How we feel is as vital to our survival as how we think. This claim, based on the premise that emotions are largely adaptive, serves as the organizing theme of Why We Need Religion. This book is a novel pathway in a well-trodden field of religious studies and philosophy of religion. Stephen Asma argues that, like art, religion has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder (...) and the sublime--we can feel the sacred depths of nature--but there are many forms of human suffering and vulnerability that are beyond the reach of help from science. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike secular authors who praise religion's ethical and civilizing function, Asma argues that its core value lies in its emotionally therapeutic power. -/- No theorist of religion has failed to notice the importance of emotions in spiritual and ritual life, but truly systematic research has only recently delivered concrete data on the neurology, psychology, and anthropology of the emotional systems. This very recent "affective turn" has begun to map out a powerful territory of embodied cognition. Why We Need Religion incorporates new data from these affective sciences into the philosophy of religion. It goes on to describe the way in which religion manages those systems--rage, play, lust, care, grief, and so on. Finally, it argues that religion is still the best cultural apparatus for doing this adaptive work. In short, the book is a Darwinian defense of religious emotions and the cultural systems that manage them. (shrink)
These papers are based on a Symposium at the COGSCI Conference in 2010. 1. Naturalizing the Mammalian Mind 2. Modularity in Cognitive Psychology and Affective Neuroscience 3. Affective Neuroscience and the Philosophy of Self 4. Affective Neuroscience and Law.
Even Jesus had a favorite -- Saints and favorites -- Fairness, tribes, and nephews -- Classic cases of favoritism -- To thy own tribe be true: biological favoritism -- Moral gravity -- The biochemistry of favoritism -- Humans are wired for favoritism -- A healthy addiction -- Flexible favoritism -- Kin selection -- Rational or emotional motives -- Conflicting brain systems -- Facts and values -- In praise of exceptions -- Building the grid of impartiality -- Going off the grid (...) -- Friendship and favoritism -- Reasonable favoritism -- "But, Dad, that's not fair!" -- The fusion of feelings and ideas -- Sowing the seeds of confusion: sharing -- Sowing the seeds of confusion: open minds -- Envy and fairness -- Excellence, fairness, and favoritism -- The circle of favors: global perspectives -- Chinese favoritism -- Face culture -- Indian favoritism -- Disentangling nepotism and corruption -- Disentangling tribalism and tragedy -- "Your people shall be my people?" -- Minorities, majorities, and favoritism -- Affirmative action and favoritism -- The finite stretch -- Feeling the stones with your feet -- Because you're mine, I walk the line -- The virtues of favoritism -- You can't love humanity. You can only love people -- The future of favoritism -- The archbishop and the chambermaid. (shrink)
The article discusses the evolutionary development of horror and fear in animals and humans, including in regard to cognition and physiological aspects of the brain. An overview of the social aspects of emotions, including the role that emotions play in interpersonal relations and the role that empathy plays in humans' ethics, is provided. An overview of the psychological aspects of monsters, including humans' simultaneous repulsion and interest in horror films that depict monsters, is also provided.
Philosophers and scientists have historically conceptualized race according to two main metaphors; internal differentiation (theological, philosophical and genetic), and external differentiation (environmental). This paper examines these metaphors and theories in Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and also Darwin and the subsequent racial theories of recent history. The paper argues that the externalist metaphor has a more liberal and potentially egalitarian tradition.
Epistemic category violations and hybrids arouse cognitive attention, and form sticky cultural memes that help social in-group bonding. This article discusses the cognitive science around monster hybrids and adds the important missing ingredient of affective/emotional systems.
