As research on mind wandering has accelerated, the construct’s defining features have expanded and researchers have begun to examine different dimensions of mind wandering. Recently, Christoff and colleagues have argued for the importance of investigating a hitherto neglected variety of mind wandering: “unconstrained thought,” or, thought that is relatively unguided by executive-control processes. To date, with only a handful of studies investigating unconstrained thought, little is known about this intriguing type of mind wandering. Across two experiments, we examined, for the (...) first time, whether changes in task demand influence rates of constrained versus unconstrained thoughts. In both experiments, participants completed either an easy (0-back) or hard (2-back) task and responded to intermittently presented thought probes that gauged thought constraint throughout the task. In Experiment 1, we found that participants completing the easy task engaged in unconstrained thoughts more frequently than those completing the difficult task. In Experiment 2, we replicated this result and further demonstrated manipulations of unconstrained thought while also measuring task-relatedness (a common dimension of mind wandering). Finally, exploratory analyses showed associations between constrained thought and age, verbal intelligence, and an assessment of flow (‘deep effortless concentration’), thereby adding further evidence to indicate a dissociation between task-relatedness and constraint. We discuss the methodological and theoretical applications of our findings to the burgeoning field of research on unconstrained thought. (shrink)
A primary aim of mind-wandering research has been to understand its influence on task performance. While this research has typically highlighted the costs of mind wandering, a handful of studies have suggested that mind wandering may be beneficial in certain situations. Perhaps the most-touted benefit is that mind wandering during a creative-incubation interval facilitates creative thinking. This finding has played a critical role in the development of accounts of the adaptive value of mind wandering and its functional role, as well (...) as potential mechanisms of mind wandering. Thus, a demonstration of the replicability of this important finding is warranted. Here, we attempted to conceptually replicate results of a highly cited laboratory-based experiment supporting this finding. However, across two studies (N = 443), we found no evidence for the claim that mind wandering during a creative-incubation interval facilitates a form of creativity associated with divergent thinking. We suggest that our failed conceptual replication stems from an inadequate characterization of mind wandering (task-unrelated thought), and that there are good reasons to think that task-unrelated thought is unlikely to be causally related to creativity. Our results cast doubt on the claim that task-unrelated thought during an incubation interval enhances divergent creativity while also offering some prescriptions for how future research might further elucidate the cognitive benefits of mind wandering. (shrink)
With very advanced technology, a very large population of people living happy lives could be sustained in the accessible region of the universe. For every year that development of such technologies and colonization of the universe is delayed, there is therefore a corresponding opportunity cost: a potential good, lives worth living, is not being realized. Given some plausible assumptions, this cost is extremely large. However, the lesson for standard utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize the pace of technological (...) development, but rather that we ought to maximize its safety, i.e. the probability that colonization will eventually occur. This goal has such high utility that standard utilitarians ought to focus all their efforts on it. Utilitarians of a ‘person-affecting’ stripe should accept a modified version of this conclusion. Some mixed ethical views, which combine utilitarian considerations with other criteria, will also be committed to a similar bottom line. (shrink)
In this exchange, Peter Coghlan and Nick Trakakis discuss the problem of natural evil in the light of the recent Asian tsunami disaster. The exchange begins with an extract from a newspaper article written by Coghlan on the tsunami, followed by three rounds of replies and counter-replies, and ending with some final comments from Trakakis. While critical of any attempt to show that human life is good overall despite its natural evils, Coghlan argues that instances of natural evil, even (...) horrific ones, can be justified as the unavoidable by-product of a natural system on which human life and culture depends. Trakakis, however, rejects this view, counselling instead a degree of skepticism about our ability to construct a plausible theodicy for horrific evil. (shrink)
To what extent should we use technological advances to try to make better human beings? Leading philosophers debate the possibility of enhancing human cognition, mood, personality, and physical performance, and controlling aging. Would this take us beyond the bounds of human nature? These are questions that need to be answered now.
