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Philosophy everywhere everywhen
The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher. The Second Law of Philosophy: They're bo
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Obsolete Humans? Why Elites Want You to Fear the Robot

Obsolete Humans? Why Elites Want You to Fear the Robot | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Dystopian technology fantasies are flooding the media, to the delight of the 1 percent.


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Cambridge, Cabs and Copenhagen: My Route to Existential Risk

Cambridge, Cabs and Copenhagen: My Route to Existential Risk | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
The fear that technology might threaten our survival is is often dismissed as outlandish. But it is cause for concern.

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My case for these conclusions relies on three main observations. The first is that our own intelligence is an evolved biological solution to a kind of optimization problem, operating under very tight constraints of time, energy, raw materials, historical starting point and no doubt many other factors. The hardware needs to fit through a mammalian birth canal, to be reasonably protected for a mobile life in a hazardous environment, to consume something like 1,000 calories per day and so on – not to mention being achievable by mutation and selection over a time scale of some tens of millions of years, starting from what existed back then!

Second, this biological endowment, such as it is, has been essentially constant, for many thousands of years. It is a kind of fixed point in the landscape, a mountain peak on which we have all lived for hundreds of generations. Think of it as Mount Fuji, for example. We are creatures of this volcano. The fact that it towers above the surrounding landscape enables us to dominate our environment and accounts for our extraordinary success, compared with most other species on the planet. (Some species benefit from our success, of course: cockroaches and rats, perhaps, and the many distinctive bacteria that inhabit our guts.) And the distinctive shape of the peak – also constant, or nearly so, for all these generations – is very deeply entangled with our sense of what it is to be us. We are not just creatures of any volcano; we are creatures of this one.

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Philosopher Kings and Fiscal Cliffs

Philosopher Kings and Fiscal Cliffs | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Exploiting the public's confusion about fiscal policy for political advantage is a danger not just to the economy, but to democracy.

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Plato had a famously dim view of democracy. He regarded politics as a craft, and thought that understanding the essence of a craft is to have expertise. Plato argues that we cannot hope the multitude to achieve expertise in the craft of governing. They are too easily misled by sophists. It followed, for Plato, that democracy must be rejected as a just system of governance. It is “probable that the origins of tyranny are found nowhere else than in the democratic regime.” (“The Republic”). A just system of government must have a philosopher king, who understands the essences of things. Translated into the modern context, Plato’s view is that the only just system of government is one that is run by one or several experts in economics and public policy. The multitude is too easily swayed by propaganda.

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Religion May Not Survive the Internet

Religion May Not Survive the Internet | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
As we head into a new year, the guardians of traditional religion are ramping up efforts to keep their flocks—or, in crass economic terms, to retain market share. Some Christians have turned to soul searching while others have turned to marketing.

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Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics like you who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas. These behaviors range from memorizing sacred texts to wearing distinctive undergarments to killing infidels. Such defenses worked beautifully during humanity’s infancy. They still work well for a child raised in an Afghani village and educated in a madrassa. But they weren’t really designed for the current information age.

Tech-savvy mega-churches may have twitter missionaries, and Calvinist cuties may make viral videos about how Jesus worship isn’t a religion it’s a relationship, but that doesn’t change the facts: the free flow of information is really, really bad for the product they are selling. Here are five kinds of web content that are like, well, like electrolysis on religion’s hairy toes.

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21 Emotions with No English Word Equivalents

21 Emotions with No English Word Equivalents | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Via Martin Daumiller, FastTFriend
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Martin Daumiller's curator insight, January 18, 2013 3:26 AM

Design student Pei-Ying Lin took Parrot|s Classification of Human Emotions as a base and tried to add different emotions to it, which don't exist in English, but in other languages, such as Hebrew, Russian, German, Italian, Mandarin, etc.

She tried to express similarities and closeness to other emotions and managed to visualize the relationship between the foreign emotion-words and the English ones.

In Lins words, her project is one "that investigates human emotions and languages. By re-looking at how humans communicate, it searches for a way to connect our inner self and personal emotions, through the design of a personal language and several new ways of communication. It is an investigation of how language can be improvised to connect our emotions in this multilingual world."

This is a nice example and visualization of the culture-rootedness of emotions. It underlines the historical and social background necessary for the development of a certain set-of-mind required to feel and express specific emotions.

