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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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Of Flies and Philosophers: Wittgenstein and Philosophy

The idea that philosophy is purely descriptive, and should “leave the world as it is” falls short. It can play a more radical role.

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“To show the fly the way out of the fly bottle ”— that, Wittgenstein once said, was the aim of his philosophy. While it is perhaps unclear whether anyone — philosopher or fly — should be flattered by this comparison, his overall point is clear enough, as Paul Horwich notes in his recent piece, “Was Wittgenstein Right?” When we get curious about philosophical problems we are drawn into puzzles by the promise of sweet enlightenment, only to find ourselves caught in frustration (and banging our heads against the same wall over and over again). What we need, Wittgenstein thinks, is liberation — liberation from the prison of pseudo-problems we have brought upon ourselves; liberation from traditional philosophy.

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Why the mind is not in the head

Why the mind is not in the head | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

"Slowly the cards turned into considering that the basis of mind is the body in coupled action, that is, the sensory-motor circuits establish the organism as viable in situated contexts. Form this perspective the brain appears as a dynamical process (and not a syntactic one) of real time variables with a rich self-organizing capacity (and not a representational machinery). So in this sense the mind is not in the head since it is roots in the body as a whole and also in the extended environment where the organism finds itself.
Beyond embodied enaction, recent work with young children and monkeys (1995-) has re-discovered the profound importance of the coupling with other conspecifics. This means that the constitution of a mind is always concurrent with the extended presence of other minds in a network. Thus, beyond embodied enaction there is also generative enaction, a trend that points to the beginnings of a science or interbeing, the future for a proper understanding of the necessary unity of mind and nature."


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FastTFriend's curator insight, March 4, 2013 5:29 AM

Though written almost 20 years ago, still beautifully put:

 

"Slowly the cards turned into considering that the basis of mind is the body in coupled action, that is, the sensory-motor circuits establish the organism as viable in situated contexts. Form this perspective the brain appears as a dynamical process (and not a syntactic one) of real time variables with a rich self-organizing capacity (and not a representational machinery). So in this sense the mind is not in the head since it is roots in the body as a whole and also in the extended environment where the organism finds itself.
Beyond embodied enaction, recent work with young children and monkeys (1995-) has re-discovered the profound importance of the coupling with other conspecifics. This means that the constitution of a mind is always concurrent with the extended presence of other minds in a network. Thus, beyond embodied enaction there is also generative enaction, a trend that points to the beginnings of a science or interbeing, the future for a proper understanding of the necessary unity of mind and nature."

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ENCAPSULATED UNIVERSES | A Conversation with Lera Boroditsky - Edge.org

ENCAPSULATED UNIVERSES | A Conversation with Lera Boroditsky - Edge.org | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Think about it this way. We have 7,000 languages. Each of these languages encompasses a world-view, encompasses the ideas and predispositions and cognitive tools developed by thousands of years of people in that culture. Each one of those languages offers a whole encapsulated universe. So we have 7,000 parallel universes, some of them are quite similar to one another, and others are a lot more different. The fact that there's this great diversity is a real testament to the flexibility and the ingenuity of the human mind. 

LERA BORODITSKY is an assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience, and symbolic systems at Stanford University.

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Read of the day: Troy Jollimore – Godless but good- on Secular Ethics

Read of the day: Troy Jollimore – Godless but good- on Secular Ethics | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
There's something in religious tradition that helps people be ethical. But it isn't actually their belief in God

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Kantian and utilitarian approaches have been both fruitful and influential, and they get a lot of things right. But they share an impersonal, somewhat bureaucratic conception of the human being as a moral agent. The traits that are most highly prized in such agents are logical thinking, calculation, and obedience to the rules. Personal qualities such as individual judgment, idiosyncratic projects and desires, personal commitments and relationships, and feelings and emotions are regarded as largely irrelevant. Indeed, Kant argued that actions that were motivated by emotions — acts of kindness performed out of compassion, for instance — had no moral worth; a worthy action was one motivated simply by the logical judgment that it was the morally correct thing to do. For utilitarians, meanwhile, each moral agent is only one among a great multitude, and the kind of impartiality the theory demands prevents the individual from giving personal emotions or desires any special consideration. A person’s feelings, preferences and commitments are supposed to play almost no role in decision-making.

