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Mary Midgley - The Gifford Lectures
"An interviewer from the Guardian newspaper once wrote that Mary Midgley ‘may be the most frightening philosopher in the country: the one before whom it is least pleasant to appear a fool’. In a series of books, particularly Beast and Man (1978), Evolution as a Religion (1985),Science as Salvation (1992; her 1990 Edinburgh Gifford Lectures) and Science and Poetry(2001), Midgley offers a trenchant critique of science’s pretence to be much more than it actually is, of the ways in which science often becomes a religion.

Perhaps appropriately, Midgley the scourge of ‘science as religion’ was born to an army and Cambridge college chaplain, Canon Tom Scrutton, and educated in a boarding school in Charles Darwin’s old home, Downe House. Perhaps Midgley’s fascination with science came from her mother’s side; Lesley Hay’s father was an engineer who built the Mersey tunnel. It was in the Downe House library that Midgley first picked up Plato, and, in her own words, ‘thought it was tremendous stuff’ (although in later life perhaps Aristotelian questions have proved more fascinating). By this time, Midgley also realised that she was not a Christian, a position her clergyman father accepted rather matter-of-factly. Nevertheless, Midgley remains convinced that ‘the religious attitude’ is essential to human thriving, and in her work has repeatedly defended the place of religious belief (rather than particular religious beliefs) against its arrogant critics from the sciences.

A number of Midgley’s contemporaries at Somerville College, Oxford, went on to achieve philosophical distinction in later life, including Iris Murdoch, another Edinburgh Gifford Lecturer, with whom Midgley became a close friend. Midgley relished doing philosophy in wartime Oxford, partly because there wasn’t ‘an endless gaggle of young men’ to offer distraction. But she considered it ‘providential’ that she did not get the post she applied for at St. Hugh’s College, and left Oxford, since she thought that the then-prevailing climate of Oxford philosophy would have destroyed her as a philosopher.

She met Geoffrey Midgley while at Oxford. They married in 1950 at Newcastle, where Geoffrey had a job. She then raised a family and did not take up a post in the Department of Philosophy in Newcastle until 1962, where she remained until she retired as Senior Lecturer when the department closed.

Midgley’s animated critique of scientism—science become religion—has been taken by some, especially scientists, as an attack on science itself. This may partly be because Midgley seems much more adept at demolishing others’ positions than in stating her own clearly. In fact, Midgley’s critique of science should be seen against her own metaphor of the philosopher as plumber: the philosopher, like the plumber, engages in an activity that civilisation depends on, but it is an activity which people only notice and require when certain rather essential workings have gone wrong. At her best, Midgley is a ‘science critic’ (using the word ‘critic’ in the way it is used in ‘literary critic’), seeking dialogue with the important activity called science to enable it to do more good and less harm in the modern world. Midgley’s contribution to this project is perhaps largely that of negative criticism. However, her friendship with and support for James Lovelock, the scientist who developed the Gaia hypothesis (that the planet earth as a whole is a living system), tells us a lot about her positive beliefs. Presumably, in Lovelock, she finds a scientific approach that is more congenial and conducive to human flourishing."
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mary Midgley, 99, Moral Philosopher for the General Reader, Is Dead - The New York Times
"The biologist Stephen Rose, writing in The Times Literary Supplement in 1992, called Dr. Midgley “a philosopher with what many have come to admire, and some to fear, as one of the sharpest critical pens in the West.”

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian in 1981, called her “the foremost scourge of scientific pretension in this country.”

Dr. Midgley unhesitatingly challenged scientists like the entomologist Edward O. Wilson and the biologist, and noted atheist, Richard Dawkins. By her lights they practiced a rigid “academic imperialism” when they tried to extend scientific findings to the social sciences and the humanities.

In place of what she saw as their constricted, “reductionistic” worldview, she proposed a holistic approach in which “many maps” — that is, varied ways of looking at life — are used to get to the nub of what is real.

One challenge came in 1978 in her first book, “Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature,” based on a conference she had organized on that slippery, perennial subject as a visiting scholar at Cornell University.

She was later asked to revise her original manuscript to reflect her critical reaction to Professor Wilson’s best-selling 1975 book, “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis” (“a volume the size of a paving stone,” she wrote later in a well-received 2005 autobiography, “The Owl of Minerva”). She described the field of sociobiology as a kind of reactionary “biological Thatcherism.”

Sociobiology — the application of gene-centered theories of natural selection to the social life of organisms — was not itself overly controversial, especially, as Professor Wilson originally used it, in the study of ants and insects. Dr. Midgley, given her own interest in emphasizing humans’ animal nature — that “we are not, and do not need to be, disembodied intellects” — praised parts of Professor Wilson’s book.

What provoked her and others was his hypothesis that the tenets of sociobiology could be applied to humans. That idea, according to scholars, threatened to radically revise generally accepted notions of human nature.

“The term ‘human nature’ is suspect because it does suggest cure-all explanations, sweeping theories that man is basically sexual, basically selfish or acquisitive, basically evil or basically good,” Dr. Midgley wrote in “Beast and Man.”

In “The Owl of Minerva,” she wrote that the need to address Professor Wilson’s concepts had distracted readers from her crucial topic: “the meaning of rationality itself — the fact that reason can’t mean just deductive logic but must cover what makes sense for beings who have a certain sort of emotional nature.”

She added that “Beast and Man” remained “the trunk out of which all my various later ideas have branched.”

Dr. Midgley took pains to distinguish between the important contributions of science and the philosophy of “scientism,” in which “prophets,” she wrote, decree that science is “not just omnicompetent but unchallenged, the sole form of rational thinking.”

“We do not need to esteem science less,” she continued. “We need to stop isolating it artificially from the rest of our mental life.”

Dr. Midgley did not align herself with any specific school of thought: She wrote that moral philosophy and plain “common sense” often covered the same ground. She targeted what she saw as some of the basic errors of modern scientific orthodoxy, including misplaced objectivity, the exclusion of purpose and motive, and the propensity to depersonalize nature.

The very titles of her books — among them “Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and Its Meaning” (1992) and “Evolution as a Religion” (1985) — and even irreverent chapter headings, like “Knowledge Considered as a Weed Killer,” conveyed her stance against what she called the “parsimonious” worldview of science.

In 1979, in the journal Philosophy, she issued a scathing critique of Professor Dawkins’s widely popular book “The Selfish Gene,” taking issue with what she called his “crude, cheap, blurred genetics.”

In that book, Professor Dawkins suggested that evolution is a product of an innate drive in genes to perpetuate themselves, “selfishly,” through the vehicle of a given species, and that the behavior of living things is in service to their genes.

Dr. Midgley explained her disagreement years later in The Guardian, writing: “Selfish is an odd word because its meaning is almost entirely negative. It does not mean ‘prudent, promoting one’s own interest.’ It means ‘not promoting other people’s’ or, as the dictionary puts it, ‘devoted to or concerned with one’s own advantage to the exclusion of regard for others.’”

She refuted the notion that selfishness underpinned all life.

“Just as there would be no word for white if everything was white, there could surely be no word for selfish if everyone was always selfish,” she wrote, adding, “Selfishness cannot, then, be a universal condition.”

In a long career as a published philosopher, Dr. Midgley addressed a great number of subjects. Evolution, the importance of animals, the role of science in society, cognitive science, feminism and human nature all came under her scrutiny.

She ranged more widely in “Science and Poetry” (2001), in which she considered the place of the imagination in human life. She found excesses of materialism and fatalism in human life, discussed the unusual compatibility of physics and religion, and approved of philosophical and metaphorical aspects of the Gaia hypothesis, which looks at the earth as a living system.