Sophie Martin's comment, March 13, 2013 4:30 PM
full size http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/emotions-which-there-are-no-english-words-infographic
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The Mind’s Compartments Create Conflicting Beliefs: Scientific American

How our modular brains lead us to deny and distort evidence

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If you have pondered how intelligent and educated people can, in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence, believe that evolution is a myth, that global warming is a hoax, that vaccines cause autism and asthma, that 9/11 was orchestrated by the Bush administration, conjecture no more. The explanation is in what I call logic-tight compartments—modules in the brain analogous to watertight compartments in a ship.

The concept of compartmentalized brain functions acting either in concert or in conflict has been a core idea of evolutionary psychology since the early 1990s. According to University of Pennsylvania evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban in Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite (Princeton University Press, 2010), the brain evolved as a modular, multitasking problem-solving organ—a Swiss Army knife of practical tools in the old metaphor or an app-loaded iPhone in Kurzban's upgrade. There is no unified “self” that generates internally consistent and seamlessly coherent beliefs devoid of conflict. Instead we are a collection of distinct but interacting modules often at odds with one another. The module that leads us to crave sweet and fatty foods in the short term is in conflict with the module that monitors our body image and health in the long term. The module for cooperation is in conflict with the one for competition, as are the modules for altruism and avarice or the modules for truth telling and lying.

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The Internet is the God We Create-The Futurica Trilogy is a work of philosophy, sociology and futurology in three closely related movements.

The Internet is the God We Create-The Futurica Trilogy is a work of philosophy, sociology and futurology in three closely related movements. | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

The Futurica Trilogy is a work of philosophy, sociology and futurology in three closely related movements. 


Via FastTFriend
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The first volume, The Netocrats, deals with human history from the perspective of the new elite of Informationalism, the emerging society of information networks, shaped by digital interactivity, making prophecies about the digital future of politics, culture, economy, et cetera.

The second volume, The Global Empire, explores the near future of political globalization and the struggle to form new, functioning ideologies for a world where global decision making is a necessity.

The third volume, The Body Machines, thoroughly deals with the demise of the Cartesian subject. It discusses the implications of a materialist image of humanity and explains how it relates to the new, emerging technological paradigm. It explains why we’re all of us body machines, and why this is actually good news.

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FastTFriend's curator insight, January 9, 2013 12:23 AM

The first volume, The Netocrats, deals with human history from the perspective of the new elite of Informationalism, the emerging society of information networks, shaped by digital interactivity, making prophecies about the digital future of politics, culture, economy, et cetera.

The second volume, The Global Empire, explores the near future of political globalization and the struggle to form new, functioning ideologies for a world where global decision making is a necessity.

The third volume, The Body Machines, thoroughly deals with the demise of the Cartesian subject. It discusses the implications of a materialist image of humanity and explains how it relates to the new, emerging technological paradigm. It explains why we’re all of us body machines, and why this is actually good news.

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Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes

Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
New technologies reveal ambiguities and hidden assumptions in international humanitarian law.

 

Science fiction, or actual U.S. military project? Half a world away from the battlefield, a soldier controls his avatar-robot that does the actual fighting on the ground. Another one wears a sticky fabric that enables her to climb a wall like a gecko or spider would. Returning from a traumatic mission, a pilot takes a memory-erasing drug to help ward off post-traumatic stress disorder. Mimicking the physiology of dolphins and sled-dogs, a sailor is able to work his post all week without sleep and only a few meals.

All of these scenarios are real military projects currently in various stages of research. This is the frontlines of the Human Enhancement Revolution -- we now know enough about biology, neuroscience, computing, robotics, and materials to hack the human body, reshaping it in our own image. And defense-related applications are a major driver of science and technology research.

But, as I reported earlier, we also face serious ethical, legal, social, and operational issues in enhancing warfighters. Here, I want to drill down on what the laws of war say about military human enhancements, as we find that other technologies such as robotics and cyberweapons run into serious problems in this area as well.

Should enhancement technologies -- which typically do not directly interact with anyone other than the human subject -- be nevertheless subject to a weapons legal-review? That is, is there a sense in which enhancements could be considered as "weapons" and therefore under the authority of certain laws?

In international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the laws of war, the primary instruments relevant to human enhancements include: Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907), Geneva Conventions (1949 and Additional Protocols I, II, and III), Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (1972), Chemical Weapons Convention (1993), and other law. Below, I discuss these agreements and what their implications may be for human enhancement.