 

.. keep on reading

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One of the best articles on Non-theistic or Secular ethics. Highly recommended

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Dopamine goggles make the glass half full | The Scicurious Brain, Scientific American Blog Network

Dopamine goggles make the glass half full | The Scicurious Brain, Scientific American Blog Network | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
When it comes down to it, most humans are pretty optimistic. Yeah, we know the Titanic sank, but our boat is better. We know that driving a car is really pretty dangerous, but we’re more careful, it won’t happen to us. This is not just a cultural thing, we generally tend to place more importance on positive information about something than on negative. We’re more optimistic than we should be on everything, from the future of our current relationship to the stock market.

But what is it that makes us so optimistic? And what happens when it goes wrong? Because not everyone is optimistic. People with major depressive disorder, for example, are more pessimistic (sometimes they are just pessimistic enough to be realistic, but they can also be unrealistically pessimistic). What is it that determines how optimistic we are?

It’s time to take another look at dopamine.

Sharot et al. “How Dopamine Enhances an Optimism Bias in Humans” Current Biology, 2012.

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TEDxRotterdam - Igor Nikolic - Complex adaptive systems

Igor Nikolic graduated in 2009 on his dissertation: co-evolutionary process for modelling large scale socio-technical systems evolution. He received his MSc as a chemical-- and bioprocess engineer at the Delft University of Technology. He spent several years as an environmental researcher and consultant at University of Leiden where he worked on life cycle analysis and industrial ecology. In his research he specializes in applying complex adaptive systems theory and agent based modeling.

On TEDxRotterdam Igor Nikolic left the audience in awe with his stunning presentation and visualizations, mapping complex systems


Via Complexity Digest, John Symons
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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.


Via Pierre Tran
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Alistair Parker's curator insight, February 5, 2013 3:11 PM

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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 6:26 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 7:30 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 3:23 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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Was Wittgenstein Right?-A reminder of philosophy’s embarrassing failure, after over 2000 years, to settle any of its central issues.

Was Wittgenstein Right?-A reminder of philosophy’s embarrassing failure, after over 2000 years, to settle any of its central issues. | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
The man who insisted that Western philosophy was based in confusion and wishful thinking is not a popular one among philosophers. But he should not be dismissed.

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The singular achievement of the controversial early 20th century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was to have discerned the true nature of Western philosophy — what is special about its problems, where they come from, how they should and should not be addressed, and what can and cannot be accomplished by grappling with them. The uniquely insightful answers provided to these meta-questions are what give his treatments of specific issues within the subject — concerning language, experience, knowledge, mathematics, art and religion among them — a power of illumination that cannot be found in the work of others.

 

Admittedly, few would agree with this rosy assessment — certainly not many professional philosophers. Apart from a small and ignored clique of hard-core supporters the usual view these days is that his writing is self-indulgently obscure and that behind the catchy slogans there is little of intellectual value. But this dismissal disguises what is pretty clearly the real cause of Wittgenstein’s unpopularity within departments of philosophy: namely, his thoroughgoing rejection of the subject as traditionally and currently practiced; his insistence that it can’t give us the kind of knowledge generally regarded as its raison d’être.

 

Wittgenstein claims that there are no realms of phenomena whose study is the special business of a philosopher, and about which he or she should devise profound a priori theories and sophisticated supporting arguments. There are no startling discoveries to be made of facts, not open to the methods of science, yet accessible “from the armchair” through some blend of intuition, pure reason and conceptual analysis. Indeed the whole idea of a subject that could yield such results is based on confusion and wishful thinking.

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Citizens of the world have moral obligations to a wider circle of humanity Nigel Warburton –Cosmopolitanism

Citizens of the world have moral obligations to a wider circle of humanity Nigel Warburton –Cosmopolitanism | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
It’s not just me, you and everyone we know. Citizens of the world have moral obligations to a wider circle of humanity

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Most of us will, no doubt, remember writing a similar extended address as children, following through the logic of this series of ever-larger locations. The last two entries in Dedalus’s list are, obviously, redundant in any real address. Only an alien sending a postcard home from another universe would think to add them. We are all, in some loose sense, ‘citizens of the world’, or at least its inhabitants.

 

And yet, as adults, we don’t usually think about much outside our immediate surroundings. Typically, it is our nation that defines us geographically, and it is our family, friends, and acquaintances who dominate our social thinking. If we think about the universe, it is from an astronomical or from a religious perspective. We are locally focused, evolved from social apes who went about in small bands. The further away or less visible other people are, the harder it is to worry about them. Even when the television brings news of thousands starving in sub-Saharan Africa, what affects me deeply is the item about a single act of violence in a street nearby.

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Fantastic read of the day...

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The Evolution of Purposes

The Evolution of Purposes | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Before there was life on Earth, there were no purposes, no reasons. Things just happened. How could purposes emerge from such purposeless conditions? Looki

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The Philosophy of Data

The Philosophy of Data | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Our ability to gather and process huge amounts of data does many things, including correcting intuitive biases and illuminating patterns of behavior

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Our brains often don’t notice subtle verbal patterns, but Pennebaker’s computers can. Younger writers use more downbeat and past-tense words than older writers who use more positive and future-tense words.

Liars use more upbeat words like “pal” and “friend” but fewer excluding words like “but,” “except” and “without.” (When you are telling a false story, it’s hard to include the things you did not see or think about.)

We think of John Lennon as the most intellectual of the Beatles, but, in fact, Paul McCartney’s lyrics had more flexible and diverse structures and George Harrison’s were more cognitively complex.

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Tag-Mediated Altruism is Contingent on How Cheaters Are Defined

Cooperation is essential for complex biological and social systems and explaining its evolutionary origins remains a central question in several disciplines. Tag systems are a class of models demonstrating the evolution of cooperation between selfish replicators. A number of previous models have been presented but they have not been widely explored. Though previous researchers have concentrated on the effects of one or several parameters of tag models, exploring exactly what is meant by cheating in a tag system has received little attention. Here we re-implement three previous models of tag-mediated altruism and introduce four definitions of cheaters. Previous models have used what we consider weaker versions of cheaters that may not exploit cooperators to the degree possible, or to the degree observed in natural systems. We find that the level of altruism that evolves in a population is highly contingent on how cheaters are defined. In particular when cheaters are defined as agents that display an appropriate tag but have no mechanism for participating in altruistic acts themselves, a population is quickly invaded by cheaters and all altruism collapses. Even in the intermediate case where cheaters may revert back to a tag-tolerance mode of interaction, only minimal levels of altruism evolve. Our results suggest that models of tag-mediated altruism using stronger types of cheaters may require additional mechanisms, such as punishment strategies or multi-level selection, to evolve meaningful levels of altruism.

 

Tag-Mediated Altruism is Contingent on How Cheaters Are Defined
by Shade T. Shutters and David Hales
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/16/1/4.html


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Oliver Wright's comment, February 10, 2013 11:24 AM
Guys, shouldn't you look up the definition of altruism before you set out to evolve meaningful levels of it?
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Depression and the Limits of Psychiatry

The recent revisions to the DSM's definition of depression are based on a questionable conception of what is "normal." Why is that dangerous?

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At the center of that critique is Foucault’s claim that modern psychiatry, while purporting to be grounded in scientific truths, is primarily a system of moral judgments. “What we call psychiatric practice,” he says, “is a certain moral tactic . . . covered over by the myths of positivism.”  Indeed, what psychiatry presents as the “liberation of the mad” (from mental illness) is in fact a “gigantic moral imprisonment.”

Foucault may well be letting his rhetoric outstrip the truth, but his essential point requires serious consideration.  Psychiatric practice does seem to be based on implicit moral assumptions in addition to explicit empirical considerations, and efforts to treat mental illness can be society’s way of controlling what it views as immoral (or otherwise undesirable) behavior. Not long ago, homosexuals and women who rejected their stereotypical roles were judged “mentally ill,”and there’s no guarantee that even today psychiatry is free of similarly dubious judgments.   Much later, in a more subdued tone, Foucault said that the point of his social critiques was “not that everything is bad but that everything is dangerous.”  We can best take his critique of psychiatry in this moderated sense.

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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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