The truth can be dangerous. It is because they realise this that the Roman Catholic Church forbid cremation. Cremation is, of course, theologically permissible, and in times of epidemic the Church allows it. But in normal times it is forbidden — Why? The reason is that the Church fears the influence of the image associated with it. It is difficult enough for the faithful to accept the notion of bodily resurrection after having seen a burial . But the image of (...) the whole body being consumed by flames and changing within a few minutes to a heap of ashes is an even more powerful apparent contradiction of the theological claim of bodily resurrection at the Day of Judgement. In short, instead of relying only on abstract theological argument, which very likely would not convince their flock in any case, the Church deals with this threat to faith by attacking the concrete image. (shrink)
How is it possible to think new thoughts? What is creativity and can science explain it? And just how did Coleridge dream up the creatures of The Ancient Mariner? When The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms was first published, Margaret A. Boden's bold and provocative exploration of creativity broke new ground. Boden uses examples such as jazz improvisation, chess, story writing, physics, and the music of Mozart, together with computing models from the field of artificial intelligence to uncover the (...) nature of human creativity in the arts. The second edition of The Creative Mind has been updated to include recent developments in artificial intelligence, with a new preface, introduction and conclusion by the author. It is an essential work for anyone interested in the creativity of the human mind. (shrink)
In a compelling chronicle of her search to understand Beauvoir's philosophy in The Second Sex, Margaret A. Simons offers a unique perspective on Beauvoir's wide-ranging contribution to twentieth-century thought. She details the discovery of the origins of Beauvoir's existential philosophy in her handwritten diary from 1927; uncovers evidence of the sexist exclusion of Beauvoir from the philosophical canon; reveals evidence that the African-American writer Richard Wright provided Beauvoir with the theoretical model of oppression that she used in The Second (...) Sex; shows the influence of The Second Sex in transforming Sartre's philosophy and in laying the theoretical foundations of radical feminism; and addresses feminist issues of racism, motherhood, and lesbian identity. Simons also draws on her experience as a Women's Liberation organizer as she witnessed how women used The Second Sex in defining the foundations of radical feminism. Bringing together her work as both activist and scholar, Simons offers a highly original contribution to the renaissance of Beauvoir scholarship. (shrink)
The applications of Artificial Intelligence lie all around us; in our homes, schools and offices, in our cinemas, in art galleries and - not least - on the Internet. The results of Artificial Intelligence have been invaluable to biologists, psychologists, and linguists in helping to understand the processes of memory, learning, and language from a fresh angle.As a concept, Artificial Intelligence has fuelled and sharpened the philosophical debates concerning the nature of the mind, intelligence, and the uniqueness of human beings. (...)Margaret A. Boden reviews the philosophical and technological challenges raised by Artificial Intelligence, considering whether programs could ever be really intelligent, creative or even conscious, and shows how the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence has helped us to appreciate how human and animal minds are possible. (shrink)
There are vast ethical, legal, and social differences between natural death and euthanasia. In Death Talk Margaret Somerville argues that legalizing euthanasia would cause irreparable harm to society's value of respect for human life, which in secular societies is carried primarily by the institutions of law and medicine. Death has always been a central focus of the discussion that we engage in as individuals and as a society in searching for meaning in life. Moreover, we accommodate the inevitable reality (...) of death into the living of our lives by discussing it, that is, through "death talk." Until the last twenty years this discussion occurred largely as part of the practice of organized religion. Today, in industrialized western societies, the euthanasia debate provides a context for such discussion and is part of the search for a new societal-cultural paradigm. Seeking to balance the "death talk" articulated in the euthanasia debate with "life talk," Somerville identifies the very serious harms for individuals and society that would result from accepting euthanasia. A sense of the unfolding euthanasia debate is captured through the inclusion of Somerville's responses to or commentaries on several other authors' contributions. (shrink)
What is the mind? How does it work? How does it influence behavior? Some psychologists hope to answer such questions in terms of concepts drawn from computer science and artificial intelligence. They test their theories by modeling mental processes in computers. This book shows how computer models are used to study many psychological phenomena--including vision, language, reasoning, and learning. It also shows that computer modeling involves differing theoretical approaches. Computational psychologists disagree about some basic questions. For instance, should the mind (...) be modeled by digital computers, or by parallel-processing systems more like brains? Do computer programs consist of meaningless patterns, or do they embody (and explain) genuine meaning? (shrink)
ABSTRACTI argue that Iris Marion Young’s concept of political responsibility is well suited for transnational feminism analyses. Young’s work reveals the intersections of ethical, social, and political theory; her model of political responsibility articulates a view of shared social and political responsibility for the structural conditions of exploitation and domination. Young’s theory of political responsibility provides an account that views responsibility for social injustice as both deeply personal, and shared. She argues that we can only discharge our political responsibility by (...) engaging with others in collective actions that seek to change unjust situation and institutions. I argue that Young’s model of political responsibility, because of its focus on structural injustice, provides a more nuanced account of global justice than either a human rights framework, or a cosmopolitan framework. Because Young’s theory of political responsibility focuses on structural injustice we can use it to analyze inequalities and asymmetries of power with respect to gender and in terms of structural injustice. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary collection of classical and contemporary readings provides a clear and comprehensive guide to the many hotly-debated philosophical issues at the heart of artificial intelligence.
