The problem that confronts us when we try to compare the structure of discourse and explanation in different domains of knowledge is that no one is an insider in more than one field, and insider information is essential. An observer who is not immersed in the practice of a particular scholarship and who wants to understand it is at the mercy of the practitioners. Yet those practitioners are themselves mystified by a largely unexamined communal myth of how scholarship is (...) carried on. R. G. Collingwood, although primarily a philosopher, was immersed in the community of historians and understood how history is done, so that he has had an immense influence on our ideas about historiography. Every historian knows The Idea of History.1 He was also a metaphysician, yet his influence on scientists’ understanding of nature, and of science, has been nil, and it is a rare scientist indeed who has ever heard of Collingwood or read The Idea of Nature.2 Collingwood’s views of the structure of science had to be constructed in large part from the elaborate fictions created by scientists and by an earlier generation of philosophers and historians of science who participated in the Baconian myth of the hypothetical-deductive scheme. 1. See R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History .2. See Collingwood, The Idea of Nature . R. C. Lewontin is Alexander Agassiz Professor at Harvard University. He is an experimental and theoretical evolutionary geneticist who has also worked extensively on epistemological issues in biology. He is the author of The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change and, with Richard Levins, of The Dialectical Biologist . His current research concerns the nature of genetic variation among individuals within species. (shrink)
Compassion is a prosocial motivation that is critical to the development and survival of the human species. Cultivating compassion involves developing deep wisdom, insight, and understanding into the nature and causes of human suffering; and wisdom and commitment to take positive action to alleviate suffering. This perspective piece discusses how compassion relates to the context of modern technology, which has developed at a rapid pace in recent decades. While advances in digital technology build on humankind’s vast capacity to develop practical (...) tools that promise to enrich our lives and improve our social connections, in reality the effects are often far from benign. The motives underlying the development of many contemporary digital platforms seem rooted in competitiveness and capitalism; while modern social media and online platforms are having a profound and pervasive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of humans around the globe. Nonetheless, digital technology holds considerable potential to promote compassionate insight, wisdom, and prosocial behavior. We reflect on the current state of technology within human society and examine the notion of compassionate technologies; discuss how contemporary paradigm shifts such as the inclusive design movement may be harnessed to build tools and platforms that promote collective good and increase prosocial behavior; and highlight examples of initiatives that are harnessing modern technology to advance democracy, collective knowledge, and personal freedoms and agency. (shrink)
This is a companion paper to my preceding one on Harriot's experimentations in the field of the sign-rule of multiplication in algebra. Cardano had earlier attacked the conventional rule in a chapter of his De Aliza regula liber, published in 1570 as an appendix to the second edition of his Ars magna. He returned to the subject in a brief tract, published nearly a century later in his collected works as Sermo de plus et minus. Only Cardano's valid contention (...) that the standard ‘proof’ of the accustomed sign-rule was faulty made impact, in the Euclidean background to which the ‘proof’ belonged. His cause was to preserve the purity of the Euclidean tradition. It overshadows the true aim in the De Aliza chapter, but the Sermo reveals it plainly as far from retrograde: he wished to retain all the new techniques of algebra that brought in not only ‘minus’ quantities but also their square roots, and to escape the ‘impossible’ status of these last. This the rebel sign-rule did for him by making every root of a ‘minus’ just another ‘minus’. (shrink)
The author interprets those facets of major American thinkers which resemble, lead to, or complement the insights of Zen; and if a pedantic scholar might quarrel with some of his readings, his own intention and insights are refreshing and provocative. Beginning with Jefferson, and passing through Thoreau, James, Peirce, Santayana, Dewey, and others, he traces the Zen-like themes to their most complete expression in G. M. Mead. In - their regard for non-dualism, participation, responsibility, dynamism, openness, concern for the "everyday," (...) compassion, zest, and being-at-one with self, others, and nature, Ames finds that Zen and American thought meet, and suggests that their differences can be mutually fertilizing. This gentle book is a success in a field too often plagued by non-conformist and cultish postures. --R. C. D. (shrink)
Existential analysis, according to Binswanger, is not a psychopathology, and is not necessarily therapeutic; it is not founded upon the medical standards of "sick" and "healthy." The eight writers in this volume illustrate that the suspension of such norms widens and deepens the field of philosophical anthropology, and hold that we may talk meaningfully about the "human condition." Taking "alienation" as an aspect of that condition, four of the authors explore some of its manifestations and its place in the (...) totality of experience. As a whole, the volume is bold and engaging, and balances scholarly rigor with adventurous speculation.--R. C. D. (shrink)
Professor Geoffrey Lewis Lewis was a pioneer in Turkish Studies in Britain and an internationally admired scholar in the field. In considering the body of his work as a whole, two consistent themes emerge, two driving forces behind it: first, a deep, continuing fascination with language, and now especially with Turkish; and second, a rooted and constantly developing love of Turkey and its people and a concomitant desire to bring its language, history, and culture to the attention of the (...) English-speaking world by a variety of means, all of them grounded in a thorough scholarly engagement with his subject. (shrink)
We consider the simple case of a nonrelativistic charged harmonic oscillator in one dimension, to investigate how to take into account the radiation reaction and vacuum fluctuation forces within the Schrödinger equation. The effects of both zero-point and thermal classical electromagnetic vacuum fields, characteristic of stochastic electrodynamics, are separately considered. Our study confirms that the zero-point electromagnetic fluctuations are dynamically related to the momentum operator p=−i ℏ ∂/∂ x used in the Schrödinger equation.
