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Do your genes determine your entire life? | Julian Baggini | Science. Whenever you read stories about identical twins separated at birth, they tend to follow the template set by the most remarkable of them all: the “two Jims”. James Springer and James Lewis were separated as one-month-olds, adopted by different families and reunited at age 39. When University of Minnesota psychologist Thomas Bouchard met them in 1979, he found, as a Washington Post article put it, both had “married and divorced a woman named Linda and remarried a Betty. They shared interests in mechanical drawing and carpentry; their favourite school subject had been maths, their least favourite, spelling.

They smoked and drank the same amount and got headaches at the same time of day.” Other studies at the world-leading Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research suggest that many of our traits are more than 50% inherited, including obedience to authority, vulnerability to stress, and risk-seeking. Many find this disturbing. The answer would appear to be to justify eternal damnation. Who am I? A philosophical inquiry - Amy Adkins. What life means to einstein. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability. A Breakup Letter from Simone de Beauvoir.

By Maria Popova “I can still feel warm and happy and harshly grateful when I look at you inside me.” As a lover of letters, especially exquisite love letters, I find myself enamored with Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair (public library) by Anna Holmes — a moving, rigorously researched collection of breakup letters from women across ten centuries, known and unknown, including favorites like Anaïs Nin and Sylvia Plath, and divided thematically — the tell-offs, the “just friends,” the marriage refusals, the unsent letters, and more. (Bonus points: The foreword is by none other than Francine Prose.) One of the most stirring letters in the anthology comes from French writer, feminist, intellectual, and existential philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, author of the cult-classic treatise The Second Sex. Hell Hath No Fury is a trove of literary breakup zingers in its entirety. Donating = Loving Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month.

Josh Knobe: Experimental Philosophy and the Notion of the Self (HeadCon '13 P... I'm going to be talking today about some recent work in the field of experimental philosophy. But before I talk about what this actual recent work has discovered I want to say something briefly about what this field is. What is the field of experimental philosophy? Experimental philosophy is a relatively new field—one that just cropped up around the past ten years or so, and it's an interdisciplinary field, uniting ideas from philosophy and psychology. In particular, what experimental philosophers tend to do is to go after questions that are traditionally associated with philosophy but to go after them using the methods that have been traditionally associated with psychology. If you want to get a vague sense of what this field is like, you might consider the analogy of neuroeconomics. If you open up a typical paper on neuroeconomics, you see this experimental methodology and statistical analyses that would be very much at home in just any other kind of paper in cognitive neuroscience.

Animated Philosophers Presents a Rocking Introduction to Socrates, the Father... Would there be such a thing as philosophy had there been no such person—or literary character, at least—as Socrates? Surely people the world over have always asked questions about the nature of reality, and come up with all sorts of speculative answers.

But the particular form of inquiry known as the Socratic method—a blanket presumption of ignorance—would not have become the dominant force in Western intellectual history without its namesake. And that is, of course, not all. In the work of Socrates’ highly imaginative student, interpreter, and biographer Plato, we find, as Alfred North Whitehead suggested, a “wealth of general ideas” that have made for “an inexhaustible mine of suggestion” for philosophers since antiquity. As bluesman Robert Johnson did for rock and roll, Socrates more or less single-handedly invented the formulas of Western thought.

The comparison with Christ is relevant in more ways than one. Related Content: 140 Free Online Philosophy Courses. My Father, the Philosopher. If the bed was here, if I touched it, lay down in it, walked away and came back, then it existed. If it existed, then when I left for school and came back, it would still be there. If it was there today, then it would be there tomorrow. Right, Dad? I touched the objects in the house. My father smiled, pleased. Descartes's bad dream. “Think about your first premise.” “My first what?” “Your first premise. If your father is a philosopher, then you should expect to lose many arguments. For my friends and me, the best seats in my family’s station wagon were in the way-back. But Adrianne and Christy widened their eyes when they asked him.

I hated those faces. "Of course," my father said when they asked. "NO Way! " "Who's going to sit back there if they don't? " "Nobody. " "And where are you going to sit no matter where they sit? " "In the front. " "So how is it not fair? But my situation would be worsened. "Adrianne. And so I learned utilitarianism. My father's philosopher friend Paul came over. OK? Kierkegaard on the Individual vs. the Crowd, Why We Conform, and the Power of... By Maria Popova “Truth always rests with the minority … because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion.” “When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else,” Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her spectacular meditation on happiness and conformity, “you surrender your own integrity [and] become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”

And yet conformity is not only a survival strategy for us but also something institutionally indoctrinated in our culture. A century earlier, the great Danish writer and thinker Søren Kierkegaard, celebrated as the first true existentialist philosopher and an active proponent of the benefits of keeping a diary, contemplated this eternal tension between the individual and the crowd. A year later, in 1847, Kierkegaard revisits the question of the individual and the crowd: He later adds: Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr. Why I Am Not a Utilitarian. Utilitarianism is a widely despised, denigrated and misunderstood moral theory. Kant himself described it as a morality fit only for English shopkeepers. (Kant had much loftier aspirations of entering his own “noumenal” world.) The adjective “utilitarian” now has negative connotations like “Machiavellian”. It is associated with “the end justifies the means” or using people as a mere means or failing to respect human dignity, etc.