Our physical ecosystem is not indestructible and we have obligations to hold it in trust for future generations. The same is true of our metaphysical ecosystem - the values, principles, attitudes, beliefs, and shared stories on which we have founded our society. In Bird on an Ethics Wire, Margaret Somerville explores the values needed to maintain a world that reasonable people would want to live in and pass on to their descendants. Somerville addresses the conflicts between people who espouse (...) "progressive" values and those who uphold "traditional" ones by casting her attention on the debates surrounding "birth" and "death" and shows how words are often used as weapons. She proposes that we should seek to experience amazement, wonder, and awe to enrich our lives and help us to find meaning. Such experiences, Somerville believes, can change how we see the world and live our lives, and affect the decisions we make, especially regarding values and ethics. They can help us to cope with physical or existential suffering, and ultimately put us in touch with the sacred - in either its secular or religious form - which protects what we must not destroy. Experiencing amazement, wonder, and awe, Somerville concludes, can also generate hope, without which our spirit dies. Both individuals and societies need hope, a sense of connection to the future, if the world is to make the best decisions about values in the battles that constitute the current culture wars. (shrink)
Since her death in 1986 and the publication of her letters and diaries in 1990, interest in the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir has never been greater. In this engaging and timely volume, Margaret A. Simons and an international group of philosophers present 16 essays that reveal Beauvoir as one of the century’s most important and influential thinkers. As they set Beauvoir’s work into dialogue with Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Foucault, Levinas, and others, these essays consider questions such as Beauvoir’s (...) philosophical relationship with Sartre; her ethic of the erotic; her views on marriage, motherhood, and female friendship; and her interpretations of oppression and liberation. This book discusses the full range of Beauvoir’s work, including The Second Sex, her unpublished diaries, autobiographical writings, novels, and philosophical essays, and broadens the scope and interpretive context of her unique philosophy. Contributors are Nancy Bauer, Debra Bergoffen, Suzanne Laba Cataldi, Edward Fullbrook, Eva Gothlin, Sara Heinämaa, Laura Hengehold, Stacy Keltner, Michèle Le Doeuff, Ann Murphy, Shannon M. Mussett, Margaret A. Simons, Ursula Tidd, Andrea Veltman, Karen Vintges, Julie Ward, Gail Weiss. (shrink)
This new volume in the acclaimed Oxford Readings in Philosophy sereis offers a selection of the most important philosophical work being done in the new and fast-growing interdisciplinary area of artificial life. Artificial life research seeks to synthesize the characteristics of life by artificial means, particularly employing computer technology. The essays here explore such fascinating themes as the nature of life, the relation between life and mind, and the limits of technology.
Margaret Boden presents a series of essays in which she explores the nature of creativity in a wide range of art forms. Creativity is the generation of novel, surprising, and valuable ideas. Boden identifies three forms of creativity each eliciting a different form of surprise.
