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new book – ‘The Good Life: Unifying the Philosophy and Psychology of Well-Being’ by Michael A. Bishop

December 19, 2014

The Good Life

The Good Life: Unifying the Philosophy and Psychology of Well-Being by Michael A. Bishop (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

Philosophers defend theories of what well-being is but ignore what psychologists have learned about it, while psychologists learn about well-being but lack a theory of what it is. In The Good Life, Michael Bishop brings together these complementary investigations and proposes a powerful, new theory for understanding well-being.

The network theory holds that to have well-being is to be “stuck” in a self-perpetuating cycle of positive emotions, attitudes, traits and accomplishments. For someone with well-being, these states — states such as joy and contentment, optimism and adventurousness, extraversion and perseverance, strong relationships, professional success and good health — build upon and foster each other. They form a kind of positive causal network (PCN), so that a person high in well-being finds herself in a positive cycle or “groove.” A person with a lesser degree of well-being might possess only fragments of such a network — some positive feelings, attitudes, traits or successes, but not enough to kick start a full-blown, self-perpetuating network.

Although recent years have seen an explosion of psychological research into well-being, this discipline, often called Positive Psychology, has no consensus definition. The network theory provides a new framework for understanding Positive Psychology. When psychologists investigate correlations and causal connections among positive emotions, attitudes, traits, and accomplishments, they are studying the structure of PCNs. And when they identify states that establish, strengthen or extinguish PCNs, they are studying the dynamics of PCNs. Positive Psychology, then, is the study of the structure and dynamics of positive causal networks.

The Good Life represents a new, inclusive approach to the study of well-being, an approach committed to the proposition that discovering the nature of well-being requires the knowledge and skills of both the philosopher in her armchair and the scientist in her lab. The resulting theory provides a powerful, unified foundation for future scientific and philosophical investigations into well-being and the good life.

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currently $3.79 kindle ebook deal: ‘The Honest Truth About Dishonesty’ by Dan Ariely

December 18, 2014

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$0.99 kindle ebook on Amazon: ‘How Schopenhauer Got Me Through My Mid-Life Crisis’ by Charles Alonso

December 17, 2014

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new book – ‘Minds without Meanings: An Essay on the Content of Concepts’ by Jerry A. Fodor and Zenon W. Pylyshyn

Minds without Meanings

Minds without Meanings: An Essay on the Content of Concepts by Jerry A. Fodor and Zenon W. Pylyshyn (MIT Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

In cognitive science, conceptual content is frequently understood as the “meaning” of a mental representation. This position raises largely empirical questions about what concepts are, what form they take in mental processes, and how they connect to the world they are about. In Minds without Meaning, Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn review some of the proposals put forward to answer these questions and find that none of them is remotely defensible. Fodor and Pylyshyn determine that all of these proposals share a commitment to a two-factor theory of conceptual content, which holds that the content of a concept consists of its sense together with its reference. Fodor and Pylyshyn argue instead that there is no conclusive case against the possibility of a theory of concepts that takes reference as their sole semantic property. Such a theory, if correct, would provide for the naturalistic account of content that cognitive science lacks — and badly needs. Fodor and Pylyshyn offer a sketch of how this theory might be developed into an account of perceptual reference that is broadly compatible with empirical findings and with the view that the mental processes effecting perceptual reference are largely preconceptual, modular, and encapsulated.

Google Books preview:

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new book – ‘Aha!: The Moments of Insight That Shape Our World’ by William B. Irvine

December 16, 2014

Aha!

Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World by William B. Irvine (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Great ideas often develop gradually after studying a problem at length–but not always. Sometimes, an insight hits like a bolt from the blue. For Archimedes, clarity struck while he was taking a bath. For Gustav Mahler, it came as the blades of his oars touched the water. And for Albert Einstein, it emerged while he was talking to a friend. Why do these moments of insight strike so suddenly? Why do they so often come to us when we are focused on something completely unrelated? And when great ideas “come to” us, where do they come from?

In Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World, philosopher William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life and On Desire, explores these epiphanies, from the minor insights that strike us all daily, to the major realizations that alter the course of history. Focusing on aha moments as they take place in five different domains–religion, morality, science, math, and art–Irvine provides case studies that shed light on the different ways epiphanies happen in the different domains, and on their differing social impact. Along the way, he describes some of the great aha moments in history, from ancient times to the present day.

We like to think that our greatest thoughts are the product of our conscious mind. Irvine demonstrates, though, that it is our unconscious mind that is the source of our most significant insights, and that the role the conscious mind plays in eliciting these insights is to try, unsuccessfully, to solve certain problems. Only if the conscious mind is willing to do this–and thereby experience considerable frustration–is the unconscious mind likely to reward it with a breakthrough insight-that the conscious mind will then take credit for.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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