Darwiniana

History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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‘Fierce Green Fire’ Documentary Explores Environmental Movement’s Global Rise

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments



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Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

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The confusion over consciousness

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://scientiasalon.org/ (For some reason Pugliucci’s blogs don’t direct posts to the post permalinks: use the date: Apr 23)

What To Do About Consciousness
Posted on April 23, 2014 by Massimo Pigliucci
or: How to Deal with Naturalism Without Becoming A New Age Wacko
by Mike Trites

Calling new agers wacko is not very useful: it seems that scientists can’t figure what they are talking about with consciousness. So there must be ‘wacko’s’ in science circles.

The analysis here correctly points to the dangers of dualism, the ‘spiritual’ aspect of mind. But it doesn’t follow that material explanation works, at least in the form assumed by most scientists.
We don’t know what consciousness is, and we can’t reduce it to materialism or clarify anything with a distinction of the spiritual. None of the scientific analyses work because the ‘material’ isn’t the fundamental. As matter has disappeared into mathematical abstractions of physics, that point should have been evident. So what are the fundamentals? We don’t know. It doesn’t work to reduce everything to matter, at least in the usual way of physicists. Eastern students of Samkhya declare everything to be material, in their own way, and the ‘spiritual’ is assumed to be fully material in some sense.

The distinctions of philosophical idealism must be considered: the idealism of Hegel versus that of Kant/Schopenhauer suggests a whole dimension of considerations on the question.
Schopenhauer has an important suggestion that the real issue is ‘representation’ and ‘thing in itself’ Much of the confusion of religious spirituality is related to the inability to deal with this distinction. This leaves the question of the ‘material’ in relation to ‘representation’. All at once the material idea seems less than fundamental. The relation of representation to perception as such creates problems for these ‘transcendental idealists’ (make sure you understand the difference in the Kantian use of the term ‘transcendental’).

We have frequently discussed the views of J.B. Bennett, which resemble those of Schopenhauer, and his way of dealing with the issues is based on a triad of ‘being, function, will’. The material and the conscious are then indeed a unity with two aspects (not the same as deriving everything else from the material) of the category of being, which is distinct from that of ‘will’. As in Schopenhauer the ‘will’ is an independent category of nature. We thus make ‘material’ fundamental, but it is in reality a concoction of ‘functionality’ and the ‘being’ aspect of the larger framework.

So trying to derive consciousness from the material never really succeeds, because the are related as cousins, not in a hierarchical relationship deriving one from the other.

In Bennett, we see a version of the Easter distinction of ‘consciousness’ and ‘self-consciousness’. The distinction is a little bit like the ordinary consciousness versus the ‘mindfulness’ consciousness’ that new agers discover as the obvious correlate of fundamental consciousness, which is almost mechanical in its behaviorism.

In Bennett the terms are different, but the basic distinction is there: between ‘animal sensitivity’ and ‘consciousness’, which regrettably corresponds to the ‘self-consciousness’ in the other terminology. This confusion of terms is unfortunate, but typical of the debates over ‘consciousness’ which is a kind of chameleon corresponding to different things.

it is useful to study Bennett’s lingo and to study his framework, because it suggests that consciousness, i.e. the real ‘self-consciousness’ beyond the ‘animal’ consciousness that is the basic state of humans also, is something over and above the basic psychology of animals/man.
The point here is that ‘consciousness’ is a cosmic entity, and has no direct physiological substrate. It must have a material aspect (Bennett is a Samkya-ist) but it is not a ‘life function’. To be alive and to be conscious are two quite different things. The issue is that of the hyperzoic, to use Bennett’s terms. Study of this framework can help to see the hopeless confusion that arises in both scientists and religionists who can’t see how the ‘spiritual’ is simply a garbled version of the larger issue of ‘consciousness’, while the material assumptions of scientists simply strike out when they try to reduce the ‘spiritual’ to the material.

