iai.tv news RSS feed https://iainews.iai.tv/articles-old/life-and-the-living How To Escape The Dangers of Overthinking https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-escape-the-dangers-of-overthinking-auid-1068 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/dangers-of-overthinking.jpg" /><br />&quot;Thinking hurts&quot; — this is how the German philosopher Georg Simmel is said to have consoled his students. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber (1878-1965) would give this ironic remark of his teacher an ethical twist by noting that &quot;thinking&quot; can also hurt others. For in our encounter with our fellow human beings we often tend to allow established categories of thought to determine how we relate and perceive them. In doing so, Buber held, they in effect become objects of thought, an &quot;It&quot;, rather than indivuals whose existential reality is impervious to the markers that thought constructs. To be sure, these markers — concepts and categories — may be intrinsically benign and essential to navigating the multiple by-ways of life. We need them to recognise others and position them in the sociological landscape of everyday life: the other may be a physician, an electrician, a priest, a rabbi; elderly, young, tall, slim. But these markers, as indispensable as they may be, cannot comprehend tha... Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:29:54 +0000 Paul Mendes-Flohr https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-escape-the-dangers-of-overthinking-auid-1068 Issue 63: Love and Death https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/issue-63-love-and-death-auid-1036 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/romeo-and-juliet-edited.png" /><br />How can we love without losing ourselves? Why is passion so destructive? And what does it mean to love the dead? “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead” wrote Bertrand Russell. His words cast love and death as the two most powerful forces shaping our existence, the crucial threads from which we weave the narratives of our lives. Love and death are central to the human endeavour to understand the world. Timeless themes in philosophy and art, they have endless cameos in popular culture and continue to be interrogated by philosophers, novelists, musicians and poets alike. In literature, from Romeo and Juliet to the Great Gatsby, the trope of dead lovers, destroyed by passion, has become cliché. Love is compared to madness, fire, a prison, even hell; in fact, it seems strangely close to death itself. In psychoanalysis, Freud argued that, although conflicting, Eros and Thanatos are deeply intertwined, while BDSM emerges out of the shadowy relatio... Tue, 06 Feb 2018 10:33:44 +0000 Editor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/issue-63-love-and-death-auid-1036 What if the One Isn't the One? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/dances-with-norms-auid-1011 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/ardian-lumi-dances-with-norms.jpg" /><br />“Received wisdom” is a kind of cultural white noise: it comes at us all the time, and we mostly tune it out. It comes at us from TV, radio, Twitter, news, fake news, family, friends, fake friends, colleagues. A continuous feed of messages we’ve heard so often we don’t even hear them any more. Left unchallenged, they become foundation notes for our lives. The effects of this can be incredibly intimate. These days, I only wear underwear from the company that advertises on all my favourite podcasts. Our closest relationships are at least as intimate as our underwear, and they can be influenced in the same way. I work on isolating and questioning implicit signals about love and romance buried in the white noise. Let’s tune in for a moment and make a few of these messages explicit. First message: love (especially romantic love) is the best thing there is. Second message: it’s something money can’t buy. Third message: it’s what a truly good person wants out of life (as opposed to wealth, pow... Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:28:31 +0000 Carrie Jenkins https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/dances-with-norms-auid-1011 Why Schools Must Give Up the Myth of Success https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-schools-must-give-up-the-myth-of-success-auid-1032 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/school-and-failure.jpg" /><br /> We need to inject a little more humility into education. In a culture of ‘stretch’ and ‘striving’ where everyone has to be all they can be, this may seem sacrilegious, even if grand utopic visions have a tendency to leave things in a mess for the ordinary folks caught up in their wake. Samuel Beckett worked hard to rid us of the remnants of delusions, illusions, utopias, salvation narratives or ideals that give false comfort to a human life. His works articulate an ethical position that, rather than taking refuge in speculation about how the world ought to be, help human beings to respond courageously to how things are – ‘how it is’. “If humanity learns to forgo personal ambition and think in terms of cooperation, compassion and companionship, it will be happier” – this is what publisher John Calder said is the message of Samuel Beckett’s work.  Whether or not Calder is correct in his analysis, it serves as an interesting provocation to those of us working and participating in systems... Mon, 05 Feb 2018 12:24:06 +0000 Aislinn O'Donnell https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-schools-must-give-up-the-myth-of-success-auid-1032 How Kierkegaard's thought can solve our greatest source of unhappiness https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-kierkegaards-thought-can-solve-our-greatest-source-of-unhappiness-auid-1150 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/busyness-as-unhappiness.jpg" /><br />A 2016 article in the Journal of Consumer Research argues that busyness has become a status symbol.  In earlier societies, such as the 19th century Thorstein Veblen describes in his Theory of the Leisure Class, the wealthy conspicuously avoided work. They saw idleness as an ideal.  By contrast, contemporary Americans praise being overworked. They see busy individuals as possessing rare and desirable characteristics, such as competence and ambition. To respond philosophically to our new overworked overlords and status icons, we need only return to the 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is known for his philosophical account of boredom, which is often associated with idleness. If busyness is the opposite of idleness, perhaps he can diagnose busyness also. Kierkegaard’s work emphasizes indeterminate experiences—experiences that are not about some particular object or thing. Kierkegaard’s discussion of anxiety is perhaps the best known example of this sort of ex... Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:56:29 +0000 Karl Aho https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-kierkegaards-thought-can-solve-our-greatest-source-of-unhappiness-auid-1150 Chasing Intensity: The Philosophy of Martial Arts https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/chasing-intensity-the-philosophy-of-martial-arts-auid-1069 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/chasing-intensity.jpg" /><br />It is impossible to be brief in Asian martial arts. To begin training these arts is to commit to a gradual process of remaking yourself, body and soul.   Martial arts today are not about self-defense on the streets. The world is not so dangerous for the 99 percent of the middle-class Western people who fill the training studios. Also, a lot of what we diligently train is of limited use against typical urban threats. Some evenings, for instance, see my colleagues and I chasing each other with four-foot bamboo swords.   The threats we are most likely to encounter on our urban streets involve a handgun or a knife. Self-defense against handguns is very advanced. One might train in Asian martial arts for years without learning it. But the worst-case scenario in self-defense is knife crime. The disarming techniques against knife attacks all carry a dangerous amount of risk.   So there is a big gap between what Asian martial arts concentrate on and practical training in self-defense. Contempo... Thu, 19 Apr 2018 15:30:51 +0000 Barry Allen https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/chasing-intensity-the-philosophy-of-martial-arts-auid-1069 Issue 62: Try again, fail again, fail better https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/issue-62-try-again-fail-again-fail-better-auid-1013 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/boxing-jpeg.jpg" /><br />What does it mean to fail today? How can we overcome a fear of failure? Is there value to be found in defeat? “New year, new you”. A phrase synonymous with January and the tide of resolutions it announces. We make vows to exercise more, eat less, be more productive, be less stressed: become better people, essentially. Yet studies show 80% of these resolutions fail by February. While few of us are spared the spectre of failure in January or elsewhere in our lives, in a world of Instagram perfection, falling short seems out of fashion. Yet proverbial wisdom reminds us that “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, and some of the greatest philosophical minds agree. Confucius said ‘Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail’ while Beckett quipped: “Try again, fail again, fail better.” So is failure good for us? Is there value to be found in the midst of defeat, and if so, what is it? Should we always get back on that horse? Can we learn from our mistakes and b... Tue, 09 Jan 2018 11:17:36 +0000 Editor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/issue-62-try-again-fail-again-fail-better-auid-1013 On Being A Stoic At Christmas https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-be-a-stoic-at-christmas-auid-1010 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/christmas-tree.jpg" /><br />The question is whether Stoics are all Scrooges. At least inwardly, since they have been represented as lacking a rich emotional life. (That is flatly false, by the way, but a topic for another time.)  