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Meaning on the Brain: How Your Mind Organizes Reality | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

Meaning on the Brain: How Your Mind Organizes Reality | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

They called him “Diogenes the Cynic,” because “cynic” meant “dog-like,” and he had a habit of basking naked on the lawn while his fellow philosophers talked on the porch. While they debated the mysteries of the cosmos, Diogenes preferred to soak up some rays – some have called him the Jimmy Buffettof ancient Greece.

Anyway, one morning, the great philosopher Plato had a stroke of insight. He caught everyone’s attention, gathered a crowd around him, and announced his deduction: “Man is defined as a hairless, featherless, two-legged animal!” Whereupon Diogenes abruptly leaped up from the lawn, dashed off to the marketplace, and burst back onto the porch carrying a plucked chicken – which he held aloft and shouted, “Behold: I give you… Man!”

I’m sure Plato was less than thrilled at this stunt, but the story reminds us that these early philosophers were still hammering out the most basic tenets of the science we now know as taxonomy: The grouping of objects from the world into abstract categories. This technique of chopping up reality wasn’t invented in ancient Greece, though. In fact, as a recent study shows, it’s fundamental to the way our brains work.

 

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Immanence and Deterritorialization: The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari — www.bu.edu — Readability

In the following I would like to talk about a topic that has been treated very little in academic philosophy. The works of GILLES DELEUZE - and not to forget his co-author, FÉLIX GUATTARI - are still treated as 'curiosities' and their importance for philosophical discussions is not recognized. (2) In opposition to this, I will show what the very concept of philosophy means to these two thinkers.

In doing this I will start with the more theoretical backround. As many others have already I will stress the decisive influence of DELEUZE'S thinking, but I will also try to indicate the impact GUATTARI had on him. This account will therefore show DELEUZE'S attempts - before GUATTARI - to concieve of a non-dialectic philosophy of becoming. After that I will turn to the rethinking of such an approach given the influence of GUATTARI and his anti-psychoanalytic analysis of territorial processes. The outcome will be the resulting conception of the philosophical activity as an act of 'becoming-minor'.

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Toward a Pluripotent Hybridity: A new body agency of self? | Artbrain

A performative context The development of new biology(1) has opened up new possibilities for the question of what defines the nature of humanity(2) and the
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The development of new biology(1) has opened up new possibilities for the question of what defines the nature of humanity(2) and the risk of biopower,(3)
to explore and develop endogenous capacities of the body. With the discovery of embryonic pluripotent stem cells, nanotech(4) and prosthesis
the old definition of the mechanical body was no longer sufficient for describing the plasticity and the reconfiguration of body agency. By body agency, we not only mean a human enhancement(5), but also the activation of the pluripotential body through its biotechnological performance. The matter of the body is the result, as Judith Butler has noted, of our performative action on it by our technological expertise. If the paradigm of technics was always based on the passive model of the stimulation of immunologic defenses like Koch and Pasteur had demonstrated, this conception of the body was related to a respect for the notion of cellular integrity resulting from an exploitation of mechanism. The reactive model is different from the performative model: the enhancement of the body, even if a new body-shop appears(6) , is not the same project of post-human(7) disembodiment because pluripotentiality implies and supposes not only the deconstruction of the body but also its reconfiguration. Enhancing me(8) is a hybrid solution and not a new eugenics for the production of better people(9).

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philosophy bites: Alan Ryan on Freedom and Its History

philosophy bites: Alan Ryan on Freedom and Its History | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Alan Ryan explores questions about what freedom has meant at different times in history in this Philosophy Bites podcast interview with Nigel Warburton.

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Eleven Dogmas of Analytic Philosophy-Natural philosophy uses scientific evidence, not intuitions.

Eleven Dogmas of Analytic Philosophy-Natural philosophy uses scientific evidence, not intuitions. | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

 

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Philosophy is the attempt to answer fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge, reality, and morals. In North America and the United Kingdom, the dominant approach is analytic philosophy, which attempts to use the study of language and logic to analyze concepts that are important for the study of knowledge (epistemology), reality (metaphysics), and morality (ethics).

