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What are you reading?
Posted: 04 June 2012 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 316 ]
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Started ‘Elbow room”, by Dennett. Again it is clear: this man thinks deeper than nearly every philosopher I know.
As next book on the pile is his later ‘Freedom evolves’, about how free will naturally evolved. I had just a glance in it, it seems to have literally qualities.

In the meantime I finished Harris’ which is a very shallow book. It is more of a pamphlet. Typically a neuroscientist, suffering from scientism.

Dennett’s outlook does not deny any science, he even is one of the most science-oriented philosophers existing nowadays. But he does not fall for the overly quick and wrong conclusions as Harris does.

And before I read two books of Lawrence Kraus: ‘A universe from nothing’ and ‘Fear of physics’. Not easy, but great reads. The first give you a little insight why the universe could exist without a cause (from nothing, as the title says); the second gives a great insight in the way physicists think, en passant giving a lot of information about QM and the universe.

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Posted: 04 June 2012 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 317 ]
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asanta - 03 June 2012 01:34 AM

Newton and the Counterfeiter. Very good so far.

Oooh! I’d forgotten about that one.

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 04 June 2012 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 318 ]
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One of the bloggers on FTB was reviewing the book Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique by John Gribbin. From his glowing description of the book the author seemed more to be making an argument from ignorance, and suffered from lack of imagination more than anything else. His argument appears to be (by the blogger’s description) that it is unlikely that there is another planet exactly like ours, without the exact history (of collisions,ice ages, and the Cambrian Explosion) so we are probably the only planet with life. This rather strikes me as saying because life is so wonderful and plentiful here in the balmy Northern California, life could not possibly exist in Olso, Norway.
...seems like another ‘sciency’ version of a creationist argument.

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Posted: 04 June 2012 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 319 ]
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You’re quite right, Asanta.  That’s a completely specious argument.  First, from what we know now there are probably billions of planets similar to ours, and second, our life occurred matched to the earth’s environment.  There’s nothing to say that a different variety of life couldn’t form dependent on the different environment of another planet.

Occam

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Posted: 05 June 2012 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 320 ]
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GdB - 04 June 2012 10:08 AM

Started ‘Elbow room”, by Dennett. Again it is clear: this man thinks deeper than nearly every philosopher I know.

It’s a great book. As he’s gotten older, Dennett’s books have tended to suffer a little from bloat, but Elbow Room is just concise enough.

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Posted: 05 June 2012 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 321 ]
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dougsmith - 05 June 2012 03:58 AM
GdB - 04 June 2012 10:08 AM

Started ‘Elbow room”, by Dennett. Again it is clear: this man thinks deeper than nearly every philosopher I know.

It’s a great book.

Thought you would say that… wink

dougsmith - 05 June 2012 03:58 AM

As he’s gotten older, Dennett’s books have tended to suffer a little from bloat, but Elbow Room is just concise enough.

Well, I am not 100% sure, but I think in such deep questions as consciousness and free will, several tasks have to be done:

1. Of course, define a correct model that seems to fits to our life and to the results of science.
2. Show why other philosophers (and neuroscientist who think they are philosophers) are wrong.
3. Show how we are seduced by deep felt, but wrong intuitions, and by wrong use of everyday concepts.

To soak people out of their Cartesian Cage is not an easy task, as many of the Cartesian notions are firmly rooted in our every day way of thinking about our life. Just simple declaration of a new model, and the arguments in favour of it might not be enough. To give an example: Dennett’s concept of the Cartesian Theatre, and how many people are still imprisoned by it was for me an eye opener: that only the question where in the brain we become conscious, and at what time exactly we become conscious show we are still Cartesian.

Maybe Dennett has discovered that just giving the right arguments is not enough. Wisdom of an old man…

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Posted: 05 June 2012 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 322 ]
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Although I don’t often agree with Dennett, his ability to express his thoughts is simply astonishing. I am now reading The Company of Strangers, a book on the history of economics by Paul Seabright, with a foreword by Dennett. The book is okay, but the foreword by Dennett is just beautiful. What a clear mind!

BTW, Doug, I am not sure if you’re aware of this, but everything you’ve ever written here, reads just as clear as Dennett’s stuff. Sometimes I wonder what you’re doing here, wasting your time on this forum. You should be writing books.

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Posted: 05 June 2012 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 323 ]
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George - 05 June 2012 07:03 AM

BTW, Doug, I am not sure if you’re aware of this, but everything you’ve ever written here, reads just as clear as Dennett’s stuff. Sometimes I wonder what you’re doing here, wasting your time on this forum. You should be writing books.

I sometimes thought Doug was Dennett. Only the picture of his blog showed to me he wasn’t.

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Posted: 05 June 2012 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 324 ]
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George - 05 June 2012 07:03 AM

BTW, Doug, I am not sure if you’re aware of this, but everything you’ve ever written here, reads just as clear as Dennett’s stuff. Sometimes I wonder what you’re doing here, wasting your time on this forum. You should be writing books.

Thanks, George. I believe I can write clearly, but I tend to get interested in a whole lot of diverse things and am aware that I can never master them all. To write a book means finding something that I would want to live with for a year or so. That’s hard enough. But more than that, it means finding something that other people would actually want to buy and read. The stuff we’re dealing with on this forum is all esoterica by ordinary standards. I mean, the science isn’t, but I’m no scientist.

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Posted: 05 June 2012 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 325 ]
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GdB - 05 June 2012 07:12 AM

I sometimes thought Doug was Dennett. Only the picture of his blog showed to me he wasn’t.

LOL

Nah, he’s much smarter than me.

Great guy, BTW. Back in grad school I got to hang out with him a little when he came to visit. (He was a good friend of my advisor).

I recall he was a big fan of the calvados ...

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Posted: 05 June 2012 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 326 ]
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So write a book about yourself, Doug. A sci-fi novel about a guy who loves wine, comics, philosophy and religion, and knows a thing or two about modern art. You just need some aliens and a bit romance to give it a story and you’re on your way.  grin

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Posted: 05 June 2012 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 327 ]
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George - 05 June 2012 07:38 AM

So write a book about yourself, Doug. A sci-fi novel about a guy who loves wine, comics, philosophy and religion, and knows a thing or two about modern art. You just need some aliens and a bit romance to give it a story and you’re on your way.  grin

LOL

I’ll give it a thought, George. Who knows?

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Posted: 05 June 2012 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 328 ]
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I agree with your evaluation of Doug, George.  In addition, he gets all my jokes, no matter how lame they may be.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 05 June 2012 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 329 ]
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Yes, Occam, I’ve already told you a number of times it was my fault I didn’t get many of your jokes. Pardon my IQ deficiency. Maybe I didn’t get enough iodine as a kid or something…  grin

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Posted: 05 June 2012 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 330 ]
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Nah, it’s genetic.  My father was a wise-ass, too.

Occam

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