This book explores both the embodied nature of social life and the social nature of human bodily life. It provides an accessible review of the contemporary social science debates on the body, and develops a coherent new perspective. Nick Crossley critically reviews the literature on mind and body, and also on the body and society. He draws on theoretical insights from the work of Gilbert Ryle, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, George Herbert Mead and Pierre Bourdieu, and shows how the work of (...) these writers overlaps in interesting and important ways which, when combined, provide the basis for a persuasive and robust account of human embodiment. The Social Body provides a timely review of the theoretical approaches to the sociology of the body. It offers new insights, and a coherent new perspective on the body. It will be valuable reading for students and academics in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies. (shrink)
A dizzying trip through the mind(s) of the provocative and influential thinker Nick Land. During the 1990s British philosopher Nick Land's unique work, variously described as “rabid nihilism,” “mad black deleuzianism,” and “cybergothic,” developed perhaps the only rigorous and culturally-engaged escape route out of the malaise of “continental philosophy” —a route that was implacably blocked by the academy. However, Land's work has continued to exert an influence, both through the British “speculative realist” philosophers who studied with him, and (...) through the many cultural producers—writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers—who have been invigorated by his uncompromising and abrasive philosophical vision. Beginning with Land's early radical rereadings of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kant and Bataille, the volume collects together the papers, talks and articles of the mid-90s—long the subject of rumour and vague legend (including some work which has never previously appeared in print)—in which Land developed his futuristic theory-fiction of cybercapitalism gone amok; and ends with his enigmatic later writings in which Ballardian fictions, poetics, cryptography, anthropology, grammatology and the occult are smeared into unrecognisable hybrids. Fanged Noumena gives a dizzying perspective on the entire trajectory of this provocative and influential thinker's work, and has introduced his unique voice to a new generation of readers. (shrink)
The terms "imagination'' and "imaginative'' can be readily applied to a profusion of attitudes, experiences, activities, and further phenomena. The heterogeneity of the things to which they're applied prompts the thoughts that the terms are polysemous, and that there is no single, coherent, fruitful conception of imagination to be had. Nonetheless, much recent work on imagination ascribes implicitly to a univocal way of thinking about imaginative phenomena: the imitation theory, according to which imaginative experiences imitate other experiences. This approach is (...) infelicitous. It issues in unhelpful descriptions of imaginative activities, experiences, and attitudes, and frustrates theorizing about imagination's applications and intensional characteristics. A better way of thinking about imagination is the lens theory, according to which the imagination is a set of ways to focus, refine, clarify or concentrate the matter of other experiences. This approach offers better characterizations of imaginative phenomena, and promises brighter theoretical illumination of them. (shrink)
Darwinian matters : life, force and change -- Biological difference -- The evolution of sex and race -- Nietzsche's Darwin -- History and the untimely -- The eternal return and the overman -- Bergsonian differences -- The philosophy of life -- Intuition and the virtual -- The future.
Articulate and perceptive, Intersubjectivity is a text that explains the notions of intersubjectivity as a central concern of philosophy, sociology, psychology, and politics. Going beyond this broad-ranging introduction and explication, author Nick Crossley provides a critical discussion of intersubjectivity as an interdisciplinary concept to shed light on our understanding of selfhood, communication, citizenship, power, and community. The volume traces the contributions of key thinkers engaged within the intersubjectivist tradition, including Husserl, Buber, Kojeve, Merlau-Ponty, Mead, Wittgenstein, Schutz, and Habermas. A (...) clear, concise introduction to a range of difficult concepts and thinkers, Intersubjectivity demystifies this very interdisciplinary subject for advanced and graduate-level students of philosophy, sociology, social psychology, and social and political theory. (shrink)
According to the attentional resources account, mind wandering (or “task-unrelated thought”) is thought to compete with a focal task for attentional resources. Here, we tested two key predictions of this account: First, that mind wandering should not interfere with performance on a task that does not require attentional resources; second, that as task requirements become automatized, performance should improve and depth of mind wandering should increase. Here, we used a serial reaction time task with implicit- and explicit-learning groups to test (...) these predictions. Providing novel evidence for the attentional resource account’s first prediction, results indicated that depth of mind wandering was negatively associated with learning in the explicit, but not the implicit, group, indicating that mind wandering is associated with impaired explicit, but not implicit, learning. Corroborating the attention resource account’s second prediction, we also found that, overall, performance improved while at the same time depth of mind wandering increased. From an implicit learning perspective, these results are consistent with the claim that explicit learning is impaired under attentional load, but implicit learning is not. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical attitudes toward beauty are hard to reconcile with its importance in the history of philosophy. Philosophers used to allow it a starring role in their theories of autonomy, morality, or the good life. But today, if beauty is discussed at all, it is often explicitly denied any such importance. This is due, in part, to the thought that beauty is the object of “disinterested pleasure”. In this paper I clarify the notion of disinterest and develop two general strategies (...) for resisting the emphasis on it, in the hopes of getting a clearer view of beauty’s significance. I present and discuss several literary depictions of the encounter with beauty that motivate both strategies. These depictions illustrate the ways in which aesthetic experience can be personally transformative. I argue that they present difficulties for disinterest theories and suggest we abandon the concept of disinterest to focus instead on the special kind of interest beauty fuels. I propose a closer look at the Platonic thought that beauty is the object of love. (shrink)
_What place do Anna Freud’s ideas have in the history of psychoanalysis? What can her writings teach us today about how to work therapeutically with children? Are her psychoanalytic ideas still relevant to those entrusted with the welfare of infants and young people? _ _Reading Anna Freud_ provides an accessible introduction to the writings of one of the most significant figures in the history of psychoanalysis. Each chapter introduces a number of her key papers, with clear summaries of the main (...) ideas, historical background, a discussion of the influence and contemporary relevance of her thinking, and recommendations for further reading. Areas covered include Anna Freud’s writings on: • The theory and practice of child analysis and 'developmental therapy' • The application of psychoanalytic thinking to education, paediatrics and the law • The assessment and diagnosis of childhood disorders • Psychoanalytic research and developmental psychopathology Nick Midgley draws on his extensive experience as a child psychotherapist and a teacher to bring Anna Freud's ideas to life. He illustrates the remarkable originality of her thinking, and shows how analytic ideas can be used not only in child psychotherapy, but also to inform the care of children in families, hospitals, classrooms, residential care and the court-room. __Reading Anna Freud__ will be of interest to child therapists, child analysts and psychoanalysts, as well as others working in the field of child and adolescent mental health, such as clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists and educational psychologists. It also has much to offer to those entrusted with the care of children in a wide range of settings - including teachers, nurses and social workers - for whom Anna Freud was always keen to demonstrate the value of a psychoanalytic approach. _Nick Midgley_ trained as a child and adolescent psychotherapist at the Anna Freud Centre, where he now works as a clinician and as Programme Director for the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice. Nick has written articles on a wide range of topics and is joint editor of _Minding the Child: Mentalization-based Interventions with Children, Young People and their Families_ and _Child Psychotherapy and Research: New Directions, Emerging Findings_. (shrink)
In _The Powers of Dignity_ Nick Bromell unpacks Frederick Douglass's 1867 claim that he had “elaborated a political philosophy” from his own “slave experience.” Bromell shows that Douglass devised his philosophy because he found that antebellum Americans' liberal-republican understanding of democracy did not provide a sufficient principled basis on which to fight anti-Black racism. To remedy this deficiency, Douglass deployed insights from his distinctively Black experience and developed a _Black_ philosophy of democracy. He began by contesting the founders' racist (...) assumptions about humanity and advancing instead a more robust theory of “the human” as a collection of human “powers.” He asserted further that the conscious exercise of those powers is what confirms human dignity and that human rights and democracy come into being as ways to affirm and protect that dignity. Thus, by emphasizing the powers and the dignity of all citizens, deriving democratic rights from these, and promoting a remarkably activist, power-oriented model of citizenship, Douglass's Black political philosophy aimed to rectify two major failings of US democracy in his time and ours: its complacence and its racism. (shrink)
'The Probabilistic Mind' is a follow-up to the influential and highly cited 'Rational Models of Cognition'. It brings together developments in understanding how, and how far, high-level cognitive processes can be understood in rational terms, and particularly using probabilistic Bayesian methods.
Liberal democracies deal poorly with states of emergency because they underestimate the corrosive effect of arbitrary coercion on established liberal democratic values. Far from protecting the rights of citizens, arbitrary emergency measures undermine citizens’ rights.