Christmas is an extended festival of joyful hope, gift-giving, concern for each other's welfare, and special concern and care for children, the sick, the poor, the old, and those who are overburdened. It is organized around the retelling of an event of great emotional potency and complexity for believers – the birth of a child whose existence is directly intended by God, in circumstances which are impoverished and dangerous, and who is destined to be executed as a common criminal, only to be resurrected and become the Savior to all those – and only those – who believe in him. The festival is typically organized in a way that emphasizes the joy at the sight of a healthy mother and her newborn, dresses up the impoverished physical circumstances with shepherds and wise men arriving with gif... Fri, 22 Dec 2017 17:47:15 +0000 Lawrence C. Becker https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-be-a-stoic-at-christmas-auid-1010 How to Cope With Sorrow and Loss: the Advice of Al-Kindi https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-cope-with-sorrow-and-loss-the-advice-of-al-kindi-auid-1005 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/al-kindi.jpg" /><br />Al-Kindī was the first thinker in the Islamic world to think of himself as a “philosopher” (in Arabic faylasūf), a proud heir to the wisdom of the Greeks. He played a crucial role in the transmission of Greek science and philosophy into Arabic, and was honored with the epithet “philosopher of the Arabs.” None of which prevented him from falling prey to a court intrigue during the reign of Mutawakkil in the middle of the ninth century CE. Thanks to the conniving of rival scholars, al-Kindī fell from favour and was beaten, and his library was confiscated. I like to think that in this testing moment, he was able to put into practice what he preached in a little treatise he composed called “How to Dispel Sorrow.” Like just about everything al-Kindī wrote, the work is an original composition yet takes inspiration from Greek exemplars. There is an extended version of a metaphor that already appeared in the Stoic Epicetetus, which compares our life here on earth to a sojourn on land that inte... Mon, 18 Dec 2017 10:17:54 +0000 Peter Adamson https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-cope-with-sorrow-and-loss-the-advice-of-al-kindi-auid-1005 Forgetting Plasticity: Catherine Malabou and the Brain Beyond Memory https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/forgetting-plasticity-catherine-malabou-and-the-brain-beyond-memory-auid-1053 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/exploding-brain-pic.jpg" /><br />Nowadays, we are nothing but our brains. Whereas we used to be composed of the intangible and unknowable secrets of mental or spiritual life, now we insist on the mechanistic materiality of the physical brain as the site of human being. This is the argument of Jan De Vos in his book Metamorphoses of the Brain, who describes the ongoing process of “neurologization” in which the brain has become the scientific and cultural obsession of our times. We celebrate the brain as the seat of humanity’s supposed intellectual superiority: a bio-chemical marvel of invention, imagination, and memory.  This celebration of the brain increasingly focuses on the discovery of (neuro)plasticity: the brain’s capacity to be “plastic” and mutable, to adapt and reform itself throughout life in response to experience or injury. In this way, it goes, our brains sculpt our identity – or do we sculpt out brain’s identity? – just as an artist sculpts a sculpture or other works of plastic art. Individual identity i... Thu, 29 Mar 2018 17:06:20 +0000 Benjamin Dalton https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/forgetting-plasticity-catherine-malabou-and-the-brain-beyond-memory-auid-1053 Sober Reflections: A Philosopher's Advice On Going Dry https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-philosophers-counsel-on-dry-january-auid-1017 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/thomas-picauly-65648.jpg" /><br />Feasting and fasting are two sides of the same coin: altered attitudes to eating that reflect special moments in the year, changes of moods or attempted corrections. The heady spectacle of the Venice Carnivale celebrates a return to meat after religious abstinence and a need for excess, just as excessive fasting suggests a necessary correction to overindulgence. Each enjoyable in its own way because they mark a departure from the everyday and we know they will make us feel different. Endless feasting would soon pall into a dulling of the senses, and, like excessive fasting, would end up as a form of pathology.However, these states reflect different attitudes and have entirely different time courses.To feast is to look forward, to anticipate more and more pleasures, but while each item is enjoyed as much or more than the last there will come a time when eating anything else is unsustainable. It reminds me of Kingsley Amis’s apt remark that getting drunk was very pleasurable but that bei... Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:34:45 +0000 Barry C. Smith https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-philosophers-counsel-on-dry-january-auid-1017 Yoga Is Philosophy of Mind in Practice https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-yoga-auid-1012 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/ivan-tejero-yoga.jpg" /><br />1.       The Purpose of Yoga: Liberation In recent years, especially in the West, Yoga has increasingly been reduced to practising postures/asanas and practitioners in general are quite oblivious to the fact that Yoga is an important philosophical system whose aim is to achieve mokṣa (moksha/liberation) for the practitioner. Patañjali, the author of the key texts of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras, who is considered to have lived in the 3rd century BCE, hardly talks about the āsanas. He is recognised as the first person to have brought all the yogic concepts, that had been scattered around since 2500BCE, in a structured framework, which presented the Yoga philosophy in the Yoga Sutras. Patañjali’s emphasis is on Yoga as a philosophical system only, that could help one attain moksha. Vyāsa, the first commentator of the Yoga Sutras, who probably lived around 5th century CE, mentions a few āsanas but doesn't focus on them much. While Indian philosophy has the concepts of ego and a ‘sense-of-I’, whi... Tue, 09 Jan 2018 10:19:45 +0000 T. S. Rukmani https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-yoga-auid-1012 Why Eros and Illness Make Good Bedfellows https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-eros-and-illness-are-bedfellows-auid-1100 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/christopher-campbell-30252-unsplash2-small.jpg" /><br />“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.&quot; Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (1978)Eros and illness are abstract terms, with widely differing definitions, but equally undefined and unexpected they broke into my life as anything but abstractions.  I belong to the growing number of family members suddenly thrust into the role of caregivers: spouses, siblings, adult children looking after elderly parents, even (as in AIDS-devastated Africa) exhausted grandparents or overwhelmed teenagers left to care for disease-orphaned children.    Eros is the classical god of desire, and classical writers did not think highly of his love-related activities.  “He ruins mortals and causes them every kind of disaster…”: so Euripides writes. Eros for Greek tragedians is a power that, simply put, can rip your life apart.  The Golden Ass, a late Latin romance, describes Eros (in his Roman form as Cupid) “rampaging through people’s houses at night... Fri, 22 Jun 2018 10:27:33 +0000 David Morris https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-eros-and-illness-are-bedfellows-auid-1100 On Kierkegaard and Tinder: An Interview with Christopher Hamilton https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/on-kierkegaard-and-tinder-an-interview-with-christopher-hamilton-auid-833 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Kierkegaard-Tinder.png" /><br />Christopher Hamilton is Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion at King’s College London and the author of The Philosophy of Tragedy, Middle Age and How to Deal with Adversity. After beginning his undergraduate studies at King’s, his journey through philosophy came full circle when he joined the Department of Religious Studies and Theology in 2003. Along the way he held teaching and research positions across Europe at the University of Bonn, the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, Salzburg and Trent, Italy. His work focuses on core themes in moral philosophy but always with an eye on aesthetics (no pun intended), political philosophy and philosophy of religion. He contends that philosophy has largely lost touch with the ancient goals of seeking wisdom and exploring the meaning of life and seeks to make these a core principle of his work. This interview was conducted by phone following Christopher’s participation in the IAI’s weekend retreat on the philosophy of love, The Gre... Thu, 25 May 2017 11:08:28 +0000 Christopher Hamilton https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/on-kierkegaard-and-tinder-an-interview-with-christopher-hamilton-auid-833 Between Good and Evil https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/between-good-and-evil-auid-887 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/janne-image-4.PNG" /><br />Can we know how far we would go under other circumstances? No. But we can know the equation and many of the variables that steer us. And the better we know these, the easier we can improve on ourselves and be assured that we would know where to draw the line, where to halt steps down an avenue of human wrongs. The only obstacle is self-deception. When in 1993-94 I worked in Mozambique for the United Nations peace process, I was involved in daily negotiations with leaders of both the government and the rebel movement RENAMO, most of whom we knew had ordered or personally committed horrendous atrocities during the civil war. It had been a seventeen-year long destabilization war mostly targeting the civilian population rather than being a confrontation of armies. The rebels had