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.
How is meaning possible in a material world? Owen Flanagan proposes a naturalistic (rather than supernaturalistic) way to live meaningfully, to live a life that really matters, to flourish, to achieve eudaimonia—to be a “happy spirit.” In this BIT, Flanagan draws on insights from neuroscience and on the transformative mindfulness and self-cultivation practices in Buddhism.
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.
The humanities can add valuable insights to the study of memory. This BIT draws on recent neuroscientific research to explore one of the great masterpieces of fifteenth-century Flemish painting, Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross. It connects memory to the direct and indirect bodily responses to a work of art.
Jill Stoner’s architect’s eye tracks differently from most, drawn not to the lauded and iconic but to what she calls “the landscape of our constructed mistakes”—metropolitan hinterlands rife with failed and foreclosed developments, undersubscribed office parks, chain hotels, and abandoned malls. In this BIT, Stoner introduces the idea of “minor architectures” that emerge from the bottoms of power structures and within the language of those structures.
In South Korea, online gaming is a cultural phenomenon. Games are broadcast on television, professional gamers are celebrities, and youth culture is often identified with online gaming. This BIT examines the working conditions of professional gamers in the high-pressure world of the Korean online gaming industry.
Slavoj Žižek, “the wild man of theory” famously mixes astonishing erudition and references to pop culture in his dissections of current intellectual pieties. In this BIT, he considers religion from the viewpoint of Lacanian psychoanalysis, pondering a dialectical materialist theology and comparing monotheistic and polytheistic violence.
Late nineteenth-century Britain saw an extraordinary surge in patent disputes over the new technologies of electrical power, lighting, telephony, and radio, which played out in the twin tribunals of the courtroom and the press. In this BIT, Stathis Arapostathis and Graeme Gooday examine the persistent conflicts over inventorship in electrical invention in this period, analyzing disputes over who should be considered the “first and true inventor” of early electrical technologies.
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. In this BIT, Koch argues that consciousness is a fundamental property of networked entities, and rhapsodizes about integrated information theory—how it explains many puzzling facts about consciousness and provides a blueprint for building sentient machines.
If the mind and the world are entirely governed by natural laws, there seems to be no room left for free will to operate. In this BIT, Steven Horst offers an account of laws that is compatible with claims for libertarian free will. He argues that one can embrace the truth of individual laws, or indeed any set of such laws, without any implication of determinism, because the idealization conditions of each law are essentially open-ended.