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This is the archive for September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

  • tags: haidt, religion, grue

  • New research suggests self-control can be improved using abstract reasoning.

    tags: control, psychology, grue

  • Psychology Today Blogs

    tags: Flynn-effect, intelligence, genetics, grue

  • "It is a hard thing, being right about everything all the time. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and we wait for the moment when the know-it-all is wrong to insist that he never really knew anything in the first place. The know-it-all, far from living in smug superiority, has the burden of being right the next time, too. Certainly no one has ever been so right about so many things so much of the time as John Stuart Mill, the nineteenth-century English philosopher, politician, and know-it-all nonpareil who is the subject of a fine new biography by the British journalist Richard Reeves, ?John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand? (Overlook; $40). The book?s subtitle, meant to be excitingly commercial, is ill chosen; a firebrand should flame and then die out, while Mill burned for half a century with a steady heat so well regulated that it continues to warm his causes today??Victorian Low-Simmering Hot Plate? might be closer to it."

    tags: Mill, philosophy, grue

  • "By the last years of the 20th century, Richard Rorty was probably the best-known university-based philosopher in the United States. In recent years he has been surpassed in notoriety by the utilitarian ethicist Peter Singer, known for his advocacy of animal rights and the acceptability of euthanizing severely disabled newborns. Rorty, in his time, was accused of murdering truth. He argued the position that there was no standpoint outside of human descriptions of the world from which to decide that any one view was false and another true. There were only descriptions in more or less convincing language, with more or less convincing uses, by which people might persuade one another how to live in the world." (The American Prospect)

    tags: Rorty, philosophy, grue

  • Experimental philosophers emerge from the shadows, but skeptics still ask: Is this philosophy? - ChronicleReview.com

    tags: philosophy, morality, experimental-philosophy, grue

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Such is the thesis of my HNR 101 class, Clones, Drones and Cyborgs.
Certainly there have been moments when that thinking has gone horribly awry -- atonal music or molecular gastronomy. But over the course of human history, writing, printing, computing and Googling have only made it easier to think and communicate.

Ping - Technology Doesn't Dumb Us Down. It Frees Our Minds. - NYTimes.com
Interesting article in the NYT about the Auburn philosophy teacher who has made something of the program there.
"Jolley says he thinks of his relationships with his students less as teacher-student than as master-apprentice. His goal, as he sees it, isn't to teach students about philosophy; it is to show them what it means to think philosophically, to actually be a philosopher."
Rodin's Thinker could afford to sit around and think; obviously no committee assignments or essays to grade. Rodin's Thinker isn't really the model here, is it?

The College Issue - The Thinker - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From Tom Friedman's column in the NYT:

The "Drill, baby, drill" chant was so silly and mindless. Eight years of George W. proves that (roughly half of) America is already stupid. There is an advantage to the Republican party to keep America stupid. Much has been written on this already, but here is Friedman's most recent take on it.

Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology ? fossil fuels ? rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology ? renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution ? on the eve of PCs and the Internet ? is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. ?Typewriters, baby, typewriters.?

Of course, we?re going to need oil for many years, but instead of exalting that ? with ?drill, baby, drill? ? why not throw all our energy into innovating a whole new industry of clean power with the mantra ?invent, baby, invent?? That is what a party committed to ?change? would really be doing. As they say in Texas: ?If all you ever do is all you?ve ever done, then all you?ll ever get is all you ever got.?

I dwell on this issue because it is symbolic of the campaign that John McCain has decided to run. It?s a campaign now built on turning everything possible into a cultural wedge issue ? including even energy policy, no matter how stupid it makes the voters and no matter how much it might weaken America.


Tom Friedman, Making America Stupid, Op-Ed, NYT, Sept. 13 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008