Hailed as "a feast" (Washington Post) and "a modern-day bestiary" (The New Yorker), Stephen Asma's On Monsters is a wide-ranging cultural and conceptual history of monsters--how they have evolved over time, what functions they have served for us, and what shapes they are likely to take in the future. Beginning at the time of Alexander the Great, the monsters come fast and furious--Behemoth and Leviathan, Gog and Magog, Satan and his demons, Grendel and Frankenstein, circus freaks and headless children, (...) right up to the serial killers and terrorists of today and the post-human cyborgs of tomorrow. Monsters embody our deepest anxieties and vulnerabilities, Asma argues, but they also symbolize the mysterious and incoherent territory beyond the safe enclosures of rational thought. Exploring sources as diverse as philosophical treatises, scientific notebooks, and novels, Asma unravels traditional monster stories for the clues they offer about the inner logic of an era's fears and fascinations. In doing so, he illuminates the many ways monsters have become repositories for those human qualities that must be repudiated, externalized, and defeated. (shrink)
Imagination, like other higher cognition, is often thought to arise after the evolution of language. Stephen Asma argues instead that imagination is much older and forms a kind of early cognition --harvesting sensory, motor and affective impressions, and generating novel generate-and-test information.
The concepts of form and function have traditionally been defined in terms of biology and then extended to other disciplines. Stephen T. Asma examines the various interpretations of form and function in science and philosophy, reflecting on the philosophical presuppositions underlying the work of Geoffroy, Cuvier, Darwin, and others. -/- In the continental tradition of Canguilhem and Foucault, Asma's treatment of the historical form/function dispute analyzes the complex interactions among ideologies, metaphysical commitments, and research programs. Following Form and (...) Function is a significant contribution to the history of science, history of philosophy, and disputes within contemporary biology. (shrink)
Tracing the leading role of emotions in the evolution of the mind, a philosopher and a psychologist pair up to reveal how thought and culture owe less to our faculty for reason than to our capacity to feel. -/- Many accounts of the human mind concentrate on the brain’s computational power. Yet, in evolutionary terms, rational cognition emerged only the day before yesterday. For nearly 200 million years before humans developed a capacity to reason, the emotional centers of the brain (...) were hard at work. If we want to properly understand the evolution of the mind, we must explore this more primal capability that we share with other animals: the power to feel. -/- Emotions saturate every thought and perception with the weight of feelings. The Emotional Mind reveals that many of the distinctive behaviors and social structures of our species are best discerned through the lens of emotions. Even the roots of so much that makes us uniquely human—art, mythology, religion—can be traced to feelings of caring, longing, fear, loneliness, awe, rage, lust, playfulness, and more. -/- From prehistoric cave art to the songs of Hank Williams, Stephen T. Asma and Rami Gabriel explore how the evolution of the emotional mind stimulated our species’ cultural expression in all its rich variety. Bringing together insights and data from philosophy, biology, anthropology, neuroscience, and psychology, The Emotional Mind offers a new paradigm for understanding what it is that makes us so unique. (shrink)
In this paper, I review and compare major literature on goals in argumentation scholarship, aiming to answer the question of how to take the different goals of arguers into account when analysing and evaluating public political arguments. On the basis of the review, I suggest to differentiate between the different goals along two important distinctions: first, distinguish between goals which are intrinsic to argumentation and goals which are extrinsic to it and second distinguish between goals of the act of arguing (...) and goals of argumentative interactions. Furthermore, I propose to analyse public political arguments as multi-purposive activity types and reconstruct the argumentative exchanges as a series of simultaneous discussions. This enables us to examine public political arguments from a perspective in which the intrinsic goals of argumentation are in principle instrumental for the achievement of the socio-political purposes of argumentation, and consequently, it makes our assessment of the argumentative quality of the argument also indicative of the quality of the socio-political processes to which the arguments contribute. (shrink)
In today’s ‘networked’ public sphere, arguers are faced with countless controversies roaming out there. Knowing what is at stake at any point in time, and keeping under control the contribution one’s arguments make to the different interrelated issues requires careful craft Keeping in touch with Pragma-Dialectics. In honor of Frans H. van Eemeren. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2011). In this paper, I explore the difficulty of determining what is at stake at any moment of the argumentative situation and explore the challenge (...) that that creates for examining the strategic shape of arguments. I argue that a meaningful examination of networked argumentative encounters requires that the boundaries of an encounter remain ‘fluid. In dealing with the fluid boundaries, I suggest to identify “argumentative associates” and “standing standpoints”. (shrink)