The topic of this chapter, the early philosophical influence of Henri Bergson (1859-1941) on Simone de Beauvoir, may surprise those who remember Beauvoir’s reference to Bergson in her Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter where she denies Bergson’s importance. She writes there of her interests in 1926: “I preferred literature to philosophy, and I would not have been at all pleased if someone had prophesized that I would become a kind of Bergson; I didn’t want to speak with that abstract voice (...) which, whenever I heard it, failed to move me.” But in this case, as in so many others, Beauvoir’s diaries present a very different picture. Her unpublished 1926 diary, written when Beauvoir was eighteen years old and beginning her study of philosophy, contains several pages of quotations from Bergson’s Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness (1889), which Beauvoir describes, in an entry dated August 16, as “a great intellectual intoxication.” The entry continues: “whereas in reading other philosophers I have the impression of witnessing more or less logical constructions, here finally I am touching palpable reality and encountering life. Not only myself, but art, the truths suggested by poets, and everything that I studied this year is magnificently explained. Simply a call to intuition…. in short the method that I spontaneously apply when I want to know myself and the most difficult problems disappear. How many things [there are] in the 180 pages of Bergson’s The immediate givens of consciousness” Intriqued by this diary passage, I began analyzing Beauvoir’s early philosophy for evidence of Bergson’s influence, focusing on Bergson’s three most important texts: Time and FreeWill (1889), Matter and Memory: An Essay on the Relation of the Body to the Mind (1896), and Creative Evolution (1907). My analysis uncovered evidence of Bergson’s influence in several of Beauvoir’s important early texts, especially She Came to Stay, Beauvoir’s metaphysical novel written from 1937 to 1941, but also Beauvoir’s essays in existential ethics and The Second Sex (1949). Indeed Bergson now seems to me to be a key to understanding the roots of Beauvoir’s philosophy. In this paper, I will narrow my focus to Bergson’s philosophical methodology, and its influence on She Came to Stay, identifying three Bergsonian elements of Beauvoir’s philosophical methodology. First of all, Beauvoir takes seriously Bergson's criticism of intellectual understanding and accepts his implicit challenge to do philosophy through the novel. Secondly, Beauvoir shares with Bergson a methodological interest in exposing distortions in perception and thinking. Finally, they both rely on a methodological turn to immediate experience, which discloses our freedom. Beauvoir did not follow Bergson completely or uncritically. She did not follow him, for example, in the vitalist system building of Creative Evolution or the mysticism of his later work, Two Sources of Morality and Religion. In Beauvoir’s short story cycle, When Things of the Spirit Come First, written from 1935-37, which Beauvoir describes as “clarifying the genesis” of her later work, (QPS, viii) she satirizes her early intellectual passions, including Paul Claudel’s morality of feminine self-sacrifice, André Breton’s Surrealism, and Bergson's philosophy. Furthermore, Beauvoir’s early work, including She Came to Stay, focuses on an aspect of reality ignored by Bergson’s early work, i.e. the problem of the opposition of self and other. (shrink)
Feminist scholars reacted to news of Beauvoir's death in 1986 by initiating a reevaluation of her life's work, a task encouraged by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, her adopted daughter, who edited for posthumous publication many of Beauvoir's personal notebooks and letters to Sartre. Some of the most exciting new interpretations of Beauvoir's philosophy that have resulted are brought together here for the first time; many of them, indeed, were written expressly for this first volume of essays on Beauvoir's philosophy (...) written since her death. (shrink)
The posthumously published diaries and letters of Beauvoir and Sartre challenge the traditional account of Beauvoir as Sartre's philosophical follower. They show Sartre drawing on Beauvoir's account of relations with the Other in her metaphysical novel, She Came to Stay, as he began writing Being and Nothingness, and point to an unexplored Beauvoirean lineage of existentialism, including Bergson as well as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Husserl and Heidegger, and the African-American writer, Richard Wright.
This book offers an historical and critical guide to the concepts of the post-modern and the post-industrial. It brings admirable clarity and thoroughness to a discussion of the many different uses made of the term post-modern across a number of different disciplines (including literature, architecture, art history, philosophy, anthropology and geography). It also analyses the concept of the post-industrial society to which the concept of the post-modern has often been related. Dr Rose discusses the work of many theorists in the (...) area, including Hassan, Lyotard, Jameson and the architectural historian Charles Jencks, and also looks at analyses and uses of the concepts of the post-modern and post-industrial by Frampton, Portoghesi, Peter Fuller and others. (shrink)
Addressing central questions in the debate about Foucault's usefulness for politics, including his rejection of universal norms, his conception of power and power-knowledge, his seemingly contradictory position on subjectivity and his ...
