Jean Baudrillard

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Jean Baudrillard (27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) (French pronunciation: [

bodʁijaʁ])[2] was

a French sociologist,philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated withpostmodernism and post-structuralism.

Baudrillard was born in Reims, northeastern France, on July 27, 1929. He told interviewers that his grandparents werepeasants and his parents were civil servants. During his high school studies at the Reims Lycée, he came into contact with pataphysics (via the philosophy professor Emmanuel Peillet), which is said to be crucial for understanding Baudrillard's later thought.[3] He became the first of his family to attend university when he moved to Paris to attendSorbonne University.[4] There he studied German language and literature, which led to him to begin teaching the subject at several different lycées, both Parisian and provincial, from 1960 until 1966.[3] While teaching, Baudrillard began to publish reviews of literature and translated the works of such authors as Peter Weiss, Bertolt Brecht, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Wilhelm Emil Mühlmann.[5] During his time as a teacher of German language and literature, Baudrillard began to transfer to sociology, eventually completing his doctoral thesis Le Système des objets (The System of Objects) under the dissertation committee of Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, and Pierre Bourdieu. Subsequently, he began teaching sociology at the Université de Paris-X Nanterre, a university campus just outside of Paris which would become heavily involved in the events of May 1968.[6]During this time, Baudrillard worked closely with Philosopher Humphrey De Battenburge, who described Baudrillard as a "visionary".[7] At Nanterre he took up a position asMaître Assistant (Assistant Professor), then Maître de Conférences (Associate Professor), eventually becoming a professor after completing his accreditation, L'Autre par lui-même (The Other by Himself). In 1970, Baudrillard made the first of his many trips to the USA (Aspen), and in 1973, the first of several trips to Japan (Kyoto). He was given his first camera in 1981 in Japan, which led to his becoming a photographer.[8] In 1986 he moved to IRIS (Institut de Recherche et d'Information Socio-Économique) at the Université de Paris-IX Dauphine, where he spent the latter part of his teaching career. During this time he had begun to move away from sociology as a discipline (particularly in its "classical" form), and, after ceasing to teach full time, he rarely identified himself with any particular discipline, although he remained linked to the academic world. During the 1980s and 1990s his books had gained a wide audience, and in his last years he became, to an extent, an intellectual celebrity,[9] being published often in the French- and English-speaking popular press. He nonetheless continued supporting the Institut de Recherche sur l'Innovation Sociale at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and was Satrap at the Collège de Pataphysique. Baudrillard taught at

theEuropean Graduate School in Saas-Fee[10] and collaborated at the Canadian theory, culture and technology review Ctheory, where he was abundantly cited. In 1999-2000, his photographs were exhibited at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris.[11] In 2004, Baudrillard attended the major conference on his work, "Baudrillard and the Arts," at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe in Karlsruhe, Germany.[12]



Baudrillard was a social theorist and critic best known for his analyses of the modes of mediation and technological communication. His writing, though mostly concerned with the way technological progress affects social change, covers diverse subjects — including consumerism, gender relations, the social understanding of history, journalistic commentaries about AIDS, cloning, the Rushdie affair, the first Gulf War and the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. His published work emerged as part of a generation of French thinkers including Gilles Deleuze, JeanFrançois Lyotard,Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan who all shared an interest in semiotics, and he is often seen as a part of the poststructuralist philosophical school.[13] In common with many poststructuralists, his arguments consistently draw upon the notion that signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or "signs" interrelate. Baudrillard thought, as many post-structuralists, that meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together. Following on from the structuralist linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Baudrillard argued that meaning (value) is created through difference - through what something is not (so "dog" means "dog" because it is not-"cat", not-"goat", not-"tree", etc.). In fact, he viewed meaning as near enough self-referential: objects, images of objects, words and signs are situated in a web of meaning; one object's meaning is only understandable through its relation to the meaning of other objects; in other words, one thing's prestige relates to another's mundanity. From this starting point Baudrillard constructed broad theories of human society based upon this kind of self-referentiality. His pictures of society portray societies always searching for a sense of meaning — or a "total" understanding of the world — that remains consistently elusive. In contrast to poststructuralists such as Foucault, for whom the formations of knowledge emerge only as the result of relations of power, Baudrillard developed theories in which the excessive, fruitless search for total knowledge lead almost inevitably to a kind of delusion. In Baudrillard's view, the (human) subject may try to understand the (nonhuman) object, but because the object can only be understood according to what it signifies (and because the process of signification immediately involves a web of other signs from which it is distinguished) this never produces the desired results. The subject, rather, becomes seduced (in the original Latin sense, seducere, to lead away) by the object. He therefore argued that, in the last analysis, a complete understanding of the minutiae of human life is impossible, and when people are seduced into thinking otherwise they become drawn toward a "simulated" version of reality, or, to use one of his neologisms, a state of "hyperreality." This is not to say that the world becomes unreal, but rather that the faster and more

for instance. 2. For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. and how different objects are consumed in different ways. and therefore symbolically (if not militarily) defenseless against acts such as the Rushdie Fatwa[16] or. such as The System of Objects. on the other hand. A pen. but rather in a world that is ever more easily petrified by even the smallest event. . For Baudrillard. terrorism. Because the "global" world operates at the level of the exchange of signs and commodities. which was the main drive in capitalist society. its instrumental purpose. The first is the functional value of an object. Objects always. Baudrillard. that needs are constructed. why consumption was and remains more important than production: because the "ideological genesis of needs"[17] precedes the production of goods to meet those needs. for him. not in a "global village. In Baudrillard's work the symbolic realm (which he develops a perspective on through the anthropological work of Marcel Mauss and Georges Bataille) is seen as quite distinct from that of signs and signification. but in these books he differed from Marx in one significant way. particularly in his later work. and a refrigerator cools. In this world neither liberal nor Marxist utopias are any longer believed in. the September 11. 2001. Baudrillard argued. Baudrillard came to this conclusion by criticising Marx's concept of "use-value. drawing from Roland Barthes. In 2004. saw the "global" society as without this "symbolic" element. terrorist attacks against the United States and its military establishment (see below). its economic value. He wrote that there are four ways of an object obtaining value. [edit]The object value system In his early books. have their fetishistic side. in this sense.comprehensively societies begin to bring reality together into one supposedly coherent picture. He stressed that all purchases. for example. One pen may be worth three pencils. it becomes ever more blind to symbolic acts such as. Signs can be exchanged like commodities. "dies out. indeed. operate quite differently: they are exchanged." to useMarshall McLuhan's phrase. At this time Baudrillard's political outlook was loosely associated with Marxism (and situationism). because they always signify something socially." Baudrillard thought that both Marx's and Adam Smith's economic thought accepted the idea of genuine needs relating to genuine uses too easily and too simply—despite the fact that Marx did not use the term 'genuine' in relation to needs or use-values. sometimes violently as a form of potlatch. The second is the exchange value of an object. Baudrillard argued that the excess of signs and of meaning in late 20th century "global" society had caused (quite paradoxically) an effacement of reality. and one refrigerator may be worth the salary earned by three months of work. drawing from Georges Bataille. rather than production. the more insecure and unstable it looks and the more fearful societies become. symbols.[14] Reality. like gifts. We live. he argued. and The Consumer Society. it was consumption. the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies was launched."[15] Accordingly. rather than innate. Baudrillard's main focus is upon consumerism. writes. The four value-making processes are as follows:[18] 1. And this was. "say something" about their users.