I prefer an alternative approach to philosophy that is much more closely tied to scientific investigations. This approach is sometimes called “naturalistic philosophy” or “philosophy naturalized”, but I like the more concise term natural philosophy. Before the words “science” and “scientist” became common in the nineteenth century, researchers such as Newton described what they did as natural philosophy. I propose to revive this term to cover a method that ties epistemology and ethics closely to the cognitive sciences, and ties metaphysics closely to physics and other sciences.

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The Case for Using Drugs to Enhance Our Relationships (and Our Break-Ups)

The Case for Using Drugs to Enhance Our Relationships (and Our Break-Ups) | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
A philosopher argues that taking love-altering substances might not just be a good idea, but a moral obligation

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George Bernard Shaw once satirized marriage as "two people under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, who are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part." 

Yikes. And yet, nearly all human cultures value some version of marriage, as a nurturing emotional foundation for children, but also because marriage can give life an extra dimension of meaning. But marriage is hard, for biochemical reasons that may be beyond our control.  What if we could take drugs to get better at love?  Perhaps we could design "love drugs," pharmaceutical cocktails that could boost affection between partners, whisking them back to the exquisite set of pleasures that colored their first years together. The ability to do this kind of fine-tuned emotional engineering is beyond the power of current science, but there is a growing field of research devoted to it. Some have even suggested developing "anti-love drugs" that could dissolve abusive relationships, or reduce someone's attachment to a charismatic cult leader. Others just want a pill to ease the pain of a wrenching breakup.  Evolutionary biologists tell us that we owe the singular bundle of feelings we call "love" to natural selection. As human brains grew larger and larger, the story goes, children needed more and more time to develop into adults that could fend for themselves. A child with two parents around was privy to extra resources and protection, and thus stood a better chance of reaching maturity. The longer parents' chemical reward systems kept them in love, the more children they could shepherd to reproductive age. That's why the neural structures that form love bonds between couples were so strongly selected for. It's also why our relationships seem to come equipped with a set of invisible biochemical handrails: they're meant to support us through the inevitable trials that attend the creation of viable offspring. 
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Expert psychologist suggests the era of genius scientists is over

