Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought

philosophyinthefleshI am currently reading Philosophy in the Flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. Authored by Cognitive Scientists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, this book asks 1) What do major lines of Western philosophical thought assume about the mind? 2) What has cognitive science learned about the mind through rigorous research? 3) Are there discrepancies between Western philosophical assumptions about the mind and leading cognitive scientific theories of the mind? and 4) What implications do these discrepancies have for various streams of Western philosophy that build upon what now appear to be shaky premises regarding the mind? Continue reading

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What is the most misunderstood idea of all time?

Every year, Edge.Org asks prominent thinkers a big picture question on thought and knowledge. In 2005, they asked What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it? In 2006 it was What is your dangerous idea? In 2008, the big question was What have you changed your mind about? Why? In 2009, they asked thinkers to speculate on What will change everything? This past year, they asked What is your favourite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation? In In the interest of reader participation, here’s a fun question:

What is the most misunderstood idea of all time? Continue reading

Is belief in God a choice?

The following satirical video, “Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene”, pokes fun at the concept of a “gay gene” and religious opposition to homosexuality.

The proportion of people who believe that homosexuality is chosen is decreasing. That’s not to imply that homosexuality is the phenotype expressed by a “gay gene”. Just that whatever makes one gay – e.g., some range of interactions between genetic, hormonal, neurological and/or social/environmental factors – it’s not the sort of conscious deliberations a teenager makes when choosing which college to attend.

Part of what makes the video above funny is that it suggests that being Christian is not a choice. To me, this invites the question (ignoring the particular religion)

Is belief in God a choice?

Can you simply choose to believe or not believe? Continue reading