a hyperreality. The last is the sign value of an object. Simulation. royalty. In so doing. Although retaining his interest in Saussurean semiotics and the logic of symbolic exchange (as influenced by anthropologist Marcel Mauss). but may suggest particular social values. the series. since they are always meant to be reproducible but are never intended to be used—2) the (former) Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. such as taste or class. which can be propagated on an endless production line. in which the dominant simulacrum was in the form of the counterfeit—mostly people or objects appearing to stand for a real referent (for instance. Progressing historically from the Renaissance. in other words. in which the dominant simulacrum is the model. Later. a reference with no real referent. holiness. the fourth. distinct heights with a singular model of the ultimate New York building: already doubled. and is itself already reproduced. Baudrillard progressed beyond both Saussure's and Roland Barthes' formal semiology to consider the implications of a historically understood (and thus formless) version of structural semiology. its value within a system of objects. itself a reproduction. which replaced a New York of constantly competing. in the spirit of pretense. The third is the symbolic value of an object. a value that a subject assigns to an object in relation to another subject. [edit]Simulacra and Simulation Main article: Simulacra and Simulation As he developed his work throughout the 1980s. A particular pen may. Baudrillard argues that today there is no such thing as reality. a singular model for all conceivable development. in dissimulating others that a person or a thing does not really "have it" -. The concept of Simulacra [19][20] also involves a negation of the concept of reality as we usually understand it. 4.) that does not exist. developing ideas about how the nature of social relations is determined by the forms of communication that a society employs. and 3) a menage-a-trois with identical twins where the . particularly in his writings on world events. a diamond ring may have no function at all. Baudrillard's earlier books were attempts to argue that the first two of these values are not simply associated. or a diamond may be a symbol of publicly declared marital love. Some examples Baudrillard brings up of the simulacrum of the model are: 1) the development of nuclear weapons as deterrents—useful only in the hyperreal sense. But the focus on the difference between sign value (which relates to commodity exchange) and symbolic value (which relates to Maussian gift exchange) remained in his work up until his death. and finally to current times. Baudrillard claims. he moved from economically based theory to the consideration of mediation and mass communications. signify prestige relative to another pen. nobility. Baudrillard rejected Marxism totally (The Mirror of Production and Symbolic Exchange and Death). Baudrillard turned his attention to Marshall McLuhan. which by its nature already stands for endless the industrial revolution. while having no added functional benefit. in which the dominant simulacrum is the product. already reproduced. Indeed it came to play a more and more important role. A pen might symbolize a student's school graduation gift or a commencement speaker's gift. particularly. but are disrupted by the third and.3. is the current stage of the simulacrum: All is composed of references with no referents. etc.

Baudrillard contended that the ends they hoped for had always been illusions. this is because History itself has become a dustbin. wherein all conflicts would find their resolution. is in the tactile sense. [edit]The end of history and meaning Throughout the 1980s and 1990s. though the reality behind this reproduction is nil and impossible to comprehend otherwise. both the imagined and the real are equally hyperreal. old regimes.fantasy comprises having perfection reproduced in front of your eyes. but as the collapse of the very idea of historical progress. unlike Fukuyama. but. Baudrillard wrote that the speed society moved at had destabilized the linearity of history: "we have the particle accelerator that has smashed the referential orbit of things once and for all. one of Baudrillard's most common themes was historicity. equally both reproducible and already reproductions themselves). indeed. He argued."[22] In making this argument Baudrillard found some affinity with the postmodern philosophy of JeanFrançois Lyotard. but the reproducibility thereof. We do not imagine them reproduced for us. who famously argued that in the late Twentieth Century there was no longer any room for "metanarratives. inevitable. There are no longer any dustbins for disposing of old ideologies. or. since the original image is itself a reproduction—rather. more specifically. just as the planet itself is becoming its own dustbin. since the twins are still just people. since we already assume the reproducibility of everything. also the end of the dustbins of history. universality was still a . Giving further evidence of his opposition toward Marxist visions of global communism and liberal visions of global civil society. Baudrillard averred that this end should not be understood as the culmination of history's progress. old values. Baudrillard argued that although genuine belief in a universal endpoint of history." (The triumph of a coming communism being one such metanarrative. as his book The Illusion of the End argued. Baudrillard also went beyond Lyotard and attempted to analyse how the idea of forward progress was being employed in spite of the notion's declining validity. we no longer "imagine" in the same sense as before.[21] Within a society subject to and ruled by fast-paced electronic communication and global information networks the collapse of this façade was always going to be. Employing a quasiscientific vocabulary that attracted the ire of the physicist Alan Sokal. which actually invented the dustbins of history? (Yet there is some justice here since the very people who invented them have fallen in. alas. he thought the idea of an end itself was nothing more than a misguided dream: The end of history is. we perceive the model. Where are we going to throw Marxism. that history had ended or "vanished" with the spread of globalization.) Conclusion: if there are no more dustbins of history. how present day societies utilise the notions of progress and modernity in their political choices. the end of the Cold War was not caused by one ideology's victory over the other. much like the political theorist Francis Fukuyama. The very act of perceiving these. he thought. For Baudrillard. in addition to simply lamenting this collapse of history.) But. the simulation. It has become its own dustbin. since it is not the reality of these simulations that we imagine (in fact. but the disappearance of the utopian visions that both the political Right and Left shared. had been deemed redundant. Baudrillard insists.

B. He was also a renowned taxonomist.systematics. Ernst Mayr approached the problem with a new definition for the concept of species. When populations within a species become isolated by geography.S. tropical explorer. not on single genes. and over time may evolve into new species. famously calling in 1959 such approaches "beanbag genetics". and are employed in order to hide the present's harsh realities (or. The most significant and rapid genetic reorganization occurs in extremely small populations that have been isolated (as on islands). based on his work on birds. unrealities). according to him. Mayr's ideas As a traditionally trained biologist with little mathematical experience. In a similar fashion. excluding all others. he wrote. The means. He advocated a study of the whole genome rather than of isolated genes only. mate selection. 2005) [3] [1][2] was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionarybiologists. feeding strategy. ornithologist. Mayr rejected reductionism in evolutionary biology. which he distinguished from physics due to its introduction of (natural) history into science. Mayr is sometimes credited with inventing modern philosophy of biology. and naturalist. is still considered a leading mode of speciation. Neither Charles Darwin nor anyone else in his time knew the answer to the species problem: how multiple speciescould evolve from a single common ancestor.notion utilised in world politics as an excuse for actions. and to the development of the biological species concept. historian of science. universalization was viewed as unlimited growth and forward progress. but a group that can breed only among themselves. "In the Enlightenment. universalization is expressed as a forward escape."[23] Ernst Walter Mayr (July 5. In many of his writings. proposed by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. by contrast. Current molecular studies in evolution and speciation indicate that . they may start to differ from other populations through genetic drift and natural selection. His theory of peripatric speciation (a more precise form of allopatric speciation which he advanced). In his book Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942) he wrote that a species is not just a group of morphologically similar individuals. Mayr was also quite critical of molecular evolutionary studies such as those of Carl Woese. 1904 – February 3. arguing that evolutionary pressures act on the whole organism. Universal values which. Mayr was often highly critical of early mathematical approaches to evolution such as those of J. are there even though the ends are no longer believed in. and that genes can have different effects depending on the other genes present. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics. and was the theoretical underpinning for the theory ofpunctuated equilibrium. no one any longer believed universal were and are still rhetorically employed to justify otherwise unjustifiable choices. and Darwinian evolution. He maintained that factors such as reproductive isolation had to be taken into account. as he would have put it. or other means. Haldane. particularly the part related to evolutionary biology. Today.

