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A BIT of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science

While philosophers of mind have been arguing over the status of mental representations in cognitive science, cognitive scientists have been quietly engaged in studying perception, action, and cognition without explaining them in terms of mental representation. In this BIT, Anthony Chemero maps the evolution of a nonrepresentational, dynamical, ecological cognitive science and introduces radical embodied cognition.

A BIT of Hijacking Sustainability

The idea of “sustainability” has gone mainstream. What began as a grassroots movement to promote responsible development has become a bullet point in corporate ecobranding strategies. This BIT examines the conflict between ecobranding and true sustainability and considers the ambiguous influence of Prius-driving movie stars.

A BIT of Artificial Love

In his writing, the architect Paul Shepheard examines old assumptions about architecture and replaces the critical theory of the academic with the active theory of the architect-citizen enamored of the world around him. In this BIT, he takes Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to reflect on the diaspora of his family and the evolution of human emotional bonds; and, conducting a seminar, he wonders how philosophy became part of architecture.

A BIT of Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

The career of computer visionary Grace Murray Hopper paralleled the meteoric trajectory of the postwar computer industry. This BIT describes the myth of “amazing Grace” and tells how she became “the third programmer of the world’s first computer.”

A BIT of Unlocking Energy Innovation

Energy innovation offers us our best chance to solve the three urgent and interrelated problems of climate change, worldwide insecurity over energy supplies, and rapidly growing energy demand. But if we are to achieve a timely transition to reliable, low-cost, low-carbon energy, the U.S. energy innovation system must be radically overhauled. This BIT describes innovation that enables low-carbon technologies to supplant natural gas and other fossil fuels for power generation.

A BIT of Is Oedipus Online?

Can Freud be “updated” in the twenty-first century, or is he a venerated but outmoded genius? In this BIT, Jerry Aline Flieger stages an encounter between psychoanalysis and the new century, considering the psyche in cyberspace.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Is Oedipus Online?, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of The Art of Failure

Every day, hundreds of millions of people around the world play video games—on smart phones, on computers, on consoles—and most of them will experience failure at some point in the game; they will lose, die, or fail to advance to the next level. Not completing Super Real Tennis is not a tragedy. But it feels like a failure. This BIT explores how it feels when we fail.

A BIT of Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem

Mark Balaguer argues that the question of libertarian free will reduces to a question about indeterminacy—in particular, to a straightforward empirical question about whether certain neural events in our heads are causally undetermined in a certain specific way. In this BIT, refuting arguments both for and against determinism, Balaguer shows that the question of whether human beings possess libertarian free will is a wide-open empirical question.

A BIT of Consciousness

What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience.

A BIT of Advice for a Young Investigator

Santiago Ramón y Cajal is a towering figure in the history of science. Hailed today as the father of modern anatomy and neurobiology, he was largely responsible for the modern conception of the brain. Advice for a Young Investigator, first published in 1897, offers a witty and anecdotal guide for scientists that can be enjoyed by both novice and veteran researchers. In this BIT, Ramón y Cajal considers what it takes to be a successful scientific investigator.

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