Religion in Human and Cosmic Evolution: Whitehead’s Alternative Vision

This was an early draft of a paper I presented at the 10th International Whitehead Conference. For video of the actual presentation, click HERE. ——————————— Abstract: This talk compares several approaches to the emergence of religion in human evolution. I contrast Robert Bellah’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s pluralistic, cosmologically oriented accounts to Daniel Dennett’s reductionistic,…

Old White Guys Ventriloquising Nature

“Scientists, animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless, constitute an interesting subject for study.” – A. N. Whitehead This is a round table discussion called “Moving Naturalism Forward.” So far it is somewhat infuriating. There is no one there to problematize who should speak for nature. All of these dudes have signed the…

Reflections on Physicist Lawrence Krauss and the Consolations of Philosophy

Below is Lawrence Krauss from a recent interview in the Atlantic (Thanks to Jason/Immanent Transcendence for bringing this controversy to my attention): Krauss: …Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then “natural philosophy” became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered…

Schelling, Darwin, and the Romantic Conception of Life

I’m not yet midway through a thick tome by Prof. Robert J. Richards at the University of Chicago entitled The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe (2002). It is soaked in personal details, the trysts and tears of the friends and lovers responsible for generating a literary and philosophical movement in…

Rupert Sheldrake and Morphic Fields at Schumacher

My time at Schumacher is drawing to a close, and the whole experience has been quite formative for me. Preparing meals, washing dishes, and weeding the garden provided unexpected opportunities to reflect upon the value of simple work with others. This morning I spent about an hour in the kitchen chopping the stems off about…

“Out of Our Heads” by Alva Noë

It’s probably not news to most people that philosophers have a tendency to get stuck in their heads. This is especially true in the field of cognitive science, where for several decades the dominant paradigm has lead philosophers (and scientists) to look in the brain for evidence of thought and consciousness. The core metaphor guiding…

The Science of Life

Daniel Dennett says biology is engineering. He argues that living organisms are machines, flattening the classical Aristotelian difference between natural and artificial. For Aristotle, natural things had their form and purpose internal to themselves, while artificial things were designed from without for a purpose other than themselves. Of course, the beauty of human art (film,…

Mechanism and Meaning: Making Room for Consciousness

The following is an exchange I had on YouTube with cosmanthony21 about the nature of “awareness.” —————————————————–cosmanthony21’s original message: Ok, lemme give it a shot. This is an interesting topic for discussion, so if you’ll humor me, Id like to write some thoughts coming to mind on the topic of awareness you had brought up….

Dennett’s Dangerous Idea

I am a little more than half way through Daniel Dennett’s book about how evolutionary biology provides you with the only meaning your life needs (or at least the only meaning it can have, regardless of what you may think otherwise). Thoughts are, after all (after Dennett waves his material wand), just the side effects…

Spellbound: Magic Words and Minds Without Self

Introduction There was a time when physics, still high on the spirit of the Enlightenment, took seriously the idea that its measurements of the fundamental stuff composing the universe could explain just about everything worth knowing about. Granted, it didn’t have all the necessary measurements compiled just yet, but it assured everyone that it was…