffering, say, in the promotion of well being in a way that's grips people and unites the society.

  • And so I think that's that's part of what we're discussing and trying to sort out with regards to the potential rule of narrative and religious belief as an underpinning to this ethos, We seem to agree on the necessity for the universal ethos.

  • We even seem to agree.

  • I would say on what that is, because certainly the minimization of suffering seems to me to be a very good place to start.

  • We share on our concern with and a belief that the pathway to that ethos is in some manner related to our ability to speak the truth.

  • But we disagree on what that has to be grounded in and how it has to be grounded.

  • My sense, especially after thinking about our discussion, is that Sam makes what rationality is, do too much work.

  • And I'm hoping that not that rationality is irrelevant or unimportant, because it clearly is neither of those.

  • But maybe the devil's in the details, and hopefully we can get down to the details tonight.

  • Wait for me.

  • We brought Douglas into the conversation.

  • He's here to serve as much more than a mere moderator, and partly we've determined that Has Sam alluded to that?

  • What we're actually trying to figure out is one of the minimal necessary preconditions for the construction of engaged, productive individuals with meaningful, responsible lives in a society that's stable enough to sustain itself and dynamic enough to change one of the minimal preconditions for that.

  • What of it?

  • And and and how do we ground those pre suppositions those preconditions?

  • And what price do we pay for for having them?

  • Because you never get something without a cost.

  • And we thought that Douglas would be very interesting addition to this conversation because, of course, he's concentrated on such things as borders.

  • And when you set up preconditions for social order, you also automatically produce such things as hierarchies and borders, and they don't come without a cost.

  • And so we hope to expand the conversation to include a discussion of those issues as well before Douglas times.

  • And I just want to reiterate the fact that he has not been cast here as our moderator, though if Jordan and I run off the rails, I expect Douglas to put us back on in the king's English.

  • I'm not moderate enough to be a moderate.

  • No, but you're more moderate than either of us are.

  • But so hee I want I want you to reset the part of your brain that is poised to begrudge the moderator taking up too much time because every moderator has felt that and bread.

  • Weinstein was brilliantly aloof and uninvolved in much of our exchange together.

  • But But Douglas really is 1/3 participant here, and he stands between Jordan and I on some issues.

  • Interesting way so that they have a three way conversation here, where none of us is really sitting in the same spot.

  • So can I make it quick observation about some of this?

  • Some of the progress that you've already made in Vancouver?

  • Some progress I hope could make tonight seems to be.

  • I see one thing that Hamp is it.

  • Let me go straight to it with Sam, which is, I discovered a terrific phrase the other day that our mutual friend Eric Weinstein came up with.

  • We're talking about the manner in which you can discuss within the science is certain scientific problems.

  • And he said, Look, if you've got a scientist who you know is also basically a very literalist Christian, you will listen to their argument a whole long part of the way, and there's somewhere at the end of it, you know, you're gonna be worried about it.

  • and he came up with this phrase.

  • I love this face.

  • He says, Jesus, smuggling, right?

  • Well, Jesus, smuggling is you're gonna follow away.

  • Yes, yes.

  • And then the worry is that when you get to the bit that you're not so good on, that's when they're going to smuggle in Jesus.

  • My suspicion is that you have a reservation about some of what Jordan is saying, sub structures on stories and much more because you're worried that at some point either on this stage or offered at some point when you're not looking, no, no or when I am looking is gonna just smuggle you.

  • Yeah, I was thinking, maybe I just carry him in on a cross.

  • Well, that is an all too apt analogy, because it's it is what worries me.

  • And it's.

  • But it's It's more subtle than that, because it's not to think that you're consciously doing.

  • It is a different claim like theirs.

  • I don't think there's anything in sincere about your argument for the importance of religion, but it's it's also possible we've all met the people who we believe are making insincere arguments, and it really they're they're consciously putting the rabbit in the hat and then pretending to be surprised when it pops out.

  • And and the analogy that magic is actually interesting here because we waited over dinner.

