Jul 06
Were we incapable of empathy – of putting ourselves in the position of others and seeing that their suffering is like our own – then ethical reasoning would lead nowhere. If emotion without reason is blind, then reason without emotion is impotent.

Moral philosopher Peter Singer, who is 66 today, in Writings on an Ethical Life.

Also see David Brooks on the dangerous divide between reason and emotion, and this 1943 Disney animated propaganda on reconciling the two.

Jun 20
The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters.
Annie Murphy Paul, from a New York Times op-ed, Your Brain on Fiction.
Feb 11
curiositycounts:

What Dr. Seuss books were really about, a humorous version of Tales for Little Rebels, which examines the radical political messages of iconic children’s literature.

curiositycounts:

What Dr. Seuss books were really about, a humorous version of Tales for Little Rebels, which examines the radical political messages of iconic children’s literature.

Oct 22
writingprompts:

writing prompt #102

writingprompts:

writing prompt #102

Oct 18
writingprompts:

258
Oct 16
A self-described “visual anthropologist” and social explorer,  27-year-old photographer Umair Jangda has created a  remarkable series of images based on a simple, sneakily powerful  concept: namely, that photographing Muslims of different ages and  backgrounds dressed in both contemporary clothes and in traditional  Islamic attire might well be one way to alter the perception of Islam in  the West.

“After a bit of a false start with this project,” Jangda told LIFE.com,  “I realized that, ironically, I needed to show the stereotype [of how  Muslims appear to Western eyes] in order to to battle that stereotype.

LIFE.com presents a selection of images from Jangda’s work-in-progress: The Muslim Behind Islam.

A self-described “visual anthropologist” and social explorer, 27-year-old photographer Umair Jangda has created a remarkable series of images based on a simple, sneakily powerful concept: namely, that photographing Muslims of different ages and backgrounds dressed in both contemporary clothes and in traditional Islamic attire might well be one way to alter the perception of Islam in the West.

“After a bit of a false start with this project,” Jangda told LIFE.com, “I realized that, ironically, I needed to show the stereotype [of how Muslims appear to Western eyes] in order to to battle that stereotype.

LIFE.com presents a selection of images from Jangda’s work-in-progress: The Muslim Behind Islam.

Oct 08
The richer — that is, the more varied and complete — the individual’s emotional life, the less is he driven to projection, and the more will he incline to identification. His outlet and satisfaction comes in identifying himself with the emotions of the other. On the other hand, the narrower and more restricted the individual’s emotional life, the more intense will be his fewer emotions, the less will he be inclined to, and capable of, identification — the lack of which he has to compensate for by projection. Projection thus proves to be a compensatory mechanism that adjusts for an inner lack. Identification, on the other hand, is an expression of abundance, of the desire for union, for alliance, for sharing.
-Otto Frank, “Love, Guilt and the Denial of Feelings” (1927)
The richer — that is, the more varied and complete — the individual’s emotional life, the less is he driven to projection, and the more will he incline to identification. His outlet and satisfaction comes in identifying himself with the emotions of the other. On the other hand, the narrower and more restricted the individual’s emotional life, the more intense will be his fewer emotions, the less will he be inclined to, and capable of, identification — the lack of which he has to compensate for by projection. Projection thus proves to be a compensatory mechanism that adjusts for an inner lack. Identification, on the other hand, is an expression of abundance, of the desire for union, for alliance, for sharing.
-Otto Frank, “Love, Guilt and the Denial of Feelings” (1927)
Aug 20
The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.
Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, and musician
Jul 24
A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist and Nobel prize winner
Can machines think? That is, would it ever be possible to construct a computer so sophisticated that it could actually be said to be thinking, to be intelligent, to have a mind? And if indeed there were, someday, such a machine: how would we know? This is what the Turing Test sets out to answer:
We once thought humans were unique for using language, but this seems less certain each year; we once thought humans were unique for using tools, but this claim also erodes with ongoing animal-behavior research; we once thought humans were unique for being able to do mathematics, and now we can barely imagine being able to do what our calculators can.
Where is the keep of our selfhood?

The story of the 21st century will be, in part, the story of the drawing and redrawing of these battle lines, the story of Homo sapiens trying to stake a claim on shifting ground, flanked by beast and machine, pinned between meat and math.
Beyond its use as a technological benchmark, the Turing Test is, at bottom, about the act of communication. I see its deepest questions as practical ones: How do we connect meaningfully with each other, as meaningfully as possible, within the limits of language and time? How does empathy work? What is the process by which someone enters into our life and comes to mean something to us? These, to me, are the test’s most central questions — the most central questions of being human.

Can machines think? That is, would it ever be possible to construct a computer so sophisticated that it could actually be said to be thinking, to be intelligent, to have a mind? And if indeed there were, someday, such a machine: how would we know? This is what the Turing Test sets out to answer:

We once thought humans were unique for using language, but this seems less certain each year; we once thought humans were unique for using tools, but this claim also erodes with ongoing animal-behavior research; we once thought humans were unique for being able to do mathematics, and now we can barely imagine being able to do what our calculators can.
Where is the keep of our selfhood?

The story of the 21st century will be, in part, the story of the drawing and redrawing of these battle lines, the story of Homo sapiens trying to stake a claim on shifting ground, flanked by beast and machine, pinned between meat and math.
Beyond its use as a technological benchmark, the Turing Test is, at bottom, about the act of communication. I see its deepest questions as practical ones: How do we connect meaningfully with each other, as meaningfully as possible, within the limits of language and time? How does empathy work? What is the process by which someone enters into our life and comes to mean something to us? These, to me, are the test’s most central questions — the most central questions of being human.
Jul 11

In this talk from RSA Animate, bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways it has shaped human development and society.

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