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Why do we believe in electrons, but not in fairies?

Why do we believe in electrons, but not in fairies?
by Benjamin Kuipers No one has directly observed either electrons or fairies. Both of them are theoretical constructs, useful to explain observations that might be difficult to explain otherwise. The "theory of fairies" can actually explain more things than the "theory of electrons". So why do we believe in electrons, but not in fairies? Is the issue a political one, where the "electron" fans got the upper hand in the nineteenth century, so by the twentieth century the "fairy" fans were a scorned and persecuted minority? No, to both. Fairies are much more free. It's always possible that there really are fairies. The scientific method is an amazing procedure for incrementally improving certain kinds of theories: those that make testable predictions. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory, because it implies a large number of specific testable claims. The theory of intelligent design could be true. The scientific method is an enormous intellectual asset to the human race.

The Dada Engine This is the homepage for the Dada Engine. This page is rather old, and has been moved almost unedited from its previous home on I haven't had time to actively maintain it. Oh well; the source code is here, so that's a start... The Dada Engine is a system for generating random text from grammars. The current Dada Engine distribution is 1.03. The Dada Engine manual is now online. Other pages An application of the Dada Engine, the Postmodernism Generator, is accessible via the Web. Change log: 18-8-2000: Fixed a stupid bug; now it does compile without modification... 9-6-2000: Released 1.02, a bugfix release. The Null Device

Visions of Nature > Nature as Culture A diffuse vision of nature arising in the social sciences and humanities concerns nature as culture. This vision emphasizes nature’s inextricable connection with human meaning, in contrast to the prevalent notion of nature as entirely separable from culture. As with the other visions, it poses important challenges and opportunities for rethinking science and religion, in this case as human endeavors versus direct conduits to reality and God. The separation of nature and culture is one of the most deeply-engrained divides in Western thought (Glacken 1967). The vision of nature as culture has roots in Kantian philosophy and earlier expressions of idealism, but it is best known for its recent flourishing in opposition to naïve notions of objectivism underscoring the practice and interpretation of natural and behavioral science. The vision of nature as culture, then, resonates with a diffuse epistemological position characterizing many of the social sciences and humanities.

On Human Nature, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Kate Soper QUESTION: You have argued that any stance one takes on political, economic, social or even personal issues is ultimately based on some conception of human nature. Why is this? CHOMSKY: Any stance we take is based on some conception of what is good for people. This conception will tacitly presuppose a certain belief as to the constitution of human nature -- human needs and human potential. You might as well bring them out as clearly as possible so that they can be discussed. QUESTION: According to your view of human nature, all human beings possess certain biological functions endowing them with common mental capacities. CHOMSKY: Not even the most extreme postmodernist can seriously argue that there is no such thing as human nature. QUESTION: Are you suggesting everyone agrees about the nature of vice and virtue? CHOMSKY: In fact I think they probably have a very high measure of agreement. QUESTION: Most people certainly try to offer moral justifications for what they do. QUESTION: Right.

Martin Heidegger First published Wed Oct 12, 2011 Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) was a German philosopher whose work is perhaps most readily associated with phenomenology and existentialism, although his thinking should be identified as part of such philosophical movements only with extreme care and qualification. His ideas have exerted a seminal influence on the development of contemporary European philosophy. They have also had an impact far beyond philosophy, for example in architectural theory (see e.g., Sharr 2007), literary criticism (see e.g., Ziarek 1989), theology (see e.g., Caputo 1993), psychotherapy (see e.g., Binswanger 1943/1964, Guignon 1993) and cognitive science (see e.g., Dreyfus 1992, 2008; Wheeler 2005; Kiverstein and Wheeler forthcoming). 1. Martin Heidegger was born in Messkirch, Germany, on September 26, 1889. Heidegger's philosophical development began when he read Brentano and Aristotle, plus the latter's medieval scholastic interpreters. 2. 2.1 The Text and its Pre-History

Existentialism WOODY ALLEN: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn't it? GIRL IN MUSEUM: Yes it is. WOODY ALLEN: What does it say to you? GIRL IN MUSEUM: It restates the negativeness of the universe, the hideous lonely emptiness of existence, nothingness, the predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity, like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void, with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos. In the 1988 movie Beetlejuice, we meet a young couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) who have met an untimely death and find themselves involuntarily haunting their own home. As they enter the waiting room for the center, through a one-way turnstyle, we notice that a sign over the door says: This is an allusion to another story about the afterlife, a play by Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) called, indeed, No Exit (Huis Clos, 1944). Now why is it that "hell is other people"? Now, what is the point of this story?

20 Essential Works of Existential Fiction Trying to pin down some of the specific tenets of existentialism can be, ironically, bit of an existential exercise. Although the thinkers and writers who’ve contribued to the field can vary greatly in their teachings, they share the belief that existentialism is a school of philosphical thought devoted to the conditions of a person’s specific existence and how he or she creates that life, deals with its obstacles, and finds a meaning in being alive. Soren Kierkegaard is typically regarded as the father of the movement, though he didn’t earn that honorific until after he’d died. Basically, any work that deals with the fundamental questions of what it means to be a human, to exist in the world and interact with those in it, and to search for the meaning of it all can be classified as existentialist. Give the novels below a read and you’ll start to see the patterns emerge.