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Archive for 'culture'

“Big Deal” on kindle – $2.99 for ‘What Makes Civilization?: The Ancient Near East & the Future of the West’

December 8, 2014

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Amazon Deals in Books – $3.87 for ‘The Power of Metaphor: Examining Its Influence on Social Life’

December 5, 2014

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new book – ‘The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal’ by Daniel Cloud

December 1, 2014

The Domestication of Language

The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal by Daniel Cloud (Columbia University Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Language did not evolve only in the distant past. Our shared understanding of the meanings of words is ever-changing, and we make conscious, rational decisions about which words to use and what to mean by them every day. Applying Darwin’s theory of “unconscious artificial selection” to the evolution of linguistic conventions, Daniel Cloud suggests a new, evolutionary explanation for the rich, complex, and continually reinvented meanings of our words.

The choice of which words to use and in which sense to use them is both a “selection event” and an intentional decision, making Darwin’s account of artificial selection a particularly compelling model of the evolution of words. After drawing an analogy between the theory of domestication offered by Darwin and the evolution of human languages and cultures, Cloud applies his analytical framework to the question of what makes humans unique, and how they became that way. He incorporates insights from David Lewis’s Convention, Brian Skyrms’s Signals, and Kim Sterelny’s Evolved Apprentice, all while emphasizing the role of deliberate human choice in the crafting of language over time. His clever and intuitive model casts humans’ cultural and linguistic evolution as an integrated, dynamic process, with results that reach into all corners of our private lives and public character.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s homepage

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new book – ‘Greek Models of Mind and Self’ by A.A. Long

November 26, 2014

Greek Models of Mind & Self

Greek Models of Mind and Self by A.A. Long (Harvard University Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

This lively book offers a wide-ranging study of Greek notions of mind and human selfhood from Homer through Plotinus. A. A. Long anchors his discussion in questions of recurrent and universal interest. What happens to us when we die? How is the mind or soul related to the body? Are we responsible for our own happiness? Can we achieve autonomy? Long asks when and how these questions emerged in ancient Greece, and shows that Greek thinkers’ modeling of the mind gave us metaphors that we still live by, such as the rule of reason or enslavement to passion. He also interrogates the less familiar Greek notion of the intellect’s divinity, and asks what that might mean for us.

Because Plato’s dialogues articulate these themes more sharply and influentially than works by any other Greek thinker, Plato receives the most sustained treatment in this account. But at the same time, Long asks whether Plato’s explanation of the mind and human behavior is more convincing for modern readers than that contained in the older Homeric poems. Turning to later ancient philosophy, especially Stoicism, Long concludes with an exploration of Epictetus’s injunction to live life by making correct use of one’s mental impressions.

An authoritative treatment of Greek modes of self-understanding, Greek Models of Mind and Self demonstrates how ancient thinkers grappled with what is closest to us and yet still most mysterious—our own essence as singular human selves—and how the study of Greek thought can enlarge and enrich our experience.

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new book – ‘Search: How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter’ by Stefan Weitz

November 4, 2014

Search

Search: How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter (Green House Collection) by Stefan Weitz (Bibliomotion, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Search is as old as language. We’ve always needed to find something in the jumble of human creation. The first web was nothing more than passing verbal histories down the generations so others could find and remember how not to get eaten; the first search used the power of written language to build simple indexes in printed books, leading to the Dewey Decimal system and reverse indices in more modern times.

Then digital happened. Besides having profound societal impacts, it also made the act of searching almost impossibly complex for both engines and searchers. Information isn’t just words; it is pictures, videos, thoughts tagged with geocode data, routes, physical world data, and, increasingly, the machines themselves reporting their condition and listening to others’.

Search: How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter holds up a mirror to our time to see if search can keep up. Author Stefan Weitz explores the idea of access to help readers understand how we are inventing new ways to search and access data through devices in more places and with more capabilities. We are at the cusp of imbuing our generation with superpowers, but only if we fundamentally rethink what search is, how people can use it, and what we should demand of it.

See also: Author’s website

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