Friday, March 22, 2013

Physicists Debate Nothingness

…damn, this sounds like it belongs with #Introphil, despite presenter Krauss' distaste for both religion and philosophy…it even gets into existence, time travel, the multiverse, quantum theory…Being and Nothingness

What is nothing? Sounds like a simple question—nothing is simply the absence of something, of course—until you begin to think about it. The other night the American Museum of Natural History hosted its 14th annual Asimov Memorial Debate, which featured five leading thinkers opining (and sparring, sometimes testily, but more on that later) about the nature of nothing. 
“Nothing is the most important part of the universe,” said Lawrence Kraussa physicist at Arizona State University and author of the recent “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.” 

Read the rest at Physicists Debate the Many Varieties of Nothingness | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Saturday, March 16, 2013

learning time, spinning heads

or learning & time travel? Can I shoehorn this into an #introphil post? Tangle a few roots? Time, mind, post/transhuman (or was that another course?), learning, and identity too, for good measure.  Who am I? is the QUESTION standing behind the examined life's green curtain, flowing into What do I know and How do I know it? 

At Building Creative Bridges, Paul Signorelli, blogging #etmooc writes,
We may be identifying yet another digital literacy skill: an ability to function simultaneously within a variety of timeframes we don’t normally consider while we’re learning. 
Before we take the leap into a bit of virtual time travel to pursue this idea, let’s ground ourselves within a familiar idea: much of the formal learning with which we’re familiar takes place within clearly-defined segments of time, e.g., an hour-long workshop or webinar, or a course that extends over a day, week, month, or semester. We work synchronously during face-to-face or online interactions, and we work asynchronously through postings that extend a conversation as long as the formal learning opportunity is underway and participants are willingly engaged.
Disclaimer: I still haven't written that digital identity reflection for Bonnie Stewart's Change 11 unit last year. However, I do think about (wrestle with) it regularly. This still isn't it but may be approaching calculus not algebra. So back to courses and their timespace boundaries: in open, online course ~ more specifically, MOOCs like #introphil and #etmooc ~ 
this connectivist learning process is far from linear—rhizomaticis one of the terms we’ve been using extensively throughout the [#etmooc] course. We are also seeing that our learning process does not have to be limited to exchanges with learners and others who are participating within the formal linear timeframe suggested by a course 
Both MOOCs and philosophy partake of, occupy themselves with time, space and unspace (if we can designate virtual space as such). A science article that caught my attention, comparing differences in perceiving past and future time, seems relevant to temporal discussion in either (philosophy's time travel paradox vs digital ed's sync/async) camp.

Learning Time and Heads That Spin | Building Creative Bridges

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Darwin-Sartre connection: absurd or what?

#introphil…although I'm not sure quite where (or even whether) this fits in the Introduction to Philosophy. My call: skepticism and the nature of reality. Being absurd does not make reality less real...or more. Truth? Don't even go there. Yet.

Resistance appeals to me. Camus (mentioned), not Sartre, has always been a favorite. I won't claim to be exploring essay topics, but that could be what my unconscious is up to. That or making sense of philosophy-by-mooc. Could I write 750 words on why I keep taking philosophy courses when I really prefer history? Ethics and applications (pragmatism?) are considerations. I'm trying to decide whether or not to take Michael Sandel's Justice EdX mooc. Haven't done (or whatever verb) an edX yet and am uncomfortable with a "true believer" intensity prevalent among Coursera followers. Brand and superprof loyalty sometimes approaches that of swooning bobby-soxers, 
A few weeks ago we linked to an article connecting Sartre’s insights about “authenticity” with recent work in cognitive science. This week, in an essay at the Chronicle of Higher Education, David P. Barash pursues a similar thread connecting existentialism and evolutionary biology, one he thinks shows that “science has not completely destroyed our understanding of free will" .... Barash points out that both evolutionists and “existentialists” from Pascal to Heidegger all see the universe in its sheer indifferent vastness as in some sense “absurd” from the human perspective....then asserts the “uniquely human potential to resist our own genes,” and makes the further claim that it’s exactly this ability that constitutes our humanity, thus making “rebellion” practically a duty. To Barash, that sounds unmistakably like Albert Camus’ “reconfiguring” of Descartes: “I rebel, therefore we exist.”
Plus more philosophy links, mostly from more or less main stream popular media, surely a sign of something.

The Stone
The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless. The Stone’s weekly briefing of notable philosophy-related issues and ideas from around the Web.

The Stone Philosophy Links, March 13, 2013 -
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