Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They trace four "dimensions" in evolution -- four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic. These systems, they argue, can all (...) provide variations on which natural selection can act. Evolution in Four Dimensions offers a richer, more complex view of evolution than the gene-based, one-dimensional view held by many today. The new synthesis advanced by Jablonka and Lamb makes clear that induced and acquired changes also play a role in evolution.After discussing each of the four inheritance systems in detail, Jablonka and Lamb "put Humpty Dumpty together again" by showing how all of these systems interact. They consider how each may have originated and guided evolutionary history and they discuss the social and philosophical implications of the four-dimensional view of evolution. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors engage the contrarieties of the fictional "I.M.," or Ifcha Mistabra -- Aramaic for "the opposite conjecture" -- refining their arguments against I.M.'s vigorous counterarguments. The lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski's lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors' points. (shrink)
Conscientious objection has spurred impassioned debate in many Western countries. Some Norwegian general practitioners (GPs) refuse to refer for abortion. Little is know about how the GPs carry out their refusals in practice, how they perceive their refusal to fit with their role as professionals, and how refusals impact patients. Empirical data can inform subsequent normative analysis.
Nietzsche’s cardinal ideas - God is Dead, Übermensch and Eternal Return of the Same - are approached here from the perspective of psychiatric phenomenology rather than that of philosophy. A revised diagnosis of the philosopher’s mental illness as manic-depressive psychosis forms the premise for discussion. Nietzsche conceived the above thoughts in close proximity to his first manic psychotic episode, in the summer of 1881, while staying in Sils-Maria (Swiss Alps). It was the anniversary of his father’s death, and also of (...) the break-up of his friendship with Wagner, the most important relationship in his life. Despite having been acquainted with these ideas from reading philosophy and literature, Nietzsche created them de novo and imbued them with very personal meaning. Surprisingly, he never defined or explained his cardinal thoughts in his published writings, perhaps because rationally he could not. A resultant hermeneutic vacuum provoked an avalanche of interpretations in secondary literature. But could these ideas be delusions? A current definition of delusion is challenged, and an attempt is made at a limited comparison between delusion, scientific/philosophical doctrine and poetic creation. It is also argued that psychosis is a way of re-living trauma, and delusions can therefore be seen as a form of reasoning that helps to make sense of the world in a state of psychotic disintegration. Far from being false beliefs, delusions are a true expression of one’s innermost feelings and pain, albeit indirectly. The relationship between early parental loss and repeated trauma, psychosis and creativity is also explored. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology , Volume 8, Edition 1 May 2008. (shrink)
The goal of this dissertation is to demonstrate that construals of our emotional responses to fictions as irrational or merely pseudo-emotional are not the only explanations available to us, and that necessary and sufficient conditions for an emotional response to a fiction can be established without abandoning either its intentionality or the assignment of a causal role to our beliefs. ;Colin Radford's claim that our emotional responses to fictions are irrational and inconsistent is challenged in two ways. First, distinctions can (...) be drawn between our reactions to fiction and indisputably irrational emotional reactions which preclude arriving at Radford's conclusion via an argument from analogy. Further, the conditions for rationality put forward in several analyses of emotion, ranging from that of David Hume to that of Ronald de Sousa, are not violated by our emotional responses to fictions. ;Kendall Walton's contention that such affective reactions are merely quasi-emotions is contested on the ground that the absence of the existentially committed beliefs which Walton allies with all genuine emotional responses does not demonstrate an absence of cognitive content. Existentially uncommitted evaluative beliefs, thoughts, and even beliefs about the world can be linked to our emotional experience of fictions, and can serve a function necessary to the identification of the emotion, a function which Walton assigns to the existentially committed belief. ;In our experience of fictions, the objects of our emotion are various. However, a direct response to a fictional entity or event is characterized in terms of Peter Lamarque's account: as a response to the content of a thought, a response to what has been thought or imagined rather than to the thought itself. The roles played both by evaluative beliefs and beliefs about what can occur in the world are investigated and found to constitute necessary conditions for an emotional response to a fiction. An account of the role of the imagination, which borrows from Boruah, David Novitz, and Susan Feagin, provides another condition which, together with the two preceding, appears sufficient for such a response. (shrink)
Sophisticated senator and legislative onion. Whether or not you have ever heard of these things, we all have some intuition that one of them makes much less sense than the other. In this paper, we introduce a large dataset of human judgments about novel adjective-noun phrases. We use these data to test an approach to semantic deviance based on phrase representations derived with compositional distributional semantic methods, that is, methods that derive word meanings from contextual information, and approximate phrase meanings (...) by combining word meanings. We present several simple measures extracted from distributional representations of words and phrases, and we show that they have a significant impact on predicting the acceptability of novel adjective-noun phrases even when a number of alternative measures classically employed in studies of compound processing and bigram plausibility are taken into account. Our results show that the extent to which an attributive adjective alters the distributional representation of the noun is the most significant factor in modeling the distinction between acceptable and deviant phrases. Our study extends current applications of compositional distributional semantic methods to linguistically and cognitively interesting problems, and it offers a new, quantitatively precise approach to the challenge of predicting when humans will find novel linguistic expressions acceptable and when they will not. (shrink)
The intent of this chapter is to suspend the belief in the goodness of literacy -- our chirographic bias -- in order to gain a deeper understanding of how the engagement with texts structures human consciousness, and particularly the minds of children. In the following pages literacy (a term which in this chapter refers to the ability to read and produce written text) is discussed as a consciousness altering technology. A phenomenological analysis of the act of reading shows the child’s (...) engagement with texts as a perceptual as well as a symbolic event that builds upon but also alters children’s speech acts. Speaking and reading are both forms of language use, but with different configurations of perceptual and symbolic qualities. Children’s literature uses textual technology and, intentionally or not, participates in structuring children’s pre-literate minds. Some of its forms, such as picture books and early readers, are directly intended to bridge the gap between the pre-literate listener and the literate reader and ease the transition into the literate state. It is my hope that the phenomenological analysis of the experiences of speaking and reading might help us understand more clearly how children’s literature impacts the minds of children. Such an analysis can awaken a critical awareness of the power that letters wield as they shape the reader’s psychological reality, and it can sharpen our sense of wonder about the metamorphosis of language from speaking to writing. (shrink)
Particularly, but not exclusively, in Germany, concerns are uttered as to the consequences of modern biotechnological advances and their range of applications in the field of human genetics. Whereas the proponents of this research are mainly focussing on the possible knowledge that could be gained by understanding the causes of developmental processes and of disease on the molecular level, the critics fear the beginnings of a new eugenics movement. Without claiming a logical relationship between genetic sciences and eugenics movements, it (...) is nevertheless suggested in this article that a connection between both can become established when the distinction between scientifically validated statements on one hand and guiding hypotheses and assumptions on the other hand is blurred, as is observed particularly when scientists report their results to the public. This claim is demonstrated in comparisons between the current state of scientific knowledge on the role of genes in development and causation of diseases, and the way this is presented to the public. It is required that a debate on biotechnology should include reflections on the validity of claims made by scientists. (shrink)