It is intuitively plausible that art and imagination are intimately connected. This chapter explores attempts to explain that connection. We focus on three areas in which art and imagination might be linked: production, ontology, and appreciation. We examine views which treat imagination as a fundamental human faculty, and aim for comprehensive accounts of art and artistic practice: for example, those of Kant and Collingwood. We also discuss philosophers who argue that a specific kind of imagining may explain some particular element (...) of the artistic domain: for example, Walton's ideas about representational art, and Kivy’s about reading. (shrink)
The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of (...) our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation? To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence. (shrink)
It is common to allocate scarce health care resources by maximizing QALYs per dollar. This approach has been attacked by disability-rights advocates, policy-makers, and ethicists on the grounds that it unjustly discriminates against the disabled. The main complaint is that the QALY-maximizing approach implies a seemingly unsatisfactory conclusion: other things being equal, we should direct life-saving treatment to the healthy rather than the disabled. This argument pays insufficient attention to the downsides of the potential alternatives. We show that this sort (...) of discrimination is one of four unpalatable consequences that any approach to priority setting in health care must face. We argue that, given the alternatives, it is far from clear that we should revise the QALY-maximizing approach in response to this objection. (shrink)
I develop a theory of social virtue around the concept of a "social opening" and argue that a range of contemporary terms track various modes of success and failure with respect to social openings: ‘awesome’, ‘down’, ‘chill’, ‘sucks’, ‘wack’, ‘lame’, ‘douchebag’, and others. A basic idea is that the normative character of contemporary social life cannot be fully understood in traditional philosophical terms: ‘obligation’, ‘demand’, ‘duty’, ‘right’, ‘just’, ‘requirement’. ‘Sucks’ and ‘awesome’ (and their ilk) capture a special mode of interpersonal (...) critique. Old modes of critique fall short because contemporary social life embodies a concern for cultivating, expressing, and appreciating individuality. This is partly an aesthetic affair, which flavors the modes of response and critique that constitute the normative framework. I detail how our interest in the "ethics of awesomeness" has influenced a range of post-’60s cultural practices, including art, charity, athletics, public life, and others. (shrink)
Our paradigms of aesthetic value condition the philosophical questions we pose and hope to answer about it. Theories of aesthetic value are typically individualistic, in the sense that the paradigms they are designed to capture, and the questions to which they are offered as answers, center the individual’s engagement with aesthetic value. Here I offer some considerations that suggest that such individualism is a mistake and sketch a communitarian way of posing and answering questions about the nature of aesthetic value.
This is a chapter of the planned monograph "Out of Nowhere: The Emergence of Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity", co-authored by Nick Huggett and Christian Wüthrich and under contract with Oxford University Press. (More information at www<dot>beyondspacetime<dot>net.) This chapter investigates the meaning and significance of string theoretic dualities, arguing they reveal a surprising physical indeterminateness to spacetime.
According to Arthur Danto, post-modern or post-historical art began when artists like Andy Warhol collapsed the Modern distinction between art and everyday life by bringing “the everyday” into the artworld. I begin by pointing out that there is another way to collapse this distinction: bring art out of the artworld and into everyday life. An especially effective way of doing this is to make street art, which, I argue, is art whose meaning depends on its use of the street. I (...) defend this definition and show how it handles graffiti and public art. (shrink)
In chapters ranging from "The Beautiful, the Dainty, and the Dumpy" to "Skin-deep or In the Eye of the Beholder?" Nick Zangwill investigates the nature of beauty as we conceive it, and as it is in itself. The notion of beauty is currently attracting increased interest, particularly in philosophical aesthetics and in discussions of our experiences and judgments about art. In The Metaphysics of Beauty, Zangwill argues that it is essential to beauty that it depends on the ordinary features (...) of things. He uses this principle to defend the notion of the aesthetic, to call for a version of aesthetic formalism, and to reconsider the reality of beauty. The Metaphysics of Beauty brings beauty to the center of intellectual consciousness in a manner informed by contemporary metaphysics and engages with beauty as an enduring object of human thought and experience. (shrink)
The hope that art could be personally or socially transformational is an important part of art history and contemporary art practice. In the twentieth century, it shaped a movement away from traditional media in an effort to make social life a medium. Artists imagined and created participatory situations designed to facilitate potentially transformative expression in those who engaged with the works. This chapter develops the concept of “transformative expression,” and illustrates how it informs a diverse range of such works. Understanding (...) these artworks in this way raises two interesting questions, one about the nature of aesthetic value and the other about the nature of action. Answers to these questions lie in understanding the social and aesthetic character of our capacity to distance ourselves from our commitments and act in the expressive, playful, spontaneous, or imaginative ways that participatory art invites. (shrink)
Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades.  It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