  • We're talking about the the difference between real and fake art.

  • And we were talking about this pair of this paradox that the art seems to be incredibly valuable.

  • And yet the value isn't located in the object itself.

  • Can't be obviously located there because a forgery that is the materially the exact copy of some masterpiece is essentially worthless.

  • And the real masterpiece, even if it suffered some damage, would be incredibly valuable.

  • And so where is the value to be located?

  • But what worries me about your enterprise, Jordan and the way in which you're you seem to be linking our rational project in our scientific project with religion is is right here.

  • There's there's a difference between, and Matt Magic is a decent analogy.

  • There's a difference between paradoxically real magic is fake magic and fake magic is real magic.

  • The only the only real magic in the world produced by magicians is the fake magic where the magician, like someone like Derren Brown, will tell you actually, no I can't read minds.

  • And I did put the rabbit in the hat and this is fake, but but the surprises.

  • Even knowing it's fake, you can't understand how this effect is being achieved.

  • Whereas the fake magicians are the ones who are pretending to be really, who are who are hiding, who are not acknowledging the mechanics, the rial mechanics behind what is in fact effective theirry luge in that the rabbit pops out of the hat.

  • And what I worry with with some of your the way in which you discuss the power of story, the power of metaphor and religious anchoring there is that the the leverage and the utility can be had even while acknowledging the rial mechanics of it.

  • You know, the fake, the fakeness of the magic right, and you seem to suspect that it can't that takes all of the wind out of the sails.

  • I'm not so sure I'm not so sure What if it's fake?

  • And what if it isn't like?

  • So I would say that I do consciously participate in the process that you describe, but But you see, I would also make the case, and this is certainly one of the things that we've seen.

  • We've been discussing that you do it unconsciously and let me make the case for that from me because I'd really have been thinking about it a lot.

  • And I'd like to see your response.

  • So here is here.

  • I really read the moral landscape a lot, and I thought about it a lot, you know?

  • And so this is what it looks like to me.

  • So you you make the proposition that we have to reach the gap between facts and values because otherwise our values are left hanging, unmoored, and that certainly brings about the danger of nihilism.

  • But also a potential danger of swing to hotel Attorney is something we agree about.

  • I truly do believe that.

  • And then you perform on operation a conceptual operation, and you say, surely we can all agree that And then you outlined a story about this woman who lives in this horrible country who's basically just being starved and disease ridden and tortured her whole life and having just a hell of a time of it, to put it in a phrase.

  • And then you say, Well, surely we can all agree that that's not good.

  • And then you contrast that with least in principle, the sort of life that we would all like to have if we could choose the life that we have.

  • And then you say, Well, we could start with the proposition that we should move away from this this terrible, hellish circumstance and we should move towards this Maur ideal perspective.

  • And you say, If we could only agree on that then and so and so, so far, so good.

  • But this is this, is there.

  • There's a couple of things that go along with that that are quite interesting.

  • And so the first is that actually what you're claiming is that the highest moral good isn't existing in that better space.

  • The highest moral good is acting in the manner that moves us from the hellish domain to the desirable domain.

  • It seems to me to be implicit in your argument, So there's a pattern of behavior that constitutes the ethic.

  • Well, I would say that existing in that in that better space is good enough as well.

  • I mean, there's the There's the question of what it takes to move from where you are to someplace better And then there's just some place better.

  • There's both of us, well, but perhaps we could say Look, what's the ultimate hell?

  • It might be existing in the hell that you describe, but it also might be this is something worse.

  • I think I think that participating in the process that brings about that hell is actually a hell that's even deeper than the hell.

  • So it's an analogous argument.

  • There's the state of being in a good state.

  • But there's also the state of being that brings you to that good state.

  • And then there's the state of being That's a that's a terrible state and the process that brings you to that terrible state.

  • And one of the things that I've learned from the archetypal and religious texts that I've studied as well as the philosophical text, is that the process that transforms society into something approximating hell is a lower hell.

  • No reason.

  • Well, let me just close the lid on that.