Thursday, April 18

Philosophy

In his 2003 book, Being No One, Thomas Metzinger contends there is no such thing as a “self.” Rather, the self is a kind of transparent information-processing system. “You don’t see it,” he writes. “But you see with it.” Metzinger has given a good amount of thought to the nature of our subjective experience—and how […]

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In his first lecture on physics to freshmen and sophomores at the California Institute of Technology, in 1961-62, Richard Feynman said: If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest […]

David Chalmers, co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, once undertook something odd for a philosopher: He conducted an international poll. In November 2009, he and his then-PhD advisee, David Bourget, asked over 2,500 of their colleagues—professors and graduate students alike—among other things, with which dead thinker they most […]

Georg Cantor died in 1918 in a sanatorium in Halle, Germany. A pre-eminent mathematician, he had laid the foundation for the theory of infinite numbers in the 1870s. At the time, his ideas received hostile opposition from prominent mathematicians in Europe, chief among them Leopold Kronecker, once Cantor’s teacher. In his first known bout of […]

On a recent Sunday, at my local Italian market, I considered the octopus. To eat the tentacle would be, in a way, like eating a brain—the eight arms of an octopus contain two-thirds of its half billion neurons. Delicious for some, yes—but for others, a jumping off point for the philosophical question of other minds. […]

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