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Abolitionism and Xtianity

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://darwiniana.com/2014/04/23/top-figures-in-conservative-movement-spreading-crazy-lie-that-faith-in-god-ended-slavery/

The Bible Belt must be reading WHEE and getting it wrong. This Alternet article correctly exposes a distortion in the history of the abolition of slavery.
However, it you study WHEE you will see that the modern transition suddenly spawns an abolitionist movement with Christian connections. This, please note, is not the same as saying that faith in god ended slavery. Note that the macro model in WHEE is easily misunderstood: the Christian religion had two millennia to abolish slavery, but failed. While the correlation with the modern transtion shows that under the conditions of the modern transition, a Christian abolitionist movement was finally successful.
We should acknowledge that, by and large, slavery had disappeared in Christian lands (less so in Moslem). But then the rise of capitalism, modern style, suddenly spawned a disastrous regression. The subtle distinctions here require careful study.

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SW news

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Here’s what’s new at SocialistWorker.org…

http://socialistworker.org

________

Comment: Lance Selfa
A RACIST PHD FOR HIRE
The guru to right-wingers like Paul Ryan is Charles Murray–a bigot who made a career out of giving a social science gloss to reactionary policies.

http://socialistworker.org/2014/04/22/racist-phd-for-hire

[Read more →]

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NCSE news

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Some notable news and notes courtesy of NCSE’s “Science League of
America” blog. (ncse.com/blog)

Cosmos Wars, Episode VI: Let’s get small!

http://ncse.com/blog/2014/04/cosmos-wars-episode-vi-return-tiny-0015529

“Your Inner Fish”, Take 2: Your Reptilian Innards

http://ncse.com/blog/2014/04/your-reptilian-innards-0015536

First look, first take: Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously”

http://ncse.com/blog/2014/04/living-dangerously-0015533

[Read more →]

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Ottawa downgrades humpback whale protection

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

*http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Ottawa+removing+North+Pacific+humpback+whales+from+list+threatened+species/9760778/story.html

OTTAWA — The Harper government is downgrading the protection of the North
Pacific humpback whale despite objections from a clear majority of groups
that were consulted.

Critics say the whales could face greater danger if two major oilsands
pipeline projects get the go-ahead, since both would result in a sharp
increase in movement of large vessels on the West Coast that occasionally
collide with, and kill, whales like the humpback.

The decision was made under the Species At Risk Act (SARA), and declares
the humpback a “species of special concern” rather than “threatened.”
[Read more →]

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It’s Earth Day–Thanks, Toyota!

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

RG mail
It’s Earth Day–Thanks, Toyota!

by Hadas Thier
Solidarity
Webzine April 22, 2014

Save the earth by buying a Prius? That seems to be the takeaway message
from this year’s Earth Day New York taking place on April 22. Earth Day
events in the city will be sponsored by – Who would have guessed? – Toyota.

Perhaps the organizers of Earth Day New York want to find out just how
low our expectations could go for what passes as solutions to the
imminent ruin of our planet. Perhaps they feel we should be grateful
that Earth Day is not being sponsored by an even bigger gas guzzler like
Jeep. Let’s take the day, they might tell us, to put aside our worries
about the U.S. transportation industry and the fact that it is
responsible for a third of the country’s climate changing emissions. And
let’s, for the moment, erase from historical record the role of
automobile and oil companies in dismantling train and electric cable car
systems across the country in the 1930s and 40s—systems that could have
led the way to an ecologically sustainable transportation system.

To be fair, Toyota is not the only sponsor of Earth Day New York. There
are other corporations as well. Like that savior of the environment, Con
Edison. Yes, that same Con Ed that is so beloved among New Yorkers not
only for its high bills, but also its complete disregard for the lives
of New Yorkers and the safety of our homes.

A recent pipe explosion in East Harlem that killed eight people, and
injured almost fifty others, exposed an ailing and ancient piping system
currently managed by Con Ed. Fifty eight percent of Con Ed’s pipes were
installed before 1960, and “sixty percent are composed of unprotected
steel or cast iron, the most leak-prone material,” according to a report
cited by Daily Kos. The New York Times reported that “Consolidated
Edison, whose pipes supplied the two buildings leveled by the explosion,
had the highest rate of leaks in the country among natural gas operators
whose networks totaled at least 100 miles.”

The pipe explosion in East Harlem.

In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the
the 8-inch Con Edison gas main at the East Harlem site failed a pressure
test when tracer gas was pumped into it. That main was installed in
1887. Whatever the outcome of the NTSB investigation, the billions of
dollars that it will take to replace old fossil fuel infrastructure will
leave us with the same lethal dangers.

Then there’s Con Ed’s preparedness for increasingly frequent “natural”
disasters. As author and activist, Chris Williams pointed out in the
aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Con Ed refused to “spend the $250 million
in investment the company deemed necessary to install submersible
switches and move high-voltage transformers above ground level, things
that may have prevented the explosion that wiped out electricity in
lower Manhattan–even though the company made $1 billion in profit last
year.”

http://www.papercut.biz/emailStripper.htm

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Sal Cordova tries, and fails, to understand evolution

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2014/04/sal-cordova-tries-and-fails-to.html

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Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi sell Big Brain kit; admit science behind it is weak

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/deepity-chopra-and-rudolph-tanzi-sell-big-brain-kit-admit-science-behind-it-is-weak/

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What would the universe look like, if the past was infinite?

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/what-would-the-universe-look-like-if-the-past-was-infinite/

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The Blind Game Designer – Darwinism in a fast pace, casual action game.

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ThibaudDeSouza/20140421/215874/The_Blind_Game_Designer__Darwinism_in_a_fast_pace_casual_action_game.php

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Brain size matters when it comes to animal self-control

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Brain size matters when it comes to animal self-control
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422113437.htm
Chimpanzees may throw tantrums like toddlers, but their total brain size suggests they have more self-control than, say, a gerbil or fox squirrel, according to a new study of 36 species of mammals and birds ranging from orangutans to zebra finches.

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Pathologic Hegemony Nonpareil

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Pathologic Hegemony Nonpareil
Unstoppable Obama
by NORMAN POLLACK
Imperialism ad nauseam: If the new name of the game is liberal humanitarianism, the obfuscation is intentional, here, the militarization of advanced-capitalist expansion in pursuit of traditional objectives, from financial-commercial penetration to industrial outsourcing, raw-materials extraction, investment outlets, and good old-fashioned establishment of spheres of influence in the context of international power politics.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/23/unstoppable-obama/

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[Marxism] Tories Pledge To Bring Back The Workhouse

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://welfarenewsservice.com/callous-tories-pledge-to-bring-back-the-workhouse/#.U1VIYtDOwSB.facebook

Tory Chancellor George Osborne (pictured) has announced the return of the
workhouse, in all but name, in a callous and cynical clampdown on Britain’s
long-term unemployed during a speech at the Conservative Party conference.

The tough but exploitative stance comes into effect in April 2014 and will
affect every claimant who has been unemployed for over three years. Those
affected could face thirty hours of unpaid community work per week for six
months; such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and
graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of “job search activity”. They may
also be required to visit the jobcentre every day, which some commentators
have said is treating unemployed people like criminals who are required to
sign in daily at their local police station.

The Tories have also announced a mandatory intensive regime for claimants
with underlying health problems such as mental health issues, drug
addiction or illiteracy. Those who refuse face sanctions of a loss of
benefit for 4 weeks for a first offense, rising to 3 months for a second
and 3 years for repeat offenders.

The Conservative Party believes this to be the correct approach, insisting
the aim is to help long-term unemployed back into work. However, critics
are citing “work for your dole” as a cynical ploy to exploit the unemployed
and stigmatise the poor, with Shadow Treasury Secretary, Rachel Reeves
saying: “It’s taken three wasted years of rising long-term unemployment and
a failed Work Programme to come up with this new scheme.”

In contrast, Labour’s compulsory jobs guarantee, involves working with
employers, ensuring there is a paid job for every young person out of work
for over 12 months and for every unemployed older unemployment benefit
claimants who have been out of work for more than two years. If these job
offers are not accepted they face losing their benefits. This is unlike the
Tory scheme, which the Shadow Treasury Secretary compared to leaving people
languishing on the dole for years without having a proper job.