“With this book,” Brian Appleyard wrote in The Sunday Times of London, “Professor Midgley establishes herself as the most cool, coherent and sane critic of contemporary superstition that we have.”"
marymidgley  scientism  2018  philosophy  behavior  humans  richarddawkins  eowilson  evolution  thinking  science  religion  theselfishgene  selfishness  society  feminism  cognition  humannature  animals  sociobiology  reductionism  christianity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Time.com, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Michelle Alexander's Keynote Speech from the 2017 International Drug Policy Reform Conference - YouTube
[20:15] "We're all primed to value and prefer those ho seem like us though the preferences hues have themselves re remarkably greater. No doubt due to centuries of brainwashing that have led them to actually believe often unconsciously, that they are in fact superior. Marc Mauer in his book "Race to Incarcerate" cites data that the most punitive nations in the world are the most diverse. The nations with the most compassionate or most lenient criminal justice policies are the most homogeneous. We like to say that diversity is our strength, but it may actually be our Achilles heel. Researchers have reached similar conclusions in the public welfare context. The democarcies that have the most generous social welfare programs, universal health care, cheap or free college, generous maternity leave, are generally homogeneous. Socialist countries like Sweden and Norway are overwhelmingly white. But when those nations feel threatened by immigration, by so-called foreigners, public support for social welfare beings to erode, often quite sharply. It seems that it's an aspect of human nature to be tempted to be more punitive and less generous to those we view as others. And so in a nation like the United States, where we're just a fe generations away from slavery and Jim Crow. Where inequality is skyrocketing due to global capitalism, and where demographic changes due to immigration are creating a nation where no racial group is the majority, the central question we must face is whether We, the People, are capable of overcoming our basic instinct to respond more harshly more punitively with less care and concern with people we view as different. Can we evolve? Can we evolve morally and spiritually? Can we learn to care for each other across lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality? Clearly these questions are pressing in the age of Trump.

[via: "Michelle Alexander asks the most fundamental question: Can we learn to care for each other across lines of difference?"
https://twitter.com/justicedems/status/934478995038572544 ]

[See also: "Michelle Alexander: I Am 'Endorsing The Political Revolution' (Extended Interview) | All In | MSNBC"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFHNzlx24QM ]
michellealexander  2017  drugs  waroondrugs  race  racism  bias  diversity  homogeneity  heterogeneity  policy  welfare  socialsafetnet  healthcare  education  maternityleave  socialism  sweden  norway  humans  criminaljustice  socialelfare  compassion  incarceration  donaldtrump  immigration  xenophobia  othering  democracy  jimcrow  thenewjimcrow  us  politics  humannature  demographics  inequality  class  classism  sexuality  gender  sexism  marcmauer  berniesanders  hillaryclinton  revolution  change  billclinton 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Christian Ethics | Submitted For Your Perusal
"I have mentioned the qualitative difference between Christianity as an ethic and Christianity as an identity. Christian ethics go steadfastly agains the grain of what we consider human nuture. The first will be last; to him who asks give; turn the other cheek; judge not. Identity, on the other hand, appeals to a constellation of the worst human impulses. It is worse than ordinary tribalism because it assumes a more virtuous us on one side, and on the other a them who are very doubtful indeed, who are, in fact a threat to all we hold dear." —Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things
marilynnerobinson  mattthomas  christianity  ethics  identity  2016  tribalism  humans  humannature  human 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Prof Carla Rinaldi on 'Reclaiming Childhood' - YouTube
[For a quick taste, go to 52:15 https://youtu.be/dqgvW-IRXKg?t=3135:

