The Philosophy Program at A&M University - Corpus Christi offers the Minor (18 hrs.) and the Major (30 hrs.) in Philosophy. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions about studying philosophy.

TED Talk: Bryan Stevenson on Injustice

Really, Really Old Technology

Courtesy Boing Boing, Russian researchers report finding what appears to be an aluminium gear embedded in a coal deposit 300 million years old.

Reading the linked report we stumble on this paragraph,

It is the first such finding in coal made in Russia, according to anomaly researcher and biologist Valery Brier, who took microscopic samples of the aluminum for testing. Valery Brier performed X-ray diffraction analysis of the metal. It showed very pure aluminum with microimpurities of magnesium of only 2 – 4 percent. Analysis was also conducted by Senior Fellow of the St. Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics Igor Okunev who confirmed the age of the material according to Natalia Ostrovsky.

...which begs the question, is it possible to be an anomaly researcher? After all, if one is an anomaly researcher and researches all and only anomalies then they are no longer anomalous, are they? They are, instead, altogether ordinary. Perhaps the trick is to be an anomalous researcher of anomalies, if only to set oneself apart from those dreary, everyday anomaly researchers.

A meeting before school takes over our lives

It is the monday before school starts, and I figure we could all get together and determine a meeting place and a time. I've had some ideas over the break as to what we could do this semester. Also, if you have any ideas that you would like to see the philosophy club doing please come by and share. Or if you just wanna hang out and make snarky comments, then your sarcasm will be welcomed.

“What are humans for?”

This Wired article does a good job of describing the coming robotics revolution while inexcusably ignoring the implications of the revolution under capitalism. Others, however, have begun thinking it through.

What is Math to Logic and Logic to Math?

Massimo Pigliucci (CUNY-Lehman) discusses the relationship between logic and math in this short essay on Machines Like Us.

The Thinker

 The NY Times has an excellent piece on the power of concentration which may prove helpful to those in this Spring's Advanced Logic Group. From the essay,

More often than not, when a new case is presented, Holmes does nothing more than sit back in his leather chair, close his eyes and put together his long-fingered hands in an attitude that begs silence. He may be the most inactive active detective out there. His approach to thought captures the very thing that cognitive psychologists mean when they say mindfulness.

Though the concept originates in ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese traditions, when it comes to experimental psychology, mindfulness is less about spirituality and more about concentration: the ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the present, and dismiss any distractions that come your way.

...the core of mindfulness is the ability to pay attention. That’s exactly what Holmes does when he taps together the tips of his fingers, or exhales a fine cloud of smoke. He is centering his attention on a single element. And somehow, despite the seeming pause in activity, he emerges, time and time again, far ahead of his energetic colleagues. In the time it takes old detective Mac to traipse around all those country towns in search of a missing bicyclist in “The Valley of Fear,” Holmes solves the entire crime without leaving the room where the murder occurred. That’s the thing about mindfulness. It seems to slow you down, but it actually gives you the resources you need to speed up your thinking.

A More Realistic... God?

In light of this Spring's Medieval Philosophy course offering, the NY Times' Stone Series has an essay by Yoram Hazony on a theistic response to the problems entailed by the proposition that God is a perfect being. From the essay,

Philosophers have spent many centuries trying to get God’s supposed perfections to fit together in a coherent conception, and then trying to get that to fit with the Bible. By now it’s reasonably clear that this can’t be done. In fact, part of the reason God-bashers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are so influential (apart from the fact they write so well) is their insistence that the doctrine of God’s perfections makes no sense, and that the idealized “being” it tells us about doesn’t resemble the biblical God at all.

So is that it, then? Have the atheists won? I don’t think so. But it does look like the time has come for some rethinking in the theist camp.

...What would we say if some philosopher told us that a perfect bottle would be one that can contain a perfectly great amount of liquid, while being perfectly easy to pour from at the same time? Or that a perfect horse would bear an infinitely heavy rider, while at the same time being able to run with perfectly great speed? I should think we’d say he’s made a fundamental mistake here: You can’t perfect something by maximizing all its constituent principles simultaneously. All this will get you is contradictions and absurdities. This is not less true of God than it is of anything else.

Spring 2013 Logic Students: Course Preview

Problems with Pop Neuroscience

The NY Times has a piece by Alissa Quart on the excessively exuberant embrace of neuro-science. From the essay,

Meet the “neuro doubters.” The neuro doubter may like neuroscience but does not like what he or she considers its bastardization by glib, sometimes ill-informed, popularizers.

A gaggle of energetic and amusing, mostly anonymous, neuroscience bloggers — including Neurocritic, Neuroskeptic, Neurobonkers and Mind Hacks — now regularly point out the lapses and folly contained in mainstream neuroscientific discourse. This group, for example, slammed a recent Newsweek article in which a neurosurgeon claimed to have discovered that “heaven is real” after his cortex “shut down.” Such journalism, these critics contend, is “shoddy,” nothing more than “simplified pop.” Additionally, publications from The Guardian to the New Statesman have published pieces blasting popular neuroscience-dependent writers like Jonah Lehrer and Malcolm Gladwell. The Oxford neuropsychologist Dorothy Bishop’s scolding lecture on the science of bad neuroscience was an online sensation last summer.

On Magic and Minds

The non-speaking Teller, of Penn and Teller fame, has a terrific article in Smithsonian on magic and neuro-science. From the article,

Magic is an art, as capable of beauty as music, painting or poetry. But the core of every trick is a cold, cognitive experiment in perception: Does the trick fool the audience? A magician’s data sample spans centuries, and his experiments have been replicated often enough to constitute near-certainty. Neuroscientists—well intentioned as they are—are gathering soil samples from the foot of a mountain that magicians have mapped and mined for centuries.

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