We argue that religious ritual's ability to facilitate communication and the pervasiveness of its basic characteristics across societies, as well as its precedence in other social species, suggests that religious behavior is more than a mere by-product. Religious constructs constitute associationally conditioned mnemonics that trigger neuroendocrine responses which motivate religious behaviors. The adaptive value of these constructs resides in their utility as memorable and emotionally evocative primes.
Juslin & Vll (J&V) advance our understanding of the proximate mechanisms underlying emotional responses to music, but fail to integrate their findings into a comprehensive evolutionary model that addresses the adaptive functions of these responses. Here we offer such a model by examining the ontogenetic relationship between music, ritual, and symbolic abstraction and their role in facilitating social coordination and cooperation.
We argue that ritual is not a by-product as Boyer & Lienard (B&L) claim, but rather an evolved adaptation for social communication that facilitates non-agonistic social interactions among non-kin. We review the neurophysiological effects of ritual and propose neural structures and networks beyond the cortical-striato-pallidal-thalamic circuit (CSPT) likely to be implicated in ritual. The adaptationist approach to ritual offers a more parsimonious model for understanding these effects as well as the findings B&L present. (Published Online February 8 2007).
Storey, Lyndon Positive humanism is based on the idea that there is a positive potential in human beings. This includes the potential to help others, to find joy and meaning in life, and to use reason and creativity. It is not a guarantee of future perfection, but a positive potential. Acknowledging and nurturing this potential can improve an individual's chances of finding happiness and fulfilment in life, and a society's chances of becoming more harmonious and fulfilling for its members. (...) Positive humanism focusses on exploring and supporting a human-based path to happiness and fulfilment. (shrink)
Kate Storey is experienced in direct service, education and administration in both hospital and community settings. She is a family member; she was diagnosed with depression in 1980 and is “in recovery”. She is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario with research interests in recovery education and empowerment. Tanya Shute is Executive Director of the Krasman Centre: a Consumer Survivor Initiative, which embraces a wellness and recovery focus. She is a social (...) activist who identii es as having personal experience with mental health challenges and substance abuse. Her undergraduate degree from York University is in Public Policy and Administration; she is completing her MSW in social policy at Laurentian University. Ann h ompson is a “survivor/ provider” trained in critical social work at York University, who is exploring the application of recovery principles in programs/organizations supporting consumer/survivors and family members. Ann is a certii ed Wellness Recovery Action Plan Facilitator and has adapted the WRAP framework to a family setting. She developed the Critical Perspectives in Mental Health curriculum in the Masters Social Work program at York University. (shrink)
The National Center for Biomedical Ontology is a consortium that comprises leading informaticians, biologists, clinicians, and ontologists, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap, to develop innovative technology and methods that allow scientists to record, manage, and disseminate biomedical information and knowledge in machine-processable form. The goals of the Center are (1) to help unify the divergent and isolated efforts in ontology development by promoting high quality open-source, standards-based tools to create, manage, and use ontologies, (2) to create (...) new software tools so that scientists can use ontologies to annotate and analyze biomedical data, (3) to provide a national resource for the ongoing evaluation, integration, and evolution of biomedical ontologies and associated tools and theories in the context of driving biomedical projects (DBPs), and (4) to disseminate the tools and resources of the Center and to identify, evaluate, and communicate best practices of ontology development to the biomedical community. Through the research activities within the Center, collaborations with the DBPs, and interactions with the biomedical community, our goal is to help scientists to work more effectively in the e-science paradigm, enhancing experiment design, experiment execution, data analysis, information synthesis, hypothesis generation and testing, and understand human disease. (shrink)
Despite the frequency of stillbirths, the subsequent implications are overlooked and underappreciated. We present findings from comprehensive, systematic literature reviews, and new analyses of published and unpublished data, to establish the effect of stillbirth on parents, families, health-care providers, and societies worldwide. Data for direct costs of this event are sparse but suggest that a stillbirth needs more resources than a livebirth, both in the perinatal period and in additional surveillance during subsequent pregnancies. Indirect and intangible costs of stillbirth are (...) extensive and are usually met by families alone. This issue is particularly onerous for those with few resources. Negative effects, particularly on parental mental health, might be moderated by empathic attitudes of care providers and tailored interventions. The value of the baby, as well as the associated costs for parents, families, care providers, communities, and society, should be considered to prevent stillbirths and reduce associated morbidity. (shrink)
In this essay, I analyze Steven Burik’s recent comparisons of Heidegger, Derrida, and Daoism to explore two problems in comparative thought. The first concerns metaphysics: Is metaphysics a bad thing—or even an avoidable thing? The second concerns language: Is there any danger in focusing on language—in losing the forest of philosophy for the trees of the language in which it is conducted? These questions orbit a more basic one: What is the goal of comparative philosophy? In part one, I sketch (...) Burik’s views on the nature and goals of comparative thought and his arguments for the usefulness of Heidegger, Derrida, and Daoism for pursuing these goals. In part two, I address three problems stemming from the book. (shrink)