"Schools, in general, they are considered as a place to learn to read, to learn to write, to be disciplined. Especially the schools for the youngest, they are the famous place to pre-: to pre-pare for the future, to pre-pare for life, to pre- pre- pre-. Pre-school, pre-reading, pre-writing. To take children to pre-ordained outcomes. Pre-, pre-. It’s time to really cancel pre- because school is not a preparation for life, but life. It is a real, deep important part of your life. […] School is life. […] Life itself is school, but for sure, school is life. And the question becomes more urgent nowadays because we are talking about the role of school in contemporary society. Contemporary that is a digital era, e-learning, everything. And somebody says maybe it's time to cancel schools. Why do we continue to build schools? Why does a society looking at the future have to continue to have a school? […] I think the answers still continues to be that we need to have good schools because they are a fundamental place of education of the citizen and communities. […] Not only a place to transmit culture, but nowadays more than ever a place to construct culture and values. Culture of childhood and culture from childhood. That means that the children are bearers and constructors of elements that can renew the culture. They are our best source for our renewing culture. […] The way in which they approach life is not something that we observe without them in our life, it is an amazing source for renewing our questions and our way of approaching life. They are the source for creativity, for creative thinking. They can be the source for changing the concept of ecological approach, holistic approach. We have to explain [these] to each other. Children know exactly what it means. […] We continue to talk about teaching nature to children. Children *are* nature."
carlarinaldi  2013  education  schools  teaching  sfsh  childhood  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  reggioemilia  children  agesegregation  aborigines  australia  pedagogy  inclusivity  accessibility  competence  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  beauty  humanism  humanity  humans  humannature  self-discipline  thewhy  creativity  trust  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  listening  respect  knowing  relationships  joy  canon  otherness  howeteach  makingvisible  ethnography  welcome  reciprocity  community  interdependence  negotiation  rights  nature  culture  culturemaking  responsibility  duty  duties  authority  rule  freedom  co-constuction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Rebecca Solnit by Astra Taylor
"AT One of the most interesting ideas in the book is the concept of “elite panic”—the way that elites, during disasters and their aftermath, imagine that the public is not only in danger but also a source of danger. You show in case after case how elites respond in destructive ways, from withholding essential information, to blocking citizen relief efforts, to protecting property instead of people. As you write in the book, “there are grounds for fear of a coherent insurgent public, not just an overwrought, savage one.”

RS The term “elite panic” was coined by Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. From the beginning of the field in the 1950s to the present, the major sociologists of disaster—Charles Fritz, Enrico Quarantelli, Kathleen Tierney, and Lee Clarke—proceeding in the most cautious, methodical, and clearly attempting-to-be-politically-neutral way of social scientists, arrived via their research at this enormous confidence in human nature and deep critique of institutional authority. It’s quite remarkable.

Elites tend to believe in a venal, selfish, and essentially monstrous version of human nature, which I sometimes think is their own human nature. I mean, people don’t become incredibly wealthy and powerful by being angelic, necessarily. They believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface—that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true. A lot of people have never understood that the rumors were dispelled and that those things didn’t actually happen; it’s tragic.

But there’s also an elite fear—going back to the 19th century—that there will be urban insurrection. It’s a valid fear. I see these moments of crisis as moments of popular power and positive social change. The major example in my book is Mexico City, where the ’85 earthquake prompted public disaffection with the one-party system and, therefore, the rebirth of civil society.

AT So on the one hand there are people responding in these moments of crisis and organizing themselves, helping each other, and, on the other, there are power elites, who sometimes, though not always, sabotage grassroots efforts because, as you say at one point, the very existence of such efforts is taken to represent the failure of authorities to rise to the occasion—it’s better to quash such efforts than to appear incompetent. The way you explore the various motivations of the official power structure for sabotaging people’s attempts to self-organize was a very interesting element of the book.

RS You are an anarchist, aren’t you?

