Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called the rainbow colours around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Edward O. Wilson bridges science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence.
Once criticised for his over-reliance on genetics, Wilson unfurls here his most expansive and advanced theories on human behaviour, recognising that, even though the human and the spider evolved similarly, the poet's sonnet is wholly different from the spider's web.
Whether attempting to explicate the Riddle of the Human Species, warning of the Collapse of Biodiversity, or even creating a plausible Portrait of E.T., Wilson does indeed believe that humanity holds a special position in the known universe. Alarmed, however, that we are about to abandon natural selection by redesigning biology and human nature as we wish them, Wilson concludes that advances in science and technology bring us our greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham.
A unique approach to the philosophy of science that focuses on the liveliest and most important controversies surrounding science. Is science more rational or objective than any other intellectual endeavor? Are scientific theories accurate depictions of reality or just useful devices for manipulating the environment?
These core questions are the focus of this unique approach to the philosophy of science. Unlike standard textbooks, this book does not attempt a comprehensive review of the entire field, but makes a selection of the most vibrant debates and issues. The author tackles such stimulating questions as: Can science meet the challenges of skeptics? Should science address questions traditionally reserved for philosophy and religion? Further, does science leave room for human values, free will, and moral responsibility? Written in an accessible, jargon-free style, the text succinctly presents complex ideas in an easily understandable fashion. By using numerous examples taken from diverse areas such as evolutionary theory, paleontology and astronomy, the author piques our curiosity in current scientific controversies.
Concise bibliographic essays at the end of each chapter invite readers to sample ideas different from the ones offered in the text and to explore the range of opinions on each topic. Rigorous yet highly readable, this excellent invitation to the philosophy of science makes a convincing case that understanding the nature of science is essential for understanding life itself.
As an introduction to his own notoriously complex and challenging philosophy, Hegel recommended the sections on phenomenology and psychology from The Philosophy of Spirit, the third part of his Encyclopaedia of the Philosophic Sciences. These offered the best introduction to his philosophic system, whose main parts are Logic, Nature, and Sprit. Hegel's Introduction to the System finally makes it possible for the modern reader to approach the philosopher's work as he himself suggested. The book includes a fresh translation of Phenomenology and Psychology, an extensive section-by-section commentary, and a sketch of the system to which this work is an introduction. The book provides a lucid and elegant analysis that will be of use to both new and seasoned readers of Hegel.
Can it ever be right to kill? Is terrorism ever justified? Should euthanasia be legal? Are some people superior to others? Do animals have rights? Some ethical judgements are easy: one side is wrong and the other is right. But how do we handle the really tough 'right vs right' dilemmas, where each side has strong moral arguments? In Without God, is Everything Permitted? bestselling author and philosopher Julian Baggini clear-sightedly and compassionately examines 20 of the most complex contemporary ethical dilemmas. Whether it's asking if torture is always wrong, or if discrimination can ever be good, this book will help you sort out what you really believe about the issues that matter most.
Metaphysics isn't ordinarily much of a laughing matter. But in the hands of acclaimed comedy writer and scholar Eric Kaplan, a search for the truth about old St. Nick becomes a deeply insightful, laugh-out-loud discussion of the way some things exist but may not really be there. Just like Santa and his reindeer. Even after we outgrow the jolly fellow, the essential paradox persists: There are some things we dearly believe in that are not universally acknowledged as real. In Does Santa Exist? Kaplan shows how philosophy giants Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein strove to smooth over this uncomfortable meeting of the real and unreal - and failed. From there he turns to mysticism's attempts to resolve such paradoxes, surveying Buddhism, Taoism, early Christianity, Theosophy and even the philosophers at UC Berkeley under whom he studied. Finally, this brilliant comic writer alights on - surprise! - comedy as the ultimate resolution of the fundamental paradoxes of life, using examples from The Big Bang Theory, Monty Python's cheese shop and many other pop-culture sources. Kaplan delves deeper into what all this means, from how our physical brains work to his own personal confrontations with life's biggest questions: If we're all going to die, what's the point of anything? What is a perfect moment? What can you say about God? Or Santa?