ABSTRACT This is a personal reflection on what I have learnt as an academic, researching, teaching and participating in the public square in Bioethics for over four decades. I describe a helix metaphor for understanding the evolution of values and the current “culture wars” between “progressive” and “conservative” values adherents, the uncertainty people’s “mixed values packages” engender, and disagreement in prioritizing individual rights and the “common good”. I propose, as a way forward, that individual and collective experiences of “amazement, wonder (...) and awe” have the power to enrich our lives, help us to find meaning and sometimes to bridge the secular/religious divide and experience a shared moral universe. They can change our worldview, our decisions regarding values and ethics, and whether we live our lives mainly as just an individual – a “me” – or also as a member of a larger community – a “We”. I summarize in an equation – “The Wonder Equation” – what is necessary to reduce or resolve some current hostile values conflicts in order to facilitate such a transition. It will require revisiting and reaffirming the traditional values we still need as both individuals and societies and accommodating them with certain contemporary “progressive„ values. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy seems to conflict with traditional philosophical methodology. For example, some uses of the concept of gender by feminist philosophers seem to commit the genetic fallacy. I argue that use of the concept of gender need not commit the genetic fallacy, but that the concept of gender is problematic on other grounds.
Simone de Beauvoir’s early enthusiasm for the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859-1941)—denied in her 1958 autobiography, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter—is a surprising discovery in her 1927 handwritten student diary, as I reported in 1999 and explored at more length in 2003 (Simons 1999; Simons 2003). Discovered by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir after Beauvoir’s death in 1986 and now housed in the Bibliothèque nationale, Beauvoir’s student diary first appeared in print in the 2006 volume, Diary of a Philosophy Student: (...) 1926-27, followed in 2008 by the French publication, Cahiers de jeunesse: 1926-1930. Since my 1999 analysis of the 1927 diary, the publication of the 1926 diary and other posthumously discovered texts has deepened and complicated the evidence of Bergson’s influence.1 In this chapter, I propose to take up and expand upon my earlier analyses in the light of this new evidence, arguing that Beauvoir’s methodological turn to the description of immediate experience, especially her method of writing philosophy in literature and her lifelong interest in describing the subjective experience of time, drew upon Bergson’s philosophy before her first encounter with Husserl’s phenomenology which may have come as early as 1927; that her concept of bad faith and interest in exposing distortions in perception and thinking, as in the chapters in The Second Sex on myths about women, drew upon Bergson’s philosophy long before she had read Marx; and that her earliest formulation of the problem of the Other drew upon Bergson’s distinction between the “social self and the deep self,” two years before she met Jean-Paul Sartre and two decades before she first read Hegel’s Phenomenology. (shrink)
Review of: Margaret A. Boden, Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, xlvii+1631, cloth $225, ISBN 0-19-924144-9. - Mind as Machine is Margaret Boden’s opus magnum. For one thing, it comes in two massive volumes of nearly 1700 pages, ... But it is not just the opus magnum in simple terms of size, but also a truly crowning achievement of half a century’s career in cognitive science.
This paper explores contract cheating from the perspectives of researchers at three post-secondary institutions in Alberta, Canada, describing their efforts to develop and advance awareness of, interventions against, and responses to contract cheating at their respective institutions. Contract cheating is when a third party produces or completes academic work for a student, and the student then presents the work as their own. The student might have personal connections to the third party, or the student might pay a fee and outsource (...) the academic work to the third party. All three institutions are experiencing an increase in the incidence of contract cheating, which is consistent with trends at colleges and universities across Canada and the world. Contract cheating is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing one, due in part to students having access to thousands of online companies offering to help them with their academic work. This paper examines personal narratives from four researchers and identifies five key themes: types of contract cheating, students, awareness, evidence and policy implications, and educational development. (shrink)