terrorized by the power of the gun in guerrilla style ambushes. The government soldiers had looted their own population with the indemnity of state power; chopping off breasts, noses or ears, mass rapes and killing... Thu, 28 Sep 2017 14:21:19 +0000 Janne Teller https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/between-good-and-evil-auid-887 Existentialism is a Humanism – but not in Erdogan's Turkey https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/existentialism-is-a-humanism-but-not-in-turkey-auid-1026 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/camusturkeyban.png" /><br />It is indeed quite absurd – but not in the sense which Albert Camus deemed philosophically interesting. In 2017, the works of philosophers Baruch Spinoza and Albert Camus were reportedly confiscated from Turkish public libraries because they were labelled as active members of a terrorist organisation. Their names were mentioned in the notebooks of a journalist who was brought to court for membership in a terrorist organisation. According to a Deutsche Welle report in November 2017, owning and reading books by Spinoza or Camus was apparently, and however briefly, an arrestable offence. If true, that is absurd. After all, Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He wrote literature about real human conflict, and about the importance of loyalty. His novels are preoccupied with the most extreme situations (such as in The Plague) as well as the everyday. They provide close studies of personality as well as revelations of historical worlds. Camus’ novels are also concerned with how ... Mon, 22 Jan 2018 12:15:37 +0000 Tanja Staehler https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/existentialism-is-a-humanism-but-not-in-turkey-auid-1026 Does Pessimism Have a Future? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-pessimism-be-a-philosophical-school-auid-1028 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/pessimism-as-a-philosophy.jpg" /><br />We’re Doomed Pessimism is the night-side of thought, a melodrama of the futility of the brain, a poetry written in the graveyard of philosophy. Pessimism is a lyrical failure of philosophical thinking, each attempt at clear and coherent thought, sullen and submerged in the hidden joy of its own futility. The closest pessimism comes to philosophical argument is the droll and laconic “We’ll never make it,” or simply: “We’re doomed.” Every effort doomed to failure, every project doomed to incompletion, every life doomed to be unlived, every thought doomed to be unthought. Pessimism is the lowest form of philosophy, frequently disparaged and dismissed, merely the symptom of a bad attitude. No one ever needs pessimism, in the way that one needs optimism to inspire one to great heights and to pick oneself up, in the way one needs constructive criticism, advice and feedback, inspirational books or a pat on the back. No one needs pessimism, though I like to imagine the idea of a pessimist acti... Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:02:08 +0000 Eugene Thacker https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-pessimism-be-a-philosophical-school-auid-1028 Can We Reinvent Ourselves? An Existentialist View https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-we-reinvent-ourselves-auid-1133 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Can-we-reinvent-ourselves-Sartre-Beauvoir-Kate-Kirkpatrick.jpg" /><br />In Jean-Paul Sartre’s well-known lecture ‘Existentialism is a Humanism’ he wrote that no one’s place in the world is foreordained and that you are what you make of yourself. So at first glance it might seem that the existentialist answer to the question ‘can we reinvent ourselves?’ is yes—in fact, we can never stop reinventing ourselves. But ‘reinventing ourselves’ implies that we have selves to reinvent, and that we have the power to reinvent them—and not all existentialists agreed about the truth of these claims.  In Sartre’s early philosophy he denied the existence of a self as a unifying structure of consciousness. He argued that Descartes (and Kant and Husserl after him) failed to make an important distinction between two forms of consciousness: reflective and pre-reflective. Descartes famously wrote ‘I think, therefore I am’. But in The Transcendence of the Ego Sartre objected that ‘the consciousness which says “I think” is precisely not the consciousness which thinks’. The self ... Mon, 20 Aug 2018 09:06:11 +0000 Kate Kirkpatrick https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-we-reinvent-ourselves-auid-1133 Countering the Achievement Society https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/should-we-rediscover-education-as-leisure-auid-1109 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/countering-the-achievement-society-iaitv2.jpg" /><br />It has almost become a cliché to characterize the time in which we live as the Age of Burnout. An increasing number of books, articles, and opinion editorials are being written on the subject of “the epidemic of vital exhaustion” (see for example, The Guardian’s recent piece, “How Burnout Became a Sinister and Insidious Epidemic”). My own interest and research into fatigue stems in large part from my work and observations in a university setting, where a common complaint (or perhaps boast?) of faculty, staff, administrators, and students is how exhausted we are. But fatigue is often linked to a host of other problems, including depression and anxiety, physical ailments, addiction issues, and in general, joylessness and a sense of alienation from one’s family, friends, community, and from oneself as a whole person. Students are frequently the focus of a university’s efforts to (re)invigorate energies, prove the institution’s vitality, and increase the measurable outcomes for “success,” ... Mon, 16 Jul 2018 17:16:39 +0000 Rebecca Rozelle-Stone https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/should-we-rediscover-education-as-leisure-auid-1109 What Is The Meaning of Life? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-auid-1130 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/jaison-lin-737662-unsplash.jpg" /><br />According to scientific materialism, we human beings are just chemical machines (“throwaway survival machines,” to quote the arch-materialist Richard Dawkins) whose only purpose is to survive and reproduce, so that our genes can continue. Otherwise there isn’t really much of consequence in our lives. We may attempt to create other kinds of meaning – for example, by following a religion, trying to become rich or famous, or trying to make the world a better place – but all we’re really doing is following our genetic and neurological programming. Even our consciousness – the feeling of having experience inside our own heads – may not really exist, or is just a kind of shadow of our brain activity. However, I take the rather unfashionable view that there is meaning to life. I don’t think we are just ghost-like entities living inside our machine-like bodies with an indifferent machine-like world out there, in cold separation on the other side of our heads. That human life is just a meaningl... Mon, 13 Aug 2018 17:27:34 +0000 Steve Taylor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-auid-1130 Can We Reinvent Ourselves? A Buddhist View https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/reinventing-ourselves-according-to-the-buddha-auid-1108 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/joshua-newton-146009-unsplash.jpg" /><br />Is self-transformation possible and, if so, how can it be achieved? An initial reading of Buddhist philosophy might suggest a simple but perhaps unilluminating answer. The Buddha taught that attachment to self is a central cause of human suffering. It underpins many of the psychological states that detract from our happiness and that we might wish to change. However, the Buddha also taught that attachment to self is rooted in ignorance because there is, in fact, no self. Taken at face value, this might seem to suggest that self-transformation is not possible because there is no self to transform. You can’t change what’s not there.While there is a seed of truth to this, it is too simplistic to see it this way. When the Buddha taught that there is no self, he meant to deny that we have a permanent, unchanging essence. The idea is that if we analyse ourselves into all of our constituent parts (our physical bodies, beliefs, desires, memories, dispositions and all other psychological tenden... Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:04:41 +0000 Bronwyn Finnigan https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/reinventing-ourselves-according-to-the-buddha-auid-1108 The Ethics of Powerlessness: An Interview with Béatrice Han-Pile https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-ethics-of-powerlessness-an-interview-with-beatrice-han-pile-auid-1095 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/the-ethics-of-powerlessness-philosophy-iaitv.png" /><br />Béatrice Han-Pile is a professor of philosophy at the University of Essex and principal investigator on a AHRC-funded project on The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today.Han-Pile studied philosophy, history and literature at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and was awarded a Fellowship from the Thiers Foundation while completing her doctoral thesis on Michel Foucault. Before arriving at Essex, she taught in France at the Universities of Paris IV-Sorbonne, Reims and Amiens, as well as teaching at University of California, Berkeley as a Visiting Scholar twiceover. Her writing primarily focuses on Foucault, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Heidegger and aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to the BBC's flagship arts and culture radio programme, In Our Time. Speaking over Skype,  we discussed how the Ethics of Powerlessness project investigates the meaning and appropriateness of the strict division between agents and patients, the nature of medio-passive agency amongst terminally... Mon, 18 Jun 2018 16:48:06 +0000 David Maclean https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-ethics-of-powerlessness-an-interview-with-beatrice-han-pile-auid-1095 The Roots of Anxiety and How to Escape It https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-roots-of-anxiety-and-how-to-escape-it-auid-1065 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/steve-taylor-pic-jpeg.jpg" /><br />Before we look at ways of dealing with anxiety, it’s a good idea to define what we mean by the term. I think it’s helpful to think in terms of three different kinds of anxiety. First of all, there is ‘instinctive anxiety,’ which is based on threats or dangers to our survival. This is what we experience when walking near the edge of a high cliff, in deserted city streets at night, or when someone verbally abuses us or threatens us with violence. We instinctively feel anxiety in such situations, as a warning to be on our toes, or to flee from the potential danger. Instinctive anxiety is healthy. It has evolved over tens of thousands of years of human history, and we probably wouldn't be here without it. Secondly, there is what I call ‘traumatic anxiety.’ This is anxiety related to traumatic life experiences, usually in early life, that have left behind some degree of psychological sensitivity and vulnerability. Traumatic anxiety arises very strongly when we face situations that remind of... Mon, 09 Apr 2018 09:35:31 +0000 Steve Taylor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-roots-of-anxiety-and-how-to-escape-it-auid-1065 Can the Concept of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Be Harmful? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-the-concept-of-ptsd-be-harmful-auid-1054 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/joshua-sortino-431615-unsplash.png" /><br /> I have worked over many years with victims of torture, rape, institutional abuse and deprivation as well as those who have suffered serious traumatic events in the course of their ‘ordinary’ lives. I have had the privilege to work with individuals, families and communities in rural Ireland, inner-city settings in the UK, various countries in Africa, Asia and New Zealand. I have come to the conclusion that the assumptions involved in the concept of PTSD: hyponarrativity, commitment to a cognitivist/computational model of mind and an inbuilt linear approach to psychological time mean that it cannot capture the complexity of human responses to traumatic events. Because of these implicit assumptions, the discourse of PTSD serves to individualise and decontextualise human suffering. In doing this, it distorts the way in which we understand healing and recovery. The psychiatric diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become increasingly popular since it was first introduced i... Tue, 03 Apr 2018 09:36:50 +0000 Patrick Bracken https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-the-concept-of-ptsd-be-harmful-auid-1054 Living On When Love Dies https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/living-on-when-love-dies-auid-1033 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/christopher-hamilton-image-2.jpg" /><br />There’s a theory propounded by some historians that modern divorce is a substitute for death. In the past, so the theory goes, most people died young and so hardly any couples lived on together for many years. One – or both of them – died. These days, where lots of us are lucky enough to have a good chance of living to three score years and ten, we spend a great deal more time in couples, and so have a much greater chance of getting thoroughly sick of each other. Your partner will probably not die, and nor will you, so the next best thing is divorce. Not very consoling, you might think. But maybe it is. It shows that relationships are trickier than we admit, and that the fact they might end doesn’t mean they weren’t worthwhile. All relationships are failures The first thing to remember is that relationships don’t just fail by ending. Even the best relationships are riddled with failure, just as the best person is. Human desire and need are limitless, and even the kind of life that loo... Mon, 05 Feb 2018 14:08:42 +0000 Christopher Hamilton https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/living-on-when-love-dies-auid-1033 How Illness Transforms Philosophy https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-dont-philosophers-pay-more-attention-to-illness-auid-1029 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/cancer.png" /><br />Illness is a breathtakingly intense experience. It unsettles, and sometimes shatters, the most fundamental values and beliefs we hold. It is physically and emotionally draining. It can be physically and psychologically debilitating. Illness requires serious effort and continuous work to adapt practically to its limitations and to adjust psychologically to the pain, restricted horizons and frustration it brings. It forces the ill person and those around her to confront mortality in its most direct manifestation. In all of these ways illness requires labour, attention, and a conscious and sustained effort. But, as I argue in my latest book, Phenomenology of Illness (OUP 2016), illness is also existentially and intellectually demanding – and potentially rewarding – in ways hitherto unexplored. Illness can challenge our most fundamental beliefs, expectations and values and this accords it a distinct and important philosophical role. For example, the belief that a longer life is better than... Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:05:46 +0000 Havi Carel https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-dont-philosophers-pay-more-attention-to-illness-auid-1029 Weinstein, Philosophy and Structures of Abuse https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/weinstein-westminster-and-philosophy-structures-of-abuse-auid-978 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/weinsteinwestminsterphilosophy.png" /><br />The recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s serial predatory sexual harassment – and worse – over a period of more than 30 years have caused some serious debate and reflection. Crucial to this reflection is the realisation that Weinstein is not a monster – if by dubbing him a ‘monster’ the implication is that he is a freak, a one-off, someone whose behaviour can simply be shrugged off as an aberration so that we can (most of us) happily carry on as though none of this has anything to do with us. There is a spectrum here, from sexist comments and an unwelcome but (in the circumstances) non-threatening hand on your knee at one end to rape and serious sexual assault at the other. What puts all of these behaviours on the same spectrum is that typically they are done by men who – whether by virtue of their position of power or authority, or simply because they are men and they are used to getting away with it – are doing it (again, typically) to women. That Weinstein managed to sink so ... Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:59:35 +0000 Helen Beebee https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/weinstein-westminster-and-philosophy-structures-of-abuse-auid-978 The Philosopher As Sportsman: An Interview with David Papineau https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-as-sportsman-an-interview-with-david-papineau-auid-842 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Diego-Maradonas-hand-of-God.jpg" /><br />David Papineau is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College London and City University of New York Graduate Center, and the author of Knowing The Score, a collection of essays exploring philosophical issues at the heart of sport. Papineau began his academic career with a degree in mathematics at the University of Natal, South Africa, before returning to England to make the formal transition to philosophy at Cambridge. His philosophical interests cover issues in metaphysics, philosophy of science, and the philosophy of mind and psychology, which often sees him as a contributor to The TLS, Aeon and The Philosopher’s Magazine. Following a landslide of technical issues, this conversation took place through a complex system of devices being held to microphones. Fortunately for this interviewer, David didn’t let any of it dampen his enthusiasm for our conversation. —David Maclean   DM: What came first for you – sport or philosophy? DP: That’s a good question! I guess it would have to be spo... Fri, 07 Jul 2017 11:58:05 +0000 David Maclean https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-as-sportsman-an-interview-with-david-papineau-auid-842 The Morality Instinct https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-morality-instinct-auid-477 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Molly-Crockett.jpg" /><br />What can science say about morality? Traditionally, the distinction between good and evil has been the terrain of philosophy and of religion. But in recent years, scientists have begun to explore the complex subject of morality, with surprising results. Might morality serve an evolutionary purpose? Is it even unique to humans? Molly Crockett is an American neuroscientist best known for her work on morality, altruism and decision-making. She is Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and is currently working on how harm aversion affects our decision-making processes. She spoke to the IAI about how neuroscience is changing the way we think about morality. Could you outline your thesis on morality – what forms does it take and what evidence is there to show that certain elements of morality are actually instinctive? It’s clear from research on both humans and animals that we have a very deeply rooted aversion to harming others, and this aversion to harmi... Wed, 07 Jan 2015 09:40:35 +0000 Molly Crockett https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-morality-instinct-auid-477 How To Choose Your Dream Job Like an Effective Altruist https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-choose-your-dream-job-like-an-effective-altruist-auid-1127 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/allef-vinicius-230238-unsplash.jpg" /><br />We’re terrible at predicting what will make us happy. When asked which factors they’d look for in a 'dream job', most people mention high income and low stress levels, i.e. a well-paid but relatively easy job. At first glance, this sounds great, but the evidence suggests that avoiding stress and having a high income aren’t that important, and have little effect on our overall happiness and job fulfilment. There