At the global as well as local scales, some of the geometry of types of neuron arbors—both dendrites and axons—appears to be self-organizing: Their morphogenesis behaves like flowing water, that is, fluid dynamically; waterflow in branching networks in turn acts like a tree composed of cords under tension, that is, vector mechanically. Branch diameters and angles and junction sites conform significantly to this model. The result is that such neuron tree samples globally minimize their total volume—rather than, for example, surface (...) area or branch length. In addition, the arbors perform well at generating the cheapest topology interconnecting their terminals: their large-scale layouts are among the best of all such possible connecting patterns, approaching 5% of optimum. This model also applies comparably to arterial and river networks. S1063-651X 99 16205-6.. (shrink)
A tacit and highly idealized model of the agent's memory is presupposed in philosophy. The main features of a more psychologically realistic duplex (orn-plex) model are sketched here. It is argued that an adequate understanding of the rationality of an agent's actions is not possible without a satisfactory theory of the agent's memory and of the trade-offs involved in management of the memory, particularly involving compartmentalization of the belief set. The discussion identifies some basic constraints on the organization of knowledge (...) representations in general. (shrink)
Combinatorial network optimization appears to fit well as a model of brain structure: connections in the brain are a critically constrained resource, hence their deployment in a wide range of cases is finely optimized to “‘save wire". This review focuses on minimization of large-scale costs, such as total volume for mammal dendrite and axon arbors and total wirelength for positioning of connected neural components such as roundworm ganglia (and also mammal cortex areas). Phenomena of good optimization raise questions about mechanisms (...) for their achievement: the examples of optimized neuroanatomy here turn out to include candidates for some of the most complex biological structures known to be derivable purely from simple physical energy minimization processes. Part of the functional role of such fine-tuned wiring optimization may be as a compact strategy for generating self-organizing complex neuroanatomical.. (shrink)
How things were a decade ago: The largest rain forest of our planet abides in the Amazon Basin, a tenth of the entire world biomass. It is one of the last great frontiers on earth; only the bottom of the sea presents terra incognita on so rich and grand a scale. Perhaps half the planet's species dwell in Amazonia, most of them still unknown to our own technological encampment. No mere ocean of green, this community is so intricately interwoven as (...) to constitute a single vast organism, the one true Leviathan, outweighing all the whales in all the oceans of the world that have ever lived. It is the last and greatest forest on earth, and now it is disappearing before it has been discovered: At nearly an acre a second, the TransAmazon highway system and the land clearing operations it has enabled are extinguishing the forest before it can be explored. From space, Landsat pictures show the burned-over patches spreading with the highway network year by year, magenta sores in the false-color images. We, the voracious Lilliputians now, antlike, are dismantling the greatest biochemical engine on earth at a scale so vast that the carbon dioxide economy of the entire planetary atmosphere suffers. In a century of genocides, perhaps the penultimate great extinction unfolds, prologue to the threatening self-immolation of our own species. (shrink)
A philosophically important but largely overlooked cognitive theory is examined, one that provides information on which inferences an agent will make from his beliefs. Such a theory of feasible inferences is indispensable in a complete cognitive psychology, in particular, for predicting the agent's actions on the basis of rationality conditions and attributed beliefs and desires. However, very little of the feasibility theory which applies to a typical human being can be shown a priori to apply to all agents. The logical (...) competence required of a rational agent seems to have a cluster structure: it cannot be the case that an agent is able to make no inferences, but an agent can be unable to make any particular one. (shrink)
In the final chapter of Minimal Rationality ChristopherCherniak offers three arguments to show that an agent with finite cognitive resources is not capable of arriving at a true and complete theory of the universe. I discuss each of these arguments and show that Cherniak has not succeeded in making his antirealist case.
