For what it’s worth

Consider this a kind of postscript to the last two posts. My personal view is that consciousness and mind are perfectly “natural” in the sense that no supernatural intervention was necessary to “insert” them into the process by which life developed. I take it that they emerged once living organisms became sufficiently complex, even though […]

Friday Links

–Why Washington doesn’t care about jobs. –At the Moral Mindfield, Marilyn has more on the question of whether welfare reforms benefit animals raised for food. –Metallica’s classic album Master of Puppets turned 25(!) yesterday. This was the first real metal album I ever heard, and it’s still one of the best. –NPR’s “First Listen” is […]

Chimps, morals, and God

This Frans de Waal essay and the accompanying video discussion with Robert Wright, on the evolutionary roots of morality, are worth checking out. De Waal’s argument is that moral impulses exist in our non-human animal relatives–particularly our closest relatives, the primates–and that we can see morality emerging along a continuum as a completely “natural” phenomenon. […]

“Self-awareness is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon”

From Wired, a report of laboratory monkeys (rhesus macaques, to be specific) that have shown signs of self-recognition (and thus potentially self-awareness): In the lab of University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Luis Populin, five rhesus macaques seem to recognize their own reflections in a mirror. Monkeys weren’t supposed to do this. “We thought these subjects didn’t […]

Coming up for air

Thanks to everyone for their kind congratulations on the birth of our daughter. If you have kids, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s an exhilarating and exhausting experience. And if you don’t, my paltry words won’t be able to do it justice. I can’t go so far as to say we’re in […]