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Jul. 21st, 2008

Sickness unto Death: Why we have to abandon Post-Modernism

Finally - a new blog-entry. Took me a while, eh? Been really busy and didn't have much to say - mostly because I don't want to misrepresent topics and my opinions. Writing a blog-entry under 20 pages makes this kinda hard.... at least for me. Anyway - I hope you'll excuse my absence.

This post takes up a theme I introduced in my blog-entry "Science Works":Read more...Collapse )

Jun. 16th, 2008

The Limits of Religion in a Liberal Society

I have decided to upload my paper on "The Limits of Religion in a Liberal Society", a critical analysis of Rawls' assessment of religion in his work "Political Liberalism".
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Jun. 13th, 2008

The Violation of Religious Freedom in Germany

Generally, Germany is very liberal. The basic rights and liberties are guaranteed and regarded as primary. However, there is one huge stain on the human-rights record. A stain that isn't recognized by many. It's - Religion.

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Jun. 10th, 2008

Why Contra-Causal Free Will is not an option

The existence of "free will" in humans is - it seems - a default assumption. But when we try to conceptualize what we mean by that, we run into trouble. Free will is of value to us - we conceive of ourselves as agents, not as puppets simply being pulled in one direction or the other. We are rational agents, we make choices, we strive to do the right thing. Surely, for all this to mean something - we have to have free will. Or at least, these are the kinds of gut-feelings most people have.


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Jun. 5th, 2008

Multiple Realizability

This is a very short post on a topic that fills rows of books. Necessarily, some things will be a little coarse, but I hope to be able to explicate the situation in sufficient detail nevertheless.

I am a proponent of reductive physicalism: Everything there is is matter and energy organized in certain structures throughout spacetime.

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Jun. 1st, 2008

The Dynamics of Religious Communities


While talking to a person very close to me, who has deconverted from Central-European Lutheran Protestantism a while ago, I learned a lot about the structure and dynamics of religious communities. Below, I will lay out my thoughts on the subject.
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May. 30th, 2008

Decoding Brain-Activity

Well, research like this has been done for quite a while, and similar findings have been made before - so it's not revolutionary. Still - take a look at this and tell me it's not amazing:

Computer trained to "read" mind-images of words

We can now - in sufficiently controlled experimental setting - predict which brain-areals will be active when we think of certain specific words, as opposed to just any word or specific other words.

An Idea for the Neuroscience of Spatial Orientation

On Wednesday, I learned about the neuroscientific research of spatial orientation, especially the involvement of the hippocampus. Listening to the talk of the neuroscientist, I got an idea for further research. I would love to hear what someone involved in the actual research thinks of this.

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May. 29th, 2008

Scholarpedia

I have just added a new link to the link-section: Scholarpedia.

In case you don't know of it - it's a most wonderful resource for certain scientific topics. Definitely one of the most amazing, useful and trustworthy resources on the net. In contrast to Wikipedia - the articles are written and edited by experts, and are peer-reviewed.

Allow me quote their main page:

Current status

The approach of Scholarpedia does not compete with, but rather complements that of Wikipedia: instead of covering a broad range of topics, Scholarpedia covers a few narrow fields, but does that exhaustively.

Currently, Scholarpedia hosts Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience, Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems, Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence and Encyclopedia of Astrophysics. Although all these will eventually be published in a printed form, they will also remain freely available and modifiable online. (Producing a hard copy of each encyclopedia is important for archiving; besides, many academicians have a preconception that the prestige of an online article is not as high as that of a printed one.)

If there is enough interest and support from the public, Scholarpedia will grow in the following directions:

* The neuroscience chapter of Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience will be a seed to start Encyclopedia of Cognitive Neuroscience, and then Encyclopedia of Neuroscience
* Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems will be a seed to start Encyclopedia of Applied Mathematics, and then Encyclopedia of Mathematics.
* Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence will be a seed to start Encyclopedia of Computer Science.


I have to issue a warning, however. The site acts much like the "Mirror of Erised" in Harry Potter... very addictive. You can spend countless hours marveling at the wonders of science here, but you might (as I have) develop a growing frustration that you would probably need more than one life to even begin to understand everything on there.

Anyway - if you need a trustworthy resource for science on the net... this is the place to go.
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Cum Grano Salis

In the course of my discussion with several neuroscientists today, I noticed that while I have some general idea, I'm still far behind on computational neuroscience (and specifically which kind of neural networks they investigate in what way). So, any of my comments on such things are to be taken cum grano salis

On a side note - the philosopher I mentioned in my last entry (the one making his doctorate at the Graduate School for Systemic Neurosciences) recommended two books to me, that (he said) would severely challenge my reductive-physicalist view. Not because they propose dualism, or nonreductive physicalism, but because they supposedly show that reductive physicalism has too many unwarranted restrictions.
They also (so he tells me, and I believe him) integrate a lot of (and "strictly the best" of) the findings of the various neurosciences, so that should make them especially interesting.

These are

Susan Hurley - Consciousness in Action

and

Carl Craver - Explaining the Brain

You might be surprised to read this, but I wouldn't mind if reductive physicalism turns out to be too narrow. I think whether or not this is the case (I am currently not convinced that it is), our best explanations very probably won't require ontological commitments beyond those of physicalism (ie, in short - everything that exists is in some form spatio-temporal).

Also, I think I would be fine with abandoning reductive physicalism if it becomes untenable - since I can get all (or nearly all) that I want from methodological naturalism - ie "No, sorry, 'magic' just isn't an explanation".

Not sure when I will be able to read these books, but they're definitely on the list.

(See, I can write blog-entries of less than 2.000 words :)

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