"Once upon a time back in divinity school, my ethics professor was making a point about ballet and its particular physical ideal. The professor suggested that perhaps ballet should be supplanted by belly dance. As a fan of Lieber and Stoller, this struck me as an odd recommendation. Belly dance has more than its own share of ethical problems, especially around feminity, sexuality, and minority/modernity issues. I can make my entire argument in one YouTube video."
"For Americans, this problem is bigger than just belly dancing. Gershwin is a klezmer, who jacked the melody from a Jewish blessing over the Torah for "It Ain't Necessarily So". Elvis made his name off of white-washing black spirituals. Contemporary rock, which is as American as apple pie, owes its musical identity to British bands. General Tso's Chicken was invented in New York. Our formative political documents are all but plagarized from French revolutionaries. As the song goes: "It's a French kiss, Italian ice, margaritas in the moonlight, just another American Saturday night." Since Columbus landed on the shore, everything American has been a derivative from someone else.
But don't light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks just yet..."
I'm suspicious about the methodology here: self-reports of traits are infamously bad at reflecting reality. But it's interesting nonetheless.
She lost me right at the beginning. Note that "How do we make decisions?" and "How do we learn about the nature of the external world?" aren't philosophical question. They're empirical questions (which, of course, beg philosophical questions, but that's another rant).
This imprecision is endemic to "neuro-X" fields (which are soon to be the new "X Studies" fields). She continued to demonstrate the imprecision with the answer to his question: "I love my child because of [bio]circuits and [bio]chemicals?" / "Yes." The correct, philosophically precise answer, is "No". The issue is that "because of" bit. The "because of" bit means that we are talking causality, and that's tricky business to work out.
It is true that he loves his child by means of biocircuits and biochemicals, which is to say, the biocircuits and biochemicals are precisely correlated with his loving. But the loving is an action which can happen by means of other biocircuits and other biochemicals (for instance, in the case of brain-damaged children or after an epileptic has a corpus callosum divided). Further, (if promissory materialism is to be believed) the loving could occur by means of non-biological and non-chemical circuitry altogether. So the biochemicals and biocircuitry aren't necessary.
The biocircuits and biochemicals also aren't sufficient, in that they need to be properly ordered, something which occurs thanks to environmental input: it's not that Colbert exists in one moment in time, separated from any earlier causality, even though that's how MRI scans work (and even fMRI have a timeline of but a brief moment). The reality is that if Colbert didn't receive the kind of stimulus (read: upbringing) which lead his brain to be ordered in such a way as to be conducive to love (read: taught to love), then it's entirely possible that he wouldn't be able to love. So, does Colbert love his children because of biocircuitry and biochemicals? Or does he love because of his upbringing situating the biochemicals and biocircuitry in such a way as to be capable of functioning to produce love?
Or does he love because emergent within those biochemicals and biocircuitry is a subjectivity which is capable of experiencing love--a subjectivity that is dependent upon (and perhaps materially identical to) the brain but not reducible to it?
Note that the field's definition itself -- "neuro-X" -- presumes an answer to this question. The answer it presumes is "No", because it is the material, empirically-accessible brain that must be the answer...otherwise, we wouldn't be doing "Neuro-X". So it presumes that the answer is the brain by how it situates the question, then does an analysis within that self-limited paradigm and discovers (Lo! and behold!) that the answer is the brain, and then publishes a book and acts all smug about how everyone else is deluding themselves and overcomplicating questions.
This gets me back to my recurring point: that our assents (which are often tricky and implicit) often define our answers in how we ask and parse the question. For more on that, see here: https://plus.google.com/114670102270110551777/posts/LhsiPZwmfHk
When my wife gave birth to our baby daughter four months ago, my brother gave me all our old NES stuff, including the Power Pad with the Olympics game. I'm keeping it in storage until I can share it with her...but I'd love to see that Co-Optitude show!
<<In his Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, written in 1830, Sir Walter Scott, noted: ‘It is certain that no story of witchcraft or necromancy, so many of which occurred near and in Edinburgh, made such a lasting impression on the public as that of Major Weir. The remains of the house in which he and his sister lived are still shown at the head of the West Bow, which has a gloomy aspect, well suited for a necromancer. At the time I am writing, this last fortress of superstitious renown is in the course of being destroyed.’
The property has been used by the Quaker religious community for around 25 years.
Anthony Buxton, manager of the Quaker Meeting House, said: ‘This was the first time I had been told Major Weir’s home was actually here.
‘I thought it had been demolished by people who didn’t want anything to do with it.
‘That said, one of my staff some years ago said he had seen Weir walk through the wall. If Dr Bondeson is right, Weir’s house is in our toilet, which seems appropriate.’>>
This paper on consciousness and materialism is one of my favorite pieces of work that I have ever done.
As far as I can tell, you get to pick between two popular conceptualizations of weddings in the United States right now:
1) A public statement by two people in front of (hand-picked) people that the two people are currently planning on being really serious about not breaking up.
2) A ceremony required by the state and scripted by tradition, resulting in getting a diploma making it okay with God if you two to have sex.
You can mix-and-match, if you'd like.
I'd like to see the church have something to say about that, but I fear it's too busy being inclusive.
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