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Game Theory and the Hebrew Bible

In this unusual book, first published by The MIT Press in 1980 and now updated with a new chapter, Steven Brams applies the mathematical theory of games to the Hebrew Bible. Brams's thesis is that God and the human biblical characters acted rationally—that is, given their preferences and their knowledge of other players' preferences, they made strategy choices that led to the best attainable outcomes.

Beginning with the Creation and focusing on those stories richest in conflict and intrigue, Brams uses elementary game-theoretic tools to elucidate the rational calculations of biblical players and to show precisely the manner in which they sought to achieve their goals. He relies almost exclusively on noncooperative theory, making use of both game tree and matrix forms of games. Brams uses his strategic analyses to build a detailed assessment of God's character and motivations, including the reasons for His frequently wrathful behavior. Brams's insights have application to biblical studies, the philosophy of religion, political theory, and game theory and methodology.

In the new chapter, Brams surveys the literature of the past twenty years on political-strategic interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. He also extends the game-theoretic analysis, using the theory of moves, to study a counterfactual situation—what if Abraham had refused God's command to sacrifice Isaac?—and to examine the rationality of believing in a superior being.

Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives

The last decade saw the arrival of a new player in the creation/evolution debate—the intelligent design creationism (IDC) movement, whose strategy is to act as "the wedge" to overturn Darwinism and scientific naturalism. This anthology of writings by prominent creationists and their critics focuses on what is novel about the new movement. It serves as a companion to Robert Pennock's Tower of Babel, in which he criticizes the wedge movement, as well as other new varieties of creationism.

The book contains articles previously published in specialized, hard-to-find journals, as well as new contributions. Each section contains introductory background information, articles by influential creationists and their critics, and in some cases responses by the creationists. The discussions cover IDC as a political movement, IDC's philosophical attack on evolution, the theological debate over the apparent conflict between evolution and the Bible, IDC's scientific claims, and philosopher Alvin Plantinga's critique of naturalism and evolution. The book concludes with Pennock's "Why Creationism Should Not Be Taught in the Public Schools."

The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture

Kenneth Frampton's long-awaited follow-up to his classic A Critical History of Modern Architecture is certain to influence any future debate on the evolution of modern architecture.

Studies in Tectonic Culture is nothing less than a rethinking of the entire modern architectural tradition. The notion of tectonics as employed by Frampton—the focus on architecture as a constructional craft—constitutes a direct challenge to current mainstream thinking on the artistic limits of postmodernism, and suggests a convincing alternative. Indeed, Frampton argues, modern architecture is invariably as much about structure and construction as it is about space and abstract form.

Composed of ten essays and an epilogue that trace the history of contemporary form as an evolving poetic of structure and construction, the book's analytical framework rests on Frampton's close readings of key French and German, and English sources from the eighteenth century to the present. He clarifies the various turns that structural engineering and tectonic imagination have taken in the work of such architects as Perret, Wright, Kahn, Scarpa, and Mies, and shows how both constructional form and material character were integral to an evolving architectural expression of their work. Frampton also demonstrates that the way in which these elements are articulated from one work to the next provides a basis upon which to evaluate the works as a whole. This is especially evident in his consideration of the work of Perret, Mies, and Kahn and the continuities in their thought and attitudes that linked them to the past.

Frampton considers the conscious cultivation of the tectonic tradition in architecture as an essential element in the future development of architectural form, casting a critical new light on the entire issue of modernity and on the place of much work that has passed as "avant-garde."

Studies in Tectonic Culture is a copublication of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies and The MIT Press.

For more than thirty years, interdisciplinary history has included the study of all aspects of the family, including births, marriages, and household composition. This collection looks at the many dimensions of the study of populations and population movements. It ranges across continents and time, showing how the reconstruction of the past is incomplete without attention to questions of fertility and seasonality, as well as to the impact of demographic variables on social, political, and economic history.

Contributors:
Francis Brooks, Edward Byers, Michael Craton, David Cressy, Robert Eng, Michael Haines, Barbara Hanawalt, Daniel Kaiser, W. R. Lee, Daniel Quinlan, Anita Rutman, Darrett Rutman, Jean Shackelford, Thomas Smith, Maris Vinovskis, Charles Wetherell, Rudolph Zambardino.

Classic and Contemporary Perspectives

"What is truth?" has long been the philosophical question par excellence. The Nature of Truth collects in one volume the twentieth century's most influential philosophical work on the subject. The coverage strikes a balance between classic works and the leading edge of current philosophical research.