There has been relatively little debate about Nietzsche’s place in environmental ethics, but the lines of the debate are well marked. He has been viewed as an anthropocentrist by Michael E. Zimmerman, a humanist by Ralph Acampora, a biocentrist and deep ecologist by Max Hallman, a constructivist by Martin Drenthen, and an ecocentrist by Graham Parkes. Nietzsche does provide a theory of intrinsic value and his philosophy of nature is germane to an environmerntal ethic. His philosophical biology grounds his value (...) theory. The secondary literature contains three main claims plaguing the debate about his views. First, commentators tend to ignore or downplay Nietzsche’s biology. Second, his value theory is not adequatey addressed. Third, does Nietzsche’s emphasis on hierarchy enable him to maintain that human life is more valuable than that of other life forms, but that the lower life forms have a different kind of value insofar as they enable and support higher life forms? This view is roughly parallel in many respects to the views of Paul Taylor, David Ray Griffin, and Michael E. Zimmerman. (shrink)
Humankind faces a wide range of threats to its security and safety, from terrorist groups and cybercriminals to disease pandemics and climate change. All these threats share one characteristic: they are constantly changing. Decision-makers can never be sure whether the next tropical storm will be as violent as the last, or whether Taliban insurgents will use a roadside improvised explosive device or a suicide bomber for their next attack. Therefore, many of our security systems — those that are resistant to (...) change, or that try to eliminate all risk — are doomed. Firewalls have failed to protect computers from hackers for 40 years; screening airline passengers for liquids didn't prevent Umar Abdulmutallab from taking a powdered incendiary onto a plane; and so cumbersome is the military procurement cycle that heavy armoured vehicles designed to repel improvised explosive attacks were deployed in Iraq a full three years after soldiers had identified the need. (shrink)
This paper has four parts. First, I attempt to pinpoint how and why Merleau-Ponty was driven to go beyond Husserlian phenomenology, and did so for what are, largely, Hegelian reasons. Second, I trace the parallels between Hegel’s “metaphysics of Spirit” and Merleau-Ponty’s “ontology of the Flesh,” stressing the thinkers’ consensus about the nature of philosophical method. Third, I identify Merleau-Ponty’s criticisms of Hegel’s approach, and assay his claim that Hegel’s system actually constitutes a lapse into a pre-critical, pre-Kantian, naïve metaphysics. (...) Fourth and finally, I examine how Merleau-Ponty’s critique of Hegel is tied to his investigation into the evolution of the concept of nature through the history of Western philosophy. My basic intention is to determine whether and to what extent Merleau-Ponty evades the very charges he levies against Hegel, and my basic claim is that he does. I conclude by suggesting some parallels between Merleau-Ponty’s later thought and the account of nature in Whitehead’s process philosophy that might tell us where to seek help for developing his later, enigmatic ideas once precedents in Continental thought have been exhausted. (shrink)
Recently Geoffrey Miller has suggested that humor evolved through sexual selection as a signal of "creativity," which in turn implies youthfulness, intelligence, and adaptive unpredictability. Drawing upon available empirical studies, I argue that the evidence for a link between humor and creativity is weak and ambiguous. I also find only tenuous support for Miller’s assumption that the attractiveness of the "sense of humor" is to be found in the wittiness of its possessor, since those who use the phrase often seem (...) to associate it with the affects of relatively mirthless "bonding" laughter. Humor, I conclude, may have evolved as an instrument for achieving broad social adhesiveness and for facilitating the individual’s maneuverability within the group, but that it evolved through sexual selection has yet to be convincingly demonstrated. (shrink)
While Heidegger has long been cast as hostile to or neglectful of life-philosophy, his work on Aristotle in the 1920s demonstrates a struggle to articulate an ontology of life. I argue that this is no peripheral concern in his work and should be seen in the broader context of the development of his philosophy of nature. I submit that we can triangulate Heidegger’s position on the ontological status of life by tracing the tension between the Kantian and Aristotelian strains in (...) his work. His early forays into life-philosophy and philosophical biology, while incomplete and inconclusive, challenge our picture of him as espousing a view of human existence dissociated from living and natural being. (shrink)
Though nihilism is a major theme in late modern philosophy from Hegel onward, it is only relatively recently that it has been treated as the subject of monographs and anthologies. Commentators have offered a number of accounts of the origins and nature of nihilism. Some see it as a purely historical and predominantly modern phenomenon, a consequence of the social, economic, ecological, political, and/or religious upheavals of modernity. Others think it stems from human nature itself, and should be seen as (...) a perennial problem. Still others think that nihilism has ontological significance and issues from the nature of being itself. In this essay, I survey the most important of these narratives of nihilism to show how commonly the advent and spread of nihilism is linked with changing conceptions of nature. At root, nihilism is a problem about humanity’s relation to nature, about a crisis in human freedom and willing after the collapse of the cosmos, the erosion of a hierarchically ordered nature in which humans have a proper place. Two themes recur in the literature: first, the collapse of what is commonly called the “great chain of being” or the cosmos generally; and second, the increased importance placed on human will and subjectivity and, correlatively, the significance of human history as opposed to nature. (shrink)
The research reported in this paper set out to investigate ethics in the initial stages of construction projects. Briefing is the first real contact stage between the commissioner (client/employer) of a project — at this stage a potential project — and those involved in project realization — the designers and, subsequently, the constructors. It is well known that early decisions are of greatest impact and so, the importance of the initial contacts, communications and consequent decisions are paramount. Different project participants (...) are known to pursue individual objectives to varying degrees as well as possessing different perspectives and perceptions and operating/behaving in different ways. Hence, determination of the appropriate form, content etc. of a project is, inevitably, a matter of exercising value judgements and compromises and so, involves ethical considerations. A case study of a project through the briefing stage is reported and analysed, from initial contacts to scheme approval. It is apparent that a number of ethical concerns are manifest through the various actions of the major participants. (shrink)