Episode 354

Is Moral Progress a Fantasy?

A Conversation with John Gray

February 16, 2024

Sam Harris speaks with John Gray about the possibility of moral and political progress. They discuss historical and current threats to freedom of thought, the limits of law, the spread of dangerous technology, failures of convergence on norms and values, Arthur Koestler, de-industrialization in Europe, fellow travelers and the progressive embrace of barbarism, Bertrand Russell, the absurdity of pacifism, utilitarianism, the moral landscape, George Santayana, moral and scientific realism, pragmatism, atheism, Schopenhauer, liberalism as an historical accident, and other topics.

John Gray is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including The Silence of Animals, The Immortalization Commission, Black Mass, and Straw Dogs. His latest book is The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and he has been a professor of politics at Oxford, a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics. He now writes full-time.

Website: https://www.newstatesman.com/author/john-gray


Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make in life. That’s why Sam Harris created the Waking Up app. From rational mindfulness practice to lessons on some of life’s most important topics, join Sam as he demystifies the practice of meditation and explores the theory behind it.