Except for that slight revision. Mayr played a central role in the species problem debate over what was the best species concept. he criticized the search for aliens as conducted by fellow Harvard professor Paul Horowitz as being a waste of university and student resources. because that was the only way they could be made accessible to mathematics. But Dawkins' basic theory of the gene being the object of evolution is totally non-Darwinian. And indeed.although allopatric speciation seems to be the norm in groups (such as in many invertebrates— especially in the insects). I would not call him the greatest Darwinian. He staunchly defended the biological species concept against the many definitions of "species" that others proposed. however. Mayr was an outspoken defender of the scientific method. [14][50] but was not immune from criticism by those in the biological community who felt his public . worked quite a bit on so-called lethal chromosomes which are highly successful in one combination. In fact. for its inability to address and answer a scientific question. it was widely accepted that genes were the target of selection. [13] Mayr insisted throughout his career that the gene as the target of selection cannot and should not be considered a valid idea in modern evolutionary thought. the basic Darwinian theory hasn't changed in the last 50 years. and in the genotype. he will say Richard Dawkins. Dawkins has done a marvelous job of popularizing Darwinism. you ask a man in the street who the greatest living Darwinian is. but now we know that it is really the whole genotype of the individual. In the 30s and 40s. and one known to sharply critique science on the edge. for instance. Mayr rejected the idea of a gene-centered view of evolution and starkly but politely criticized Richard Dawkins' ideas: The funny thing is if in England. As a notable recent example. and lethal in another. Dobzhanksy. [13] Mayr also had reservations about evolution: "It must be admitted. there are numerous cases of sympatric speciation in groups with greater mobility (such as the birds). or the bird’s feather) could be improved by random mutations. and the interaction with those other genes make a particular gene either more favorable or less favorable. The idea that a few people have about the gene being the target of selection is completely impractical. Therefore people like Dawkins in England who still think the gene is the target of selection are evidently wrong. not the gene. After articulating the biological species concept in 1942." [14] GOULD Controversies Gould received many accolades for his scholarly work and popular expositions of natural history. it is always in the context with other genes. a gene is never visible to natural selection. that it is a considerable strain on one’s credulity to assume that finely balanced systems such as certain sense organs (the eye of vertebrates.

perhaps too much so . [62] These debates reached their climax in the 1970s. out of step with mainstream evolutionary theory." [58] [57] [56] Maynard Smith was also among those who welcomed Gould's reinvigoration of [20] evolutionary paleontology. and included strong [63] opposition from groups like the Sociobiology Study Group and Science for the People. As a result. Dawkins subsequently offered a concession via an endnote in a new edition of his book The Selfish Gene.over the way the theory of punctuated equilibrium has been oversold. One reason for such criticism was that Gould appeared to be presenting his ideas as a revolutionary way of understanding evolution. Gould also disagreed with Richard Dawkins over the importance of gene selection in evolution. and Maynard Smith opposed. Lewontin. Criticism of Gould and his theory of punctuated equilibrium can be found in chapter 9 of Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and chapter 10 of Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea. become somewhat petulant . andclades. [edit]Opposition [61] [55] to sociobiology and evolutionary psychology Gould also had a long-running public feud with E. I am ashamed to say that. many non-specialists sometimes inferred from his early writings that Darwinian explanations had been proven to be unscientific (which Gould never tried to imply). Along with many other researchers in the field. O. Dawkins argued that evolution is best understood as competition among genes (or replicators). like many biologists in England at the time. at least in 1976. was among Gould's strongest critics. and was also critical of Gould's acceptance of species selection as a major component of biological evolution. [52][53][54][55] [51] The public debates between Gould's supporters and detractors have been so quarrelsome that they have been John Maynard Smith. Often he infuriates me. . my heart was in the right place. If this has hurt anybody's feelings. species. was totally ignorant of that theory. but I hope he will go right on writing essays like these. I regret it. and argued for the importance of mechanisms other than natural selection. I have since. Maynard Smith wrote that Gould "is giving non-biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory. while Gould advocated the importance of multi-level selection. [59] Gould [60] himself corrected some of these misinterpretations and distortions of his writings in later works. but which Richard Dawkins. including selection amongst genes. for instance in The Blind Watchmaker. mechanisms which he believed had been ignored by many professional evolutionists. although it had been published three years earlier. . Daniel Dennett. Lewontin. . writing in a review of The Panda's Thumb that "Stephen Gould is the best writer of popular science now active. organisms.presentations were. for various reasons. In a review of Daniel Dennett's book Darwin's Dangerous Idea.86 Progressive evolution may be not so much a steady upward climb as a series of discrete steps from stable plateau to stable plateau This paragraph is a fair summary of one way of expressing the now well-known theory of punctuated equilibrium. cell lineages. Gould's works were sometimes deliberately taken out of context by creationists as a "proof" that scientists no longer understood how organisms evolved. demes. Pinker accuses Gould. dubbed "The Darwin Wars" by several commentators. and Steven Pinker advocated)." But Maynard Smith has not been consistently negative. I. where he states: p. and other opponents of evolutionary psychology of being "radical . Maynard Smith thought that Gould misjudged the vital role of adaptation in biology. They may like to note that. when I wrote my conjecture. Wilson and other evolutionary biologists over human sociobiology and its later descendant evolutionary psychology(which Gould. an eminent British evolutionary biologist.

Its flexibility "permits us to be aggressive or peaceful. they largely shift the question from "why?" to "how?" and provide context and parameters for meaningful conversations on such topics. such as "Why are we here?". consciousness. the existence of God.ontology. and happiness. but reframed the debate as "biological potentiality vs. social ties. purpose. especially unconsciously. and touches many other issues. as a student." [66] MEANING OF LIFE The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance oflife or existence in general. and I was active. Objectivity must be operationally defined as fair treatment of data. But peacefulness. This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions. Gould emphasized that adaptive behaviors can be passed on through culture as well. for then one stops being vigilant about personal preferences and their influences—and then one truly falls victim to the dictates of prejudice. biological determinism. [66] Gould did not deny the relevance of biology to human nature. and general nastiness are biological since they represent one subset of a possible range of behaviors. conceptions of God. [64] Gould stated that he made "no attribution of motive in Wilson's or anyone else's case" but cautioned that all human beings are influenced. and either hypothesis is equally plausible. He wrote: I grew up in a family with a tradition of participation in campaigns for social justice. or their adaptive nature. An alternative. There have been a large number of theories to these questions from many different cultural and ideologicalbackgrounds. scientific." whose stance on human nature is influenced by politics rather than science. Science also provides its own recommendations for the pursuit of well-being and a related conception of morality. [65] Gould's primary criticism held that human sociobiological explanations lacked evidential support.humanistic (rather than religious) approach is the question "What is the meaning of my life?" The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality. thesoul. in the civil rights movement at a time of great excitement and success in the early 1960s. … [but] it is dangerous for a scholar even to imagine that he might attain complete neutrality. 20th century philosophy . and theological speculation throughout history. Scientific contributions focus more on describing related empirical facts about theuniverse." Gould stated that the human brain allows for a wide range of behaviors. spiteful or generous… Violence. "What is life all about?". good and evil. such as symbolic meaning. value. and kindness are just as biological—and we may see their influence increase if we can create social structures that permit them to flourish. equality. or a feeling of oneness. dominant or submissive. The meaning of life is deeply mixed with the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence. by our personal expectations and biases. sexism. free will. and the afterlife. not absence of preference. and "What is the meaning of it all?" It has been the subject of much philosophical. ethics. and argued that adaptive behaviors are frequently assumed to be genetic for no other reason than their supposed universality. Scholars are often wary of citing such commitments. or a feeling of sacredness.scientists.

life is not determined by a supernatural god or an earthly authority. existentialism opposes rationalismand positivism. to concern itself (mostly) with truth.Further information: 20th century philosophy The current era has seen radical changes in conceptions of human nature. Søren Kierkegaard coined the term "leap of faith". theoretical claims must be practically verifiable.S. [edit]Pragmatism Pragmatism. Salvation. and decision. to efforts to meta-theorize about meaning-making as an activity (existentialism. positing that "only in struggling with the environment" do data. [37] Arthur Schopenhauer answered: "What is the meaning of life?" by determining that one's life reflects one's will. secular humanism). thus. William Jamesargued that truth could be made. the (essence) of one's life arisesonly after one comes to existence. and that the will (life) is an aimless. are also components of truth. In practice. pragmatism posits that anything useful and practical is not always true. Each man and each woman creates the essence (meaning) of his and her life. the insufficiency gives rise to the emotions of anxiety and dread. originated in the late-19th-century U. that. advances in medicine and technology have freed us from the limitations and ailments of previous eras.. and escape from suffering are in aesthetic contemplation. Modern science has effectively rewritten the relationship of humankind to the natural world. a representation of existential angst. in course of which using only reason as a source of meaning is insufficient. and that consequences. the needs of mankind should guide human intellectual inquiry. and philosophy— particularly following the linguistic turn—altered how the relationships people have with themselves and each other is conceived. Questions about the meaning of life have seen equally radical changes. i. ultimately. despite the vulnerability inherent to doing so. the meaning of life is discoverable only via experience. have meaning. To the existentialist. one should be able to predict and test claims. and painful drive. one's ethical prime directives are action. but not sought. and. useful understanding of life is more important than searching for an impractical abstract truth about life. [38][39] . existence precedes essence. like utility and practicality. deliverance. the existentialist looks to where people find meaning in life. and one must make his and her own values in an indifferent world. sympathy for others. As such. [35][36] To a pragmatist. and asceticism. freedom. and derived theories. One can live meaningfully (free of despair and anxiety) in an unconditional commitment to something finite. In seeking meaning to life. one is free. [edit]Existentialism Main article: Meaning (existential) Edvard Munch's The Scream. and the concomitant awareness of death. arguing that what most contributes to the most human good in the long course is true. and devotes that meaningful life to the commitment. felt in facing one's radicalfreedom. arguing that life is full of absurdity.e. Pragmatic philosophers suggest that the practical. irrational. from attempts to reevaluate human existence in biological and scientific terms (as in pragmatism and logical positivism). Moreover.

in spite of or in defiance of the whole of existence he wills to be himself with it. "values and realities" are determined "by means of intelligent inquiry" [42] Likewise. that is. almost defying his torment. Kierkegaard stated that a belief in anything beyond the Absurd requires a non-rational but perhaps necessary religious acceptance in such an intangible and empirically unprovable thing (now commonly referred to as a "leap of faith"). that he will not do for all the world. that he will not do. and. the human race came to be by reproducing in a progression of unguided evolution as an integral part of nature. as it is. However. and not reflections of the world. Per secular humanism. Both Kierkegaard and Camus dismiss the viability of this option. not to speak of help by virtue of the absurd. [edit]Absurdism Main article: Absurdism ". He discredited asceticism. by critical intelligence. denied that values are objective facts. but from human observation." . has meaning. because it denies one's living in the world. that are rationally necessary. The Sickness Unto Death [40] [31] In absurdist philosophy. life is worth living only if there are goals inspiring one to live. as such. he saw nihilism ("all that happens is meaningless") as without goals. in itself. rather than seek help he would prefer to be himself – with all the tortures of hell. Religious belief in a transcendent realm or being: a solution in which one believes in the existence of a reality that is beyond the Absurd. experimentation. if so it must be. Kierkegaard and Camus describe the solutions in their works. and "are derived from human [44][45] need and interest as tested by experience".. all ideations take place from a particular perspective. that for God all things are possible – no.The Sickness Unto Death (1849) and The Myth of Sisyphus (1942):   Suicide (or. As beings looking for meaning in a meaningless world.  Acceptance of the Absurd: a solution in which one accepts and even embraces the Absurd and continues to live in spite of it. And as for seeking help from any other – no. "escaping existence"): a solution in which a person simply ends one's own life. For to hope in the possibility of help. Camus regarded this solution as "philosophical suicide". while Kierkegaard regarded this solution as "demoniac madness": "He rages most of all at the thought that eternity might get it into [41] its head to take his misery from him!" [edit]Secular humanism Further information: Secular Humanism The "Happy Human" symbol representing Secular Humanism. "As far as we know. therefore. humans have three ways of resolving the dilemma. Camus endorsed this solution. and rational analysis (the scientific method): the nature of the universe is what people discern it to be. to take it along. the Absurd arises out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual's search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe. [42][43] Knowledge does not come [42] from supernatural sources. universally binding commitments: Our evaluations are interpretations.For Friedrich Nietzsche. and. the [43] total personality is [a function] of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context. which is self-existing.." Søren Kierkegaard. Accordingly.

the question is meaningless". A person's life has meaning (for himself. Bentham's creed. legacy. and. each . "What is the meaning in asking?" [50] [48][49] and "If there are no objective values. as to what we mean when we say that this or that is "the Good. [43][44] The philosophical sub-genres posthumanism and transhumanism (sometimes used synonymously) are extensions of humanistic values. itself. since any note of significance. The things (people. "What is blocking my ability to enjoy things?". because. to reconcile Renaissance humanism with the 21st century's technoscientific culture. or what is notable about x. etc. evidence can be adduced on both sides. either way.People determine human purpose.. or it might refer to the fact that biological life is essential to having a meaning in life. the statement becomes recursive. because humans are social animals. the therapeutic response is that the question of meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life. But in a question. the question is left undecided. others) as the life events resulting from his achievements. The question then morphs into more specific worries such as "What delusions am I under?". family. Neither he nor his opponents could advance any argument. It is based on the premises that the happiness of the individual person is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity. nonsensical. has meaning. is life meaningless?" Ludwig Wittgenstein and the logical [citation needed] positivists said: "Expressed in language. is a misuse of language. there is no evidence. aside from those things. There are many therapeutic responses to this question. as to whether this. the question of the meaning of life could also be [47] reinterpreted as "What is the meaning of my life?" Instead of becoming focused on cosmic or religious questions about overarching purpose. or the significance of x. humanism seeks to develop and fulfill: [42] "Humanism affirms our ability. he found no satisfactory. empirical method of proving this: [26] When we try to be definite. in life the statement the "meaning of x". Bertrand Russell wrote that although he found that his distaste for torture was not like his distaste for broccoli. etc. events) in the life of a person can have meaning (importance) as parts of a whole. but. in the statement the "meaning of x". Humanism aims to promote enlightened self- interest and the common good for all people. In a scientific question. is relevant only in life (to the living). One should seek the advancement of humanity and of all life to the greatest degree feasible. "Why do I neglect loved-ones?". when the meaning of life concept equals "x". and was said to be a pig's philosophy. who find meaning in personal relations. and responsibility. thus. On the whole. itself. so rendering the statement erroneous. which largely translates as ceasing to endlessly reflect on the self. as a whole. or that. if this does not happen. without supernatural influence. in part. in the end.. for example Viktor Frankl argues for "Dereflection". one side is seen to have the better case — or. usually denotes the consequences of x. therefore." we find ourselves involved in very great difficulties. and because cultural progress benefits everybody living in the culture. cannot be discerned. then. but a discrete meaning of (the) life. thus. and. roused furious opposition. this approach suggests that the question is intensely personal. is the ultimate Good. that pleasure is the Good. or of consequence. it is the human personality (general sense) that is the purpose of a human being's life. [46] From a humanistic-psychotherapeutic point of view. See also: Existential Therapy and Irvin Yalom [edit]Logical positivism Logical positivists ask: "What is the meaning of life?". instead of engaging in life. every living creature has the right to determine its personal and social "meaning of life". to say that life. to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment [44] that aspire to the greater good of humanity".