AT Maybe deep down. (laughter)

RS Not all authorities respond the same way. But you can see what you’re talking about happening right after the 1906 earthquake. San Franciscans formed these community street kitchens. You weren’t allowed to have a fire indoors because the risk of setting your house, and thereby your neighborhood, on fire was too great—if you had a house, that is. People responded with enormous humor and resourcefulness by creating these kitchens to feed the neighborhood. Butchers, dairymen, bakers, etcetera were giving away food for free. It was like a Paris Commune dream of a mutual-aid society. At a certain point, authorities decided that these kitchens would encourage freeloading and became obsessed with the fear that people would double dip. So they set up this kind of ration system and turned a horizontal model of mutual aid—where I’m helping you but you’re helping me—into a vertical model of charity where I have and you lack and I am giving to you. Common Ground, the radical organization for community rebuilding, 100 years later in New Orleans chooses as its motto: “Solidarity not charity.”

AT The charity model fits hand in hand with the “we need a paternal, powerful authority figure in a time of crisis” mindset that your book refutes. Do you think people need to be led?

RS Part of the stereotypical image is that we’re either wolves or we’re sheep. We’re either devouring babies raw and tearing up grandmothers with our bare hands, or we’re helpless and we panic and mill around like idiots in need of Charlton Heston men in uniforms with badges to lead us. I think we’re neither, and the evidence bears that out."



"RS I started that book when I was almost 30. The Nevada Test Site was the place that taught me how to write. Until then I had been writing in three different ways: I had been writing as an art critic, in a very objective, authoritative voice; I had been writing as an environmental journalist, also with objectivity; and then I had also been writing these very lapidary essays on the side. It felt like three different selves, three different voices, and explaining the test site and all the forces converging there demanded that I use all those voices at once. So as to include everything relevant, it also demanded I write in a way both meandering and inclusive. A linear narrative is often like a highway bulldozed through the landscape, and I wanted to create something more like a path that didn’t bulldoze and allowed for scenic detours.

My training as an art critic was a wonderful background because it taught me to think critically about representations and meanings, and that applied really well to national parks and atomic bombs and Indian Wars. It was great to realize that I didn’t have to keep these tools in museums and galleries—it was a tool kit that could go anywhere. Also, I was trained as a journalist. A journalist can become an adequate expert pretty quickly and handle the material, whereas a lot of scholars dedicate their life to one subject."
rebeccasolnit  atrataylor  elites  elitism  humans  humannature  power  2009  insurrection  resistance  caronchess  leeclarke  charlesfritz  enricoquarantelli  kathleentierney  timothygartonash  maureendowd  fear  neworleans  katrina  disasters  solidarity  grassroots  activism  charity  authoruty  patriarchy  control  writing  howwewrite  nola 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Liberalism and its discontents – Zizek
"Here we encounter the basic paradox of liberalism. An anti-ideological and anti-utopian stance is inscribed into the very heart of the liberal vision: liberalism conceives itself as a “politics of lesser evil,” its ambition is to bring about the “least evil society possible,” thus preventing greater evil, since it considers any attempt directly to impose a positive Good as the ultimate source of all evil.

Winston Churchill’s quip about democracy being the worst of all political systems, with the exception of all the other, holds even better for liberalism. Such a view is sustained by a profound pessimism about human nature: man is egotistic and envious animal, if one builds a political system which appeals to his goodness and altruism, the result will be the worst kind terror (recall that both Jacobins and Stalinists presupposed human virtue).

The liberal critique of the “tyranny of the Good” comes at a price: the more its program permeates society, the more it turns into its opposite. The claim to want nothing but the lesser evil, once asserted as the principle of the new global order, gradually takes on the very features of the enemy it claims to oppose. In fact, the global liberal order clearly presents itself as the best of all possible worlds: its modest rejection of utopias ends with imposing its own market-liberal utopia which will become reality when we subject ourselves to the mechanisms of the market and universal human rights."
politics  liberalism  zizek  2012  winstonchurchill  democracy  evil  society  humannature  tyrannyofthegood  goodness  altruism  jacobins  stalinists  virtue  humans  humanvirtue  utopia  anti-utopianism  pessimism  humanrights  capitalism  via:ayjay 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Charlie Kaufman: Screenwriters Lecture | BAFTA Guru
"we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise."

"Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to."

"This is from E. E. Cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’ The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind."

