Phenomenology with Anthony Chemero (BI 59)

Phenomenology with Anthony Chemero (BI 59)

Episode 59 of Books and Ideas is an interview with philosopher Anthony Chemero about his book Phenomenology: An Introduction. We put phenomenology into historical perspective and explore how it is making contributions to contemporary cognitive science. This episode doesn't require any prior knowledge.

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Robert Burton Returns to the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 96)

The latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 96) marks the return of one of my favorite guests: retired neurologist and author Dr. Robert Burton. We discussed his new book A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves. In this book Dr. Burton expands on the ideas he first presented in On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not. He also argues that because mental sensations like certainty, agency, and causation originate outside of conscious awareness there are inherent limits in our ability to use neuroscience to understand the Mind. This is a somewhat controversial and definitely thought-provoking position, which I invite you to explore further by listening to this interview.

Listen to BSP 96

Go to Brain Science Podcast website for complete show notes and free episode transcripts.

Brain Science Podcast with Evan Thompson (BSP 89)

Evan Thompson, PhDEmbodied Cognition is a movement within cognitive science that argues that the mind is inseparable from the fact that the brain is embedded in a physical body. This means that everything that the brain does, from the simplest perception to complex decision-making, relies on the interaction of the body with its environment.  Evan Thompson's book Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind is an in depth look at what he calls the "enactive" approach to embodied cognition. The enactive approach was pioneered by Thompson's mentor Francisco Varela and it emphasizes the importance of the body's active engagement with its environment.

In a recent interview (BSP 89) I talked with Thompson about some of the key ideas in Mind in Life. Unlike most episodes of the Brain Science Podcast, this is not really a stand-alone episode. It is part of my ongoing exploration of both embodied cognition and the controverial topic of emergence. It is also intended as a follow-up to my recent interview with Terrence Deacon.

Listen to Episode 89

Click here for complete show notes and the free episode transcript.

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Philosopher Patricia Churchland returns to the Brain Science Podcast

Patricia Churchland (photo by Nines Minequez)BSP 81 marks the return of philosopher Patricia Churchland, who I first interviewed back in Episode 55. Our recent conversation focuses on her latest book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality. We discuss the historical background and contrast Churchland's approach to that of Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape. Then Professor Churchland discusses how recent discoveries in neuroscience are shedding light on the evolutionary origins of morality.

 

It's a fascinating conversation that you won't want to miss. 


Listen to BSP 81 (Free mp3)

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BSP 73: Lawrence Shapiro on Embodied Cognition

In his new book Embodied Cognition, Dr. Lawrence Shapiro provides a balanced introduction to an approach which attempts to challenge standard cognitive science. His interview in Episode 73 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of a few of his book's key ideas. It also continues our ongoing exploration of the role of embodiment.


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Philosophy of Science with Massimo Pigliucci (podcast 37)

Ginger and Massimo Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk by scientist-turned-philosopher, Massimo Pigliucci is an excellent discussion of the challenges faced by the average non-scientist in today's information-rich world. After explaining what distinguishes science from pseudoscience (a major source of "bunk"), his book gives practical advice about trusting experts. (hint: having a PhD doesn't make one an expert!) Pigliucci also discussed these themes during a talk he gave last month at The Amazing Meeting 8, which was held in Las Vegas, NV. That's where I recorded the interview that I am posting today as Books and Ideas Episode 37. The focus of the interview is the role of philosophy of science in today's complex world.

Listen to Episode 37 of Books and Ideas

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

Episode 37 Show Notes:

Further Reading: Announcements:
  • The next episode of Books and Ideas will be recorded LIVE at 8:30 PM (Eastern Time) Sunday September 5 at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. I will be interviewing novelists Skyler White and Christiana Ellis.
  • I am also scheduled to interview Dr. Scott Lilenfield co-author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior. This interview will be posted in the Brain Science Podcast feed in late September.
  • For updates please subscribe to Ginger Campbell's newsletter.
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Thomas Metzinger explores Consciousness (BSP 67)

The free podcast version of Brain Science Podcast 67 is now available. It is an interview with German philosopher Thomas Metzinger, author of The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self and Being No One. Dr. Metzinger argues that any credible model for how the brain generates the mind must incorporate unusual human experiences, such as so-called out of body experiences (OBE), and psychiatric conditions. In this interview we explore how OBE and virtual reality experiments shed light on how the brain generates the sense of self that characterizes normal human experience. listen-to-audio Listen to Episode 67 Click here for information about Premium Versions Subscribe to the Brain Science Podcast: itunes-badge-30 zunelogo-70 feed-icon32x32 mail-sticker-tiny Click here for detailed show notes and episode transcripts.
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"Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?" with Warren Brown (BSP 62)

W-Brown-150 Episode 62 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Warren Brown, PhD, co-author (with Nancey Murphy) of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will. This book was discussed in detail back in Episode 53, but this interview gave me a chance to discuss some of the book's key ideas with Dr. Brown. We focused on why a non-reductive approach is needed in order to formulate ideas about moral responsibility that are consistent with our current neurobiological understanding of the mind.

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Books and Ideas Podcast #30: Tom Clark on Naturalism

TomClark-150 Episode 30 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Tom Clark, the head of the Center for Naturalism and author of Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses. I first became aware of Clark's work when I reviewed Chris Evatt's book The Myth of Free Will back in Episode 12. In this interview we talk about naturalism as a world view and examine its implications for important questions like free will and morality. Naturalism is a world view that is based on using the scientific method to discover the truth about the world. It rejects supernatural explanations. Clark explains that this means that naturalism rejects the idea of contra-causal free will but that it embraces a more compassionate approach to personal responsibility. We also talked about Clark's review of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown. I discussed this book in Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast and its co-author Warren Brown will be my guest on next month's Brain Science Podcast (Episode 62).

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Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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LINKS:

REFERENCES: RELATED PODCAST EPISODES:
  • Episode 12 (Books and Ideas): Discussion of The Myth of Free Will, edited by Chris Evatt.
  • Episode 53 (Brain Science Podcast): Discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown
  • Episode 62 (Brain Science Podcast): Interview with Warren Brown.

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Neurophsychologist Chris Frith, PhD (BSP 57)

frith Episode 57 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with neuropsychologist Dr. Chris Frith, author of Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World. Our brain processes information about the world outside us (via our senses) in the same way that it processes information from within our bodies and from our own mental world. In this interview Dr. Frith and I explore the implications from recent discoveries about how our brain generates our mental world.

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Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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For detailed show notes and links go to http://brainsciencepodcast.com.

Send feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac.com or join the Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com.

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Interview with Robert Martensen, MD (B&I 28)

martensen-crop Books and Ideas #28 is an interview with Robert Martensen, MD, author of A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era. Dr. Martensen worked for 25 years as an emergency physician, but about mid-way through his career he went to graduate school and earned a PhD in history, while continuing to work in the ER at night and on weekends. He is now the Director of the NIH Office of History. This interview is actually the first of two parts. In this first part we talked about Dr. Martensen's career and we also reflected briefly on the history of emergency medicine in the United States. Dr. Martensen also explained the purpose fo the NIH Office of History and described its current and upcoming projects. When Dr. Martensen returns (hopefully next month) we will discuss his book A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era.

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Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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Send feed back to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com or join our Discussion Forum.

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Jennifer Michael Hecht: Historian & Poet (B&I 27)

jmhecht Episode 27 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson and The Happiness Myth. As a poet and historian Hecht brings a unique perspective to her examination of the role of science in modern society. She also shares how writing Doubt changed her attitude toward religion. I have wanted to interview Jennifer for several years so I was very grateful that my recent appearance on Point of Inquiry led to this conversation. Hecht earned her PhD in the History of Science and while Doubt was an examination of the history of belief (and non-belief), she said that The Happiness Myth shares  key ideas from the history of science. Hecht argues convincingly that the arrogance of modern science can not be justified,  because history shows how much science, despite its best efforts, is always influenced by the cultural fads of its time. She feels that this knowledge could free us from unnecessary guilt, but that it should also motivate us to question our priorities (such as placing so much emphasis on long life instead of the quality of life). You won't want to miss this thought-provoking conversation.

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Philosopher Patricia Churchland (BSP 55)

bsp-300-hi Episode 55 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with highly respected philosopher Patricia Churchland. Churchland is the author of Neurophilosophy and Brain. She is currently on the faculty of the University of California at San Diego and she was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in 2008. In this interview we talked about neurophilosophy, which is an approach to philosophy of mind that gives high priority to incorporating the empiric findings of neuroscience. We also talk about the evolving relationship between philosophy and neuroscience. Churchland shares her enthusiasm for how the discoveries of neuroscience are changing the way we see ourselves as human beings. We also talked a little about the issues of reductionism that I first brought up in Episode 53.

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Click here for additional show notes and links.

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Neuroscience and Free Will (BSP 53)

bsp-300-hi Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown. This book challenges the widespread fear that neuroscience is revealing an explanation of the human mind that concludes that moral responsibility and free will are illusions created by our brains. Instead the authors argue that the problem is the assumption that a physicalist/materialistic model of the mind must also be reductionist (a viewpoint that all causes are bottom-up). In this podcast I discuss their arguments against causal reductionism and for a dynamic systems model. We also discuss why we need to avoid brain-body dualism and recognize that our mind is more than just what our brain does. The key to preserving our intuitive sense of our selves as free agents capable of reason, moral responsibility, and free will is that the dynamic systems approach allows top-down causation, without resorting to any supernatural causes or breaking any of the know laws of the physical universe. This is a complex topic, but I present a concise overview of the book's key ideas.

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Episode Transcript (Coming Soon)

Visit the Brain Science Podcast website for detailed show notes and links.

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The Philosophy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

alan_saunders.jpg Alan Saunders of The Philosopher's Zone One of my favorite podcasts is an Australian Radio show called The Philosopher's Zone, but I have to admit that I was surprised to discover that host Alan Saunders shares my passion for the work of Joss Whedon, especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The March 29 episode is a discussion of the philosophical aspects of the BuffyVerse with James B. South who edited Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale (2003). The episode is called "Buffy the Concept Slayer," which is kind of a lame title, but it is still something Buffy fans will enjoy. However, it is not an episode someone new to the show will find very enlightening.
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The Evolution of Language (BSP 30)

firstword.jpg Episode 30 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally. We focus mostly on the first part of the book, which tells the story of how the study of language evolution has grown from almost a banned subject to a new field of inquiry called evolutionary linguistics. We also reflect on how recent findings in neuroscience like the importance of plasticity are influencing the field. Listen to Episode 30 Scientists Discussed in the Episode: *References: Pinker, Steven, and Paul Bloom, "Natural Language and Natural Selection," Behavioral and Brains Sciences 13 (1990): 707-84. Marc D. Hauser, Noam Chomsky, and W. Tecumseh Fitch (2002). "The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?" Science 298:1569-1579. Christine Kenneally, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language (2007). Stanley I. Greenspan and Stuart G. Shanker, The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans (2004). *Additional references can be found in Kenneally's book and at the websites of the scientists listed above. Listen to this episode now. Share your comments on the Discussion Forum Audience Survey itunes-chicklet.gif Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe in a reader or podcatcher Subscribe to Brain Science Podcast with Dr. Ginger Campbell by Email

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Christof Koch discusses Consciousness (BSP 22)

questforconsciousness.jpg Listen to the Interview Now Brain Science Podcast #22 is an interview with Dr. Christof Koch of Cal Tech, one of the pioneers in the neurobiological study of consciousness. About two decades ago when Koch and Francis Crick began looking for what they called the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), such a quest was considered controversial, but now the field is increasing in popularity. In our interview we talked a little about his book, The Quest for Consciousness, as well as his on-going research and his thoughts about what the future might bring. Show Notes Here is a list of some of the topics we discussed:
  • Why Francis Crick was an outstanding mentor and colleague
  • A Working definition of consciousness
  • How consciousness relates to awareness
  • What are neural correlates of consciousness
  • Why vision is the focus of Koch's research
  • The search for the "footprints" of consciousness
  • The role of functional imaging and the use of monkeys
  • Neurons-"the atoms of perception"
  • Why we need a theory of consciousness
  • The role of the frontal lobes in consciousness
  • Is consciousness an emergent property?
  • What about zombies?
  • Why do we need consciousness?
  • Will artificial intelligence become conscious?
  • The hard problem: how does the brain generate subjective experience (qualia)
Links: Christof Koch's homepage The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach (2004) Listen to the Episode Now Share your comments on the Discussion Forum Audience Survey

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Does Free Will Exist? (B&I 12)

This episode is my response to the The Myth of Free Will (2007), which was sent to me by the book's editor Cris Evatt. I felt the topic was very relevant to my recent discussions on the Brain Science Podcast, where we have been exploring the evidence that a surprising amount of decision-making occurs beyond our conscious control. Listen to Books and Ideas #12 Now I have tried to include some interesting references and links below, but I hope you will share more links (especially good blogs) at the new Brain Science Podcast Forum, which is located at http://brainscienceforum.com. I have set aside a section under "Off-Topic Discussions" for discussions about Books and Ideas. The subject of free will is quite controversial. This episode is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, rather than to convince you that I have the answers. Show Notes The difference between political and psychological free will Can a non-physical soul or spirit be controlling our brain's decisions? Naturalism (What is Naturalism? by Thomas W. Clark founder of The Center For Naturalism) What about choice and responsibility? What does neuroscience have to say about free will? Partial List of Writers Whose Work I discuss References and Further Reading Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions (2006) by Read Montague (Dr. Montague was interviewed on the Brain Science Podcast #15.) The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them (2003) by Owen Flanagan Freedom Evolves (2003) by Daniel C. Dennett Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994) by Francis Crick Links of Interest Center For Naturalism The Garden of Forking Paths-A philosophy blog devoted to agency theory, including related issues in Philosphy of Action, Moral Psychology, Metaphysics and Ethics I will try to expand this list in the future.
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Does Free Will Exist?

Episode 12 of Books and Ideas should be out within the next week. I am going to be exploring the question: Does free will exist? I hope the discussion will be thought-provoking, but I also anticipate that it might generate controversy and disagreement. I am looking forward to listener feedback. If you have not yet visited the new Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum, you may want to go there and sign up. I have included a section for "off-topic" discussions that includes an area devoted to discussion of the Books and Ideas podcast.
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