Expert psychologist suggests the era of genius scientists is over | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
(Phys.org)—Dean Keith Simonton, a psychology professor at the University of California, has published a comment piece in the journal Nature, where he argues that it's unlikely mankind will ever produce another Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc.
This is because, he says, we've already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. Any new work, will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base. Simonton's comments are likely to draw a strong reaction, both in and out of the science world. It's been the geniuses among us that have driven science forward for thousands of years, after all. If no more geniuses appear to offer an entirely new way of looking at things, how will the human race ever reach new heights? Simonton has been studying geniuses and their contributions to science for more than 30 years and has even written books on them. He also writes that he hopes he is wrong in his assessment, even as he clearly doesn't think he is. Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field, to be looked up to hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. Worse perhaps, he details how the way modern science is conducted is only adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves pondering the universe in isolation, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently going about their way, marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn't leave much room for true insight, which is of course, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries. Simonton could be wrong of course – there might yet be some person that looks at all that has been discovered and compares it with his or her own observations, and finds that what we think we know, is completely wrong, and offers evidence of something truly groundbreaking as an alternative. The study of astrophysics, for example, appears ripe for a new approach. Scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to explain why the universe is not just expanding, but is doing so at an increasing rate. Perhaps most of the theories put forth over the past half-century or so, are completely off base. Modern science can't even explain gravity, after all. Isn't it possible that there is something at work that will need the intelligence, insight and courage of an Einstein to figure out? It appears we as a species are counting on it, even as we wonder if it's even possible.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-expert-psychologist-era-genius-scientists.html#jCpThis is because, he says, we've already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. Any new work, will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base. Simonton's comments are likely to draw a strong reaction, both in and out of the science world. It's been the geniuses among us that have driven science forward for thousands of years, after all. If no more geniuses appear to offer an entirely new way of looking at things, how will the human race ever reach new heights? Simonton has been studying geniuses and their contributions to science for more than 30 years and has even written books on them. He also writes that he hopes he is wrong in his assessment, even as he clearly doesn't think he is. Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field, to be looked up to hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. Worse perhaps, he details how the way modern science is conducted is only adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves pondering the universe in isolation, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently going about their way, marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn't leave much room for true insight, which is of course, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries. Simonton could be wrong of course – there might yet be some person that looks at all that has been discovered and compares it with his or her own observations, and finds that what we think we know, is completely wrong, and offers evidence of something truly groundbreaking as an alternative. The study of astrophysics, for example, appears ripe for a new approach. Scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to explain why the universe is not just expanding, but is doing so at an increasing rate. Perhaps most of the theories put forth over the past half-century or so, are completely off base. Modern science can't even explain gravity, after all. Isn't it possible that there is something at work that will need the intelligence, insight and courage of an Einstein to figure out? It appears we as a species are counting on it, even as we wonder if it's even possible.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-expert-psychologist-era-genius-scientists.html#jCpThis is because, he says, we've already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. Any new work, will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base. Simonton's comments are likely to draw a strong reaction, both in and out of the science world. It's been the geniuses among us that have driven science forward for thousands of years, after all. If no more geniuses appear to offer an entirely new way of looking at things, how will the human race ever reach new heights? Simonton has been studying geniuses and their contributions to science for more than 30 years and has even written books on them. He also writes that he hopes he is wrong in his assessment, even as he clearly doesn't think he is. Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field, to be looked up to hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. Worse perhaps, he details how the way modern science is conducted is only adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves pondering the universe in isolation, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently going about their way, marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn't leave much room for true insight, which is of course, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries. Simonton could be wrong of course – there might yet be some person that looks at all that has been discovered and compares it with his or her own observations, and finds that what we think we know, is completely wrong, and offers evidence of something truly groundbreaking as an alternative. The study of astrophysics, for example, appears ripe for a new approach. Scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to explain why the universe is not just expanding, but is doing so at an increasing rate. Perhaps most of the theories put forth over the past half-century or so, are completely off base. Modern science can't even explain gravity, after all. Isn't it possible that there is something at work that will need the intelligence, insight and courage of an Einstein to figure out? It appears we as a species are counting on it, even as we wonder if it's even possible.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-expert-psychologist-era-genius-scientists.html#jCpThis is because, he says, we've already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. Any new work, will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base. Simonton's comments are likely to draw a strong reaction, both in and out of the science world. It's been the geniuses among us that have driven science forward for thousands of years, after all. If no more geniuses appear to offer an entirely new way of looking at things, how will the human race ever reach new heights? Simonton has been studying geniuses and their contributions to science for more than 30 years and has even written books on them. He also writes that he hopes he is wrong in his assessment, even as he clearly doesn't think he is. Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field, to be looked up to hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. Worse perhaps, he details how the way modern science is conducted is only adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves pondering the universe in isolation, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently going about their way, marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn't leave much room for true insight, which is of course, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries. Simonton could be wrong of course – there might yet be some person that looks at all that has been discovered and compares it with his or her own observations, and finds that what we think we know, is completely wrong, and offers evidence of something truly groundbreaking as an alternative. The study of astrophysics, for example, appears ripe for a new approach. Scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to explain why the universe is not just expanding, but is doing so at an increasing rate. Perhaps most of the theories put forth over the past half-century or so, are completely off base. Modern science can't even explain gravity, after all. Isn't it possible that there is something at work that will need the intelligence, insight and courage of an Einstein to figure out? It appears we as a species are counting on it, even as we wonder if it's even possible.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-expert-psychologist-era-genius-scientists.html#jCpThis is because, he says, we've already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. Any new work, will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base. Simonton's comments are likely to draw a strong reaction, both in and out of the science world. It's been the geniuses among us that have driven science forward for thousands of years, after all. If no more geniuses appear to offer an entirely new way of looking at things, how will the human race ever reach new heights? Simonton has been studying geniuses and their contributions to science for more than 30 years and has even written books on them. He also writes that he hopes he is wrong in his assessment, even as he clearly doesn't think he is. Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field, to be looked up to hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. Worse perhaps, he details how the way modern science is conducted is only adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves pondering the universe in isolation, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently going about their way, marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn't leave much room for true insight, which is of course, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries. Simonton could be wrong of course – there might yet be some person that looks at all that has been discovered and compares it with his or her own observations, and finds that what we think we know, is completely wrong, and offers evidence of something truly groundbreaking as an alternative. The study of astrophysics, for example, appears ripe for a new approach. Scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to explain why the universe is not just expanding, but is doing so at an increasing rate. Perhaps most of the theories put forth over the past half-century or so, are completely off base. Modern science can't even explain gravity, after all. Isn't it possible that there is something at work that will need the intelligence, insight and courage of an Einstein to figure out? It appears we as a species are counting on it, even as we wonder if it's even possible.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-expert-psychologist-era-genius-scientists.html#jCpThis is because, he says, we've already discovered all the most basic ideas that describe how the natural world works. Any new work, will involve little more than adding to our knowledge base. Simonton's comments are likely to draw a strong reaction, both in and out of the science world. It's been the geniuses among us that have driven science forward for thousands of years, after all. If no more geniuses appear to offer an entirely new way of looking at things, how will the human race ever reach new heights? Simonton has been studying geniuses and their contributions to science for more than 30 years and has even written books on them. He also writes that he hopes he is wrong in his assessment, even as he clearly doesn't think he is. Sadly, the past several decades only offer proof. Since the time of Einstein, he says, no one has really come up with anything that would mark them as a giant in the field, to be looked up to hundreds, if not thousands of years from now. Worse perhaps, he details how the way modern science is conducted is only adding to the problem. Rather than fostering lone wolves pondering the universe in isolation, the new paradigm has researchers working together as teams, efficiently going about their way, marching towards incremental increases in knowledge. That doesn't leave much room for true insight, which is of course, a necessary ingredient for genius level discoveries. Simonton could be wrong of course – there might yet be some person that looks at all that has been discovered and compares it with his or her own observations, and finds that what we think we know, is completely wrong, and offers evidence of something truly groundbreaking as an alternative. The study of astrophysics, for example, appears ripe for a new approach. Scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to explain why the universe is not just expanding, but is doing so at an increasing rate. Perhaps most of the theories put forth over the past half-century or so, are completely off base. Modern science can't even explain gravity, after all. Isn't it possible that there is something at work that will need the intelligence, insight and courage of an Einstein to figure out? It appears we as a species are counting on it, even as we wonder if it's even possible.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-expert-psychologist-era-genius-scientists.html#jCp
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Michael Shermer on morality-Massimo Pigliucci rationally speaking