For example, consider the following negative uses of “utilitarian.” “Don’t be so utilitarian.” To say someone is behaving in a utilitarian manner is to say something derogatory about their behaviour. When Jeremy Bentham introduced utilitarianism in the 1700s, it was a radical, revisionary and welcome new moral theory. Utilitarianism had its heyday until about 50 years ago when it started to be pushed aside for neoKantian, feminist and virtue theories. As we argue, Utilitarianism is a comprehensive moral doctrine with wide ranging impact. What about ordinary people? A Natural History of Love. By Maria Popova “A one-syllable word heavy as a heartbeat … a sort of traffic accident of the heart.” “You can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better,” a wise woman wrote . But what, exactly, is love? Written nearly two decades ago, A Natural History Of Love ( public library ) by prolific science historian Diane Ackerman , Carl Sagan’s favorite cosmic poet , endures as one of the most dimensional explorations of humanity’s highest emotion.

Love is the great intangible. Even the very etymology of love shies away from explaining how, when, and why we imbued love with such immense significance: What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. Donating = Loving.

Meaning of life

Soccer, a Beautiful Game of Chance. What Is a Brand? Marketing Redefines Our Lives in Strange New Ways. Here is an old Polish anti-communist joke: "Socialism is the synthesis of the highest achievements of all previous historical epochs. From tribal society, it took barbarism. From antiquity, it took slavery. From feudalism, it took relations of domination. From capitalism, it took exploitation. And from socialism, it took the name. " Is it not similar with brand names?

A couple of decades ago two new labels established themselves in the fruit juice (and also ice cream) market: "forest fruit" and "multivitamin. " Can we get rid of this excessive dimension and use only names that directly designate objects and processes? Another effort to get rid of brand names is grounded not in poverty but in extreme consumerist awareness. The anti-commodity presentation of a commodity is not a novelty.

But do such logo-less products really remove us from commodity fetishism? This dimension of lethal excessive enjoyment is at work in all publicity and commodity appeals. Authentic experience matters. The Dark Side of Certainty: Jacob Bronowski on the Spirit of Science and What Auschwitz Teaches Us About Our Compulsion for Control. How authors from Dickens to Dr Seuss invented the words we use every day. Butterfingers Charles Dickens used the term in his 1836 The Pickwick Papers (more properly called The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club): "At every bad attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in such denunciations as 'Ah, ah! —stupid'—'Now, butter-fingers'—'Muff'— 'Humbug'—and so forth.

" Chintzy Originally this word meant to be decorated or covered with chintz, a calico print from India, or suggestive of a pattern in chintz. It was extended to mean unfashionable, cheap or stingy, coming from none other than Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, who wrote in a letter in 1851: "The effect is chintzy and would be unbecoming. " Chortle Blend of "chuckle" and "snort", created by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass: "'O frabjous day!

Cojones Testicles in the allegorical sense, representing courage and tenacity. Debunk Doormat Eyesore Factoid Feminist Gremlin Honey trap International. 100 Websites You Should Know and Use (updated!) Entertainment Meet David Peterson, who developed Dothraki for Game of Thrones There are seven different words in Dothraki for striking another person with a sword. Among them: “hlizifikh,” a wild but powerful strike; “hrakkarikh,”a quick and accurate strike; and “gezrikh,” a fake-out or decoy strike. But you won’t find these words in George R. R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is where Dothraki originated as the language […] Culture My Year of TED: How 54 talks changed a life By Kylie Dunn What do you get when you cross a 39-year-old perfectionist with 54 TED Talks and far more honesty than any person probably needs to experience?

Entertainment Meet David Peterson, who developed Dothraki for Game of Thrones There are seven different words in Dothraki for striking another person with a sword. Culture My Year of TED: How 54 talks changed a life. Love Is Walking Hand In Hand: The Peanuts Gang Defines Love, 1965. By Maria Popova “Love is being happy knowing that she’s happy… but that isn’t so easy.” The Peanuts series by Charles M. Schulz endures as one of the most beloved cartoons of all time, partly because of Schulz’s gift for capturing the great, tender truths of human existence through remarkably simple, sometimes poetic, often humorous, always profound vignettes. Hardly does it get more profound and poetic, however, than in Schulz’s 1965 book, Love is Walking Hand In Hand — an utterly lovely tiny treasure, in which Lucy and Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang define love through the simple acts and moments of everyday life.

I recently managed to snag a used copy of the long-out-of-print gem, in which I found a living testament to the joy of second-hand books: Tucked inside it, on the second page, was the greatest treat of all — a loving, heartfelt inscription by a man (a boy?) Donating = Loving Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. On Craftsmanship: The Only Surviving Recording of Virginia Woolf’s Voice, 1937.

By Maria Popova “Words belong to each other.” On April 29, 1937, as part of their Words Fail Me series, BBC broadcast a segment that survives as the only recorded voice of Virginia Woolf — passionate love-letter writer, dedicated diarist, champion of reading, widely mourned luminary, muse to Patti Smith. The meditation, which was eventually edited and published in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (public library) in 1942, a year after Woolf’s death, was titled “Craftsmanship” and explores the art of writing. Annotated transcript below the recording. The beginning of the essay isn’t preserved in the recording, which begins about a third in. Since the only test of truth is length of life, and since words survive the chops and changes of time longer than any other substance, therefore they are the truest.

Woolf also considers the near-mystical quality of language, the way it defies rational judgement by enslaving the intuitive: Full audio transcript below: Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr.