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Archive for 'new books'

out in paperback – ‘The Universe as We Find It’ by John Heil

May 23, 2015

The Universe as We Find It

The Universe As We Find It by John Heil (Oxford University Press, 2015)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

What does reality encompass? Is reality exclusively physical? Or does reality include nonphysical–mental, and perhaps ‘abstract’–aspects? What is it to be physical or mental, or to be an abstract entity? What are the elements of being, reality’s raw materials? How is the manifest image we inherit from our culture and refine in the special sciences related to the scientific image as we have it in fundamental physics? Can physics be understood as providing a ‘theory of everything’, or do the various sciences make up a hierarchy corresponding to autonomous levels of reality? Is our conscious human perspective on the universe in the universe or at its limits? What, if anything, makes ordinary truths, truths of the special sciences, and truths of mathematics true? And what is it for an assertion or judgment to be ‘made true’? In The Universe As We Find It, John Heil offers answers to these questions framed in terms of a comprehensive ontology of substances and properties inspired by Descartes, Locke, their successors, and their latter day exemplars. Substances are simple, lacking parts that are themselves substances. Properties are modes–particular ways particular substances are–and arrangements of propertied substances serve as truthmakers for all the truths that have truthmakers. Heil argues that the deep story about the nature of these truthmakers can only be told by fundamental physics.

Comments (0) - new books,reality

new book – ‘Beyond the Subjectivity Trap’ by Martin O’Dea

May 18, 2015

Beyond the Subjectivity Trap

Beyond the Subjectivity Trap by Martin O’Dea (Imprint Academic, 2015)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

Beyond the Subjectivity Trap challenges the paradigm of the hard problem of consciousness by contesting the relevance and primacy of human thought. By tracing the evolved egocentricity of the ‘I’ as an entrapping limitation on our thinking the book argues that once the Subjectivity Trap is understood and escaped we can appreciate the non-existence of the mind–body divide, the pure functionality of the brain, and the limitlessness of our potential.

Comments (0) - consciousness,new books,self

new book – ‘The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn’ by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

May 11, 2015

Secret History of Kindness

The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn by Melissa Holbrook Pierson (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

An intimate, surprising look at man’s best friend and what the leading philosophies of dog training teach us about ourselves.

Years back, Melissa Holbrook Pierson brought home a border collie named Mercy, without a clue of how to get her to behave. Stunned after hiring a trainer whose immediate rapport with Mercy seemed magical, Pierson began delving into the techniques of positive reinforcement. She made her way to B. F. Skinner, the behavioral psychologist who started it all, the man who could train a pigeon to dance in minutes and whose research on how behavior is acquired has ramifications for military dolphin trainers, athletes, dancers, and, as he originally conceived, society at large.

To learn more, Pierson met with a host of fascinating animal behaviorists, going behind the scenes to witness the relationships between trainers and animals at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, and to the in-depth seminars at a Clicker Expo where all the dogs but hers seemed to be learning new tricks. The often startling story of what became of a pathbreaking scientist’s work is interwoven with a more personal tale of how to understand the foreign species with whom we are privileged to live.

Pierson draws surprising connections in her exploration of how kindness works to motivate all animals, including the human one.

Google Books preview:

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new book – ‘The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived’ by Peter C. Whybrow

May 8, 2015

The Well-Tuned Brain

The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived by Peter C. Whybrow (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

In this optimistic and inspiring book, Peter Whybrow, the prize-winning author of American Mania, returns to offer a prescription for genuine human progress.

The Well-Tuned Brain is a call to action. Swept along by the cascading advances of today’s technology, most of us take for granted that progress brings improvement. Despite spectacular material advance, however, the evidence grows that we are failing to create a sustainable future for humanity. We are out of tune with the planet that nurtures us.

Technology itself is not the problem, as Whybrow explains, but rather our behavior. Throughout its evolution the ancient brain that guides us each day has been focused on short-term survival. But fortunately we are intensely social creatures. Without the caring behaviors that flow from intimate attachments to others, we would be relying on a brain that is only marginally adapted to the complexity of the problems we must now face together. Today we must grapple with survival, not in its immediacy but over the long term.

The first step in finding our way forward is to reexamine who we are as creatures of this planet. To this end, Whybrow takes us on a fascinating tour of self-discovery, drawing extensively upon his decades of experience as a psychiatrist and his broad knowledge of neuroscience and human behavior.

Illustrated throughout with engaging personal stories, the book’s trove of cutting-edge science is enriched by philosophical, historical, and cultural perspectives. What emerges is a summons to rediscover the essential virtues of earlier nurturing, of mentored education, and an engagement with the natural world through curiosity and imagination.

Neuroscience can open the search for a better future. But technology alone will not save us. To achieve success we will need the strength and wisdom of our better nature as humane social beings.

See also: Author’s webpage

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new book – ‘The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos’ by Leonard Mlodinow

May 7, 2015

The Upright Thinkers

The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos by Leonard Mlodinow (Pantheon, 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

A few million years ago, our ancestors came down from the trees and began to stand upright, freeing our hands to create tools and our minds to grapple with the world around us.

Leonard Mlodinow takes us on a passionate and inspiring tour through the exciting history of human progress and the key events in the development of science. In the process, he presents a fascinating new look at the unique characteristics of our species and our society that helped propel us from stone tools to written language and through the birth of chemistry, biology, and modern physics to today’s technological world.

Along the way he explores the cultural conditions that influenced scientific thought through the ages and the colorful personalities of some of the great philosophers, scientists, and thinkers: Galileo, who preferred painting and poetry to medicine and dropped out of university; Isaac Newton, who stuck needlelike bodkins into his eyes to better understand changes in light and color; and Antoine Lavoisier, who drank nothing but milk for two weeks to examine its effects on his body. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, and many lesser-known but equally brilliant minds also populate these pages, each of their stories showing how much of human achievement can be attributed to the stubborn pursuit of simple questions (why? how?), bravely asked.

The Upright Thinkers is a book for science lovers and for anyone interested in creative thinking and in our ongoing quest to understand our world. At once deeply informed, accessible, and infused with the author’s trademark wit, this insightful work is a stunning tribute to humanity’s intellectual curiosity.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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