Archive for March, 2013

No matter what you touch and you wish to know about, you end up in a sea of mystery. You see theres no beginning or end, you can go back as far as you want, forward as far as you want, but you never got to it, its like the essence, its that right, it remains. This is the greatest damn thing about the universe. That we can know so much, recognize so much, dissect, do everything, and we cant grasp it. And its meant to be that way, do yknow. And theres where our reverence should come in. Before everything, the littlest thing as well as the greatest. The tiniest, the horseshit, as well as the angels, do yknow what I mean. Its all mystery. All impenetrable, as it were, right?Complement This Is Henry, Henry Miller from Brooklyn with Millers meditations on creative death and the art of living.

via How not to worry, a design history of childhood, Henry Miller on the meaning of life and the mystery of the universe, and more.

BrainPickings 3/24/13


How to Read Faster: Bill Cosby’s Three Proven Strategies

via How to Read Faster: Bill Cosby’s Three Proven Strategies | Brain Pickings.

  • Preview — If It’s Long and Hard
    • Read the entire first two paragraphs of whatever you’ve chosen. Next read only the first sentence of each successive paragraph. Then read the entire last two paragraphs.
  • Skim — If It’s Short and Simple
    • Think of your eyes as magnets. Force them to move fast. Sweep them across each and every line of type. Pick up only a few key words in each line.
  • Cluster — to Increase Speed AND Comprehension
    • Train your eyes to see all the words in clusters of up to three or four words at a glance.

What if human consciousness isn’t the end-all be-all of Darwinism? What if we are all just pawns in corn’s clever strategy game to rule the Earth? Author Michael Pollan asks us to see the world from a plant’s-eye view.

via TED-Ed | A plant's-eye view – Michael Pollan.

How we can harvest food at the same time we nourish the earth and our fellow beings.

Darwinism Extended: A Survey of How the Idea of Cultural Evolution Evolved

Chris Buskes

Philosophia (forthcoming)

Abstract In the past 150 years there have been many attempts to draw parallels between cultural and biological evolution. Most of these attempts were flawed due to lack of knowledge and false ideas about evolution. In recent decades these shortcomings have been cleared away, thus triggering a renewed interest in the subject. This paper offers a critical survey of the main issues and arguments in that discussion. The paper starts with an explication of the Darwinian algorithm of evolution. It is argued that this ‘formula’ is substrate-neutral, which means that biological evolution might not be the only Darwinian process. Other dynamic systems could evolve as well provided that certain conditions are met. In the case of human culture this seems to be the case. The paper then focuses on the notion of niche construction. It is argued that niche construction plays a crucial role in human evolution because it has altered the sources of natural selection and thus the path of evolution. Next two approaches to cultural evolution are discussed: sociobiology and memetics. I will argue that both approaches have flaws because they either underestimate the influence of culture or they stretch analogies too far. Finally two common objections against the idea of cultural evolution are addressed: Lamarckian inheritance and the issue of guided variation. I will argue that although cultural evolution differs from biological evolution in several respects, these discrepancies do not jeopardize the claim that cultural evolution is essentially Darwinian

via Chris Buskes, Darwinism Extended: A Survey of How the Idea of Cultural Evolution Evolved – PhilPapers.

I was reading Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past, and some of the Pali canon at the same time. Basically the insight that Proust had, which inspired his masterpiece, was that the past is in the present. The only way we know the past is as an experience in the present moment. A thought, a smell, a memory is something happening right now that we are calling “past.” We don’t experience the past outside the thought of the present moment. Then my mind made this jump. Well, if the past is like that, that must be what the future is like, too. There is just the thought in the moment. The whole burden of past and future, of time, of time-created stories, all collapsed into a simple thought in the moment. To relate to the moment is so simple. If we try to relate to the past, it’s huge. It gets back to the whole question of psychology and dharma. Past and future make up our stories.

via Empty Phenomena Rolling On | Tricycle.

Few people ask from books what books can give us. Most commonly we come to books with blurred and divided minds, asking of fiction that it shall be true, of poetry that it shall be false, of biography that it shall be flattering, of history that it shall enforce our own prejudices. If we could banish all such preconceptions when we read, that would be an admirable beginning. Do not dictate to your author; try to become him. Be his fellow-worker and accomplice. If you hang back, and reserve and criticize at first, you are preventing yourself from getting the fullest possible value from what you read. But if you open your mind as widely as possible, then signs and hints of almost imperceptible fineness, from the twist and turn of the first sentences, will bring you into the presence of a human being unlike any other. Steep yourself in this, acquaint yourself with this and soon you will find that your author is giving you, or attempting to give you, something far more definite.

via Amanda Palmer on the art of asking, Virginia Woolf on how to read a book, Richard Feynman on the responsibility of scientists, and more.