In his bookMinimal Rationality (1986), ChristopherCherniak draws deep and widespread conclusions from our finitude, and not only for philosophy but also for a wide range of science as well. Cherniak's basic idea is that traditional philosophical theories of rationality represent idealisations that are inaccessible to finite rational agents. It is the purpose of this paper to apply a theory of idealisation in science to Cherniak's arguments. The heart of the theory is a distinction between idealisations (...) that represent reversible, solely quantitative simplifications and those that represent irreversible, degenerate idealisations which collapse out essential theoretical structure. I argue that Cherniak's position is best understood as assigning the latter status to traditional rationality theories and that, so understood, his arguments may be illuminated, expanded, and certain common criticisms of them rebutted. The result, however, is a departure from traditional, formalist theories of rationality of a more radical kind than Cherniak contemplates, with widespread ramifications for philosophical theory, especially philosophy of science itself. (shrink)
An âinvertedâ reasoner is someone who finds the inferences we find easy, inversely difficult, and those that we find difficult, inversely easy. The notion was initially introduced by ChristopherCherniak in his book, Minimal Rationality, and appealed to by Stephen Stich in The Fragmentation of Reason. While a number of difficulties have been noted about what reasoning would amount to for such a reasoner, what has not been brought out in the literature is that such a reasoner is (...) in fact logically impossible. This is what I hope to demonstrate in this paper. (shrink)
With the goal of better understanding how science, religion, and poetic art came together in the work of Christopher Southgate, the authors first explore his spiritual poetry. They come away with a better understanding of the author’s commitment to a broad naturalism that contributes, along with his own faith experience, to his prose works in the emerging field of ecotheology. The authors conclude that Southgate’s work is part of the worldwide emergence of a theological rationale that supports environmentalism, the (...) protection of species, and the conservation of biodiversity. The authors find Southgate’s poetry warm, appealing, accessible, and re-readable to good effect, but with a thread of danger and warning throughout. Both features are quite appropriate for the environmental movement in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
This paper argues that while Heidegger showed the importance of architecture in altering people's modes of being to avoid global ecological destruction, the work of Christopher Alexander offered a far more practical orientation to deal with this problem.
“Marlowe wrote Edward The Second in 1590. He found a suitable tragic theme in the Holinshed’s account of Edward II’s reign though it was not a promising dramatic material from the chronological point of view as the events were disjointed and uninspiring disastrous. Improper coordinates of the sources has left its mark on Marlowe’s play, nevertheless, this is his most finished and satisfactory of plays…Edward The Second can surely be regarded as Marlowe’s finest technical achievement.” (Edited, Dr. S. Sen…)[http://philpapers.org/profile/112741].
This article examines the philosophical teaching of a colorful Oxford alumnus and Roman Catholic convert, Christopher Davenport, also known as Franciscus à Sancta Clara or Francis Coventry. At the peak of Puritan power during the English Interregnum and after five of his Franciscan confrères had perished for their missionary work, our author tried boldly to claim modern cosmology and atomism as the unrecognized fruits of medieval Scotism. His hope was to revive English pride in the golden age of medieval (...) Oxford and to defend English Franciscans as more legitimately patriotic and scientifically progressive than Puritan millenarians. (shrink)
An introduction to the March, 2005 symposium “The Political Theory of Organizations: A Retrospective Examination of Christopher McMahon’s Authority and Democracy” held in San Francisco as part of the Society for Business Ethics Group Meeting at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association.