but instead focuses on analyzing or critiquing given meanings in order to rationalize or reconstruct them. [3] [4][5] Evolutionary psychologists hold that behaviors or traits that occur universally in all cultures are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations including the abilities to infer others' emotions. [edit]Evolutionary psychology Evolutionary psychology holds that the ultimate meaning of life is to seek the fulfillment of the human instincts. and employ such rhetorical devices as shall rouse similar emotions in others . which would still be true if our personal feelings were different. It seeks to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations. which they do not draw. or that. the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection. They report successful . we are giving expression to our own emotions.. and immune system. as the defenders of religion emphatically assert. in postmodernist terms. identify and prefer healthier mates. That is to say. lungs. Evolutionary psychologists suggest that EP is not simply a subdiscipline of psychology but that evolutionary theory can provide a foundational. and language from a modern evolutionary perspective. As a rule. as to what is good or bad on its own account. Anything resembling a "meaning of life". has "value". [edit]Postmodernism Further information: Postmodernism Postmodernist thought—broadly speaking—sees human nature as constructed by language. not to a fact. I think that. [1] [2][3] The adaptationist approach is steadily increasing as an influence in the general field of psychology. can only be understood within a social and linguistic framework. without real autonomy (as inpoststructuralism).disputant can only appeal to his own emotions. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments. that is. in this. postmodernism rarely seeks out a priori or innate meanings in human existence. postmodernists see awareness of the constraints of language as necessary to escaping those constraints. that questions as to "values" lie wholly outside the domain of knowledge. in the same way it has for biology. with different modular adaptations serving different functions. metatheoretical framework that integrates the entire field of psychology. is common in evolutionary biology. they are right. I draw the further conclusion. and must be pursued as an escape from the power structures that are already embedded in all forms of speech and interaction. but. independently of its effects — lie outside the domain of science. Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms. perception. or by structures and institutions of human society. discern kin from non-kin. and that all actions in life are results of instincts and in particular reproductive needs. and cooperate with others. arguing that the mind has a modular structure similar to that of the body.. Questions as to "values" — that is to say. Evolutionary psychology applies the same thinking to psychology. when we assert that this. Unlike other forms of philosophy. In general. [51] Evolutionary psychology (EP) (intro) is an approach in the social and natural sciences that examines psychological traits such asmemory. such as the heart. but different theorists take different views on the nature of this process: from radical reconstruction of meaning by individuals (as in deconstructionism) to theories in which individuals are primarily extensions of language and society. rather than the epiphenomenalappearances of the world. postmodernism seeks meaning by looking at the underlying structures that create or impose meaning.

marriage patterns. morphology. and G. law. the modern synthesis. perception of beauty. (November 2011) The physicist David Egli proposes an Observation that there are only two possibilities for the meaning of life: . [edit]Naturalistic pantheism According to naturalistic pantheism. who studied populations in the field and in the laboratory. The theories and findings of EP have applications in many fields. The synthesis. was a stimulus. to a large extent. S. A second issue was whether the broad-scale changes (macroevolution) seen by palaeontologists could be explained by changes seen in local populations (microevolution). Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Sergei Chetverikov.millennium synthesis and the neo-darwinian synthesis. produced between 1936 and 1947. The synthesis is still. when he produced his book. the evolutionary synthesis.tests of theoretical predictions related to such topics as infanticide. George Gaylord Simpson. Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942). [2] The modern synthesis solved difficulties and confusions caused by the specialisation and poor communication between biologists in the early years of the 20th century. cytology. including economics. Sewall Wright. [1] The previous development of population genetics. psychiatry. Fisher. J. The synthesis included evidence from biologists. cognitive and evolutionary assumptions (such as modular functioning of the brain or the ancestral environment). Ernst Mayr. Ford. Julian Huxley invented the term. [7][8] [6] Controversies concerning EP involve questions of testability. bride price and parental investment. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. promiscuity. botany. between 1918 and 1932. particularly genetics. Other major figures in the modern synthesis include R. E. Haldane. [edit]Eglis Observation This section does not cite any references or sources. Ledyard Stebbins. trained in genetics. These studies were crucial to evolutionary theory. ecology and paleontology. A. importance of non-genetic and non-adaptive explanations.Bernhard Rensch. andliterature. [9] The modern evolutionary synthesis (intro) is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which provides a widely accepted account of evolution. intelligence. politics. B. the current paradigm in evolutionary biology. the meaning of life is to care for and look after nature and the environment. B. Theodosius Dobzhansky. systematics. The synthesis drew together ideas from several branches of biology which had become separated. reflects the current consensus. It is also referred to as the new synthesis. as it showed that Mendelian genetics was consistent with natural selection and gradual evolution. as well as political and ethical issues due to interpretations of research results. At its heart was the question of whether Mendelian genetics could be reconciled with gradual evolution by means of natural selection.

This means the sense of life is to choose God in spite of evil. it implies. then the meaning of live would be to be evil. and set some parameters for conversations on topics related to meaning in life. This includes offering insights from the science of happiness or studies of death anxiety. the question remains of what nature this God is in order to speculate what the meaning of life could be. then the evil cannot be the final thing. even we ourselves are evil. then the good is actually God. that the meaning of life must have something to do with this God. It then is quite obvious. This would mean that every life of every human being is senseless. A robot cannot have true love. It is quite natural to conclude that this can't be the meaning of life. So if we are evil and God is perfectly good.1. what this God intends it to be. If God is perfectly good. In the second case. Scientific inquiry and perspectives DNA. because we all do evil things everyday. Everything is the product of coincidence. The first case leads to Absurdism. that the meaning of life is. if there is not the possibility for hatred. forgiveness. Either choose evil or either choose love and good. but still the evil is here. 2. because coincidences never make sense. and therefore the conclusion is that God is perfectly good and there is absolutely no evil in the character of God. the substance containing the genetic instructions for the development and functioning of all knownliving organisms. Also things like love or preserving human life or a good conscience. why? If we think further. Even our love will be proven the most. He wants us to love him. and not everything is coincidence. Members of the scientific community and philosophy-of-science communities believe that science may be able to provide some context. because otherwise God would still be evil. and understanding of life itself through explorations of the theories related to the big bang. If this God is a person. but there must be a purpose in creating us evil first. The purpose of evil is to prove and mature our love and our mercy. nature. In this case the meaning of life is to choose the good in spite of evil. meaning that nothing makes sense at all. grace. This also explains the purpose of evil. There is a higher power or. or what is the meaning of this life where both the good and the evil coexist? Obviously if God is perfectly good. abiogenesis and evolution. But there are also things in this world only a loving and holy God would create like love. But if God is absolutely good. mercy. This also means providing context for. if you want to call it like this. Suppose God is evil. Therefore love cannot exist. In this case it is also natural to suppose that all life came into existence by intention of that God. If God is perfectly good. why does He expose man to evil. The first conclusion could be that God is a devil because of all the terrible things in this world. It seems natural. or that even He himself is the meaning of life. But love is based on free will. a God who is behind some of the coincidences. that the meaning of life is to choose. it is obvious that God wants to deliver us from evil. beauty. Like the love of Jesus for God and mankind in spite of his crucifixion. and if it would be. But still the question of the character of that God remains. [edit]Psychological significance and value in life . joy. life would not be worth living. if we love in spite of evil.

biologists George C. then these theories give normative predictions about how to act to achieve this. and reproduction causes life to continue over a span of multiple generations. whereby values are selected when they allow us to escape the mental reminder of death. anomie. Williams. it is the replication of DNA and the survival of one's genes. among others. This controversy is problematic. though scientists have intensively studied life on Earth. [edit]Origin and nature of biological life The exact mechanisms of abiogenesis are unknown: notable theories include the RNA world hypothesis (RNA-based replicators) and theiron-sulfur world theory (metabolism without genetics). norms. organisms are responsive to stimuli and genetic information tends to change from generation to generation resulting in adaptation through evolution. etc. Richard Dawkins. Astrobiology studies the possibility of different forms of life on other worlds. based upon insight gleaned from the gene-centered view of evolution. Likewise. since some parasites and endosymbionts are also incapable of independent life. pleasure.Science may or may not be able to tell us what is of essential value in life (and various materialist philosophies such as dialectical materialism challenge the very idea of an absolute value or meaning of life). especially in the limbic system and the ventral tegmental area in particular. [103] Non-cellular replicating agents. broadly called Terror Management Theory. David Haig. but some studies definitely bear on aspects of the question: researchers in positive psychology (and.the empirical pursuit of flourishing for all conscious creatures. and motivation in terms of physical entities such as neurotransmitter activity. states that all human meaning is derived out of a fundamental fear of death. Sociology examines value at a social level using theoretical constructs such as value theory. some ethical naturalists advocate a science of morality . [90] full engagement in activities. If one believes that the meaning of life is to maximize pleasure. Neuroscience has produced theories of reward. Biologists generally agree that lifeforms are selforganizing systems regulating the internal environment as to maintain this organized state.metabolism serves to provide energy. [91] making a fuller contribution by utilizing one's personal [93] [92] and meaning based on investing in something larger than the self. these characteristics optimizing the chances of survival for the individual organism and its descendants respectively. [97][98] [95][96] However. [edit]Origins and ultimate fate of the universe . though. conclude that if there is a primary function to life. [94] At the end of the 20th century. are generally not considered to be organisms because they are incapable of "independent" reproduction or metabolism. The theory of evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life but the process by which different lifeforms have developed throughout history via genetic mutation and natural selection. in humanistic psychology) study factors that lead to life satisfaction. such as replicating structures made from materials other than DNA. notably viruses. earlier and less rigorously. strengths. Physically. one may say that life "feeds onnegative entropy" [101][102] [99][100] which refers to the process by which living entities decrease their internal entropy at the expense of some form of energy taken in from the environment. defining life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge. One value system suggested by social psychologists. Typically.

However. might have its own intrinsic degrees of freedom. partially because it appears to contradict some models of the religious concept of creation. it has become well-supported by several independent observations. many physicists have speculated about what would have preceded this limit. [105] Some physicists think that the Big Bang occurred coincidentally. Nevertheless. it is most often interpreted as implying the existence of a multiverse. though some evolutionary biologists and theoretical physicists have also made several allusions to the subject.The metric expansion of space. have considered that consciousness. [115] quantum amplification. Big Rip. and that one's perceptions may be as real as (or even more real than) material objects. [112] [111] Hypotheses of consciousness and spacetime explain [111] consciousness in describing a "space of conscious elements". current physics can only describe the early seconds after the Big Bang (where zero time corresponds to infinite temperature). be it through a Big Freeze. there are conceivable ways in which these fates can be avoided. extra dimensions. [117] Based on the premises of non-materialistic explanations of the mind. Though the Big Bang model was met with much skepticism when first introduced. [116] quantum potential [115] and quantum probability. The inflationary epoch is the expansion of the metric tensor at left. often described in reports ofnear-death experiences. and the question of free will is also considered to be of fundamental importance. and implicitly humanity. universe from 10 −43 [104] However.g. Reductionistic and eliminative materialistic approaches. [113][114] Quantum mind theories use quantum theory in explaining certain properties of the mind. as it may be possible given sufficiently advanced technology to survive indefinitely by directing the flow of energy on a cosmic [105][page needed] scale and altering the fate of the universe. Explaining the process of free will through quantum phenomena is a popular alternative todeterminism. The ultimate fate of the universe. and how the universe came into being. thus adhering to biological naturalism. often encompassing a number of Electromagnetic theories of consciousness solve the binding problem of consciousness in saying that the electromagnetic field generated by the brain is the actual carrier of conscious experience. like spacetime. [108][109][110] On the other hand. These subjects are mostly addressed in the fields of cognitive science. [107][108] Hieronymus Bosch's Ascent of the Blessed depicts a tunnel of light and spiritual figures. for example the Multiple Drafts Model. some scientists. a theory of quantum gravity would be required to go further back in time. The explanatory gap is generally equated with the hard problem of consciousness. and when considering [106] the anthropic principle. some have suggested the existence of a cosmic consciousness. [edit]Scientific questions about the mind The true nature and origin of consciousness and the mind itself are also widely debated in science. like Andrei Linde. or Big Crunch. is hypothesized as one in which biological life will eventually become unsustainable. there is however disagreement about the implementations of such a theory relating to other workings of the mind. asserting that consciousness is actually the "ground of all . hold that consciousness can be wholly explained by neuroscience through the workings of the brain and its neurons. such postulations may variously relate free will to quantum fluctuations.neuroscience (e. the neuroscience of free will) and philosophy of mind.

Meta-analyses of these experiments indicate that the effect size (though very small) has been relatively consistent. resulting in an overall statistical significance. John Cleese also had his sit-com character Basil Fawlty contemplating the futility of his own existence in Fawlty Towers. [122][123] they are not satisfied with its experimental results. In Douglas Adams' popular comedy book. When this answer is met with confusion and anger from humanity. [edit]In Skeptical reviewers contend that apparently successful results are more likely due to sloppy procedures. the Universe. get some walking in. avoid eating fat. the question is proposed to be the song of Bob Dylan "How many roads must a man walk down. it's nothing very special. read a good book every now and then. Hamlet with Yorick's skull In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. In hopes of proving the existence of these phenomena. as evidence for an incorporeal higher consciousness. and Everything is given the numeric solution "42". which he opens and reads out to the audience: "Well. Deep Thought explains that "I think the problem. parapsychologists have orchestrated various experiments.". Coincidentally." [129][130][131] Many other Python sketches and songs are also existential in nature. primarily extrasensory perceptions and psychic powers. after seven and a half million years of calculation by a giant supercomputer called Deep Thought. try to be nice to people. movie. before you can call him a man. or [124][125][126][127] popular culture Charles Allan Gilbert's All is Vanity. featured in entertainment media and various forms ofart. to be quite honest with you. there are several allusions to the meaning of life." [5][7][11][128] In the continuation of the book. . a character played by Michael Palin is handed an envelope containing "the meaning of life". television. Uh. but all is positioned in such a way as to make the image of a skullappear. is that you've never actually known what the question is. and radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.depicts a youngwoman gazing at her reflection in a mirror. the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life. and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations. [119][120][121] Although some critical analysts feel that parapsychological study is scientific. The mystery of life and its meaning is an often recurring subject in popular culture. questioning the importance we place on life ("Always Look on the Bright Side of Life") and other meaning-of-life related questioning. At the end of the example of vanitas. poorly trained researchers. [15][116][118] Proponents of this view cite accounts of paranormalphenomena. in the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew 1 in the Christian Bible states that there were 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus.being". methodological flaws than to actual effects. The book later states that the question is 6x9 which of course does not equal 42 and does in fact answer 54.

Within the study of human societies. [20] [20] Essentially. Most archaeologists and cultural anthropologists work within the framework of modern theories of sociocultural evolution. the theory of modernization and the theory of postindustrial society. Another attempt both on a less systematic scale was attempted by World System approach. the modern synthesis introduced the connection between two important discoveries. as sociocultural evolution also encompasses sociocultural transformations accompanied by decreases of complexity (degeneration) as well as ones not accompanied by any significant changes of sociocultural complexity [1] (cladogenesis). Wilson pioneered the attempt to explain the evolutionary mechanics behind social behaviours such as altruism. although it uses techniques from a plethora of sciences. the modern evolutionary synthesis (or neo-darwinism). but the show's credits begin to roll just as he starts to say what it is. doing so. . a representation of God agrees to tell Homer what the meaning of life is. explains that evolution of species occurs through a combination of Darwin's mechanism of natural selection and Gregor Mendel's theory of genetics as the basis for biological inheritance and mathematical population genetics. [132] Sociocultural evolution(ism) is an umbrella term for theories of cultural evolution and social evolution. Most 19th century and some 20th century approaches aimed to provide models for the evolution of humankind as a whole. evolution. Note that "sociocultural evolution" is not an equivalent of "sociocultural development" (unified processes of differentiation and integration involving increases in sociocultural complexity). It was introduced by Edward Wilson in his 1975 book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis and followed his adaptation of evolutionary theory to the field of social sciences. sociocultural evolution can be defined as "the process by which structural reorganization is affected through time. including ethology. sociobiology is often considered a branch of the biology and sociology disciplines.In The Simpsons episode "Homer the Heretic". the units of evolution (genes) with the main mechanism of Due to its close reliance on biology. arguing that different societies are at different stages of social development. The most comprehensive attempt to develop a general theory of social evolution centering on the development of socio-cultural systems was done by Talcott Parsons on a scale which included a theory of world-history. describing how culturesand societies have changed over time. sociobiology. [20] [20] [20] In The current theory of evolution. Thus. Wilson sparked one of the greatest scientific controversies of the 20th century. Many of the more recent 20th-century approaches focus on changes specific to individual societies and reject the idea of directional change. zoology. and nurturance. evolution (selection). eventually producing a form or structure which is qualitatively different from the ancestral form. archaeology. and many others. aggression. population genetics. Modern approaches to sociocultural evolution include neoevolutionism. Sociobiology Main article: Sociobiology Sociobiology departs perhaps the furthest from classical social evolutionism. or social progress. sociobiology is closely related to the fields of human behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology.

destined to reach the state of communism. both of which considered themselves to be the most highly evolved cultures on the planet. although sociobiologists describe this role as a very complex and often unpredictable interaction between nature and nurture. "fidelity" of evolving information systems. concentration dependency. Current political theories of the new tribalists consciously mimic ecology and the life-ways of indigenous peoples. decolonization created newly independent countries who sought to become more developed—-a model of progress and industrialization which was itself a form of sociocultural evolution.Sociobiology has remained highly controversial as it contends genes explain specific human behaviours. later published in a more accessible form in Not by Genes Alone (2004). cultural evolution. within "more or less clear boundaries" that a society inherits from the surrounding ecology. rapid. The most notable critics of the view that genes play a direct role in human behaviour have been biologists Richard Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould. Thus. augmenting them with modern sciences. and it is limited by ecological borders or by Natural Capitalism incentives which attempt to mimic the pressure of natural selection on a human society by forcing it to adapt consciously to scarce energy or materials. or else die off as failures due to competition from more efficient societies exploiting nature's leverage. Dual Inheritance Theory has the benefit of providing unifying territory for a "nature and nurture" paradigm and accounts for more accurate phenomenon in evolutionary theory applied to culture. This school of thought was pioneered by Robert Boyd at UCLA and Peter Richerson at UC Davis and expanded by William Wimsatt. and influential on human society than genetic evolution. exists on a separate but co-evolutionary track from genetic evolution. The USSR painted itself as a socialistsociety which emerged out of class struggle.[6] was a highly mathematical description of cultural change. Gaians argue that societies evolve deterministically to play a role in the ecology of their biosphere. Progress can proceed by competition between but not within tribes. this tradition merged with an interest in ecology to influence an activist culture in the 1960s. [7] In Boyd and Richerson's view. This movement produced a variety of political and philosophical programs which emphasized the importance of bringing society and the environment into harmony. to the borders of a naturally occurring ecoregion. a tradition in European social theory from Rousseau to Max Weber arguing that this progression coincides with a loss of human freedom and dignity. Dual Inheritance Theory. has emerged in the past 25 years that applies the mathematical standards ofPopulation genetics to modeling the adaptive and selective principles of culture. some have appealed to theories of sociocultural evolution to assert that optimizing the ecology and the social harmony of closely knit groups is more desirable or necessary than the progression to . cultural evolution is more dynamic. among others. There is. operating on socially learned information. however. another school of thought. Boyd and Richerson's book. Since the rise of evolutionary psychology. while sociologists in the United States (such as Talcott Parsons) argued that the freedom and prosperity of the United States were a proof of a higher level of sociocultural evolution of its culture and society. Culture and the Evolutionary Process (1985). [21] Contemporary discourse about sociocultural evolution The Cold War period was marked by rivalry between two superpowers. and lateral transmission through communication. At the same time. such as randomness effects (drift). or tribes. At the height of the Cold War. and while the two are related. Ecoregional Democracy attempts to confine the "shifting groups".

In several recent books he has explored the concept as well as the relation between rationality and intelligence. won the 2010 Grawemeyer Award in Education. Or. His classic article on the Matthew Effect in Education has been cited over 1000 times in the scientific literature. language disabilities and the psychology of rational thought. His research in the field of reading was fundamental to the emergence of today's scientific consensus about what reading is. 1997-2001. Stanovich was listed as one of the 50 most-cited developmental psychologists. (1997). Contemporary Educational Psychology. Stanovich coined the term dysrationalia to refer to the tendency toward irrational thinking and action despite adequate intelligence. For instance. His book. P. C. he was designated the most cited reading disability researcher in the world (Nicolson. Explaining citation counts of senior developmental psychologists. . M. he was named one of the 25 most productive educational psychologists (see Smith. Stanovich is the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology. how it works and what it does for the mind. 190-207). 2. postmodernists question whether the notions of evolution or society have inherent meaning and whether they reveal more about the person doing the description than the thing being described. present and future. 422-430). Dyslexia. one may impose such a system of belief and judgment upon another. 1996. via conquest or colonization. What Intelligence Tests Miss. Observing and observed cultures may lack sufficient cultural similarities (such as a common foundation ontology) to be able to communicate their respective priorities easily. 17. 62-77). Stanovich has done extensive research on reading. Productivity of educational psychologists in educational psychology journals. University of Toronto." A 2002 poll of experts on Neoarctic and Neotropic indigenous peoples (reported in Harper's magazine) revealed that all of them would have preferred to be a typical New World person in the year 1491. 28. Developmental dyslexia: Past. observation of very different ideas of mathematics and physics in indigenous peoples led indirectly to ideas such as George Lakoff's "cognitive science of mathematics". et al. His research areas are the psychology of reasoning and the psychology of reading. Developmental Review.  [edit]Academic career Cognitive scientist and psychologist Keith E. R. prior to any European contact. His research on the cognitive basis of rationality has been featured in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences and in recent books by Yale University Press and University of Chicago Press.. several of which have become Current Contents Citation Classics. I. J. Today. rather than a typical European of that time. This approach has been criticised by pointing out that there are a number of historical examples of indigenous peoples doing severe environmental damage (such as thedeforestation of Easter Island and the extinction of mammoths in North America) and that proponents of the goal have been trapped by the European stereotype of the noble savage. In a citation survey of the period 1982-1992. Recently."civilization.. Keith E. He is the author of over 175 scientific articles. In a three-year survey of citation rates during the mid-1990s (see Byrnes. which asks if measurement systems themselves can be objective.

Neural Darwinism. These relationships had their roots in the 1970s and the three of them still work together. and is a Charter Member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. Essentially. Harris Award from the International Reading Association for influential articles on reading.Stanovich is the only two-time winner of the Albert J. and in Neural Darwinism. it is possible to test the many circuits (on the order of 30 billion neurons with an estimated one quadrillion connections between them in the . Stanovich is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 3 [experimental]. & 15 [Educational]). Reentrant signaling between neuronal groups allows for spatiotemporal continuity in response to real-world interactions. 2. Another longstanding colleague is Maggie Toplak. 3. 8 [Personality & Social]. of York University in Toronto. a second selective process occurs during postnatal behavioral experience through epigenetic modifications in the strength of synaptic connections between neuronal groups. Edelman won the Nobel Prize in 1972 for his work in immunology showing how the population of lymphocytes capable of binding to a foreign antigen is increased by differential clonal multiplication following antigen discovery. In 1995 he was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame as the youngest member of that honorary society. in a book called The Mindful Brain (MIT Press). Anatomical connectivity in the brain occurs via selective mechanochemical events that take place epigenetically during development. Once structural diversity is established anatomically. It was extended and published in the 1989 book Neural Darwinism – The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. in 1997 he was given the Sylvia Scribner Award from the American Educational Research Association. and in 2000 he received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. was initially published in 1978. a leading journal of human development. This creates a diverse secondary repertoire by differential amplification. He was a member of the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children of National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. Anne Cunningham and Richard West. In 1996 he was given the Oscar Causey Award from the National Reading Conference for contributions to research. Edelman's interest in selective systems expanded into the fields of neurobiology and neurophysiology. this proved that the human body is capable of creating complex adaptive systems as a result of local events with feedback. From 1986-2000 Stanovich was the Associate Editor of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities. Stanovich and West were graduate students at the University of Michigantogether. This creates a diverse primary repertoire by differential reproduction. He has had two long-term collaborators in his career. [edit]Degeneracy With neuronal heterogeneity (by Edelman called degeneracy). It contains three major parts: 1. Edelman puts forth a theory called "neuronal group selection". a large scale theory of brain function by Gerald Edelman. 7 [developmental]. the American Psychological Society.

