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New Kindle ebook on Amazon: ‘Understanding the Brain’ by The New York Times for $2.99

June 8, 2015

Understanding the Brain

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new book – ‘Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies’ by Cesar Hidalgo

June 4, 2015

Why Information Grows

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo (Basic Books, 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

What is economic growth? And why, historically, has it occurred in only a few places? Previous efforts to answer these questions have focused on institutions, geography, finances, and psychology. But according to MIT’s antidisciplinarian César Hidalgo, understanding the nature of economic growth demands transcending the social sciences and including the natural sciences of information, networks, and complexity. To understand the growth of economies, Hidalgo argues, we first need to understand the growth of order.

At first glance, the universe seems hostile to order. Thermodynamics dictates that over time, order–or information–will disappear. Whispers vanish in the wind just like the beauty of swirling cigarette smoke collapses into disorderly clouds. But thermodynamics also has loopholes that promote the growth of information in pockets. Our cities are pockets where information grows, but they are not all the same. For every Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Paris, there are dozens of places with economies that accomplish little more than pulling rocks off the ground. So, why does the US economy outstrip Brazil’s, and Brazil’s that of Chad? Why did the technology corridor along Boston’s Route 128 languish while Silicon Valley blossomed? In each case, the key is how people, firms, and the networks they form make use of information.

Seen from Hidalgo’s vantage, economies become distributed computers, made of networks of people, and the problem of economic development becomes the problem of making these computers more powerful. By uncovering the mechanisms that enable the growth of information in nature and society, Why Information Grows lays bear [sic] the origins of physical order and economic growth. Situated at the nexus of information theory, physics, sociology, and economics, this book propounds a new theory of how economies can do, not just more, but more interesting things.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

Comments (0) - culture,new books

new book – ‘Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning’ by Scott Soames

May 26, 2015

Rethinking Mind, Language, Meaning

Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning (Carl G. Hempel Lecture Series) by Scott Soames (Princeton University Press, 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

In this book, Scott Soames argues that the revolution in the study of language and mind that has taken place since the late nineteenth century must be rethought. The central insight in the reigning tradition is that propositions are representational. To know the meaning of a sentence or the content of a belief requires knowing which things it represents as being which ways, and therefore knowing what the world must be like if it is to conform to how the sentence or belief represents it. These are truth conditions of the sentence or belief. But meanings and representational contents are not truth conditions, and there is more to propositions than representational content. In addition to imposing conditions the world must satisfy if it is to be true, a proposition may also impose conditions on minds that entertain it. The study of mind and language cannot advance further without a conception of propositions that allows them to have contents of both of these sorts. Soames provides it.

He does so by arguing that propositions are repeatable, purely representational cognitive acts or operations that represent the world as being a certain way, while requiring minds that perform them to satisfy certain cognitive conditions. Because they have these two types of content—one facing the world and one facing the mind—pairs of propositions can be representationally identical but cognitively distinct. Using this breakthrough, Soames offers new solutions to several of the most perplexing problems in the philosophy of language and mind.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s webpage

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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 – ‘Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles’ by Dan Ariely

May 20, 2015

Irrationally Yours

Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles by Dan Ariely, ill. by William Haefeli (Harper Perennial, 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Three-time New York Times bestselling author Dan Ariely teams up with legendary The New Yorker cartoonist William Haefeli to present an expanded, illustrated collection of his immensely popularWall Street Journal advice column, “Ask Ariely”.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely revolutionized the way we think about ourselves, our minds, and our actions in his books Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty. Ariely applies this scientific analysis of the human condition in his “Ask Ariely” Q & A column in the Wall Street Journal, in which he responds to readers who write in with personal conundrums ranging from the serious to the curious:

  • What can you do to stay calm when you’re playing the volatile stock market?
  • What’s the best way to get someone to stop smoking?
  • How can you maximize the return on your investment at an all-you-can-eat buffet?
  • Is it possible to put a price on the human soul?
  • Can you ever rationally justify spending thousands of dollars on a Rolex?

In Ask Ariely, a broad variety of economic, ethical, and emotional dilemmas are explored and addressed through text and images. Using their trademark insight and wit, Ariely and Haefeli help us reflect on how we can reason our way through external and internal challenges.  Readers will laugh, learn, and most importantly gain a new perspective on how to deal with the inevitable problems that plague our daily life.

Google Books preview:

Ask Ariely: (Free) Advice! from Advanced Hindsight on Vimeo.

See also: Author’s website

Comments (0) - cognitive science