Imagine that Plato came to life in the twenty-first century and embarked on a multi-city speaking tour. How would he mediate a debate between a Freudian psychoanalyst and a 'tiger mum' on how to raise the perfect child? How would he handle the host of a right-wing news program who denies there can be morality without religion? What would Plato make of Google, and of the idea that knowledge can be crowdsourced rather than reasoned out by experts? Plato at the Googleplex is acclaimed thinker Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's dazzling investigation of these conundra. With a philosopher's depth and erudition and a novelist's imagination and wit, Goldstein probes the deepest issues confronting us by allowing us to eavesdrop on Plato as he takes on the modern world; it is a stunningly original plunge into the drama of philosophy, revealing its hidden role in today's debates on religion, morality, politics and science.
In this major new work the leading philosopher Slavoj Zizek argues that philosophical materialism has failed to meet the key scientific, theoretical and political challenges of the modern world, from relativity theory and quantum physics to Freudian psychoanalysis and the failure of twentieth-century Communism. To bring materialism up to date, Zizek proposes a new foundation for dialectical materialism. He argues that dialectical materialism is the only true philosophical inheritor of what Hegel designates as the speculative approach of thought - all other forms of materialism fail. In Absolute Recoil, Zizek offers a startling reformulation of the ground and possibilities of contemporary philosophy.
The most forceful philosophical objections to belief in God arise from the existence of evil. Bad things happen in the world and it is not clear how this is compatible with the existence of an all-powerful and perfectly loving being. Unsurprisingly then, philosophers have formulated powerful arguments for atheism based on the existence of apparently unjustified suffering. These arguments give expression to what we call the problem of evil. This volume is an engaging introduction to the philosophical problem of evil. Daniel Speak provides a clear overview of the main lines of reasoning in this debate and argues for the defensibility of theistic belief in the face of evil. He fleshes out the distinction between theodicy and defense and guides the reader through the logical, evidential, and hiddenness versions of the problem. In an accessible and beautifully written account, Speak describes the central issues surrounding the problem of evil in a way that clarifies both the complex reasoning and specialised terminology of the topic. The Problem of Evil is an ideal introduction to contemporary debates over one of the most gripping perennial questions. Read either on its own or alongside the primary materials it deftly covers, students and scholars will find this volume a terrific resource for understanding the challenges to religious belief raised by evil.
How ought we to live? Should we aim to maximise happiness? Are there certain characteristics that we should try to foster within ourselves? From Utilitarianism to Kant's Categorical Imperative, from the Ancient Greeks to Sartre, Peter Cave presents ethics through a fascinating global historical lens, and relates it to everyday life and 21st century politics. He traces the development of this key branch of philosophy up to the present day, introducing readers to all the main schools of thought. With his characteristic wit and clarity, Cave takes on good and evil, existentialism and relativism, and handily guides us around some of the most common potholes in ethical reasoning. Applying moral theory to topical and controversial issues like the environment, abortion, and animal welfare, this is the essential primer to the subject.
Alain Badiou (1937- ) is one of the most high profile and controversial philosophers writing in France today. A leading light in the generation of thinkers who come of intellectual age in 1968, his work deftly draws on a wide range of intellectual traditions and thinkers from Plato and Lucretius, through Heidegger to Lacan and Deleuze. Now available in the Bloomsbury Revelations series, Infinite Thought is a vivid demonstration of that range. Here Badiou introduces his own thought on the full gamut of intellectual concerns, from politics, psychoanalysis and art to truth, desire and the definition of philosophy itself. As well as Badiou's reflections on the fall of communism and the 'War on Terror', the book also includes an interview with the author.
Slavoj Zizek is one of the world's foremost cultural commentators: a prolific writer and thinker, whose adventurous, unorthodox and wide-ranging writings have won him a unique place as one of the most high profile thinkers of our time. The Universal Exception brings together some of Zizek's most vivid writings on politics. Bringing together high theory, popular culture and passionate engagement with politics, Zizek here brings us startlingly new perspectives on such topics as multiculturalism, capitalism and Bill Gates, the revolutionary potential of Stalinism, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Including a glossary of key terms, the Bloomsbury Revelations edition also includes a new preface by the author.
A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of the mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain. Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the I as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate -- either in the waking state or in a lucid dream -- we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as me. We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self. Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness the dissolution of the self with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives.