125September 11, 2003
Two live events, open to the public, are scheduled at flagship B&N superstores in New York City and Los Angeles. Steve Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble will be on hand to begin the program in New York City. I will be at both events to introduce the panelists. Both events will televised on C-Span for broadcast a few weeks after the events.
The New Humanists: Science at the Edge begins with my essay, "New Humanists", in which I wrote:
Here's the table of contents:
Introduction...John Brockman: "The New Humanists" ••• Part I: Homo sapiens...Jared Diamond: "A New Scientific Synthesis of Human History" • Steven Pinker: "A Biological Understanding of Human Nature" • Helena Cronin: "Getting Human Nature Right" • Andy Clark: "Natural-Born Cyborgs" • Marc D. Hauser: "Animal Minds" • Richard Wrangham: "The Evolution of Cooking" • Daniel C. Dennett: "The Computational Perspective" • Stephen M. Kosslyn: "What Shape Are a German Shepherd's Ears" ••• Part II: Machina sapiens...Jordan B. Pollack: "Software Is a Cultural Solvent" • David Gelernter: "The Second Coming: a Manifesto" • Rodney Brooks: "Making Living Systems" • Hans Moravec: "Making Minds" • David Deutsch: "Quantum Computation" • Marvin Minsky: "What Comes After Minds" • Ray Kurzweil: "The Singularity" • Jaron Lanier: "One Half of a Manifesto" ••• Part III: And Beyond...Seth Lloyd: "How Fast, How Small, How Powerful— Moore's Law and the Ultimate Laptop" • Alan Guth: "A Golden Age of Cosmology" • Paul Steinhardt: "The Cyclic Universe" • Lisa Randall: "Theories of the Brane" • Lee Smolin: "Loop Quantum Gravity" • Martin Rees: "A Look Ahead" ••• Epilogue...Responses to "The New Humanists" Nicholas Humphrey, Jaron Lanier, Joseph LeDoux, John Horgan, Timothy Taylor, Carlo Rovelli, Steven Johnson, Lee Smolin, Douglas Rushkoff, Piet Hut, Marc D. Hauser, Mihalyi Csikzentmihalyi, Denis Dutton, Daniel C. Dennett, Howard Rheingold, Chris Anderson
August. Edge is quiet. The conversation is on hold. The Edge community has hit the road...Jaron Lanier learned about clannishness and the perception of enemies by leaving Berkeley and traveling to Indiana; Daniel C. Dennett sailed the coast of Maine; Timothy Taylor enjoyed Wagner’s Valkyries at the State Opera in Vienna; David Berreby contemplated territoriality and variety on his roof in Brooklyn; Steven Pinker delighted in meeting his 19-year-old mother and 25-year-old father through their honeymoon pictures of 50 summers ago; Delta Willis left her houseboat on the Hudson river in New York City for Swansea; James O'Donnell schmoozed with 123 7-foot tall fiberglass bears in Berlin; John Horgan communed with rehabbed birds and read blood-soaked books; George Dyson checked in from Interstate 90 in South Dakota; William Calvin matched up the apes in the San Diego Zoo with people he knows; Alison Gopnik gathered with 26 immediate family members in the Umbrian Hills; Hans- Joachim Metzger used his imaginary two-camera-device make black light objects in Munich; Irene Pepperberg traveled with a parrot in Europe and talked to people about animal cognition; Margaret Wertheim visited a Jules Verne-like chamber for studying plasmas in New Mexico; Susan Blackmore endured the hottest summer in Bristol in 343 years by working in her garden; Marc D. Hauser introduced trained eagles to simulate attacks on the poor innocent monkeys rhesus monkeys on the Island of Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico; Keith Devlin watched one of the Palio races for the first time in Siena; Roger Schank stayed at home on the beach in Palm Beach, Florida; and Paul Davies fulfilled his childhood dream of visiting the independent country of San Marino...
This has been the Summer of clannishness. On every level it seems that humans are clumping into opposing groups to an even greater degree than usual, at least from the perspectives available to me.
Most of my time has been spent in Berkeley, with sojourns to Toronto, Dartmouth, and various points in the interior of the USA, like Indiana.
While visiting Indiana to give a lecture, I saw big block letters on a billboard spelling out a slogan that I couldn't even believe at first, "Nuke Berkeley." I must say, Berkeley doesn't have much of anything kind to say about Indiana either.
My European friends have started to seem like distant aliens. They don't read the same news, or even share the same political vocabulary as Indiana, and lately can barely even talk to Berkeley.
Scientific communities seem punchier than usual as well. I recently wrote to a physicist who was a stranger to me simply to praise a textbook he had written, but when I mentioned that I was friendly with his ideological opponents in the quantum gravity debates, he became rather cold and dismissive.
I think of myself as a liberal, but by Berkeley standards I'm a reactionary conservative. For the first time in my life, I haven't felt free to speak my mind in casual conversations. For instance, a friend of mine in town made a point of trying to board a commercial flight recently while wearing a button that said, "Suspected terrorist." He said he was trying to make a statement about the deterioration of civil liberties—that all citizens were being treated like terrorists. The pilot said he was uncomfortable with the button and asked him to take it off. This resulted in a stand-off, and eventually my friend left the plane.
In the Berkeley context this story is about evil police state repression of free speech, but to me, having lived through the attack in NYC, it seemed more like a case of attempted hate speech and the resolution a simple matter of kindness to the pilots. If someone wore a button saying, "Suspected Nazi", or "Suspected rapist", I would feel the same way. The unintentional point would be more powerful than the intended point.
While I'm ready to state this opinion in print and get some diffuse and delayed grief for it, it wouldn't be worth the trouble to state it in most conversations I seem to find myself in in Berkeley. My opinion might be wrong, but I'd prefer to feel free to state it, and it's strange to me not to have that freedom in the ultra-polarized climate we are living though at the moment.
I wish there was more scientific study of clannishness and the perception of enemies. Anthropologists and primatologists can tell us a few things, but what I'm most curious about is the genetic components of the idea of "the enemy." Maybe if we understood the part of us that can be activated to fear the appointed enemy of the moment, we could learn to soften our worst impulses.
A month before the attacks I had published an interview with Global Business Network in which I toyed with the idea of regularly spraying anti-depressive or perhaps euphoria-inducing pharmaceutical compounds on the Middle East and Afghanistan. Probably too late to try that idea.
It turns out that the "Nuke Berkeley" part of Indiana I visited was very pro-Prozac, since the stuff was manufactured there, and local mythology held that a higher concentration of people were using it in the neighborhood than anywhere else. As for Berkeley, well, it would seem to be one of the more self-medicated places I've visited, judging from the odors that reach you on the sidewalk and what you see growing in home gardens. Is it possible that we're medicating ourselves into a state of increased paranoia?
That thought has occurred to me in the past to explain aspects of the Berkeley side of the divide. Since the '60s there's been a tremendous cachet to paranoid thinking in "progressive" culture. Some of the most prominent progressive thinkers have specifically been technicians of paranoia enhancement, such as Chomsky and Pynchon. It's much easier to be taken seriously in Berkeley if you're manifestly paranoid. This seems a shame to me, since it is a self-disempowering stance.
On a purely anecdotal basis I observe that a certain paranoid edge seems to rise over time in many of the drug users I have known, even though the drugs in question have been quite varied. The literature does seem to support the idea that varied disruptions can induce paranoia, and I wonder how closely paranoia is followed by the phenomena of exaggerated enemy perception or clannishness.
One of the sad casualties of the recent financial scandals was the support of unusual scientific research by the accounting firm Ernst and Young. After the Enron scandal and all the rest, accounting firms were told to narrow their businesses in order to avoid conflicts of interest. E&S had been a key source of support to researchers like Stuart Kauffman who were interested in finding new scientific paths to understanding human affairs. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and I had been among the "Ernst and Young Fellows" before the fall.
We were about to embark upon some new lines of thinking about biological components to economic and political behavior. One of the noisiest trends in economics follows from the astonishing recent discovery that humans are "irrational", rather than the rational players of classical economic models, but even that's probably not quite the right idea. It's not that people are irrational, but that our sense of rationality arises out of a long biological history and reflects different survival pressures than we face today. We are not irrational, but differently rational.
An example of the sort of biologically-informed economics one might be able to do is to identify a sweet spot in the otherwise undifferentiated continuum between socialism and Laissez Faire capitalism. This has to do with the sense of reward. An argument against pure socialism is that people need to be able to earn rewards in order to be motivated to achieve excellence.
To the degree that socialism has ever existed, it does seem to have produced rather complacent, static, and grey societies. But how much reward does a person really need to be offered in order to feel motivated? Does a CEO need 10 times, 100 times, or 1000 times the reward of the lowest paid worker to be optimally motivated? Is it possible to examine the biology of the reward pathways in the human brain to say something about this? Could biology serve to help find a point of compromise? There don't seem to be any other ideas on the table for resolving the dispute between Indiana and Berkeley, so biology ought to be given a chance.
p.s. Regarding the above "postcard" image...Berkeley hosted an "only here" conference called "Mind States", in which Sue Blackmore, V.S. Ramachandran, and I were joined by a crush of speakers interested in the psychedelic experience. I've personally never used drugs, not even alcohol, and an amused Timothy Leary used to call me "The control group" when he was alive.* [see editor's note] At any rate, a wonderful photographer named Dean Chamberlain created portraits of some of the speakers and the image here is what he made of me and some of my musical instruments. His exposures last for hours, during which he moves about with assorted lights in order to create an extraordinary saturated ambience. My talk at the conference was about cephalopod cognition, so the portrait has an underwater theme with assorted stuffed cephalopods showing up (can you find them?)
Ed. Note: Leary said the same thing to me in 1965. Jaron was 5 years
Pickering Island, Maine
Fog is to be expected when you're sailing on the coast of Maine, and it pays to have a few good books along to read while waiting for the scale-up that let's you see where you're going. When not sailing or rebuilding my barn this summer, I've been finishing off overdue writing projects and preparing for a seminar I'm teaching this fall at Tufts with Nassir Ghaemi, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School who has a Masters in philosophy from Tufts: "Broken Minds". (And no, you can't audit it; we're overbooked with students taking the course for credit.)
been thinking a lot about religion. The taboo against subjecting religious
practices to scientific scrutiny leaves us more or less voluntarily
blindfolded about some of the most potent and dangerous phenomena in
the world today. It is time to defy that taboo. For thousands of years,
human beings have lived in a sort of culturally induced trance, subjugating
their wills to invisible beings and forces, laboring and sacrificing,
building great temples, painting great pictures, composing great music-and
killing great numbers of differently entranced human beings—all
for the greater glory of ... something unknown and mysterious. How can
the astringent world of science compete with the reassuring warmth of
communally shared secrets and ceremonies, the spine-tingling beauties
of religious ecstacy? People want their lives to be decorated with mystery,
punctuated by magic, spiced with adventures of "the
The summer began in Austria. I was guest professor in Vienna last semester, teaching archaeological method and theory and laying the groundwork of research for my new book on material culture. My association with the Institute of Prehistory stretches back to my early days of digging when a small group of us, mainly but not exclusively Cambridge students, were annually hosted by Professor Herwig Friesinger at his marvellously well-run site of Gars/Thunau in the Kamp valley, northwest of the capital. This time I had a family to bring with me. The girls attended Viennese schools and learnt German while developing cake- and schnitzel-eating skills. We enjoyed Wagner’s Valkyries at the State Opera and ambient music with my composer friend Hans-Joachim Rodelius.
The journey was an education in itself—first Bradford to the North Sea coast at Hull; overnight ferry to Zeebrugge; the two-day drive through Germany; arriving to haul everything four floors up to our splendid appartment in the Porzellangasse. In contrast to flying, we absorbed the extent of Europe in real terms: fields, hills, river crossings, the changes in topography and the styles of the houses. But to be exact this was the extent of western Europe. There is an old saying in Austria—"the Balkans begin in Vienna", and we made a series of exciting day trips—visas no longer required—to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, each only about an hour’s drive distant.
The east-west boundary goes back before the Iron Curtain. Nor is it simply that the Turks got no further than Lower Austria in A.D. 1529. There is a clear edge here even 20 million years ago. My old friend Hans Tuzar, who directs the Krahuletz Museum in Eggenburg, took us all fossil hunting on the edge of the old Pannonian sea. Look out eastward nowadays from what was once the cliff edge of western Europe over what was once ocean, the rolling lowlands of the Weinviertel ("Wine Quarter") rapidly give way to the Hungarian Puszta, westernmost outlier of the great Eurasian steppelands. Behind you is the reticulated, hedged and walled world of the west; in front the vast flat spaces that reach, almost unbroken, to the borders of India and China. Like Suleiman the Magnificent, the Iron Age Scythian nomads got no further than this in their raids westwards from South Russia. And, coming out of the west, this was also one of the last settled stopping places for the Celts before they began their ravages of Transylvania and Thrace to eventually reach and sack Delphi in 279 B.C. Hans and I are now planning to excavate the fortress of a particular Celtic tribe called the Kampi (after whom the Kamp valley is named)—a tribe famous enough to be known to the Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy.
The ancient geographers knew Europe pretty well, right through to the remote island of Ierne, known to Greek traders by at least 530 BC. By sheer chance we ended our summer there. An Irish television company rang to ask if I could come over to talk about sex and death in the Neolithic. We had scheduled a family camping trip to Scotland but we took the Holyhead-Dublin ferry instead. After doing the television archaeology bit around the massive 5000-year old passage tomb complexes of Newgrange and Knowth in the bend of the river Boyne, we headed southwest to the Dingle peninsula. At Gallarus Oratory we pitched tent, rather grandly, on the westernmost campsite in mainland Europe. The place was dotted with the corbel-vaulted beehive huts of the prehistoric inhabitants. They knew beyond doubt that they were at an edge too, all Europe to their back, and only the Atlantic ahead. But I thought of you, over the glittering horizon in NY, and reflected on how our inner geography conditions everything we see, and the perspective of prehistory conditions it yet further.
book due and no cash to speak of, I spent the summer, when it wasn't
raining, on the roof of my building in Brooklyn. Thinking about how
and why people get persuaded that they're members of meaningful tribes—ethnic,
religious, national, sports-fan, whatever.
These two show my parents on the exact beach in Truro on which my wife and I have a summer cottage. We reconnoitered this stretch to find the exact place they were standing; it wasn't hard, because many of the houses in the photo are still there. But beaches constantly morph because of erosion and deposition, and this one has accreted several hundred feet of sand in the past five decades. The spot where my mother is standing is now a good walk away from the water line. The Provincetown skyline behind my father is virtually identical, a testimony to the town's preservation efforts.
The next three were taken at that other Massachusetts tourist destination, Harvard. By another coincidence, this is a significant locale for me fifty summers later: I have just moved back to Harvard, after 21 years at MIT. The first photo shows Harry and a friend John Harvard's shoe a traditional good-luck rub. John is still there, his left toe still shiny, but University Hall in the background has changed. The awnings, an adaptation to summer sun before the use of air conditioning, are gone. The ivy is gone, too, belying the "ivy league" designation; it was taken down when I was a graduate student in the late 1970s because it was damaging the historic buildings.
This one shows Harry and a friend at the Harkness Commons at Harvard, a block from where I now live. The brick ledge is still there (the shrubs are only a bit bigger), as is the space-age sculpture reflected in the glass. The complex was designed by Walter Gropius, Dean of the Graduate School of Design, a nice example of postwar International Style, with several low geometric buildings in a large open space connected by crisscrossing paths. At the time it must have looked fantastically futuristic; now it strikes many as archaic and inefficient, and there are rumors that it will become a victim of Harvard's expansion plans.
In this last photograph, taken on the steps of the Widener Library, the building hasn't changed in the interim, only the people. Seeing this couple, young enough to be my children, is overwhelming; it fills me with the foolish desire to tell them about the careers, family, and changed world of the half-century to come.
After 32 years in New York City (22 of them on a houseboat at the 79th Street Boat Basin) I moved to Swansea, Massachusetts, north of Newport, Rhode Island. Surprisingly painless was this, because of e-mail, streaming radio, and Zabar's online. Withdrawal peeked with the August blackout, when I became sentimental about the one in Manhattan in 1977: chocolate covered strawberries were gratis at Ruskay's, and sidewalk venues on Columbus Avenue wafted clouds of Cannabis, perhaps because police were otherwise occupied, or because it was the 70s. Now the minds of baby boomer are altered free of charge, gaps in speech as spotty as our dream to change the world.
I became sentimental about that lost dream (more the current nightmare), I pull myself up by my own bra straps: How wonderful to sit here on a dead end street in New England yet feel in touch with friends in London and Nairobi, to edit my own web site, or better yet, read Edge.
My plan for the winter is to return to the distant past, exploring Zanzibar and the Swahili culture. Coastal East Africa combines previous interest in archeological sites plus current ramifications of terrorism, a span of 2,000 years tied together by the classic Arab dhow, with its lateen sail. I thought about navigating these subjects when sanding the dagger board for my new/old Sunfish, to be launched Labor Day weekend with a ceremonial Swahili feast, poetry, and a red wine toast to Wilfred Thesiger, the cranky explorer who died recently in London at the age of 93. Known for his desert walks, Thesiger eschewed technology and was rabid about science education.
My summer postcard image was taken in the backyard of the 1906 bungalow where I now live, replete with a fireplace, herb garden, and a massive bedroom/riverview, all unaffected by the tide. The house is only 200 yards from the shore. A new rudder will guide me in new waters. As a New York friend said about my departure, "Change is good, even when it's bad."
These are a few of the 123 7 foot tall fiberglass bears that spent the summer doing the hokey-pokey on what may still be the site of the future US Embassy in Berlin. It's right by the Brandenburg Gate, on land that was part of no-man's land. If the Germans had left the Wall in place, the Americans would now feel more secure about building on that site, so until our fear of the world is placated, the site is empty and these bears—each one decorated thematically to represent a different country (the mostly red guy is Hungary, the blue one is Ukraine, land of my godchildren)—meant to suggest a more pacific vision of the family of nations.
Garrison, New York
South Dakota - Interstate 90
Drove the 3,069 miles from Bellingham WA to Princeton NJ in 96 hours at the end of last summer, and, in early July, took a bit more time (with daughter Lauren) driving back. Stopped in Portland to speak at OSCON (O'Reilly's Open Source Convention) where Tim's gang of 1,800 independent-minded coders enjoyed receiving long-delayed words of encouragement from their predecessors on the Institute for Advanced Study's Electronic Computer Project, for instance this scrap of paper (ca. 1946) that turned up in Julian Bigelow's basement a week before I left:
The text reads:
In the Gospel according to von Neumann, this is where God said "Let there be light."
San Diego, California
Apes evolved from the monkeys about 25 million years ago; they lost their tails in favor of doubling brain size. The gibbons and siamangs are on a branch that dates back about 18 million years, and the orangs on the branch at about 12 million years. They are the acrobats of the apes, with shoulders far more versatile than monkeys. The siamangs and the orangs are housed together at the San Diego Zoo and it makes for a fascinating display of virtuosity. I made good use of my new telephoto lens, as you'll see when the book comes out next spring; the postcard pictures are of the siamang, an orang, and various bonobos.
The gorillas split off about 8-10 million years ago. They sure lost the acrobatic skills of their presumed ancestor with the orangs, perhaps because they specialized in a vegetarian niche of low quality food that requires a very long gut and big belly.
7 million years ago, we last shared a common ancestor with the chimps
and bonobos. The hominids differed, initially, in losing the big canine
teeth and in standing upright enough to rearrange the hips. They had
a pint-sized brain like the other great apes; the tripling of brain
size didn't even begin until the ice ages kicked in about 2-3 million
years ago. If only more of those intermediate species had survived—both
Neanderthals and, in China, Homo erectus went extinct recently, after
our own lineage achieved structured thought, our capacity for long sentences
and contingent planning.
My summer postcard comes from two weeks in a villa in the Umbrian hills, with a bare hint of Perugia in the background, obscured by the 26 immediate family members in front of it (2 grand-parents, 12 children and spouses, 11 grand-children plus 1 in utero, I'm in the hat).
Its an interesting mix of people, several journalists, writers, artists, professors, and scientists, a lawyer and a manager, plus a motocross racing champion and a jazz-hip-hop fusion rapper. Sort of our own private Gopnik Edge. No e-mail or work or writing for two weeks, just happy, swimming, cooking and eating, with all 26 of us sharing two houses.
But there was inevitably, some thinking, and a tremendous amount of talking, including inevitably a tremendous amount of talking about families.Everyone in this picture is either a child or parent (or both) of someone else in this picture.
And those relations are among the most intense, valuable, rich and complicated experiences they will ever have. What's more millions, billions, of families could provide similar pictures, with similarly rich and complicated stories behind them. Novelists, of course, have made those stories their province, and their was certainly material for a comic novella in the Gopniks in Perugia.
But there is remarkably little abstract thinking about the relations between parents and children. The biological facts of childhood and parenting, and the peculiar dilemmas and conflicts, attachments and responsibilities, they create, which loom so large in literature and experience, and even a two-week family reunion vacation, are practically invisible in philosophy. So this was a good chance for me to talk and think about that set of issues which I'm trying to write about too, even without actually writing.
Dear John Brockman!
and science seem to be congruent in that they are endeavouring to create
what, previously, has not been there, to make visible what has never
been seen, has not yet been seen or, in a way, will always be invisible.
of these pictures (from left to right) are: "Angel, Tectonic",
"The Distant Sound", and "The Grand Vehicle".
best to Edge.
spent four months traveling nonstop this spring and early summer to
a wonderful set of meetings, such as a TedMed conference (presenting
incredible information about the interface of technology and medicine—here's
a picture of myself, my lab manager and one of our volunteers, plus
our youngest parrot who also got to attend!), conferences in Rennes
(fascinating material on animal cognition, but during the outbreak of
the Iraqi war), Scotland (animal welfare), and Wales (amazing talks
on the interface of computers, robots, and animal models for learning),
as well as many around the USA (including an symposium on avian behavior
in honor of James Watson's 75th birthday that ended with birding with
David Sibley). I thus decided to opt for what was to be a relaxing summer
near the beach in Swampscott. I'm rethinking the meaning of the word
"relaxing" ....and looking ahead to a month in Paris this
fall, working at the Ecole Normale Superieure.
During a trip to New Mexico I visited an incredible chamber for studying plasmas constructed by a young physicist named Christopher Watts at New Mexico Tech. Basically this is an aurora in a bottle—Chris studies the process by which auroras and solar flare form. Its the most incredible device I've seen in a long time—Jules Verne meets the computer age.
My trip to New Mexico Tech was part of a longer sojourn to New Mexico (truly a land of scientific enchantments) which began with teaching at the annual summer science writing workshop with George Johnson and Sandy Blakeslee in Santa Fe. Then on to Socorro to visit Chris Watts plasma physics lab and also NMT's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center—grand central for the scientific study of blowing things up.
