This article is part of a series on Philosophy of Emotion. See also:
1. Guilt; 2. Love; 3. Emotion

This is a philosophical and psychological study of emotion. Where did it come from? How does it change humankind? What, finally, are the ultimate ramifications of these changes?

Emotion originated in a biological need to overrule logical judgments. This capacity to transcend logic, now, plays a central role in establishing perceived human free will. Growing from this emotional freedom, finally, we’ll encounter flavor, purpose, and life itself. Let’s begin. Continue reading


The View From High

This article is part of a series called The Scientist Theist. See also:
1. The View From High; 2. The Science of Religions; 3. A Reasoned Happiness

Yuri Gagarin, Russian cosmonaut and the first man in outer space, is credited with the quote above. It’s probably a misattribution, but the idea stands. *

A neurosurgeon, upon opening the cranial cavity, sees no God in the throbbing, pulsing mass of tissue that fills it. A physicist finds no God in the atom.

In the face of the bare, undeniable reality of the natural sciences, there’s little room for superstition. It seems that the advancement of the sciences and of knowledge itself comes at the direct expense of God. But must this be the case? Should it be?

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Of Tigers and Bears

Why STEM will always need the humanities.

The Saber Tooth Curriculum [1] is a satire of modern academia and its resistance to change. In the allegory, New-Fist-Hammer-Maker teaches his children how to scare saber-tooth tigers with fire. The training is highly successful, and these children grow up into great protectors of the tribe. Within a few years, all the children are compulsorily schooled in the trade of tiger-scaring. The tribesmen sleep soundly for years.

They sleep soundly, that is, until an ice age creeps in. Continue reading

Fighting Chance

How can we come to terms with – and why aren’t we more worried about – the extent to which the fundamental events of our lives, and the happiness dependent thereupon, rely on pure chance?

I distinguish two separate problems. The first problem concerns philosophical reconciliation: we seek, philosophically exploring the role of this chance, to include it into a sound and coherent philosophical understanding of a just world. The second problem concerns pragmatic livelihood: we must find a set of practical prescriptions dictating how to act, and react, to chance, as we aim to maximize our lives’ sense of stability, agency, and control. Continue reading

The Logical and The Empirical

The nature of knowledge creation varies across academic disciplines. I propose a differentiation into two camps: logical fields, such as mathematics and philosophy, dependent on abstract reasoning, and empirical fields, such as biology, physics, and neuroscience, dependent on observation and measurement.

It might seem difficult to reconcile these two different “sources of truth”. Could these ways of knowing ever tell us contradictory things? Does the mathematicians’ logical truth ever feel threatened by the physicists’ empirical truth? Does the neuroscientists’ empirical truth ever feel threatened by the philosophers’ logical truth? Here’s a better question: why has their reconciliation proven so easy? Continue reading

The Creative Process

Pushkin Monument (Moscow)

In 1880 Dostoevsky spoke at a ceremony celebrating the unveiling of a new monument dedicated to early 19th century Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. His speech was so emphatic and brilliant that police had to be called to the scene to quell the jubilant crowds. Women wept and fainted. Men yelled and cheered. Shouts rang out from the crowd: “Genius!” “Prophet!” “Saint!”

Dostoevsky certainly tempts the comparison to a prophet. His words at the Pushkin speech were chillingly perfect:

Do I speak of economic glory, of the glory of the sword or of science? I speak only of the brotherhood of man. I say that the heart of Russia, perhaps more than that of all other nations, is chiefly predestined for this universal, pan-human union. I see its traces in our history, our men of genius, in the artistic genius of Pushkin. [1]

Just months before his Pushkin speech, Dostoevsky completed his final novel, The Brothers Karamazov. This work, too, is so perfect that I wouldn’t change a single word. Indeed, Dostoevsky’s words often seem not spoken by man, but rather dictated from the heavens above.

I was disconcerted, then, to learn that one of Dostoevsky’s works had been unceremoniously altered.

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