[Giving up, too much to quote.]
danger  risktaking  risk  failure  simplification  fear  fearmongering  materialism  consumerism  culture  marketing  humannature  character  bullying  cv  meaningmaking  meaning  filmmaking  creating  creativity  dreaming  dreams  judgement  assessment  interpretation  religion  fanaticism  johngarvey  deschooling  unschooling  unlearning  relearning  perpetualchange  change  flux  insight  manifestos  art  truth  haroldpinter  paradox  uncertainty  certainty  wonder  bullies  intentions  salesmanship  corporatism  corporations  politics  humans  communication  procrastination  timeusage  wisdom  philosophy  ignorance  knowing  learning  life  time  adamresnick  human  transparency  vulnerability  honesty  loneliness  emptiness  capitalism  relationships  manipulation  distraction  kindness  howwework  howwethink  knowledge  specialists  attention  media  purpose  bafta  film  storytelling  writing  screenwriting  charliekaufman  self  eecummings  2011  canon 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Unraveling the Significance of Childhood » American Scientist
"Konner…draws attention to fact that upright bipedal locomotion offered many advantages to our socially living, hunting-&-gathering ancestors, but notes these advantages came w/ price…narrowed pelvis that made it necessary for parturition to occur when offspring were still extremely immature…meant that “4th trimester” of fetal development took place outside womb, & increased child-care demands increased women’s needs for social protection & support, thereby promoting sociality, pair-bonding & nascent family…made even longer periods of dependent & protected development possible, perhaps explaining why species is characterized by extended period of brain growth & development…much greater proportion of life span in humans than in any other primates. Long, protected childhoods, group living, enduring social bonds, & big brains not only made extensive play possible but also ensured it paid benefits…intellectual sophistication & cognitive mastery…"

[See also: http://chronicle.com/article/How-Childhood-Has-Evolved/65401/ ]
childhood  humans  human  evolution  children  melvinkonner  humannature  science  via:theplayethic  2011  books  anthropology 
july 2011 by robertogreco
David Brooks: The social animal | Video on TED.com [Love this quote (and others) in the comments: "there are plenty of policies that can support the ideas Brooks put out. But they are contrary to his political position."]
"Tapping into the findings of his latest book, NYTimes columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences -- insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can't hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness."
psychology  socialskills  philosophy  davidbrooks  cognitivesciences  relationships  consciousness  consciousawareness  economics  socialtrust  trust  humans  humannature  rationality  schools  cv  learning  education  dehumanization  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  dividedselves  emotion  emotions  reason  incentives  motivation  measurement  testing  parenting  children  tcsnmy  empathy  collaboration  metis  equipoise  sympathy  blending  limerence  flow  transcendence  love  douglashofstadter  mindsight  politics  socialemotionallearning  self-knowledge  self  openminded  socialemotional 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Wake In Progress
"FINNEGANS WAKE is a comedy about language and human nature…dream in which a psyche fragments and battles itself…history of dublin, humanity, and a family played out simultaneously, consecutively and concurrently.<br />
There’s no book like it, but if you had to make comparisons, you might say it’s like a chaotic blend of the Metamorphoses and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Oh, and the Bible. And the The Divine Comedy. The Book of the Dead. The Life of the Buddha. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy...<br />
Oh, just forget it. <br />
this site records my foolhardy attempt to illustrate finnegans wake.  Actually, I’ll be happy to finish chapter one for now. The curious may peruse the fruit of my hubris via the blog, the slideshow or the index.<br />
nothing that appears in finnegans wake is ever just one thing.  How exactly do you draw a talking fox which is also a mouse, one of two arguing brothers, a pope, and modernist author Wyndham Lewis?…"
finneganswake  literature  books  illustration  art  via:rodcorp  jamesjoyce  language  humannature 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, The Earthquake Kit | TomDispatch
"…usual emphasis on “panic” in disasters implies that, in a crisis, we’re all sheep wheeling around idiotically, incapable of making good decisions, & selfishly trampling those around us. The emphasis on looting implies that, in a crisis, we’re all wolves, taking ruthless advantage of & preying on each other. Both presume that during a disaster social bonds will break. In fact, as the records of disaster after disaster show, mostly they don’t. In fact, those who study the subject confirm that, in catastrophe, most of us behave remarkably beautifully, exhibiting presence of mind, altruism, generosity, bravery, & creativity."<br />
<br />
"So in a disaster, unload the usual clichés & stereotypes. Do your best not to fill up the unknown w/ fantasy or fear. Don’t assume the worst or the best, but keep an alert mind on the actual as it unfolds. Don’t take scenarios for realities. Be prepared to reevaluate & change your plans again & again…disaster is like everyday life, only more so."
rebeccasolnit  via:javierarbona  panic  truth  human  humans  humannature  behavior  media  society  earthquakes  2011  disasters  safety  preparedness  community  people 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Placticity, Global Movements and Bioregion Change
"The first half of the twentieth century was drenched in the blood spilled by German and Japanese aggression, yet only a few decades later it is hard to think of two countries more pacific. Sweden spent the seventeenth century rampaging through Europe, yet it is now an icon of nurturing tranquility. Humans have invented the small nomadic band and the continental megastate, and have demon- strated a flexibility whereby uprooted descendants of the former can function eaectively in the latter. We lack the type of physiology or anatomy that in other mammals determine their mating system, and have come up with societies based on monogamy, polygyny, and polyandry. And we have fashioned some religions in which violent acts are the entrée to paradise and other religions in which the same acts consign one to hell. Is a world of peacefully coexisting human Forest Troops possible? Anyone who says, “No, it is beyond our nature,” knows too little about primates, including ourselves.”