How sexuality should be regulated in a liberal political community is an important, controversial theoretical and empirical question—as shown by the recent criminalization of possession of some adult pornography in the United Kingdom. Supporters of criminalization argue that Mill, often considered a staunch opponent of censorship, would support prohibition due to his feminist commitments. I argue that this account underestimates the strengths of the Millian account of private conduct and free expression, and the consistency of Millian anticensorship with feminist values. (...) A Millian contextual defense of liberty, however, suggests several other policy approaches to addressing the harms of pornography. (shrink)
This article responds to recent debates in critical algorithm studies about the significance of the term “algorithm.” Where some have suggested that critical scholars should align their use of the term with its common definition in professional computer science, I argue that we should instead approach algorithms as “multiples”—unstable objects that are enacted through the varied practices that people use to engage with them, including the practices of “outsider” researchers. This approach builds on the work of Laura Devendorf, Elizabeth Goodman, (...) and Annemarie Mol. Different ways of enacting algorithms foreground certain issues while occluding others: computer scientists enact algorithms as conceptual objects indifferent to implementation details, while calls for accountability enact algorithms as closed boxes to be opened. I propose that critical researchers might seek to enact algorithms ethnographically, seeing them as heterogeneous and diffuse sociotechnical systems, rather than rigidly constrained and procedural formulas. To do so, I suggest thinking of algorithms not “in” culture, as the event occasioning this essay was titled, but “as” culture: part of broad patterns of meaning and practice that can be engaged with empirically. I offer a set of practical tactics for the ethnographic enactment of algorithmic systems, which do not depend on pinning down a singular “algorithm” or achieving “access,” but which rather work from the partial and mobile position of an outsider. (shrink)
Nick Hopwood, Simon Schaffer and Jim Secord, “Seriality and scientific objects in the nineteenth century”, History of Science, xlviii. Series represent much that was new and significant in the sciences between the French Revolution and the First World War. From periodical publication to the cinema, tabulation to industrialized screening, series feature in major innovations in scientific communication and the organization of laboratories, clinics, libraries, museums and field - XIXe siècle – Nouvel article.
We present a theory of decision by sampling (DbS) in which, in contrast with traditional models, there are no underlying psychoeconomic scales. Instead, we assume that an attribute’s subjective value is constructed from a series of binary, ordinal comparisons to a sample of attribute values drawn from memory and is its rank within the sample. We assume that the sample reﬂects both the immediate distribution of attribute values from the current decision’s context and also the background, real-world distribution of attribute (...) values. DbS accounts for concave utility functions; losses looming larger than gains; hyperbolic temporal discounting; and the overestimation of small probabilities and the underestimation of large probabilities. Ó 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Views on addiction are often polarised - either addiction is a matter of choice, or addicts simply can't help themselves. But perhaps addiction falls between the two? This book contains views from philosophy, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and the law exploring this middle ground between free choice and no choice.
This chapter explores insights concerning the relations among imagination, imagined selves, and knowledge of one’s own self that are to be found in Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. The insights are explored via close reading of the text and comparison with contemporaries of Pessoa. First, a tempting account of the importance of imagination in The Book of Disquiet is set out. On this reading, Pessoa is immersed in miasmatic boredom, but able to temporarily rise above it through the restorative (...) powers of escapist imagination. But, it is suggested, Pessoa neither enjoys his prolific imaginings, nor returns from them restored. It is argued that Pessoa’s disquiet owes to failures of imagination; the book presents a sharp contrast between Pessoa’s keen awareness of the importance of a successful, active imaginative life, and his failure to maintain such a thing. It is further argued that these failures point us towards a better account of imagination’s importance to Pessoa, an account that both prefigures and goes beyond Sartre’s ideas about the relations between nothingness, imagination, and self-consciousness. (shrink)
There is, in some quarters, concern about high–level machine intelligence and superintelligent AI coming up in a few decades, bringing with it significant risks for humanity. In other quarters, these issues are ignored or considered science fiction. We wanted to clarify what the distribution of opinions actually is, what probability the best experts currently assign to high–level machine intelligence coming up within a particular time–frame, which risks they see with that development, and how fast they see these developing. We thus (...) designed a brief questionnaire and distributed it to four groups of experts in 2012/2013. The median estimate of respondents was for a one in two chance that high-level machine intelligence will be developed around 2040-2050, rising to a nine in ten chance by 2075. Experts expect that systems will move on to superintelligence in less than 30 years thereafter. They estimate the chance is about one in three that this development turns out to be ‘bad’ or ‘extremely bad’ for humanity. (shrink)
This book argues that theory formation in ethics might be, but does not have to be, grand; local and weaker theories can also be effective. Indeed, theory formation is far more varied than theorists and anti-theorists imagine it to be.