The essays center around two questions: Does truth have an underlying nature? And if so, what sort of nature does it have? Thus the book discusses both traditional and deflationary theories of truth, as well as phenomenological, postmodern, and pluralist approaches to the problem. The essays are organized by theory. Each of the seven sections opens with a detailed introduction that not only discusses the essays in that section but relates them to other relevant essays in the book. Eleven of the essays are previously unpublished or substantially revised. The book also includes suggestions for further reading.

Contributors:
Linda Martín Alcoff, William P. Alston, J. L. Austin, Brand Blanshard, Marian David, Donald Davidson, Michael Devitt, Michael Dummett, Hartry Field, Michel Foucault, Dorothy Grover, Anil Gupta, Martin Heidegger, Terence Horgan, Jennifer Hornsby, Paul Horwich, William James, Michael P. Lynch, Charles Sanders Pierce, Hilary Putnam, W. V. O. Quine, F. P. Ramsey, Richard Rorty, Bertrand Russell, Scott Soames, Ernest Sosa, P. F. Strawson, Alfred Tarski, Ralph C. Walker, Crispin Wright.

Logic Primer presents a rigorous introduction to natural deduction systems of sentential and first-order logic. The text is designed to foster the student-instructor relationship. The key concepts are laid out in concise definitions and comments, with the expectation that the instructor will elaborate upon them. New to the second edition is the addition of material on the logic of identity in chapters 3 and 4. An innovative interactive Web site, consisting of a "Logic Daemon" and a "Quizmaster," encourages students to formulate their own proofs and links them to appropriate explanations in the book.

Ancient Themes in Contemporary Issues

In recent years, bioethicists have worked on government commissions, on ethics committees in hospitals and nursing homes, and as bedside consultants. Because ethical knowledge is based on experience within the field rather than on universal theoretical propositions, it is open to criticism for its lack of theoretical foundation. Once in the clinic, however, ethicists noted the extent to which medical practice itself combined the certitudes of science with craft forms of knowledge. In an effort to forge a middle path between pure science and applied medical and ethical knowledge, bioethicists turned to the work of classical philosophy, especially the theme of a practical wisdom that entails a variable knowledge of particulars.

In this book contemporary bioethicists and scholars of ancient philosophy explore the import of classical ethics on such pressing bioethical concerns as managed care, euthanasia, suicide, and abortion. Although the contributors write within the limits of their own disciplines, through cross references and counterarguments they engage in fruitful dialogue.

Understanding the Mind by Simulating the Brain

The goal of computational cognitive neuroscience is to understand how the brain embodies the mind by using biologically based computational models comprising networks of neuronlike units. This text, based on a course taught by Randall O'Reilly and Yuko Munakata over the past several years, provides an in-depth introduction to the main ideas in the field. The neural units in the simulations use equations based directly on the ion channels that govern the behavior of real neurons, and the neural networks incorporate anatomical and physiological properties of the neocortex. Thus the text provides the student with knowledge of the basic biology of the brain as well as the computational skills needed to simulate large-scale cognitive phenomena.

The text consists of two parts. The first part covers basic neural computation mechanisms: individual neurons, neural networks, and learning mechanisms. The second part covers large-scale brain area organization and cognitive phenomena: perception and attention, memory, language, and higher-level cognition. The second part is relatively self-contained and can be used separately for mechanistically oriented cognitive neuroscience courses. Integrated throughout the text are more than forty different simulation models, many of them full-scale research-grade models, with friendly interfaces and accompanying exercises. The simulation software (PDP++, available for all major platforms) and simulations can be downloaded free of charge from the Web. Exercise solutions are available, and the text includes full information on the software.

Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration and conflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users. The story starts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanks and realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looks at how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how the usual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interesting and unique results; and how later users invented their own very successful applications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes that such applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development that has characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet's success has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical design and in organizational culture.

An Introduction to Minimalist Syntax

This unusual book takes the form of a dialogue between a linguist and another scientist. The dialogue takes place over six days, with each day devoted to a particular topic—and the ensuing digressions. The role of the linguist is to present the fundamentals of the minimalist program of contemporary generative grammar. Although the linguist serves essentially as a voice for Noam Chomsky's ideas, he is not intended to be a portrait of Chomsky himself. The other scientist functions as a kind of devil's advocate, making the arguments that linguists tend to face from those in the "harder" sciences.

The author does far more than simply present the minimalist program. He conducts a running argument over the status of theoretical linguistics as a natural science. He raises the general issues of how we conceive words, phrases, and transformations, and what these processes tell us about the human mind. He also attempts to reconcile generative grammar with the punctuated equilibrium version of evolutionary theory.

In his foreword, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini says, "The vast number of readers who have been enthralled by Goedel, Escher, Bach may well like also this syntactic companion, a sort of 'Chomsky, Fibonacci, Bach.'".

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