Michael Shermer on morality-Massimo Pigliucci rationally speaking | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Oh my, I thought I was done for a while chastising skeptics like Sam Harris on the relationship between philosophy, science and morality, and I just found out that my friend Michael Shermer has incurred a similar (though not quite as egregious as...

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The idea would run something like this: “Scientists have conceded the high ground of resolving mathematical problems to mathematicians, just when the new disciplines of evolutionary mathematics and neuro-mathematics are coming on line.” My point is, I hasten to say, not that ethics is like math, but rather that evolutionary math and neuro-math would be giving us answers to different questions. An evolutionary approach to understanding our ability to reason mathematically could give us clues as to why we are capable of abstract thinking to begin with, which is interesting. “Neuro-mathematics” could then provide answers to the question of how the brain works when it engages in mathematical (and other types of abstract) thinking. But if you want to know how to provePythagoras' theorem, neither evolutionary biologists nor neurobiologists are the right kind of experts. You need a mathematician.

Similarly with ethics: we need an evolutionary understanding of where a strong sense of right and wrong comes from as an instinct, and a neurobiological account of how our brains function (or malfunction) when they engage in ethical reasoning. But it is the moral philosopher, not the evolutionary biologist or the neurobiologist, we should check with if we want to know whether a particular piece of ethical reasoning is logically sound or not.

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David Barash – What’s the point of consciousness?

David Barash – What’s the point of consciousness? | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Humans are aware of their own and other's thoughts in ways unlike any other animal. But why did consciousness evolve?

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Consciousness was for a long time the charged third rail of biology: touch it and … well, maybe you didn’t die, but you were unlikely to get a grant, or tenure. Of course, it helped if you were a Nobel laureate, such as Francis Crick, lauded for his work on DNA, or Gerald Edelman, for his work on antibodies. Yet even their attempts to pin down the electrical-chemical-anatomical (or whatever) substrate of consciousness seemed, until recently, likely to go the way of Albert Einstein’s doomed search for a unified theory of everything. However, the situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Inquiry into the neurobiology of consciousness has become one of the hottest, best-funded, and most media-friendly of research enterprises, along with genomics, stem cells and a few other newly favoured sub-disciplines.For centuries, it was perfectly acceptable for philosophers to ponder consciousness because, after all, no one actually expected them to come up with anything real. Thus, René Descartes’s renowned statement ‘Cogito ergo sum’ (I think therefore I am) becomes, in the words of the early 20th-century American satirist Ambrose Bierce, Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum — I think that I think, therefore I think that I am (which was, according to Bierce, about as close to truth as philosophy was likely to get). Now we have micro-electrodes recording from individual neurons, computer modelling of neural nets, functional MRIs, and an array of even newer 21st-century techniques, all hot on the trail of how consciousness emerges from ‘mere’ matter. Cartesian dualism is on the run, as well it should be.

