Panpsychism, the idea that inanimate objects have consciousness, gains steam in science communities

DNA, Atoms and particles (Getty Images/Yuichiro Chino) An expanding notion of what “consciousness” is could have profound repercussions By MATTHEW ROZSA Dr. Martin Picard is an associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, specializing in both psychiatry and neurology. Together, expertise in these two fields suits one well to understanding the essence of what makes one human. Picard is particularly knowledgable about mitochondria, a structure found within nearly all cells that have a nucleus. They provide most of the chemical energy that cells use in their various biochemical tasks, and are sometimes likened to batteries. Picard sees something else in mitochondria, too. Last year, he … Continue reading Panpsychism, the idea that inanimate objects have consciousness, gains steam in science communities

Your brain has limits. Here are some simple ways to extend your mind, according to science

Acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul says that in order to think the intelligent, informed, original thoughts we’re capable of, we can’t rely on the brain alone. Read on to learn how you can extend your mind. BY BOOK BITES Annie Murphy Paul is an acclaimed science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, TIME magazine, and the Best American Science Writing. She is currently a fellow in New America’s Learning Sciences Exchange. Below, Annie shares five key insights from her new book, The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Listen to the audio version—read by … Continue reading Your brain has limits. Here are some simple ways to extend your mind, according to science

Everything could have been so different

Your life is far more arbitrary than you might think. by Jonny Thomson  Jorge Borges’ story, The Library of Babel, asks us to imagine all the books that could be written using a random shuffling of 25 characters. Daniel Dennett argues that, in some ways, the genetic makeup of all life is similar but with only four characters. The history of the universe is only one possible way our story could have gone. Much of our reality is simply arbitrary. Imagine all the lives you didn’t live. A life where you never met your partner. Where you never had a brother … Continue reading Everything could have been so different

The purpose of life evolves

by Thomas Oppong Many people swear by a grand purpose — the reason for their existence. Something they look forward to every day. Purpose is a personal experience. It evolves — it’s a transformational journey. You are probably not pursuing the same things you wanted a decade ago. New opportunities and possibilities emerge as we change physically, mentally, intellectually and emotionally. The purpose of life is not universal. There’s no single reality you need to experience to make life worth living. Purpose can mean finding and doing the small things that guarantee deep joy every day. It can also mean … Continue reading The purpose of life evolves

Consider Yourself a Tourist

Advice from the Dalai Lama on making our lives meaningful and dealing with our mortality. By The Dalai LamaWINTER 1999 Within less than fifty years, I, Tenzin Gyatso, the Buddhist monk, will be no more than a memory. Indeed, it is doubtful whether a single person reading these words will be alive a century from now. Time passes unhindered. When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well. Therefore, if when our final day comes we are able to look back and see that we have lived full, … Continue reading Consider Yourself a Tourist

The Antidote to the Irreversibility of Life: Hannah Arendt on What Forgiveness Really Means

“Forgiving… is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly, unconditioned by the act which provoked it and therefore freeing from its consequences both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven.” BY MARIA POPOVA “To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt,” poet and philosopher David Whyte observed as he dove for the deeper meanings of our commonest concepts. But, as James Baldwin and Margaret Mead demonstrated in their historic conversation about forgiveness and the crucial difference between guilt and responsibility, Western culture has a confused understanding … Continue reading The Antidote to the Irreversibility of Life: Hannah Arendt on What Forgiveness Really Means

A good scrap

Disagreements can be unpleasant, even offensive, but they are vital to human reason. Without them we remain in the dark Ian Leslie writes about psychology, culture, technology and business for the New Statesman, The Economist, The Guardian and the Financial Times. He is the author of several books on human behaviour, the most recent of which is Conflicted: How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes (2021). He lives in London. Edited by Christian Jarrett In the town of Dayton, Ohio, at the end of the 19th century, locals were used to the sound of quarrels spilling out from the room above the bicycle store on West Third Street. The … Continue reading A good scrap

A just and loving gaze

Simone Weil: mystic, philosopher, activist. Her ethics demand that we look beyond the personal and find the universal Deborah Casewell is a Humboldt Research Fellow in philosophy at the University of Bonn and co-director of the UK-based Simone Weil Network. Her most recent book is Eberhard Jüngel and Existence: Being Before the Cross (2021). Edited byNigel Warburton The short life of Simone Weil, the French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist, was one of unrelenting self-sacrifice from her childhood to her death. At a very young age, she expressed an aversion to luxury. In an action that prefigured her death, while still … Continue reading A just and loving gaze

Ideas that work

Matthieu Queloz is a junior research fellow at Wolfson College and a member of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is the author of The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering (2021). Edited bySam Dresser ‘Ideas, Mr Carlyle, ideas, nothing but ideas!’ scoffed a hard-headed businessman over dinner with Thomas Carlyle, the Victorian essayist and historian of the French Revolution. The businessman had had enough of Carlyle’s endless droning on about ideas – what do ideas matter anyway? Carlyle shot back: ‘There was once a man called Rousseau who wrote a book containing nothing but ideas. … Continue reading Ideas that work

Listening to Silence

Complete stillness leads to complete awakening. By Dharma Master Hsin Tao, edited and translated by Maria Reis When I was a young monk, I practiced Chan Buddhism by myself in a graveyard for ten years and later in a mountain cave for an additional two years. I did not have a teacher to guide me, but—propelled by devotion—I followed a method of practice that Bodhisattva Guanyin, also known as Avalokiteshvara, teaches in the Shurangama Sutra. This method, called Perfect Penetration through Hearing, relies not on any words or concepts but on listening to silence. In the sutra, Guanyin, who was dwelling on an island, … Continue reading Listening to Silence