When scientists dismiss philosophy as an antiquated relic of our pre-scientific past, they are making a very large and dubious assumption.
Morale these days has fallen pretty low along the corridors of philosophy departments. From one side, we get the mockery of the scientists. Freeman Dyson calls philosophy today “a toothless relic of past glories.” According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, majoring in philosophy “can really mess you up.” Stephen Hawking declares that “philosophy is dead.” From another side, we have to cope with the apostasy of our own leading figures. John Searle describes the field as being in “terrible shape.” Peter Unger says that philosophers are “under the impression that they’re saying something new and interesting about how it is about the world, when in fact this is all an illusion.” What’s going on? Has philosophy gone horribly amiss? Or are there broader cultural factors at work, perhaps something to do with a general decline in respect for the humanities?
"This is our birthright. It is profoundly our birthright in the same way that our sexuality is our birthright. The notion that a person would call themselves intelligent and aware and present in the world and that they would go from the cradle to the grave without ever having a psychedelic experience is nothing short of obscene; it's absurd. It makes my flesh crawl in the same way that celibacy and virginity make my flesh crawl. What a horrible, horrible waste of a human life."
"The social drive shaped the uses of imagination. It made it possible for humans to share their invisible inner worlds with each other."
a dialogue between legendary Harvard sociobiologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass. Their wide-ranging conversation is now collected in The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass (public library), titled after Wilson’s famous description of Homo sapiens as “the poetic species” on account of how heavily our cognitive infrastructure relies upon metaphor and associative thinking.
In The Princess Bride, the always sagacious Miracle Max—aka Billy Crystal—points out “there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” And he wasn’t wrong.
Death has always been something of a moving target. Take, for example, the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1768, that defined the term as “the separation of soul and body; in which sense it stands opposed to life, which consists in the union thereof.
But how can you tell when said separation occurs? Well, that’s a slightly more complicated procedure and one we still haven’t quite cracked. Thus, moving forward, and trying for an—um— more practical definition, we began to define the end of life by a series of cessations.
In the beginning, breath was life. Of course, this idea led to the obvious reversal, the cessation of breath, meant the cessation of life. But that didn’t last for long.
As our knowledge of biology improved, death became definable by the cessation of heart function. In other words, if you were out of pulse, you were out of time.
But advances in neuroscience, ideas about brain death, and the introduction of mechanical ventilators—with their ability to keep the heart pumping long after the brain had died—forced a society-wide reevaluation of terms.
How do you change someone’s mind if you think you are right and they are wrong? Psychology reveals the last thing to do is the tactic we usually resort to. You are, I’m afraid to say, mistaken. The position you are taking makes no logical sense.
We face an endless string of choices, which leads us to feel anxiety, guilt and pangs of inadequacy that we are perhaps making the wrong ones. But philosopher Renata Salecl asks: Could individual choices be distracting us from something bigger—our power as social thinkers? A bold call for us to stop taking personal choice so seriously and focus on the choices we're making collectively.
The dogma I object to is composed of a set of interlocking beliefs and doesn't have a generally accepted overarching name as yet, though I sometimes call it "cybernetic totalism". It has the potential to transform human experience more powerfully than any prior ideology, religion, or political system ever has, partly because it can be so pleasing to the mind, at least initially, but mostly because it gets a free ride on the overwhelmingly powerful technologies that happen to be created by people who are, to a large degree, true believers.
The distance between recognizing a great metaphor and treating it as the only metaphor is the same as the distance between humble science and dogmatic religion.
By Tom Stafford, University of Sheffield The headlines The Guardian: Shocking but true: students prefer jolt of pain than being made to sit and think Nature: We dislike being alone with our thoughts Washington Post: Most men would rather shock...
HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! is an anthology of science fiction/fantasy stories told in the form of fictional crowdfunding pitches, using the components (and restrictions) of the format to tell the story. This includes but is not limited to: Project Goals, Rewards, User Comments, Project Updates, FAQs, and more. The idea is to replicate the feel of reading a crowdfunding pitch, so that even though the projects may be preposterous in the real world, they will feel like authentic crowdfunding projects as much as possible.
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
‘Powers are attributed to any structure of ideas,’ Douglas writes. We all tend to think that our categories of understanding are necessarily real. ‘The yearning for rigidity is in us all,’ she continues. ‘It is part of our human condition to long for hard lines and clear concepts’. Yet when we have them, she says, ‘we have to either face the fact that some realities elude them, or else blind ourselves to the inadequacy of the concepts’. It is not just the Lele who cannot parse the pangolin: biologists are still arguing about where it belongs on the genetic tree of life.
'Eugene Goostman' fools 33% of interrogators into thinking it is human, in what is seen as a milestone in artificial intelligence
No computer had ever previously passed the Turing test, which requires 30% of human interrogators to be duped during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations, organisers from the University of Reading said.
"Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished." Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the "end of history illusion," where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we'll be for the rest of time. Hint: that's not the case.