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new book – ‘Berkeley’s Puzzle: What Does Experience Teach Us?’ by John Campbell and Quassim Cassam

October 3, 2014

Berkeley's Puzzle

Berkeley’s Puzzle: What Does Experience Teach Us? by John Campbell and Quassim Cassam (Oxford University Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Sensory experience seems to be the basis of our knowledge and conception of mind-independent things. The puzzle is to understand how that can be: even if the things we experience (apples, tables, trees etc), are mind-independent how does our sensory experience of them enable us to conceive of them as mind-independent? George Berkeley thought that sensory experience can only provide us with the conception of mind-dependent things, things which cannot exist when they aren’t being perceived.

It’s easy to dismiss Berkeley’s conclusion but harder to see how to avoid it. In this book, John Campbell and Quassim Cassam propose very different solutions to Berkeley’s Puzzle. For Campbell, sensory experience can be the basis of our knowledge of mind-independent things because it is a relation, more primitive than thought, between the perceiver and high-level objects and properties in the mind-independent world. Cassam opposes this ‘relationalist’ solution to the Puzzle and defends a ‘representationalist’ solution: sensory experience can give us the conception of mind-independent things because it represents its objects as mind-independent, but does so without presupposing concepts of mind-independent things.

This book is written in the form of a debate between two rival approaches to understanding the relationship between concepts and sensory experience. Although Berkeley’s Puzzle frames the debate, the questions addressed by Campbell and Cassam aren’t just of historical interest. They are among the most fundamental questions in philosophy.

Google Books preview:

See also: John Campbell on Berkeley’s Puzzle at Philosophy Bites

Comments (0) - new books,reality

Kindle Daily Deal for Thurs. 10/2 – ‘Unwind!: 7 Principles for a Stress-Free Life’ by Michael Olpin for $1.99

October 2, 2014

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new book – ‘How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World’ by Steven Johnson

October 1, 2014

How We Got to Now

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson (Riverhead, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and Everything Bad Is Good for You, a new look at the power and legacy of great ideas.

In this illustrated volume, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.

In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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new book by Steven Pinker – ‘The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century’

September 30, 2014

The Sense of Style

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (Viking, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

A short and entertaining book on the modern art of writing well by New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker

Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care?

In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and more. Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty-first century, Pinker doesn’t carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rulebooks of a century ago. Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose.

In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical knowhow, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others. He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish.

Filled with examples of great and gruesome prose, Pinker shows us how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right.

Google Books preview:

Book trailer:

See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human’ by David Roden

September 25, 2014

Posthuman Life

Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human by David Roden (Routledge, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

We imagine posthumans as humans made superhumanly intelligent or resilient by future advances in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science. Many argue that these enhanced people might live better lives; others fear that tinkering with our nature will undermine our sense of our own humanity. Whoever is right, it is assumed that our technological successor will be an upgraded or degraded version of us: Human 2.0.

Posthuman Life argues that the enhancement debate projects a human face onto an empty screen. We do not know what will happen and, not being posthuman, cannot anticipate how posthumans will assess the world. If a posthuman future will not necessarily be informed by our kind of subjectivity or morality the limits of our current knowledge must inform any ethical or political assessment of that future. Posthuman Life develops a critical metaphysics of posthuman succession and argues that only a truly speculative posthumanism can support an ethics that meets the challenge of the transformative potential of technology.

See also: Author’s website

Comments (0) - human evolution,mind,new books