are five factors of job satisfaction which I’ll discuss, and they're far better indicators of overall happiness and fulfilment at work than money or stress levels. Another common piece of career advice often doled out to high school students or recent graduates is to “follow your passion”, or “follow your heart”. Taken literally, however, the idea of following your passion is terrible advice. For most of us, our passions aren’t the same at 18 as they are at 35, and focusing only on what you’re passionate about now means you risk committing to projects that you soon find unintere... Fri, 03 Aug 2018 13:29:15 +0000 William MacAskill https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/how-to-choose-your-dream-job-like-an-effective-altruist-auid-1127 Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee? The Stoics and Existentialists agree on the answer https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/should-i-kill-myself-or-have-a-cup-of-coffee-the-stoics-and-existentialists-agree-on-the-answer-auid-924 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/camusmassimoskye.png" /><br />When every day many of us wake up to read about fresh horrors on our fresh horrors device, we might find ourselves contemplating the question as to whether, as Albert Camus supposedly put it, one should kill oneself or have a cup of coffee. If there is any philosopher who is famous for contemplating suicide, it’s Camus who, in a more serious tone, proposed in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus that, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.”The existentialists and Stoics are notorious for being at loggerheads on many issues. Yet Simone de Beauvoir, who was much less famous for her views on suicide than Camus, gives an example that shows the existential answer isn’t so far removed from the Stoic one – a fascinating case of philosophical convergence, two millennia apart.In 1954, Beauvoir was awarded France’s most prestigious literary prize for her book The Mandarins, in which the main character Anne contemplates suicide. When once she saw the world as vast an... Wed, 08 Nov 2017 15:04:38 +0000 Skye C. Cleary https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/should-i-kill-myself-or-have-a-cup-of-coffee-the-stoics-and-existentialists-agree-on-the-answer-auid-924 What is authentic love? A View from Simone de Beauvoir https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-is-authentic-love-a-view-from-simone-de-beauvoir-auid-918 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Kate-Kirkpatrick-Authentic-Love.png" /><br />Simone de Beauvoir spent more time talking about inauthentic love than authentic. But that is because she thought authentic love is so hard to achieve. From the vantage point of 2017, aspects of Beauvoir’s view of authentic love look rather dated and pessimistic: for one thing, it presents men and women in binary terms that are unlikely to resound with many readers. Today’s women have greater access to education and employment than women did in 1949, and may be less likely to see love as life, as Beauvoir charged, instead of a part of life. Although structural inequality persists, relationships between men and women – or men and men, or women and women, etc. – theoretically have better chances of proceeding on an equal footing. But nevertheless many cultural portrayals of love (from Puccini to pop) continue to depict it as a game between unequals – as conquest or domination, seduction or entrapment – where the boundaries are drawn along distinctly gendered lines. Such dynamics, on Beau... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:46:36 +0000 Kate Kirkpatrick https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-is-authentic-love-a-view-from-simone-de-beauvoir-auid-918 Could ritual spaces encourage collaboration over domination? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/could-ritual-spaces-encourage-collaboration-over-domination-auid-986 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/urban-spaces-jpeg.jpg" /><br />Do rituals have a place in modern life? Are they ultimately pointless, or rather essential for social life? Can rituals themselves become specific places where meaning and belonging can emerge? Might they offer social skills to “make-oneself-at-home” (Bergmann) in a world of homelessness and displacement? Exploring questions like these demands an open and comprehensive mind-set. Rituals are sociocultural mediums that invoke the ordered relationships between human beings and non-immediate sources of power, authority and value. According to Bell, they enable people to embody assumptions about their place in a larger order of things. Ritualizations are those actions that transform a practice into a ritual. The older assumption that religion and ritual would decline with the process of modernisation has, as we know from many studies, not come true. Instead one can follow and analyse processes of ritualization in different social spheres. One can even wonder if the skill to ritualise repres... Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:40:50 +0000 Sigurd Bergmann https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/could-ritual-spaces-encourage-collaboration-over-domination-auid-986 The Transcendent Necessity of Rituals https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-transcendent-necessity-of-rituals-auid-985 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/mark-vernon-jpeg.jpg" /><br />All cultural endeavours require rituals. There could be no modern science without the rituals of the lab and academy, say. There could be no modern art if people did not understand the rituals of the gallery, and how to make the right gestures to break them. And, of course, human community and religious practice is unimaginable without rituals, from shaking hands to lighting candles. So what is a ritual? Well, there are many answers to this question. But I'd like to focus on one that highlights the link between rituals and the transcendent. The psychologist, Abraham Maslow, called it B-cognition, as opposed to D-cognition. D-cognition is to do with the humdrum. The D stands for &quot;deficiency&quot; and Maslow saw this cognition as the kind of knowledge required for the daily business of striving and surviving, which is largely a process of finding what we lack. Hence, deficiency. In B-cognition, the B is for &quot;being&quot;, and this is the kind of understanding with which rituals and the transcendent... Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:34:08 +0000 Mark Vernon https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-transcendent-necessity-of-rituals-auid-985 Can rituals save us from loneliness? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-rituals-save-us-from-loneliness-auid-984 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/alastair-mcintosh-edited4.jpg" /><br />The festive season is coming – Winter Solstice, Christmas, the New Year. Rolling over into January, we have the 25th in Scotland to celebrate with whisky and haggis the poetry of Robert Burns. Then there’s Bridgit’s Eve, or Saint Bride’s night, on the 31st. At the risk of bringing on refrains from Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter, pursued by witches, what all these share in common for me is summed up in an old expression, “a good funeral”. I don’t know where your cultural reference points might lie, but in Scotland I’ve observed two things about a good funeral. First, there is the obvious: the provision of beverages. As a Ros Levenstein advert had it in the early 1970s, “I’m only here for the beer.” But second, and pressing deeper, there’s the spiritual spirit. A “good funeral” can be a fleeting but enduring portal into deeper life. Human minds work differently when we come together round a common cause for constellation. The transpersonal realm of interconnection can kick in. Alternate ways of s... Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:14:29 +0000 Alastair McIntosh https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/can-rituals-save-us-from-loneliness-auid-984 Sincerity and Superstars https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/sincerity-and-superstars-auid-919 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/bicknellredux.png" /><br />In February 2016 when Beyoncé dropped “Formation” the first single from her album Lemonade, nearly all of the critics agreed on two things: the song and video were a critical success, and the lyrics and images were deeply personal. Discussing the song in the New York Times, Jenna Wortham wrote that Beyoncé, “wants us to know — more than ever — that she’s still grounded, she’s paying attention and still a little hood.” And compared to her previous album, Lemonade feels like, “a rebuttal or perhaps an addendum to her thesis statement about who she is and what she stands for, but on her own terms of course.” Did Beyoncé protest these assumptions? Did she try to introduce some distance between her inner life and her music? Hardly. In a gesture she surely knew would not remain private, she sent Wortham flowers and a note that read in part, “Thanks for understanding my heart.” That critics and fans alike make connections between a singer’s repertoire and her personal life – and that performe... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:50:23 +0000 Jeanette Bicknell https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/sincerity-and-superstars-auid-919 Subversive Rituals – How I Become A Drag Queen https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/becoming-a-drag-queen-auid-982 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/subversiverituals.png" /><br />Drag performance has its roots in ancient ritual.  In Greece’s Golden Age, Antigone and Medea were played by male actors in the annual theater contest that was part of the week-long ritual to celebrate Dionysus.  Contemporary drag culture is ritualistic, but the ritual has a different form and a very different purpose.  For many modern gay man like me, drag is a two-tiered ritual of empowerment and acceptance. The first part of the ritual is personal.  Each queen has her own process.  Here is mine: I sit at my mirror.  Staring back is the face of the boy who was bullied and teased for being feminine and different. As a child, being called a girl was the worst possible insult.  