A single neuron in isolation cannot be said to possess memory, feelings, or consciousness. However, group many neurons together and the type of advanced information processing that takes place in the human brain suddenly appears. This suggests that perhaps each level in the micro-macro hierarchy can only be understood with a different logic. Might such a hierarchy also exist in ordinary materials that appear on first glance to be more straightforward and less complicated than neurons?
You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.
I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)
And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.
But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?
How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches. Infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the thousand-year history of mapping data -- from languages to dynasties -- using trees of information. It's a fascinating history of visualizations, and a look into humanity's urge to map what we know.
Where is philosophy? This is not a typo. What is philosophy is a common question. But rarely do we wonder where it is, physically speaking. Imagine a philosopher at work. Where does this scene take place?
Philosophy is typically depicted as a solitary activity conducted in remote natural settings — a hut next to a fjord, a clearing in the middle of a forest, a cave on the slope of a mountain, or, these days, a rocking chair on a porch in a quaint college town. Certainly, some great thinkers (Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Nietzsche among them) were responsible for promoting this bucolic ethos. But even a superficial familiarity with the history of Western philosophy reveals that the city is virtually a necessary condition for the possibility of doing theoretical work, which may then be carried on in other, less hectic places.
Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we've spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself). How did we get from there to here? Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests a surprising reason for the rise of humanity.
There are three interlocking statistical arguments concerning the nature of the universe in which we live and which provide what I believe to be a strongly convincing indication that our view of reality is seriously flawed on a massive scale. Let’s begin by asking a simple question…
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