This paper is about Christopher Wren’s engravings for Thomas Willis’ The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves of 1664. It is a study in the intersection of medicine and art in 17th century Britain. Willis, an eminent English physician and anatomist, was a major figure in the development of modern neurology, and The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves was his most famous and influential book. Wren was Willis’ assistant and medical artist. I discuss the visual strategies employed by (...) Wren to present their research and frame it as genuine knowledge. (shrink)
The untimely passing of Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Newell, AM, came as a shock to many in the bioethics world. As well as an obituary, this article notes a number of important themes in his work, and provides a select bibliography. Christopher's major contribution to this field is that he was one of a handful of scholars who made disability not only an acceptable area of bioethics—indeed a vital, central, fertile area of enquiry. Crucially Christopher emphasised that (...) where we do ethics is actually in everyday life—while we mourn his passing, his rich work and example will continue to inspire bioethical inquiry. (shrink)
‘Greek Ethics’, an undergraduate class taught by the British moral philosopher N. J. H. Dent, introduced this reviewer to the ethical philosophy of ancient Greece. The class had a modest purview—a sequence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—but it proved no less effective, in retrospect, than more synoptic classes for having taken this apparently limited and (for its students and academic level) appropriate focus. This excellent Companion will now serve any such class extremely well, allowing students a broader exposure than that (...) traditional sequence, without sacrificing the class’s circumscribed focus. The eighteen chapters encompass some of what went before, and surprisingly much of what came after, those three central philosophers—including, for instance, a discussion of Plotinus and his successors, as well as a discussion of Horace. The book will therefore be useful in many different types of class on ethical philosophy in the ancient world. This Companion will be useful not only to students, but also to at least three further groups: specialists in ancient Greek philosophy (since some contributors advance significant new positions, e.g. R. Kamtekar on Plato’s ethical psychology and D. Charles on Aristotle’s ‘ergon argument’ as already implicitly invoking ‘to kalon’); scholars working in academic subjects adjacent to ancient Greek philosophy; and contemporary moral philosophers. (shrink)
With the goal of understanding how Christopher Southgate communicates his in-depth knowledge of both science and theology, we investigated the many roles he assumes as a teacher. We settled upon wide-ranging topics that all intertwine: (1) his roles as author and coordinating editor of a premier textbook on science and theology, now in its third edition; (2) his oral presentations worldwide, including plenaries, workshops, and short courses; and (3) the team teaching approach itself, which is often needed by others (...) because the knowledge of science and theology do not always reside in the same person. Southgate provides, whenever possible, teaching contexts that involve students in experiential learning, where they actively participate with other students.We conclude that Southgate’s ultimate goal is to teach students how to reconcile science and theology in their values and beliefs, so that they can take advantage of both forms of rational thinking in their own personal and professional lives. The co-authors consider several examples of models that have been successfully used by people in various fields to integrate science and religion. (shrink)
Christopher Peacocke’s A Study of Concepts is a dense and rewarding work. Each chapter raises many issues for discussion. I know three different people who are writing reviews of the volume. It testifies to the depth of Peacocke’s book that each reviewer is focusing on a quite different set of topics.
In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in various (...) spheres of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
For intellectuals, and probably others, one form of escapism is a kind of constricted and shallow hyper-realism—the hyper-realism of having a dead-end job, even though one has a PhD or an IQ of 170. And that sort of hyper-realism is pseudo-realism, because realism is not about having a bad life; it is having the courage to have a good life, which the intellectual with the dead end job does not have.
Professor Christopher Stead was Ely Professor of Divinity from 1971 until his retirement in 1980 and one of the great contributors to the Oxford Patristic Conferences for many years. In this paper I reflect on his work in Patristics, and I attempt to understand how his interests diverged from the other major contributors in the same period, and how they were formed by his philosophical milieu and the spirit of the age. As a case study to illustrate and diagnose (...) his approach, I shall focus on a debate between Stead and Rowan Williams about the significance of the word idios in Arius's theology (in the course of which I also make some suggestions of my own about the issue). (shrink)
In his recent book, Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus, Christopher Brown has argued that the metaphysics of St. Thomas is preferable to contemporary analyticviews because it can solve the “problem of material constitution” without requiring us to relinquish any of the common-sense beliefs that generate that problem. In this critical study, I show that in the case of both substances and aggregates, Brown’s Aquinas endorses views that are extremely implausible. Consequently, even if it is granted that the solutions (...) to the PMC fall right out of his views, it is still not clear that this gives us reason to prefer his ontology to its competitors. I also consider Brown’s take on the status of the human being after death. (shrink)