I tried to fit in, butch it up, play a sport.  The result? More taunting: “Sissy!” “You throw like a girl!” “Fag!”  Eventually, I protected myself by squashing my nature, muting any flamboyance, conforming to a limited sense of masculinity.  I hid under drab clothes.  Awkward.  Self-conscious.  Afraid of myself. ... Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:35:03 +0000 Domenick Scudera https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/becoming-a-drag-queen-auid-982 Lost Ceremonies https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/lost-ceremonies-auid-983 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/quincianera-alison-millbank.jpg" /><br />Ours is a culture that has lost the ritual dimension to life and is suspicious of any ceremonial element to behaviour. By contrast, while visiting a church in Puebla, Mexico, I was privileged to see a fiesta de quinceañera, in which a young girl celebrated with enormous excitement her achievement of womanhood after puberty. Wearing a tiara and a lovely long dress, she was greeted as an adult for the first time by the congregation, and then departed for a celebration with her family and friends. Such rites of passage can easily become commercialised, but the principle is something we desperately need in Britain. Our culture is lacking in communal rituals in which we discover our roles and responsibilities, our value and dignity: literally our place in the world. Yet we cannot accept such rites because they counter the individualism of our conception of what it is to be human. Any group identity is now regarded as a denial of selfhood, and a rite of passage assumes you move from one stag... Tue, 05 Dec 2017 12:37:29 +0000 Alison Milbank https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/lost-ceremonies-auid-983 A New Science of Life https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-new-science-of-life-auid-415 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/8fa76MmUvwIkKgQffNQZ714P3pwveNBo6dHYVGMqvk.jpg" /><br />The hypothesis of morphic resonance proposes that memory is inherent in nature. The laws of nature are more like habits. Each species has a collective memory on which all individuals draw and to which they contribute. My interest in evolutionary habits arose when I was doing research at Cambridge on developmental biology, and was reinforced by reading Charles Darwin, for whom the habits of organisms were of central importance. As Francis Huxley has pointed out, Darwin’s most famous book could more appropriately have been entitled The Origin of Habits.   Morphic fields in biology Over the course of fifteen years of research on plant development, I came to the conclusion that genes are not enough for understanding how plants grow. Morphogenesis, literally meaning the coming-into-being of form, depends on organising fields. The same arguments apply to the development of animals. Since the 1920s many developmental biologists have accepted that biological organisation depends on organising ... Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:17:58 +0000 Rupert Sheldrake https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/a-new-science-of-life-auid-415 Beyond The Selfish Gene https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/beyond-the-selfish-gene-auid-527 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/459-Making-Humans.jpg" /><br />Darwin’s theory of evolution depends on reproduction (the capacity of individuals to survive and produce offspring), on heredity (the tendency of offspring to resemble their parents), and on variation (individuals differing from one another). Darwin recognized that natural selection occurs because the differences among individuals affect their survival and the numbers of offspring they produce. If the variations that affect reproduction are heritable, they increase in frequency and the outcome is evolutionary change. Many generations of natural selection in a particular direction, for example for moving efficiently through the air, increase the frequency of variants that eventually can give rise to complicated structures like wings and coordinated processes like flying. Clearly, to flesh out Darwinian evolution, we need to understand the processes that are at its core. We need to know how organisms develop to survive and reproduce, what is inherited and how it is inherited, how heritab... Thu, 07 May 2015 11:58:03 +0000 Eva Jablonka https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/beyond-the-selfish-gene-auid-527 The Persecution of Heretics https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-persecution-of-heretics-auid-427 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Crucifixion.jpg" /><br />Behind medicine's apparent Biblical authority lies an inquisitional apparatus aimed at silencing dissent. It is run by corporate PR and scientific planning agencies, backed by academic expertise, and its aim is to ensure that prescribing doctors keep on prescribing. The heretic ends up in the broad light of day, but the persecutor hides in the shadows. I should know. In a lecture for IAI, I outlined some of the many things that can be done to intimidate doctors – especially those who suggest that a brand-name drug might have significant adverse events. At the time the talk was being given I was being referred again to the General Medical Council (GMC). Further details of this will be announced soon. Readers will be invited to work out who is attempting to commit the murder, with what, and why. In this case is it the local health board, clinical colleagues, the relevant Royal College, the GMC itself, one of the major pharmaceutical companies, or even the Government?   A brief history of... Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:29:52 +0000 David Healy https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-persecution-of-heretics-auid-427 The Quest for Understanding https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-quest-for-understanding-auid-386 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Science-2.jpg"><br>Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, Peter Atkins is one of the world's foremost physical chemists, and the author of Galileo's Finger. Here, we spoke to Atkins about the problems of religion, the future of the Human Brain Project and why the power of the scientific method has no limits. It is clear that science is a passion for you. Was there perhaps a theory or an idea that had a particularly profound impact? No [laughs]. I think science is such a conglomeration of ideas that you immediately become aware of its explanatory power, and through that, the deepening of enjoyment of understanding why the world is the way it is and how it functions. So, it’s appreciating the global strength of the explanations that it gives. Your work has covered a diverse range of ideas and fields in science. Was this a decision that you made consciously? No, not at all. But a point I often make is that chemistry is so central that it’s natural for one’s interest to spread into nei... Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:34:07 +0000 Peter Atkins https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-quest-for-understanding-auid-386 One Culture for Science https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/one-culture-for-science-auid-407 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/9696950969-c31c1c1b17-k.jpg" /><br />In his now famous 1959 lecture, The Two Cultures, CP Snow said that the gulf between the sciences and humanities had created a significant barrier to solving the world’s problems. This prompted a debate that still rages today. On the one hand, the sciences and the humanities seem as segregated as they have ever been – especially within schools. But recent years have also seen a growing number of projects in which artists and scientists have worked together successfully. While some see this as a positive development in overcoming the barrier identified by CP Snow, others, such as Lewis Wolpert, maintain that the humanities have little to offer the practice of science. Author of Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression, broadcaster and scientist Wolpert is Vice President of the British Humanist Association and Emeritus Professor of Biology at UCL. Here, he talks to the IAI about Richard Dawkins, scientific ethics, and why art-science collaboration is doomed to failure.   Do you agree... Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:46:58 +0000 Lewis Wolpert https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/one-culture-for-science-auid-407 Drugged Up https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/drugged-up-auid-364 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/druggedup-3.jpg" /><br />If ever there were a case for an outside body to let the light in, then it’s here, today, in psychiatry. If today’s psychiatry is working, why are claims for mental disability going up? Why is there accumulating evidence that sufferers do better OFF the medication than on? Why is not more attention paid to the solid Swedish epidemiological evidence that ‘anti-psychotic’ drugs increase the risk of dementia up to 20-fold? All that known drug-induced brain damage has to show up somewhere. Why is increased suicide listed in the side-effects of the ‘anti-depressants’? And worst of all, why are so many drugs being given compulsorily, overriding the patient’s sensibly withheld consent – the iniquitous Community Treatment Orders (CTOs)? Even this has been shown not to work. The answer is that it is the psychiatrists who are addicted to hard medications. It’s a case of “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with facts”. The facts are overwhelming. On 30th April 2014, I attended the launch in t... Sat, 03 May 2014 22:08:35 +0000 Bob Johnson https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/drugged-up-auid-364 The Problematic Rise of Big Neuro https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-problematic-rise-of-big-neuro-auid-354 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Big-Neuro.jpg" /><br />The first “Big Science” projects came from physics and astronomy – think the atomic bomb, CERN or the Hubble telescope. No longer; now it is the turn of the biomedical sciences. Although the 1990s was supposed to be the decade of the brain and the 2000s that of the mind, brain science has hitherto lacked a big project and certainly a big budget. Now, suddenly, it has two. Last year the EU announced that one of the winners in its €1billion “Grand Challenges” competition was the Human Brain Project (HBP) – which recently received a funding boost thanks to a 40% increase in the number of partners in the HBP consortium. Also launched last year, with much fanfare, was President Obama’s $3billion “Brain Action Map” (BAM). Obama cited the Battelle Institute’s claim that every dollar spent on the Human Genome Project (HGP) had yielded $140 to the US economy, though as yet only the first $100 million has been committed to the project. For both the Europeans and the Americans, “solving” the huma... Sat, 19 Apr 2014 17:41:29 +0000 Hilary Rose https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-problematic-rise-of-big-neuro-auid-354 The Artifice of Eternity https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-artifice-of-eternity-auid-336 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Marcel-Theroux.jpg" /><br />Some time ago I bought a book called The Transhumanist Reader, a collection of essays published last year by thinkers associated with the transhumanist movement. Transhumanists are a diverse bunch, but what they have in common is the desire to use technology to overcome what they see as the limitations of the human condition. Their goal, if you like, is to become post-human.  &quot;Post-human beings would no longer suffer from disease, aging and inevitable death,&quot; writes Max More in the book's introductory essay. &quot;They would have vastly greater physical capability... much greater cognitive capabilities, and more refined emotions (more joy, less anger, or whatever changes each individual prefers).” It's a vision of the human future that's as vivid as it is extraordinary, and it speaks to one of our species' deepest wishes: the longing for eternal life. &quot;Consume my heart away;&quot; Yeats wrote, &quot;sick with desire and fastened to a dying animal. Gather me / Into the artifice of eternity.&quot; Alchemica... Sat, 22 Mar 2014 22:41:57 +0000 Marcel Theroux https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-artifice-of-eternity-auid-336 Gaia and the City https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/gaia-and-the-city-auid-323 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Lovelock1.jpg" /><br />One of the most famous names in environmentalism, James Lovelock is the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis, which sees the biosphere is a self-regulating entity. He is less well known as the inventor of both the microwave oven and the electron capture device. Here, he sits down with diplomat, academic and environmentalist Crispin Tickell to discuss the lone scientist, the “population problem” and why we shouldn’t try to air condition the whole of the Earth.   Crispin Tickell: I would argue that the work you’ve done in the past has been that of a lone scientist, and we all agree that lone scientists don’t operate in a void. Maybe you can say something about that? James Lovelock: That's a good one to start with, yes. Lone scientists are not very usual. In America they're considered very dangerous and people walk on the other side of the street if you come down. I was born in Letchworth Garden City, which I think was one of the first garden cities in the world. I'd been dumped there by my ... Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:40:44 +0000 James Lovelock https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/gaia-and-the-city-auid-323 What is Progress? https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-is-progress-auid-314 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Evolution.jpg" /><br />Eva Aldea, who specialises in the intersection of literature, philosophy and contemporary fiction, is Lecturer at Goldsmiths College in London. Here, she answers our questions about progress, evolution and why human culture may not be that unique after all. What is progress? We perceive certain things as progress depending on the aims and goals that we set. As such, all progress is always contingent and local – if our aim is to live longer as individuals, there has been some progress in the last hundred years, say. If our aim is to preserve as much wildlife as possible, there hasn't been. The notion of progress is imbued with the hopes and dreams of the human race – a yearning for or belief in making things “better” – which in itself is a characteristic of how our species evolved to better chances of survival.  Humans often mistake complexity for progress. Human beings may be some of the most complex beings that evolution has come up with, and so far that complexity seems to have been ... Sun, 09 Feb 2014 10:30:34 +0000 Eva Aldea https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-is-progress-auid-314 The Uniqueness of Humanity https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-uniqueness-of-humanity-auid-308 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/sprouting.jpg" /><br />When we come to ponder how, and to what extent, humanity differs from all other species, one crucial question that needs to be considered is this: what role, if any, does purposive action play in Darwinian evolution? One point must be made straight away. According to Darwinism - absolutely correctly - evolution itself has no purpose. Living things, however, do have purposes. Living things pursue such goals as nourishment, escape from predators, finding mates, care of offspring, defence of territory, and so on. Darwinian theory tells us that the supreme goal of all living things is survival and reproductive success. All being well, all other goals living things pursue contribute to the fundamental goal.There are biologists who think it heresy to attribute purposes to animals - let alone insects, plants, bacteria, or viruses. This is because they misconstrue what &quot;purposive action&quot; should mean in this context. First, they may think &quot;purpose&quot; means &quot;conscious purpose&quot;. That, of course, is... Sat, 25 Jan 2014 15:56:05 +0000 Nicholas Maxwell https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-uniqueness-of-humanity-auid-308 The Art of Community https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-art-of-community-auid-816 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Tudge-2-New.JPG" /><br />I have recently helped to set up the College for Real Farming and Food Culture, the immediate aim of which is to promote the Agrarian Renaissance – a complete re-think of the way we farm and organize farming. This in turn is conceived as part of a grand, across-the-board Renaissance – a complete re-think of everything: farming, politics, the economy, science, and the moral and metaphysical precepts that underlie all the things we do and think about. The stated goal of this whole endeavour is to create “Convivial Societies within a Flourishing Biosphere”. I can’t think of anything better or more important than that.So it is than on all big issues – nuclear power, the free market, and so on and so on – I tend these days to ask, “Do they contribute to the grand cause of convivial society, the wellbeing of our fellow creatures and the fabric of the Earth?”And how, by this criterion, should we judge the undoubted propensity and predilection of human beings for forming ourselves into tribes?... Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:22:43 +0000 Colin Tudge https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-art-of-community-auid-816 Utopia: Crunching the Numbers https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/utopia-crunching-the-numbers-auid-307 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Glenn-Brown.jpg" /><br />The present may be bad, but the future will inevitably be worse. That's the attitude of many of today's environmentalists. With that kind of attitude, is it even possible to avoid a catastrophic crash of human and natural systems? Or can we recover from this path we are on, if only we do something, quickly? Well, this is the kind of question that is worth asking the scientists who study these problems in a quantitative ecological sense, analysing it as a problem in global energy flows. The Socolow wedge diagrams out of Princeton suggest that yes, it is still possible for us to ratchet back from the edge of catastrophe by decarbonizing quite rapidly, which means applying every single method contemplated as soon and as fully as possible. We’re about at the moment where we’re leaving the cliff’s edge, but that’s better than running the numbers and finding you’re already out in space. There are well-articulated plans to get back to solid ground coming from many places, including Lester Bro... Sat, 25 Jan 2014 15:30:09 +0000 Kim Stanley Robinson https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/utopia-crunching-the-numbers-auid-307 The Emperor's New Genes https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-emperors-new-genes-auid-673 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Denis-Noble-50.jpg" /><br />To celebrate the millennium, the emperor was originally promised at least 100,000, a pair for every day of the 300 years he hoped to reign. But when the huge chests were delivered to his palace, he found only 20,000, and even those were padded out with huge bales of junk material. “These will only last me 60 years, the lifespan of a mere mortal!” he complained. “No matter, sir. In what we have delivered you will eventually find the cure for all those ailments from which you might die. Those will prolong your life, even ultimately achieve immortality. Just wait ten more years and you will see the magic potions appear in their hundreds.” The emperor waited patiently. But the genes failed to deliver their magic. “Where are all the hundreds of magic potions?” The courtiers meekly reply: “Sir, it’s rather disappointing. You can count them on the fingers of one hand.” “What went wrong?” “Well, it’s embarrassing but we really don’t yet know. But we’ll try again. Give us another ten years.” Sa... Sun, 15 May 2016 12:58:39 +0000 Denis Noble https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-emperors-new-genes-auid-673 The Science Delusion