This interdisciplinary new work explores one of the central theoretical problems in linguistics: learnability. The authors, from different backgrounds---linguistics, philosophy, computer science, psychology and cognitive science-explore the idea that language acquisition proceeds through general purpose learning mechanisms, an approach that is broadly empiricist both methodologically and psychologically. Written by four researchers in the full range of relevant fields: linguistics, psychology, computer science, and cognitive science, the book sheds light on the central problems of learnability and language, and traces their implications (...) for key questions of theoretical linguistics and the study of language acquisition. (shrink)
In this follow up to I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies, Nick Smith expands his ambitious theories of categorical apologies to civil and criminal law. After rejecting court-ordered apologies as unjustifiable humiliation, this book explains that penitentiaries were originally designed to bring about penance - something like apology - and that this tradition has been lost in the assembly line of mass incarceration. Smith argues that the state should modernize these principles and techniques to reduce punishments for offenders (...) who demonstrate moral transformation through apologizing. Smith also explains the counterintuitive situation whereby apologies come to have considerable financial worth in civil cases because victims associate them with priceless matters of the soul. Such confusions allow powerful wrongdoers to manipulate perceptions to disastrous effect, such as when corporations or governments assert that apologies do not equate to accepting blame or require reform or redress. (shrink)
Why does time pass and space does not? Are there just three dimensions? What is a quantum particle? Nick Huggett shows that philosophy -- armed with a power to analyze fundamental concepts and their relationship to the human experience -- has much to say about these profound questions about the universe. In Everywhere and Everywhen, Huggett charts a journey that peers into some of the oldest questions about the world, through some of the newest, such as: What shape is (...) space? Does it have an edge? What is the difference between past and future? What is time in relativity? Is time travel possible? Are there other universes? Huggett shows that answers to these profound questions are not just reserved for physics, and that philosophy can not only address but help advance our view of our deepest questions about the universe, space, and time, and their implications for humanity. His lively, accessible introduction to these topics is suitable for a general reader with no previous exposure to these profound and exciting questions. (shrink)
Apologies can be profoundly meaningful, yet many gestures of contrition - especially those in legal contexts - appear hollow and even deceptive. Discussing numerous examples from ancient and recent history, I Was Wrong argues that we suffer from considerable confusion about the moral meanings and social functions of these complex interactions. Rather than asking whether a speech act 'is or is not' an apology, Smith offers a highly nuanced theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us though a series of rich (...) philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, explaining how apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into secular discourse or gender stereotypes. After classifying several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns to apologies from collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be quite meaningful in certain respects, we should be suspicious of those that supplant apologies from individual wrongdoers. (shrink)
An acclaimed philosopher argues that living life to the fullest requires seeing life through the lens of beauty Say you and your friend often go hiking. One day, they propose that you go skydiving instead. You're wavering, and they deliver a rousing speech. They tell you, Come on, you only live once! You relent. Why? In This Beauty, philosopher Nick Riggle investigates the things we say to inspire each other and ourselves: seize the day, treat yourself, you only live (...) once. Riggle calls them existential imperatives, and they present a conundrum. They are at best vague, at worst stupid. And yet these exhortations can't help but be profound. Drawing on insights from aesthetics and from his experiences as a professional skater, academic, and new father, Riggle argues that these phrases shock us out of our routines and key us into the beauty of life. Insightful and deeply humane, This Beauty offers a personal and searching inquiry into the mystery of life's beauty. (shrink)