I will never forget when my Introduction to Philosophy seminar professor taught me that “which begs the question” was not just a flashy phrase I used to introduce new paragraphs in my ACT Writing section. It turned out that begging the question was a specific kind of circular logical fallacy, and I had been using
There is a long history of scientific inquiry about what role biological sex plays in differences between brain function in human males and females. Greater knowledge of the influence of biological sex on the human brain promises much-needed insights into brain function and especially dysfunctions that differentially affect the sexes (1). Certainly, advancing technologies and an increasing wealth of data (with more sophisticated analyses) should prompt robust future research—carefully conducted and well replicated—that can elucidate sex effects in the brain. However, this field of research has spurred an equally long history of debate as to whether inherent differences in brains of males and females predispose the sexes to stereotypical behaviors, or whether such claims reinforce and legitimate traditional gender stereotypes and roles in ways that are not scientifically justified—so-called neurosexism. Although this topic remains controversial, a commonly held belief is that the psyches of females and males are highly distinct. These differences are perceived as natural, fixed, and invariant across time and place (2), presumably due to unique female versus male brain circuitry that is largely fixed by a sexually differentiated genetic blueprint. A major challenge in the field is to crtically view previous experimental findings, as well as design future studies, outside the framework of this dichotomous model. Here, gender scholarship can hasten scientific progress by revealing the implicit assumptions that can give rise to inadvertent neurosexism.His brain, her brain? Cordelia FineScience 21 November 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6212 pp. 915-916 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1262061
Philosopher Alva Noë explores ideas in a new book that suggests consciousness and self is best looked at by combining insight from Western science, Indian philosophy and contemplative practices.
For example "our attitudes about experience are usually governed by familiar concepts, and those familiar concepts don't really do justice to the great variety we actually experience. Take that red car parked out front. You see it. It's red. You experience its color. But there is so much more to be said about how it looks, even just confining our attention to color, than merely that it looks red. At one end it is glowing white in the direct glare of the sun. At the other end it is bathed in cool shadow and looks, really, almost gray. Gaining access to the structure and quality of experience requires, it would seem, a better taxonomy of qualities and modes of awareness of those qualities. It isn't obvious that ordinary language and thought provide us with this superior taxonomy"
Wisdom on overcoming the greatest human frustration from the pioneer of Eastern philosophy in the West. "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard wrote in her timeless reflection on presence over productivity— a timely antidote to the central anxiety of our productivity-obsessed age. --by Maria Popova
“A piece of music doesn’t come to an end when its purpose is accomplished. It has no purpose, strictly speaking. It is the playful unfolding of meaning.” “Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive,” Seneca wrote in his sublime meditation on the shortness of life, adding that when we reap these contemplative fruits of leisure, all the ages that have passed before ours are added to our own — “unless we are very ungrateful.” Two millennia later, in 1926, philosopher Bertrand Russell reflected on the urgent need to undo the Industrial Revolution’s legacy of equating an efficient life with a life worth living when he lamented: “What will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them?” In the centuries since Seneca and decades since Russell, we have forgotten more and more how to imbue leisure with the kind of gratefulness that makes possible its true purpose of contemplation — instead, we treat leisure as a luxury, as another good to be gotten from the hamster wheel of material achievement.
This week we are talking to Angie Hobbs, the UK’s first Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy. The world seems divided into the relevant and the irrelevant. Doctors are relevant, given how much we treasure our health. Lawyers are relevant too, given how much we value our property. Even economists are relevant, given our strangely unquenchable desire to witness the past being predicted with deadly accuracy. But philosophers? Not so much, it seems. Angie believes, however, that philosophy anchors our human experience: “ it’s where we find the principles on which we build our knowledge, the tools to critical thinking and the keys to a more fulfilled life ”, she explains in this week's ReThink clip,
Via Robert Farrow
Have you ever deburred a dog? I have, and that distinctive experience (the dog in question was a black hound mix, and the burs were like brownish green stars in his fur) was responsible for some regrettable lines of poetry I wrote while in college: “When the alarm went off,...
No. It helps make us coherent to ourselves, and that’s a never-ending project.
The structure of universities demands that a field be designated as a science, a social science, or one of the humanities. This structure has ill served philosophy. It’s not a science, and it’s not a social science. Therefore it belongs, by default, to the humanities, rubbing shoulders with English literature and art history. And what are the humanities? They are premised, according to one cultural critic, Leon Wieseltier, who is among the most impassioned contemporary defenders of the humanities, on "the irreducible reality of inwardness" and are, in fact, "the study of the many expressions of that inwardness." (Wieseltier’s words were written in response to an essay by my husband, Steven Pinker.)
This definition of the humanities is arguably apposite for the study of art and literature, but most philosophers would reject it, starting with Plato himself. In fact, it sounds like a course-catalog description of the shadow studies in which the prisoners of Plato’s cave are involuntarily enrolled. The man who banished the poets from his utopia would hardly acquiesce in a view of philosophy that rendered it a species of literature. If the arguments of Plato and Descartes, Spinoza and Hume, Kant and Wittgenstein yield us nothing but expressions of our irreducible inwardness, then we can judge them only on aesthetic grounds, as we do Sophocles and Dante, Shakespeare and Milton, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. Some philosophers might agree to the aestheticizing of the field (Martin Heidegger? Richard Rorty?), but many more would not. Henri Bergson argued that the relentless flow of time captures the essence of reality, and that, therefore, all concepts being static, distort reality. Proust channeled this conclusion into the literary techniques of In Search of Lost Time. But while we evaluate Bergson on the merits of his arguments, argumentative validity has no bearing on the accomplishment of Proust.
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