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A couple of months ago, author Sam Harris challenged his readers to write an essay proving him wrong with respect to his book, The Moral Landscape. The winning essay was written by Ryan Born who holds a BA in cognitive science from the University of Georgia and an MA in philosophy from Georgia State University. The essay can be read here, and I extend my congratulations to the winner. Today I post my own essay which was among the 400 or so texts that were submitted to the contest. Continue reading
Thinking is the weirdest thing. No one really understands how it works and neuroscience has barely begun to address how the brain creates thoughts. Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties in understanding thinking is that it is a little bit like art or cooking; there are many ways of doing it, according to every one’s culture, preferences and knowledge. But like art and cooking, there are some productive, successful ways of thinking that certain people master. The masters have done it for long enough that they have accumulated good tricks – particular ways of dipping the brush in the paint, of pressing the pedal on the piano, secret ingredients. Daniel Dennett is one of those masters and in his most recent book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, he has cataloged some of his and others’ best tools for thinking developed and learned through decades of reflection on computer science, biology and psychology. Continue reading
It is a quite modest title that Edward O. Wilson has chosen for the book he published this month, Letters to a Young Scientist. As I began to read, I was expecting to find a list of more or less useful tips and tricks on how to become a scientist. What I instead found in this book is a deep personal reflection on what science really is and how scientists come to do it. Continue reading
In a book published last fall1, Thomas Nagel defends the idea that science cannot explain consciousness – that the mind is a natural phenomenon which cannot be reduced to physical states of the brain. He also argues that evolutionary theory, or its current materialist version, is not sufficient to explain the appearance of the mind. Continue reading