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Read of the Day: The Self in Self-Help-We have no idea what a self is. So how can we fix it?

Read of the Day: The Self in Self-Help-We have no idea what a self is. So how can we fix it? | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
We have no idea what a self is. So how can we fix it?

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Let us call it the master theory of self-help. It goes like this: Somewhere below or above or beyond the part of you that is struggling with weight loss or procrastination or whatever your particular problem might be, there is another part of you that is immune to that problem and capable of solving it for the rest of you. In other words, this master theory is fundamentally dualist. It posits, at a minimum, two selves: one that needs a kick in the ass and one that is capable of kicking.

This model of selfhood is intuitively appealing, not least because it describes an all-too-familiar experience. As I began by saying, all of us struggle to keep faith with our plans and goals, and all of us can envision better selves more readily than we can be them. Indeed, the reason we go to the self-help section in the first place is that some part of us wants to do something that some other part resists.

Of course, intuitive appeal is a poor indicator of the merits of a model; the geocentric universe is intuitively appealing, too. But even though this master theory of self-help is coarse, misleading, none too useful, and probably just plain wrong, it does capture something crucial about the experience of being human. One of the strange and possibly unique facts about our species is that we really can intervene on ourselves. Get a lab rat addicted to alcohol and you will have yourself an addicted rat. Get a teenager addicted to alcohol and eventually you might find yourself celebrating his 30th year of sobriety. It isn’t consistent, it isn’t predictable, and God knows it isn’t easy—and yet somehow, sometimes, we do manage to change. The self really can help itself. The question is: How?

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Are You Scared of What’s in Your Genome?People are smarter and more resilient than ethics debates give them credit for.

Are You Scared of What’s in Your Genome?People are smarter and more resilient than ethics debates give them credit for. | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
I’m sick of reading about the dangers of the genome. There are lots of popular articles I could point to, but let’s start with a recent series in Time that included eight online features and the Dec.

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I’m sick of reading about the dangers of the genome. There are lots of popular articles I could point to, but let’s start with a recent series in Time that included eight online features and the Dec. 13 cover story, ominously titled “The DNA Dilemma.”

The series, written by Bonnie Rochman, is thoroughly reported, balanced, and full of fascinating personal stories about children whose genomes have been sequenced. It’s also timely: The primary question Rochman raises—how much information is too much information?—has been dominating commentaries about genetic testing in the medical literature.

But this is the wrong question, or at least one that’s becoming increasingly irrelevant. The personal genomics horse has bolted, and yet many paternalistic members of the medical community are still trying to shut the barn door. In doing so, they’re fostering a culture of DNA fear when what we really need is a realistic and nuanced genetics education.

There are many kinds of genetic tests, but most of the hoopla revolves around whole-genome sequences—the impossibly long, letter-by-letter readouts of the DNA inside the nucleus of each of your cells. In 2003, the first human genome was fully sequenced for just shy of $3 billion. Today a doctor can order yours for around $10,000.

Though dropping every day, the cost is still prohibitive enough that most people who get their genome sequenced are part of a medical research study. But the technology is beginning to seep into everyday clinical settings, especially for children with rare diseases. In either situation, the doctor or researcher might inadvertently discover genomic information—known as “incidental findings” in the scientific literature and “dark DNA secrets” in one of the Time articles—that has nothing to do with the child’s sickness or the study at hand. Hence the big dilemma: How much do patients want to know? How much do they need to know?

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The Myth of Universal Love

The Myth of Universal Love | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Expanding our ethical care to include all of humanity is a nice idea, but it involves a misunderstanding of the source of our empathy: emotions.

 

Now that the year-end holidays have passed, so have the barrage of entreaties to nurture a sense of “good will to all mankind,” to extend our love and care to others beyond our usual circle of friends and family. Certainly, this is a message we are meant to take to heart not just in December but all year long. It is a central ideal of several religious and ethical systems.