This paper aims at creating an adequate theoretical basis for a systematic integration of institutional insights into the pragma-dialectical analysis of argumentative exchanges that occur in institutionalised contexts. The argumentative practice of Prime Minister’s Question Time in the British House of Commons is examined, as a case in point, in order to illustrate how the knowledge of the characteristics of an institution, its rules and conventions can be integrated into the pragma-dialectical analysis. The paper highlights the role that theoretical concepts (...) and tools such as strategic manoeuvring, argumentative activity types and dialectical profiles play in this integration. (shrink)
-/- Background: Nurses who provide aggressive care often experience the ethical challenge of needing to preserve the hope of seriously ill patients and their families without providing false hope. -/- Research objectives: The purpose of this inquiry was to explore nurses’ moral competence related to fostering hope in patients and their families within the context of aggressive technological care. A secondary purpose was to understand how this competence is shaped by the social–moral space of nurses’ work in order to capture (...) how competencies may reflect an adaptation to a less than ideal work environment. -/- Research design: A critical qualitative approach was used. -/- Participants: Fifteen graduate nursing students from various practice areas participated. -/- Ethical considerations: After receiving ethics approval from the university, signed informed consent was obtained from participants before they were interviewed. -/- Findings: One overarching theme ‘Mediating the tension between providing false hope and destroying hope within biomedicine’ along with three subthemes, including ‘Reimagining hopeful possibilities’, ‘Exercising caution within the social–moral space of nursing’ and ‘Maintaining nurses’ own hope’, was identified, which represents specific aspects of this moral competency. -/- Discussion: This competency represents a complex, nuanced and multi-layered set of skills in which nurses must be well attuned to the needs and emotions of their patients and families, have the foresight to imagine possible future hopes, be able to acknowledge death, have advanced interpersonal skills, maintain their own hope and ideally have the capacity to challenge those around them when the provision of aggressive care is a form of providing false hope. -/- Conclusion: The articulation of moral competencies may support the development of nursing ethics curricula to prepare future nurses in a way that is sensitive to the characteristics of actual practice settings. (shrink)
Medical futility is often defined as providing inappropriate treatments that will not improve disease prognosis, alleviate physiological symptoms, or prolong survival. This understanding of medical futility is problematic because it rests on the final outcomes of procedures that are narrow and medically defined. In this article, Walker's `expressivecollaborative' model of morality is used to examine how certain critical care interventions that are considered futile actually have broader social functions surrounding death and dying. By examining cardiopulmonary resuscitation and life-sustaining intensive care (...) measures as moral practices, we show how so-called futile interventions offer ritualistic benefit to patients, families, and health care providers, helping to facilitate the process of dying. This work offers a new perspective on the ethical debate concerning medical futility and provides a means to explore how the social value of treatments may be as important in determining futility as medical scientific criteria. (shrink)
Due to the huge amount of data being generating from different sources, the analyzing and extracting of useful information from these data becomes a very complex task. The difficulty of dealing with big data optimization problems comes from many factors such as the high number of features, and the existing of lost data. The feature selection process becomes an important step in many data mining and machine learning algorithms to reduce the dimensionality of the optimization problems and increase the performance (...) of the classification or clustering algorithms. In this paper, a set of hybrid and efficient genetic algorithms are proposed to solve feature selection problem, when the handled data has a large feature size. The proposed algorithms use a new gene-weighted mechanism that can adaptively classify the features into strong relative features, weak or redundant features, and unstable features during the evolution of the algorithm. Based on this classification, the proposed algorithm gives the strong features high priority and the weak features less priority when generating new candidate solutions. In the same time, the proposed algorithm tries to more concentrate on unstable features that sometimes appear and sometimes disappear from the best solutions of the population. The performance of proposed algorithms is investigated by using different datasets and feature selection algorithms. The results show that our proposed algorithms can outperform the other feature selection algorithms and effectively enhance the classification performance over the tested datasets. (shrink)
Historians of Biology have divided nineteenth century naturalists into two basic camps, Functionalists and Structuralists. This division is supposed to demarcate the alternative causal presuppositions working beneath research programs. If one is functionally oriented, then organic form will be contingent upon the causal powers of the environment. If structurally oriented, one argues for nonfunctional mechanisms (e.g., internal laws of growth) to account for organic form.Traditionally, Darwin has been grouped with the functionalists because natural selection (an adaptational mechanism) plays the prominent (...) role in shaping organic form. In this paper, I sketch the dichotomy of functionalism versus structuralism and then argue that Darwin cannot be characterized adequately with this dichotomy. I argue that Darwin can incorporate both causal stories because he makes two important modifications to the traditional metaphysical presuppositions. I then offer some brief reflections on the import of Darwin's causal pluralism for the Philosophy of Science. (shrink)
Decentralization is predicted to increase popular participation in all processes, and especially decision-making at the local level. Through the analysis of interview data and secondary information, this claim was tested in five districts in Ghana. The evidence showed that contrary to theory, formal and informal procedures for participation are inadequate and irregular. Although the spaces for participation have been established and expanded, these are dominated by males with educated and professional backgrounds as well as the rich and influential with access (...) to power at the center. Women, the poor and disabled as well as people from rural peripheries are excluded from the process. Their exclusion is attributable to gender-insensitive decentralization policy, lack of socio-economic resources, low educational attainment, cultural practices, and patronage politics. The paper concludes that decentralization cannot compel the predicted level of participation unless these structural conditions inhibiting engagement and empowerment of especially marginalized groups are addressed. (shrink)
Legends thrive, but there is little tangible evidence about dozens of Malay kingdoms, which are said to have flourished long before the emergence of Melaka in the late 14th century. The Bujang Valley in South Kedah, for one, is Malaysia’s richest archaeological site. The valley is the guardian of countless hidden tales which are waiting to be unveiled. Here, the beliefs of the Malay ancestors were centred upon nature and the spirits which permeate every aspect of their lives. These beliefs (...) have been passed down to the next generation by the elderly. They have valuable information to share about their families and ethnicity of which written evidence is often scarce. Such tales may perish if they are not well documented. Oral history, adopted as its testimony, permits us to gather data not available in written records. Oral history techniques are able to elicit facts, feelings, and descriptions, contributing to social history. Moreover, this technique is able to reveal how individual values and actions shaped the past, and how the past shapes present-day values and actions. Findings include offerings made to appease the spirits of the rivers and lands. Other findings include the revelation of the Bujang Valley as the centre of knowledge. The establishment of madrasah – “sekolah pondok” brought about a better understanding of Islam resulting in the inherent beliefs in the supernatural to slowly diminish. All these recollections form a body of knowledge that is priceless and worth recording. Knowledge published in tangible forms is a key factor to worldwide recognition. Therefore, these efforts to safeguard oral history and family stories should be a top priority for new knowledge development and commercial enhancement for generations to come. (shrink)
. Night driving is one of the major factors which affects traffic safety. Although detecting oncoming vehicles at night time is a challenging task, it may improve traffic safety. If the oncoming vehicle is recognised in good time, this will motivate drivers to keep their eyes on the road. The purpose of this paper is to present an approach to detect vehicles at night based on the employment of a single onboard camera. This system is based on detecting vehicle headlights (...) by recognising their shapes via an SVM classifier which was trained for this purpose. A pairing algorithm was designed to pair vehicle headlights to ensure that the two headlights belong to the same vehicle. A multi-object tracking algorithm was invoked to track the vehicle throughout the time the vehicle is in the scene. The system was trained with 503 single objects and tested using 144 587 single objects which were extracted from 1410 frames collected from 15 videos and 27 moving vehicles. It was found that the accuracy of recognition was 97.9% and the vehicle recognition rate was 96.3% which indicates clearly the high robustness attained by this system. (shrink)