1992). Put another way. Calvin. Edelman called it "reentry" and proposes a model of reentrant signaling whereby a disjunctive. Functional "distributed" (widespread) brain circuits thus emerge as a result. This surface modulation allows cell collectives to effectively "signal" as the group aggregates. which helps govern morphogenesis. 2008). William H. to see which neuronal groups respond "appropriately" statistically. and neurite branching are also governed by similar selective processes. [edit]Synaptic modification Once the basic variegated anatomical structure of the brain is laid down during early development. Daniel Dennett. Furthermore. [edit]Reentry Main article: Reentry (neural circuitry) The last part of the theory attempts to explain how we experience spatiotemporal consistency in our interaction with environmental stimuli. cell death. published in 1952 (Herrmann-Pillath. cell migration. Edelman goes into some detail about how brain development depends on a variety of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) and substrate adhesion molecules (SAMs) on cell surfaces which allow cells to dynamically control their intercellular binding properties. But given the numerous and diverse collection of available circuitry. [edit]Support for the theory It has been suggested that Friedrich Hayek had earlier proposed a similar idea in his book The Sensory Order: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Theoretical Psychology. This creates a competitive environment where circuit groups proficient in their responses to certain inputs are "chosen" through the enhancement of the synaptic efficacies of the selected network. This leads to an increased probability that the same network will respond to similar or identical signals at a future time. by adding Hebbian learning to neuronal replicators the power of neuronal evolutionary computation may actually be greater than natural selection in organisms (Fernando. multimodal sampling of the same stimulus event correlated in time leads to self-organizing intelligence. neuron arbor distribution. Goldstein & Szathmary. and Linda B. a requirement for natural selection. multiple neuronal groups can be used to sample a given stimulus set in parallel and communicate between these disjunctive groups with incurred latency. Edelman theorized that cell proliferation. Other leading proponents include Jean-Pierre Changeux.human brain) with a diverse set of inputs. 2010). Recent work has proposed means by which true replication may take place in the brain (Fernando. Smith. And CAM and SAM function also depend on developing morphology. This occurs through the strengthening of neuron-to-neuron synapses. So morphology depends on CAM and SAM function. [edit]Criticism of the theory Criticism of Neural "Darwinism" was made by Francis Crick who pointed to the absence of replication in the theory. Karishma & Szathmary. . there are bound to be functionally equivalent albeit anatomically non-isomorphic neuronal groups capable of responding to certain sensory input. it is more or less fixed. And these adjustments allow for neural plasticity along a fairly quick timetable.

'moral' agents who cooperate will be more successful than 'non-moral' agents who do not cooperate. According to Dennett. [edit]Free will and altruism Dennett's stance on free will is compatibilism with an evolutionary twist – the view that. seen this way. [edit]Libet's experiments Daniel Dennett also argues that no clear conclusion about volition can be derived from Benjamin Libet's experiments supposedly demonstrating the non-existence of conscious volition. [edit]Beneficial mutual arrangements Dennett also suggests that adherence to high ethical standards might pay off for the individual. because if others know your behaviour is restricted in these ways. especially given that opting out includes such things as being imprisoned or institutionalized. Consciousness Explained andElbow Room. he questions the assumptions of the questions themselves and undermines them. ambiguities in the timings of the different events involved. This is related to game theoretical considerations: in the famous Prisoner's Dilemma. He argues that it should be understood in terms of helping yourself by helping others. they would choose to opt in. Dennett describes the book as an installment of a life-long philosophical project. which is often not the best possible solution for all involved. Rather than try to answer certain flawed questions. Dennett moves on to altruism. It attempts to give an account of free will and moral responsibility which is complementary to Dennett's other views on consciousness and personhood. he coins the term 'evitability' as the opposite of 'inevitability'. using electrodes. but relies on the subject reporting the position of the . although in the strict physical sense our actions might be pre-determined. In his treatment of both free will and altruism. we can still be free in all the ways that matter. and finds the roots of our capacity for this in the evolutionary pressures that produced kin selection. earlier parts of which were The Intentional Stance. and actually requires. Cooperation wouldn't seem to naturally arise since agents are tempted to 'defect' and restore a Nash equilibrium. he starts by showing why we should not accept the traditional definitions of either term. defining it as the ability of an agent to anticipate likely consequences and act to avoid undesirable ones. He expects hostility from those who fear that a skeptical analysis of freedom will undermine people's belief in the reality of moral considerations. To show this blend. expanding the self to be more inclusive as opposed to being selfless. is about freedom to make decisions without duress. he suggests. he likens himself to an interfering crow who insists on telling Dumbo he doesn't really need the feather he believes is allowing him to fly. he calls such actions 'benselfish'. the scope for certain beneficial mutual arrangements is enhanced.Freedom Evolves is a 2003 popular science and philosophy book by Daniel C. human action being deterministic. given the benefits. Dennett advertises the controversial nature of his views extensively in advance. To clarify this distinction. Libet tells when the readiness potential occurs objectively. [edit]Synopsis As in Consciousness Explained. Evitability is entirely compatible with. instead of solving them. Dennett concludes by contemplating the possibility that people might be able to opt in or out of moral responsibility: surely. as opposed to an impossible and unnecessary freedom from causality itself. because of the abilities we evolved. Free will. Dennett. denying that it requires acting to the benefit of others without gaining any benefit yourself. This strategy comes down to dissolving problems.

this is only a report of where it seems to the subject that various things come together. As Dennett points out. [1][2] [edit]Robert Kane Dennett spends a chapter criticising Robert Kane's theory of libertarian free will. (Or are you located in the striate cortex?) The visual signals have to be processed before they arrive at wherever they need to arrive for you to make a conscious decision of simultaneity. in short. the individual does not in fact have free will at all. but the path of the signals from retina through lateral geniculate nucleus to striate cortex takes 5 to 10 milliseconds — a paltry fraction of the 300 milliseconds offset. Suppose Libet knows that your readiness potential peaked at millisecond 6. If it does not. which he calls self-forming actions or SFA's. Yet they will seem the same as anyone else. . according to Kane. not of the objective time at which they actually occur. How many milliseconds should he have to add to this number to get the time you were conscious of it? The light gets from your clock face to your eyeball almost instantaneously. Libet's method presupposes. that we can locate the intersection of two trajectories: • the rising-toconsciousness of signals representing the decision to flick • the rising to consciousness of signals representing successive clock-face orientations so that these events occur side-by-side as it were in place where their simultaneity can be noted.810 of the experimental trial. Dennett finds an essentially indetectable notion of free will to be incredible. but how much longer does it take them to get to you.hand of a clock to determine when the conscious decision was made. Dennett notes that there is no guarantee such an event will occur in an individual's life. Kane believes freedom is based on certain rare and exceptional events.005. and the clock dot was straight down (which is what you reported you saw) at millisecond 7.

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