 

In the light of the new year, it’s worth considering how far we actually can, or should, extend this good will.

 

To some, the answer might seem obvious. One of the more deeply engrained assumptions of Western liberalism is that we humans can indefinitely increase our capacity to care for others, that we can, with the right effort and dedication, extend our care to wider and wider circles until we envelop the whole species within our ethical regard. It is an inspiring thought. But I’m rather doubtful. My incredulity, though, is not because people are hypocritical about their ideals or because they succumb to selfishness. The problem lies, instead, in a radical misunderstanding about the true wellsprings of ethical care, namely the emotions.

 

Two of the leading liberal social theorists, Jeremy Rifkin and Peter Singer, think we can overcome factional bias and eventually become one giant tribe. They have different prescriptions for arriving at ethical utopia.

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Does confidence really breed success?

Does confidence really breed success? | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
More and more American university students think they are something special - but could high self-esteem actually be bad for your life chances?
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Research suggests that more and more American university students think they are something special. High self-esteem is generally regarded as a good thing - but could too much of it actually make you less successful?

About nine million young people have filled out the American Freshman Survey, since it began in 1966.

It asks students to rate how they measure up to their peers in a number of basic skills areas - and over the past four decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being "above average" for academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability and self-confidence.

This was revealed in a new analysis of the survey data, by US psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues.

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A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition — consc.net — Readability

ABSTRACT

Computation is central to the foundations of modern cognitive science, but its role is controversial. Questions about computation abound: What is it for a physical system to implement a computation? Is computation sufficient for thought? What is the role of computation in a theory of cognition? What is the relation between different sorts of computational theory, such as connectionism and symbolic computation? In this paper I develop a systematic framework that addresses all of these questions.

Justifying the role of computation requires analysis of implementation, the nexus between abstract computations and concrete physical systems. I give such an analysis, based on the idea that a system implements a computation if the causal structure of the system mirrors the formal structure of the computation. This account can be used to justify the central commitments of artificial intelligence and computational cognitive science: the thesis of computational sufficiency, which holds that the right kind of computational structure suffices for the possession of a mind, and the thesis of computational explanation, which holds that computation provides a general framework for the explanation of cognitive processes. The theses are consequences of the facts that (a) computation can specify general patterns of causal organization, and (b) mentality is an organizational invariant, rooted in such patterns. Along the way I answer various challenges to the computationalist position, such as those put forward by Searle. I close by advocating a kind of minimal computationalism, compatible with a very wide variety of empirical approaches to the mind. This allows computation to serve as a true foundation for cognitive science.

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Badiou: Politics, Philosophy, and Critique

Among the political theories I find most appealing, is that of Badiou’s.  There are roughly four reasons for this: First, and perhaps foremost, Badiou does not treat everything as political. ...

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….philosophy is…the configuration, within thought, of the fact that its four generic conditions (the poem [art], the matheme [science], the political and love) are compossible in the eventful form prescribe the truths of the time, a suspension of philosophy can result from the restriction or blockage of the free play required in order to define a regime of passage, or of intellectual circulation between the truth procedures conditioning philosophy.  The most frequent cause of such a blockage is that instead of construct a space of compossibility through which the thinking of time is practiced, philosophy delegates its function to one or other of its conditions, handing over the whole of thought to one generic position.  Philosophy is then carried out in the element of its own suppression to the great benefit of that procedure.

I shall call this type of situation a suture.  Philosophy is placed in suspension every time it presents itself as being sutured to one of its conditions.  (61)

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Pursuing literary immortality illuminates how the mind works

Pursuing literary immortality illuminates how the mind works | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
The initial excitement of hearing a new song fades as it’s replayed to death.
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That's because the brain naturally functions as a kind of ticking time bomb, obliterating the thrill for artistic sounds, images and words by making them familiar over time.

So the artist, musician or author's challenge is to create a work that retains a freshness, according to Case Western Reserve University's Michael Clune, in his new book, Writing Against Time (Stanford University Press). And, for the artist, musician or writer, creating this newness with each work is a race against "brain time."

Clune explains how neurobiological forces designed for our survival naturally make interest in art fade. But the forces don't stop artists from trying for timelessness.

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The Constitution: Who Needs It? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Constitution: Who Needs It? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Louis Michael Seidman wants to scrap America's foundational document, and he has anticipated your objections.
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