Then it was on to the VLA (the huge array of telescopes where Contact was filmed) and finally ending with a magical visit to Walter de Maria's Lightning Field. We were there on the summer solstice and the whole work seem specifically engineered for that one endlessly lingering sunset. Just as the Mayan's built the great pyramid at Chitchen Itza to capture the one incandescent moment of the spring equinox, so de Maria's artwork may be seen as a fantastical kind of solar observatory. A truly amazing amalgamation of art, technology, and engineering.
This summer has been the hottest in England since records began 343 years ago (and that's a good thing when you live here). So I have spent a lot of time working in my garden.
nearly three years since I gave up my job (tenure, lecturing, students
and everything) to write a textbook on consciousness. So now that it's
finished, do I want to go back? Can I stop asking questions about "what
it's like to be"?
Sue Blackmore, August 2003
This summer combined work and play and has been highlighted by the arrival of a new daughter from Russia.
I spent time at my field site on the island of Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. This island has been home to some 1000 rhesus monkeys for close to 70 years. Everything is quite natural except for some provisioning and the absence of predators. We changed that. Working with a post-doc, we started a new and exciting project using trained eagles to simulate attacks on those poor innocent monkeys.
We used the largest african bird of prey called the crowned eagle (photo attached). The results are wonderful: we are witnessing the real time evolution of an alarm response as the monkeys are producing calls they have never produced, are responding with fear, and seem to innately recognize the call as labeling an avian predator. And what better way to end a day of field work than to come home to a pint-sized pina colada. From Cayo I returned home, spent a few weeks reading, writing, running experiments, and going to a local beach.
We — my wife Lilan, 15 year old daughter Alexandra, and new two year old daughter Sofia — then all travelled to my parent's house in Chamonix, France. The house sits at the base of Mont Blanc, the jewel of the Alps. We hiked , swam in alpine lakes, ate like royalty, and enjoyed the aesthetics that only the French know how to create, but everyone else can enjoy.
Yes. Have begun to go back to classic work in moral philsophy and moral
psychology and realize that the time is ripe for the sciences of the
mind and brain to make their move. That said, a different approach is
needed. It is a view that differs from the hyperational position of
law, most of moral philosophy, and moral development, as well as the
hyperemotional position of moral philsophers from the British Enlightenment
(think Hume) to today's social psychologists. The view I favor has origins
in the writings of Adam Smith, Noam Chomsky and John Rawls. It is a
view that sees our moral faculty as a suite of intuitions based on principles
of action that operate over judgments of permissible, obligatory, and
forbidden behaviors. It has a rational flavor, but we are not conscious
of its workings. It has an emotional flavor, but emotions
Greetings from Siena, where I just watched one of the Palio races for the first time in the flesh. A few days ago I was in Pisa, and took some time to visit two landmarks dedicated to Leonardo Fibonacci, whose 1202 book "Liber abaci" was responsible for western Europe adopting the Hindu-Arabic number system, thereby preparing the way for the scientific revolution soon
and thence to the present day dominance of the West in science and technology.
The statue dates back to 1863, and was carved by Giovanni Paganucci.
There is no evidence that it is anything but a work of pure fiction;
no contemporary likeness of Leonardo exists, nor any physical description
of him. The street sign is for a stretch of road that runs along the
River Arno. After less than a quarter of a mile it becomes the Lungarno
friend visited from Paris the other day and when I took him to the beach
he almost fell over, thinking of crowded French seaside resorts in the
summer. Each summer I find myself thinking about belief systems and
how difficult they are to change.
New South Wales, Australia
Here is a photo of my recent wedding day, with my new wife Pauline, a science journalist with ABC Radio National. It was taken in our back garden.
off to Seattle, to attend the Foundation for the Future 'Humanity 3000'
meeting. I'll also be spending one day in New York! And it
will be totally wiped out by filming with the BBC for a Horizon special
on time travel. I fly to London that evening for one day, meeting
family, then to Venice to lecture at a cultural festival. I'll be making
a quick dash to fulfill my childhood dream of visiting the independent
country of San Marino, one of only three in the world totally embedded
in another nation (do you know the other two?). I have an obsession
with geographical trivia.