I'm basically done reading Massimo Pigliucci's "Answers for Aristotle" and I highly recommend it. It's a great book for those of us who enjoy thinking rationally and critically, and who love both science and philosophy. "Sci-Phi", as Massimo calls it, offers the perfect combination to inform how one should live one's life. in the beginning he argues that science has gotten a bit dissociated from philosophy (at least, in the practice of some science by some scientists) and how science alone cannot give us all the answers because science is about facts, not values, although science does and should inform us about what we should value. The book is highly entertaining and chockfull of information, Prof. Pigliucci starts each chapter by reviewing the science of the specific subject (for example in the part about morality, he goes through the origins and evolution of morality, and also through the moral theories). He also addresses how our minds work in terms of how rational we are, what cognitive biases we suffer from by default and how to try to overcome them. He also has fun chapters on love and friendship. Another big part is about humans as political animals, and of course, he addresses god and religion? What does science says in terms of why our brains conceive the supernatural, or invent organized religion? He does a great job at reviewing the neuroscience of how we perceive patterns, agency, "feel" another's presence, out of body experiences, etc. and also the philosophical and anthropological aspects of religion.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, it's > 300 pages but I read it very quickly. Go for it!
Here is a little review:
A look at why both science and philosophy are necessary to “approach the perennial questions concerning how we construct the meaning of our existence.”
Pigliucci (Philosophy/CUNY-Lehman Coll.; Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk, 2010, etc.), who holds doctorates in both biology and philosophy, provides an overview of relevant philosophic arguments about virtue, beginning with Aristotle's thoughts on how to achieve a happy and fruitful life: “doing the right things for the right reason” while rising above “weakness of the will.” Pigliucci compares this with the views of utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and the rule-based prescriptions of Immanuel Kant. He also looks at how neuropsychologists deal with the putative existence of free will by constructing experiments (using fMRI scanning devices) that show brain activations of muscles before a subject is aware of making a conscious decision to act. Warning that experiments often do not simulate realistic situations, he argues that the relationship between science and philosophy is highly complex. We must “let philosophy (informed by science) guide us in principle, and to use science (steered by philosophy) as our best bet for implementing those principles,” he writes. Pigliucci applies Aristotle's four causes principle to illustrate the nature of religious belief, which “is made possible by the neurobiological characteristics of the human brain that make us prone to superstitious thinking.”
A useful introduction to sources on both sides of the science-philosophy divide.
Sounds good, i went ahead and bought it!
Sounds interesting! I will add to my list of to read and then try to make my day have 36 hours just so I can have bonus time for reading.
I am reading this book now and have learned quite a bit about the brain, being an expert and intuition. I highly recommend it!
Ten years to be an expert, which seems about right.
Started the first chapter last night, looking forward to the read. =)
Bourbon, leading me to a More Meaningful Life.
Wine/ alcohol must be leading me to headache full life!
Go for red wine, didn't you see the NYT article on Mediterranean diet and reducing heart disease risks? :-)