[Quote from Robert Sapolsky here: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/files/articles/natural_history_of_peace.pdf ]
thomassteele-maley  plasticity  adaptability  anthropology  society  human  ingenuity  change  gamechanging  robertsapolsky  bioregions  happiness  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  primates  ecology  culture  lcproject  tcsnmy  history  sweden  germany  japan  war  agression  utopia  baboons  nomads  citystates  scale  humannature  phenotypicplasticity  environment  environmentalism 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Online, Anonymity Breeds Contempt - NYTimes.com
"Even in the 4th century B.C., Plato touched upon the subject of anonymity & morality in his parable of the ring of Gyges.

That mythical ring gave its owner the power of invisibility, & Plato observed that even a habitually just man who possessed such a ring would become a thief, knowing that he couldn’t be caught. Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly…

Psychological research has proven again & again that anonymity increases unethical behavior. Road rage bubbles up in the relative anonymity of one’s car. & in the online world, which can offer total anonymity, the effect is even more pronounced…There’s even a term for it: the online disinhibition effect.

At Facebook…approach is to try to replicate real-world social norms by emphasizing the human qualities of conversation. People’s faces, real names & brief bios are placed next to their public comments, to establish a baseline of responsibility."
community  trolls  internet  anonymity  commenting  facebook  trolling  morality  onlinedisinhibition  2010  ethics  human  humannature  cars  driving  plato  gyges  parables  ringofgyges  disclosure  accountability  behavior  etiquette  social  interaction  online  web  socialnorms  conversation  classideas  cv  responsibility  toshare  todiscuss 
december 2010 by robertogreco
A university's soul is its freedom of ideas | Michael McGhee | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"Instruction leaves a person trained & better informed—but otherwise unaltered. To stand at the threshold of an education, by contrast, is to stand poised before the possibility of an achieved formation & temper of mind which widens perspectives & matures the power of critical judgment. It is this that we commend when we commend education for itself. To be educated is to stand in a critical & creative relationship to ideas, crucially through contact with teachers, who exemplify in their words & demeanour the life of the mind.

If a university has a soul it is to be found here, in the engagement of teachers w/ their students, in the critical transmission of ideas, including ideas about human nature, that their students have to struggle w/ & grasp, a struggle that shapes their souls. But this education is becoming more fugitive & teachers less available through a terrible absence of mind, as the ideas that inform the policy & practice of universities slowly eat into their soul."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/1343587180/instruction-leaves-a-person-trained-and-better ]
habitsofmind  education  learning  schools  universities  instruction  training  information  mindset  temperment  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  criticism  ideas  criticalthinking  human  humannature 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Human Kind: Sissela Bok reviews "The Price of Altruism" by Oren Harman | The American Scholar
"For Darwin, the question of human morality never had to do with pure selflessness. In The Descent of Man he expressed his considered conviction that cultural factors such as “the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c.” play a much more important role than natural selection in advancing what he called the moral qualities of human beings, “though to this latter agency the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely attributed.”

Harman, in his closing pages, underscores the role that culture and education still play in human altruistic behaviors, despite claims by biological determinists that genes run the show. His book is an important contribution to the collaborative work on altruism as it relates to self-interest now increasingly under way, not only in the natural sciences but also in philosophy, political science, economics, and anthropology."
humans  humanism  altruism  selflessness  education  teaching  learning  culture  economics  philosophy  politics  anthropology  collaboration  empathy  biology  evolution  darwin  behavior  society  genetics  naturenurture  nature  biologicaldeterminism  determinism  orenharman  sisselabok  morality  humannature  charlesdarwin 
september 2010 by robertogreco
The Itch of Curiosity | Wired Science | Wired.com
"The fact that curiosity increases with uncertainty (up to a point), suggests that a small amount of knowledge can pique curiosity and prime the hunger for knowledge, much as an olfactory or visual stimulus can prime a hunger for food, which might suggest ways for educators to ignite the wick in the candle of learning."
jonahlehrer  uncertainty  certainty  education  learning  humans  curiosity  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  howwelearn  belesshelpful  teaching  knowledge  humannature  instinct  brain  neuroscience  creativity  imagination  psychology  evolution  science  behavior  academia 
august 2010 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 04.01.10: What I Have Learned
"Maybe the South African Truth and Reconciliation system is a model for dealing with past crimes? If the perp comes clean, absolutely, and admits to every wrongdoing, then forgiveness can be granted in some cases, and healing begins. But if there is an insistence on excuses and an attempt to justify offense, and the plea is refused, it gets them a court prosecution. Maybe this is better than The Hague, which the US set up as a sort of legalized vengeance institution. In this process it seems it’s not about healing, it’s about punishment. But throwing one man in jail for slaughtering hundreds, or hanging another, doesn’t soothe the pain — it merely makes the object of hatred vanish."
davidbyrne  justice  healing  forgiveness  southafrica  evil  humans  humannature 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Psychology Today: Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature
"Why most suicide bombers are Muslim, beautiful people have more daughters, humans are naturally polygamous, sexual harassment isn't sexist, and blonds are more attractive."
psychology  culture  society  terrorism  behavior  humannature  humans  politics  social 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Dunning-Kruger effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"the phenomenon whereby people who have little knowledge systematically think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge"
awareness  behavior  belief  brain  business  cognitive  culture  debate  education  elitism  evaluation  facts  human  humannature  ideas  intelligence  knowledge  leadership  learning  management  metacognition  mind  perception  personality  philosophy  psychology  self  teaching  thinking 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Artichoke: Bring out your sheep bladders the “key competencies” have arrived.
"Hijacking Taleb’s interpretation it seems entirely plausible that that the few “life long learners” amongst us are mostly a product of happenstance, of luck and nothing to do with the key competencies."
learning  schools  competencies  education  policy  change  reform  human  nature  humannature  nassimtaleb  habits  behavior  skills  attitudes  standards  blackswans  artichokeblog  pamhook 
july 2007 by robertogreco

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