“ 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.
“ 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.
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.
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 tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.
“ 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.
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.
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