https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-science-delusion-auid-305 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/tube-3.jpeg" /><br />The “scientific worldview” is immensely influential because the sciences have been so successful. Their achievements touch all our lives through technologies and through modern medicine. Our intellectual world has been transformed through an immense expansion of our knowledge, down into the most microscopic particles of matter and out into the vastness of space, with hundreds of billions of galaxies in an ever-expanding universe.But now that science and technology seem to be at the peak of the power, when their influence has spread all over the world and when their triumph seems indisputable, unexpected problems are disrupting the sciences from within. Most scientists take it for granted that these problems will eventually be solved by more research along established lines, but some, including myself, think that they are symptoms of a deeper malaise.Contemporary science is based on the philosophy of materialism, which claims that all reality is material or physical. There is no reality... Sat, 25 Jan 2014 14:50:00 +0000 Rupert Sheldrake https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-science-delusion-auid-305 Beyond the Machine Metaphor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/beyond-the-machine-metaphor-auid-342 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/94-beyond-the-machine-2.png" /><br />Many people who have not studied science are baffled by scientists’ insistence that animal and plants are machines, and that humans are robots too, controlled by computer-like brains with genetically programmed software. In Richard Dawkins’ vivid phrase, we are “lumbering robots.” It seems more natural to assume that we are living organisms, as are animals and plants. Organisms are self-organising; they form and maintain themselves, and have their own ends or goals. Machines, by contrast, are designed by an external mind: their parts are put together by external machine-makers and they have no purposes or ends of their own. If you get into a car and it’s in working order, it will go wherever you want. If you get onto a horse, it might have its own ideas about where to go. The starting point for modern science was the rejection of an organic view of the universe. In the seventeenth century, the machine metaphor became central to scientific thinking, with very far reaching consequences. ... Sun, 06 Apr 2014 20:43:34 +0000 Rupert Sheldrake https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/beyond-the-machine-metaphor-auid-342 Trust Me, I'm Google https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/trust-me-i-m-google-auid-297 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/1-codinghorror.com.jpg" /><br />Move over Dr Google, there’s a new junior doctor in town: Dr Twitter. And he’s throwing up a new set of challenges connected to digital media and healthcare. Medics and patients seem to have become two of the most natural groups of tweeters – perhaps it’s those long hours in waiting rooms for the latter, ease with beepers for the former. The combined cohort can dominate Twitter with discussions about treatment and patient care. And an example of this at its best is the campaign like #hellomynameis initiated by Dr Kate Granger, a doctor who has terminal cancer, and is using her experience to better care for all patients.Meanwhile, hospitals are tweeting everything from jobs to what’s happening in A&amp;E. NHS Blood and Transplant can send out tweets when they are running low on blood stocks and get an instant and fantastic response. Drugs companies are reaching out beyond their natural audience straight into consumers’ timelines. Lifestyle healthcare companies are advertising their products... Sun, 12 Jan 2014 10:14:30 +0000 Victoria Lambert https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/trust-me-i-m-google-auid-297 Live Fast, Die Young https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/live-fast-die-young-auid-284 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/282011600x1200-wallpcrop.jpg" /><br />Each day we embark on a small personal epic: to earn money, to survive, to nurture our families; also, to contend with the trials of being “realistic” or at least convincing to others. I am a novelist and one of the philosophical notions that particularly concerns me is this idea of “realism”. Realism is, as social and aesthetic judgment, almost always positive and set against its disreputable opposite, “unrealism”. People are rebuked for “unrealistic expectations”, advised instead to “be realistic”, to “get real”. Likewise, “realist” novels are supposed to represent “real life”. But what does this even mean? Even as you strive to respond to society’s calls – to be the adult, the parent, the employee – you are bemused by rival selves, former calls. You intuit an unchanging kernel self, deep within, your thoughts drift through imaginary futures. We live with one foot in the wider world of cultural creeds and givens, otherwise, as Larkin wrote in Days, we soon come to the notice of “the ... Thu, 05 Dec 2013 14:09:42 +0000 Joanna Kavenna https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/live-fast-die-young-auid-284 Art, Science and the Sublime: 3 questions with Anna Dumitriu https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/art-science-and-the-sublime-3-questions-with-anna-dumitriu-auid-261 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Anna-Dumitriu2.jpg" /><br />Anna Dumitriu is a Brighton-based contemporary artist best known for her work in bio-art. Her practice encompasses installations, interventions and performances, often incorporating diverse materials such as bacteria, robotics, digital projections and embroidery, Dumitriu seeks to blur the boundaries between the arts and the sciences.Dumitriu is founder and Director of the Institute of Unnecessary Research and lead artist on the &quot;Trust me, I'm an artist: towards an ethics of art/science collaboration&quot; project working with the Waag Society in Amsterdam. She has written extensively on the notion of the &quot;bacterial sublime&quot;.Is science our new key to the sublime? Nature has always been one of the most powerful ways of accessing the sublime. Edmund Burke, who published his Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful as a young man in 1757 describes its effects as: “the passion caused by the great and sublime in nature, when those causes operate most powerf... Sat, 23 Nov 2013 13:33:52 +0000 Editor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/art-science-and-the-sublime-3-questions-with-anna-dumitriu-auid-261 On Humans and Animals https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/on-humans-and-animals-auid-274 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Persons-Animals-4.jpg" /><br /> Watch Mary Midgley and Peter Singer discuss humanity and animal rights. Almost forty years after these two philosophers helped create the idea of animal rights, what do they believe would constitute further progress in our attitudes to other forms of life? Live from Melbourne, Australian philosopher, Princeton professor and author of Animal Liberation, Peter Singer joins the &quot;UK's foremost scourge of scientific pretention&quot; (Guardian) Mary Midgley to consider the future of bioethics. Roger Bolton makes sure the tough questions get answered. Click on the image to watch the debate! Tue, 03 Dec 2013 16:34:58 +0000 Editor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/on-humans-and-animals-auid-274 Animal Morality: 3 questions with Mark Rowlands https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/animal-morality-3-questions-with-mark-rowlands-auid-260 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/223145696b6ef05973co.jpg" /><br />Mark Rowlands is a Welsh writer and philosopher, who is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is perhaps best known for his 2008 book, The Philosopher and the Wolf, which describes the decade he spent living and travelling with a wolf. Recent publications include Running with the Pack and Can Animals be Moral? Can animals be moral in precisely the same way as humans? Not really. But the question is badly formed. There are a variety of ways in which humans can be moral. Sometimes we work out what is the best thing to do by bringing to bear abstract moral principles or rules. But sometimes we act unreflectively on the basis of emotions that have, as their focus, concern for the welfare of others. One jumps into a shallow pond to save a drowning child, for example. In such circumstances, not only do we not reflect – reflection might actually be an immoral thing to do. In Can Animals Be Moral? I argue that the moral behaviour of animals is more like the second ca... Sat, 23 Nov 2013 13:28:44 +0000 Editor https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/animal-morality-3-questions-with-mark-rowlands-auid-260 Total Isolation https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/total-isolation-auid-813 <img src="https://iainews.iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Stafford-2.jpg" /><br />Five years ago, I volunteered to be dropped off unaccompanied on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for sixty-days as a survival experiment. I didn’t take any food. I had no water, no tools, no knife, no lighter or equipment to help me survive in any way. In fact, to prove that I had exactly nothing up my ‘sleeve’, I was dropped off as naked as the day I was born.As the noise of the Fijian fishing boat’s motor faded into the sound of the waves crashing into the reef, I was left standing naked on the beach. Vulnerable and literally exposed, I was struck by one overriding and overwhelming emotion: panic.At the time, I hadn’t a clue why I was panicking, and it could easily have been attributed to the somewhat daunting survival mission that I had set myself. However, with the benefit of hindsight and time to reflect, I now know exactly what I was terrified of: being on my own.The sixty-day ordeal came and went. It was deemed to be a success and without wanting to spoi... Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:56:38 +0000 Ed Stafford https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/total-isolation-auid-813