The chancellor told the Tory Party Conference that for the first time all
long-term unemployed people, who are capable of work, will be required to
do something in return for their benefits. The scheme when it comes into
force in April 2014 will target the 200,000 long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance
(JSA) claimants a year, many of which have been failed by the government’s
controversial Work Programme.

Critics of the Work Programme say the government are cynically blaming
long-term unemployed people for the failures of work schemes by demanding
they continue to work for free. Opponents of the Work Programme say the
schemes amount to nothing less than ‘slave labour’, as they provide free
labour for businesses to assist them in keeping wage costs down. The
government has vehemently denied this.

Those with underlying problems like drink and drug addiction and mental
health issues will be given an intensive regime of help, as will those who
have literacy problems the government say, which critics have described as
stigmatising the unemployed and those with debilitating mental health
conditions.

The Daily Stigma – an online paper, run by mental health charity MIND –
carries the story of a benefit claimant with paranoia. He fees guilty about
claiming benefits and scared to go anywhere in case people think he is a
‘scrounger’ milking the system. For him, it is a constant nightmare, being
made to feel like the lowest of the low. In the same edition, a benefits
advisor agrees, saying that every day they deal with claimants who have
been found fit to work despite having serious mental health conditions.
They cite the example of a claimant who has schizophrenia, whilst this is
pretty much under control; he still struggles with paranoia and cannot
handle pressure well. The anxiety caused by the assessment process and job
hunting is causing so much stress, the advisor is concerned he will be
pushed back into severe illness.

The Tories new “work for you dole” approach follows ‘hot on the heels’ of
prime minister David Cameron’s reiteration that he has no plan to introduce
the ‘mansion tax’ on high-priced properties if re-elected in 2015. For the
PM the “wealth tax is not sensible for a country that wants to attract
wealth creation and wants to reward saving and people who work hard and do
the right thing.” Labour say that this is yet more proof that the
Conservatives are the party of the rich.

In addition, the Chancellor said that he is offering an economic plan for
“hardworking people”. Osborne claims the plan will create jobs and keep
mortgage rates low as well as allowing working people to keep more of their
income, tax-free.

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Why the GOP Really Fears Minimum-Wage Hikes

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16592/diagnosing_the_gops_income_inequality_problem

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Monsanto GM Soy Is Scarier Than You Thin

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/superweeds-arent-only-trouble-gmo-soy

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Top Figures in Conservative Movement Spreading Crazy Lie That Faith in God Ended Slavery

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/far-right-spreading-crazy-lie-faith-god-ended-slavery

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US Blesses Egyptian Repression with Apache Attack Helicopters

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Published on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 by Common Dreams
US Blesses Egyptian Repression with Apache Attack Helicopters
Despite worsening human rights record by military-backed government, Obame administration approves shipment of Apache gunships
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/23

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Hinduism, Buddhism and the Axial Age

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

http://history-and-evolution.com/whee4th/chap5_2_3.htm
Thke review of Doniger’s book brings in the issue of the Axial Age, which, I believe Doniger rejected in her book. But the history of Indian religion is impossible to understand without it. The separation of Hinduism and Buddhism is important for individuals, but ‘history’ doesn’t go the same route, Buddhism and Hinduism, and Jainism, being part of the same whole of religious evolution, the so-called santana dharma. Ironically Hinduism which is hybridized with Aryan thought and mythology is a confusind mixture drifting away from the original tradtion. Note that Buddhism completely omits the entire Vedic tradition, and rightly so.
The Axial Age helps to see why Buddhism suddenly appears in relation to the outstanding ‘hindu’ tradition.

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The confusions of Western reactions to Hinduism

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3B160F8CDAW5F/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1594202052

This is the link to my Amazon review of Doniger’s book on Hinduism. To write on this subject from the perspective of Western skepticism about religion ends up misleading in this case.

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Years of Living Dangerously

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

Apr 6, 2014
Years of Living Dangerously
Awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series takes you to the heart of
climate change:

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Not Born Rich? Out of Luck

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

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