Older and wiser

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. At least that is the etymology of the word “philosophy.” But what is wisdom anyway? Perhaps “wisdom” is no longer a useful general term because it has been used to mean too many different things in and outside of philosophy. Even so, there have been many interesting attempts at a science of older and wiser.

The war on reason

“Scientists and philosophers argue that human beings are little more than puppets of their biochemistry. Here’s why they’re wrong.” This is Paul Bloom’s very good review of neuroscience’s claim that we are biochemical puppets and social psychology’s demonstration that factors we are unaware of influence our thoughts and acts. But Bloom concludes: “Yes, we are physical beings, and yes, we are continually swayed by factors beyond our control. But as Aristotle recognized long ago, what’s so interesting about us is our capacity for reason, which reigns over all. If you miss this, you miss almost everything that matters.”

Time travel and killing Hitler

Time travelers: please don’t kill Hitler. One of the most popular mind experiments for exmining theories of knowledge and theories of reality is time travel. And for time travelers, one of the most common scenarios (perhaps the most common) is killing Hitler. But … “in almost any science-fiction scenario involving time-travel, the default action is to kill Hitler. As terrible a human being as he was, there are many reasons why this probably isn’t a good idea.”