Philosophy Essential Reads

Consciousness and Memory

The role of memory in consciousness is often taken for granted. Without the brain's various memory systems it would be unlikely that conscious experience would even occur. Consciousness not only relies on working memory to maintain perceptual and other information but also on long-term memory to enrich our present experience with information from the past.

Replication Problems in Psychology

By Jeremy D. Safran Ph.D. on November 15, 2015 Straight Talk
A major research study recently found that many well known findings in psychology are difficult to replicate.This study and the media attention it has received have led to a considerable stir within the field. While some minimize the importance of these findings, they do rekindle longstanding debates about what kind of 'science' psychology is.

Why Try to Change Me Now?

It is commonly assumed that we love someone even though we know his flaws—as love is essentially not about the partner’s characteristics, but about the lover’s attitude. Accordingly, it is not fruitful to try to change the partner’s characteristics; it is the lover’s attitude that needs to change. There is some grain of truth in this view, but the story is more complex.

Co-opting and Redefining Religious Words by the Nonreligious

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on November 10, 2015 Cui Bono
Philosophical naturalism denies the existence of supernatural entities such as angels, demons, elves, fairies, ghosts, gods, souls, and spirits, except as figments of imagination. How is it possible, then, that some naturalists describe themselves as "spiritual" and describe some aspects of nature as "sacred?"

The Paradoxes of Our Time

We live in a paradoxical age marked by enormous technological achievement and deep existential confusion.

The Age of Artificial Consciousness

With the increasing momentum in technological advances, it seems we have reached a turning point in our ability to create advanced artificial intelligence systems. Some would argue that soon we will have a form of human-like consciousness in robots. But is that really the case?

Positioning Our Knowledge in Four Quadrants

There are many competing perspectives in philosophy. Here is a map of four quadrants of knowing that can help make sense of the differing views.

To Be More Creative try Being a Little Silly

Everyone can be a little silly at times, and depending on the circumstances, you might be more creative as a result. “Clever silly” ones can bring tremendous payoff, as long as you know how to express them.

5 Reasons We Play the Blame Game

When something goes wrong in your life, is your first reaction to blame someone else? If so, you’re engaging in the very common behavior of the blame game. Unfortunately, there are no winners in this game, so knowing the 5 reasons for why you do this will benefit your relationships.

The Good Do-Gooders Do

In Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar tells the stories of a handful of altruists and reflects on the lives they have chosen to live. She examines changing attitudes toward altruism; adoption and kidney donation; Alcoholics Anonymous; a leprosy colony in Indian; and a "deaf workshop" in Japan; and the subsistence World Equity Budget that seeks equity among all people.

Once More With Feeling

By Robert J King Ph.D. on September 15, 2015 Hive Mind
Crisis schmisis. This is how science works. People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Is Online Dating a Good Way to Find Profound Love?

It is commonly agreed that online dating provides people with a larger pool of romantic candidates. However, it is not certain whether online dating is a better way to find long-term profound love than conventional offline dating is. This article suggests an answer to this question.

Is Consciousness a Stream? An Update

Neuroscience and Indian Buddhist philosophy agree that perceptual consciousness seems continuous but is really discrete.

How to Pray for an Atheist

By David Niose on August 30, 2015 Our Humanity, Naturally
Nonbelievers don't want prayers, but they often get them anyway. What's the etiquette of unsolicited prayers? And is it changing as the nonreligious demographic grows?

The Surprising Power of Conspiracy Theories

Can merely being exposed to popular conspiracy theories make you less pro-social?

What Most People Get Wrong About Critical Thinking Tools

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 20, 2015 Ambigamy
Just because they defend their position with a weak argument, it doesn't mean their position is wrong. Weak arguments are irrelevant. Contrary to popular belief, they are not evidence that the position being supported by the argument is incorrect.

The Perilous Ethics of 'Zero Suicide'

Sweden sets 'zero suicides' as its public health goal. Should we follow suit?

Some Philosophical Musings on Food

Over many centuries, there has never been a coherent philosophy of food and eating. Several books explore the complexities of food and the relationship of some of our greatest philosophers to their culinary choices. Have you ever thought about your own philosophy about food? There is a simple one that we might all agree upon for the 21st century.

The Meaning of Human Existence: A Review

Edward Wilson's latest book is simultaneously heroic and frustrating.

5 Rules for Getting Along with Anyone, Anywhere

It’s inevitable that we face tough conversations in life. How you handle those conversations can make a world of difference to your well-being and the well-being of others. These 5 basic guidelines will ensure that, no matter what, your conversations will be productive and respectful.

Three Paradoxical Ways for Coping With Romantic Abundance

Romantic love is often characterized as involving a great deal of sensitivity, excitement, and closeness. However, our cyber society often provides an overabundance of these features. Hence, a few opposite principles are proposed: (a) Indifference is the new romantic sensitivity; (b) Calmness is the new romantic excitement; and (c) Distance is the new romantic closeness.

Evolutionary Psychology 2.0

Evolutionary psychology got its start with a large focus on evolved behavioral sex differences. Since its inception, the field has broadened to the entirety of topics studied within the behavioral sciences. It may be time to start talking EP 2.0.

Does Human Nature Make Genocide Inevitable?

I just appeared in a BBC debate about whether future genocide is inevitable. I said that it wasn't, especially if we utilize knowledge about human nature. Here's why I'm so optimistic about our evolved psychology and potential for peace.

Why Nothing Is More Exciting Than a Calm Romance

Romantic love is usually associated with tempestuous excitement. Love can certainly be like this, but I believe that in our current accelerated society, calmness, rather than tempestuousness, is the new romantic excitement.

What I Learned From 2,000 Hours Of Freudian Psychoanalysis

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 06, 2015 Ambigamy
Everything I learned from long psychoanalysis, distilled to nine bullet points. Can you learn it just by reading the list? Probably not but you may be learning it anyway.

Visual Attention and Consciousness

To understand the relationship between visual attention and consciousness, we must first examine the various forms of attention that have been identified through empirical studies in cognitive psychology.

How to Talk About Religious Beliefs Without Sounding Silly

By Guy P. Harrison on June 25, 2015 About Thinking
We are a god-creating species. We should recognize this in our discussions and debates about religion. It is inaccurate, confusing, and dishonest to frame general belief issues in the context of one god.

What I Would Like to Like, but Don't Like

By William Irwin Ph.D. on June 24, 2015 Plato on Pop
There are lots of bands, books, shows, and movies that I unapologetically dislike. But then there are those I don’t like or dislike. I would like to like them, but I don’t. Is this category revealing of likes more honest and revealing?

Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America

America's social and political dysfunction is rooted in dangerous pathology: anti-intellectualism.

Earth to Humans: Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? Ideologies

What are the psychological roadblocks that explain why we’re not doing much to solve global climate change—a phenomenon that threatens the core of our society? This is the second post in a seven-part series.