An often-overlooked characteristic of the human mind is its propensity to wander. Despite growing interest in the science of mind-wandering, most studies operationalize mind-wandering by its task-unrelated contents. But these contents may be orthogonal to the processes that determine how thoughts unfold over time, remaining stable or wandering from one topic to another. In this chapter, we emphasize the importance of incorporating such processes into current definitions of mind-wandering, and propose that mind-wandering and other forms of spontaneous thought (such as (...) dreaming and creativity) are mental states that arise and transition relatively freely due to an absence of constraints on cognition. We review existing psychological, philosophical and neuroscientific research on spontaneous thought through the lens of this framework, and call for additional research into the dynamic properties of the mind and brain. (shrink)
We make a brief review of the Kramers escape rate theory for the probabilistic motion of a particle in a potential well U(x), and under the influence of classical fluctuation forces. The Kramers theory is extended in order to take into account the action of the thermal and zero-point random electromagnetic fields on a charged particle. The result is physically relevant because we get a non-null escape rate over the potential barrier at low temperatures (T → 0). It is found (...) that, even if the mean energy is much smaller than the barrier height, the classical particle can escape from the potential well due to the action of the zero-point fluctuating fields. These stochastic effects can be used to give a classical interpretation to some quantum tunneling phenomena. Relevant experimental data are used to illustrate the theoretical results. (shrink)
Autobiographical memory and the self are closely linked. AM retrieval in depression is characterized by a lack of specificity, suggesting an impairment of episodic AM. Autonoetic consciousness and self-perspective, which are critical to episodic AM, have never been addressed in depression. Twenty-one depressed inpatients and 21 matched controls were given an episodic AM task designed to assess positive and negative memories regarding specificity, autonoetic consciousness , and self-perspective . For specificity, “remember”, and “field” responses, ANOVAs revealed a main group (...) effect and a group × valence interaction. Between groups, patients showed lower scores than controls for positive memories. Within groups, patients showed greater scores for negative memories, and controls showed greater scores for positive memories. There is a global episodic AM impairment of positive memories in depression regarding specificity, autonoetic consciousness, and self-perspective. Our results suggest new cognitive interventions to improve the self-relevance of positive memories in depression. (shrink)
We propose a Quantum Field Theory description of beams on a Mach–Zehnder interferometer and apply the method to describe Interaction Free Measurements, concluding that there is a change of momentum of the fields in IFMs. Analysing the factors involved in the probability of emission of low-energy photons, we argue that they do not yield meaningful contributions to the probabilities of the IFMs.
A coordinate-free formulation is established for (semi) classical particle-field interactions. The exterior language of spacetime chains and De-Rham currents enables the description to include extended strings and membranes besides point particles. Treating physical fields in terms of sections of particular bundles, a unified account of interactions is presented in terms of an intrinsic action principle on a bundle of jets over spacetime. The theory is illustrated by considering the specific model of point particles with intrinsic spin covariantly coupled to (...) theU(1) andSL(2, C) connections describing the electromagnetic and gravitational fields, respectively. The notion of dual spin is examined in this context and coupled equations for this particle-field system are explicitly derived in a local chart. Attention is drawn to the global implications of the theory. (shrink)
The development of the Functional Genomics Investigation Ontology (FuGO) is a collaborative, international effort that will provide a resource for annotating functional genomics investigations, including the study design, protocols and instrumentation used, the data generated and the types of analysis performed on the data. FuGO will contain both terms that are universal to all functional genomics investigations and those that are domain specific. In this way, the ontology will serve as the “semantic glue” to provide a common understanding of data (...) from across these disparate data sources. In addition, FuGO will reference out to existing mature ontologies to avoid the need to duplicate these resources, and will do so in such a way as to enable their ease of use in annotation. This project is in the early stages of development; the paper will describe efforts to initiate the project, the scope and organization of the project, the work accomplished to date, and the challenges encountered, as well as future plans. (shrink)
We discuss the question of whether or not a general Weyl structure is a suitable mathematical model of space–time. This is an issue that has been in debate since Weyl formulated his unified field theory for the first time. We do not present the discussion from the point of view of a particular unification theory, but instead from a more general standpoint, in which the viability of such a structure as a model of space–time is investigated. Our starting point (...) is the well known axiomatic approach to space–time given by Elhers, Pirani and Schild. In this framework, we carry out an exhaustive analysis of what is required for a consistent definition for proper time and show that such a definition leads to the prediction of the so-called “second clock effect”. We take the view that if, based on experience, we were to reject space–time models predicting this effect, this could be incorporated as the last axiom in the EPS approach. Finally, we provide a proof that, in this case, we are led to a Weyl integrable space–time as the most general structure that would be suitable to model space–time. (shrink)
Pain is an important focus for consciousness research because it is an avenue for exploring somatic awareness, emotion, and the genesis of subjectivity. In principle, pain is awareness of tissue trauma, but pain can occur in the absence of identifiable injury, and sometimes substantive tissue injury produces no pain. The purpose of this paper is to help bridge pain research and consciousness studies. It reviews the basic sensory neurophysiology associated with tissue injury, including transduction, transmission, modulation, and central representation. In (...) addition, it highlights the central mechanisms for the emotional aspects of pain, demonstrating the physiological link between tissue trauma and mechanisms of emotional arousal. Finally, we discuss several current issues in the field of pain research that bear on central issues in consciousness studies, such as sickness and sense of self. (shrink)
Toward A Sociological Imagination builds on the ideas C. Wright Mills expressed in The Sociological Imagination for an approach to the scientific method broad enough to open up to the full range of knowledge within the sociology discipline. In this book, nine sociologists and one philosopher provide detailed tests of the utility of the approach within diverse substantive sociological areas.