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Enhancing Evolution

The Ethical Case for Making Better People

John Harris

In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. Further, Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers--from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he says, it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it's morally obligatory.

In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement.

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The Enlightened Gene

Biology, Buddhism, and the Convergence that Explains the World

Arri Eisen

Eight years ago, in an unprecedented intellectual endeavor, the Dalai Lama invited Emory University to integrate modern science into the education of the thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in exile in India. This project, the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, became the first major change in the monastic curriculum in six centuries. Eight years in, the results are transformative. The singular backdrop of teaching science to Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns offered provocative insights into how science and religion can work together to enrich each other, as well as to shed light on life and what it means to be a thinking, biological human. In The Enlightened Gene, Emory University Professor Dr. Arri Eisen, together with monk Geshe Yungdrung Konchok explore the striking ways in which the integration of Buddhism with cutting-edge discoveries in the biological sciences can change our understanding of life and how we live it. What this book discovers along the way will fundamentally change the way you think.

Are humans inherently good? Where does compassion come from? Is death essential for life? Is experience inherited? These questions have occupied philosophers, religious thinkers and scientists since the dawn of civilization, but in today’s political discourse, much of the dialogue surrounding them and larger issues—such as climate change, abortion, genetically modified organisms, and evolution—are often framed as a dichotomy of science versus spirituality. Strikingly, many of new biological discoveries—such as the millions of microbes that we now know live together as part of each of us, the connections between those microbes and our immune systems, the nature of our genomes and how they respond to the environment, and how this response might be passed to future generations—can actually be read as moving science closer to spiritual concepts, rather than further away. The Enlightened Gene opens up and lays a foundation for serious conversations, integrating science and spirit in tackling life’s big questions. Each chapter integrates Buddhism and biology and uses striking examples of how doing so changes our understanding of life and how we lead it.

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Entangled Worlds

Religion, Science, and New Materialisms

Catherine Keller

Historically speaking, theology can be said to operate “materiaphobically.” Protestant Christianity in particular has bestowed upon theology a privilege of the soul over the body and belief over practice, in line with the distinction between a disembodied God and the inanimate world “He” created. Like all other human, social, and natural sciences, religious studies imported these theological dualisms into a purportedly secular modernity, mapping them furthermore onto the distinction between a rational, “enlightened” Europe on the one hand and a variously emotional, “primitive,” and “animist” non-Europe on the other. The “new materialisms” currently coursing through cultural, feminist, political, and queer theories seek to displace human privilege by attending to the agency of matter itself. Far from being passive or inert, they show us that matter acts, creates, destroys, and transforms—and, as such, is more of a process than a thing. Entangled Worlds examines the intersections of religion and new and old materialisms. Calling upon an interdisciplinary throng of scholars in science studies, religious studies, and theology, it assembles a multiplicity of experimental perspectives on materiality: What is matter, how does it materialize, and what sorts of worlds are enacted in its varied entanglements with divinity? While both theology and religious studies have over the past few decades come to prioritize the material contexts and bodily ecologies of more-than-human life, Entangled Worlds sets forth the first multivocal conversation between religious studies, theology, and the body of “the new materialism.” Here disciplines and traditions touch, transgress, and contaminate one another across their several carefully specified contexts. And in the responsiveness of this mutual touching of science, religion, philosophy, and theology, the growing complexity of our entanglements takes on a consistent ethical texture of urgency.

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Epistemology

An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

Guided by the founding ideas of American pragmatism, Epistemology provides a clear example of the basic concepts involved in knowledge acquisition and explains the principles at work in the development of rational inquiry. It examines how these principles analyze the course of scientific progress and how the development of scientific inquiry inevitably encounters certain natural disasters. At the center of the book’s deliberations there lies not only the potential for scientific progress but also the limit of science as well. This comprehensive introduction to the theory of knowledge addresses a myriad of topics, including the critique of skepticism, the nature of rationality, the possibility of science for extraterrestrial intelligences, and the prospect of insoluble issues in science.

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Everyday Quantum Reality

David A. Grandy

Most people have heard about quantum physics and its remarkable, well-nigh bizarre claims. And most people would assume that quantum reality describes a world quite different from ours. In this book, David A. Grandy shows that one can find quantum puzzles, or variations thereof, in the backyard of everyday experience. What disappears in transferring quantum theory to the everyday is the theory's mathematical formalism, but that need not imply a loss of analytic rigor. If quantum reality is truly as elemental and ubiquitous as many thinkers suggest, then alternative or complementary perspectives ought to be possible, and with the proliferation of such perspectives, a more fully rounded understanding of quantum reality -- and everyday reality -- might emerge. Everyday Quantum Reality is a step in that direction.

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Evolution in Four Dimensions

Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life

Eva Jablonka

This new edition of the widely read <I>Evolution in Four Dimensions</I> has been revised to reflect the spate of new discoveries in biology since the book was first published in 2005, offering corrections, an updated bibliography, and a substantial new chapter. Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb's pioneering argument proposes that there is more to heredity than genes. They describe four "dimensions" in heredity -- four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic (or non-DNA cellular transmission of traits), behavioral, and symbolic (transmission through language and other forms of symbolic communication). These systems, they argue, can all provide variations on which natural selection can act. Jablonka and Lamb present a richer, more complex view of evolution than that offered by the gene-based Modern Synthesis, arguing that induced and acquired changes also play a role. Their lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski's lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors' points. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors refine their arguments against the vigorous skepticism of the fictional "I.M." (for Ipcha Mistabra -- Aramaic for "the opposite conjecture"). The extensive new chapter, presented engagingly as a dialogue with I.M., updates the information on each of the four dimensions -- with special attention to the epigenetic, where there has been an explosion of new research. <B>Praise for the first edition</B>"With courage and verve, and in a style accessible to general readers, Jablonka and Lamb lay out some of the exciting new pathways of Darwinian evolution that have been uncovered by contemporary research." -- Evelyn Fox Keller, MIT, author of <I> Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines</I>"In their beautifully written and impressively argued new book, Jablonka and Lamb show that the evidence from more than fifty years of molecular, behavioral and linguistic studies forces us to reevaluate our inherited understanding of evolution." -- Oren Harman, <I>The New Republic</I>"It is not only an enjoyable read, replete with ideas and facts of interest but it does the most valuable thing a book can do -- it makes you think and reexamine your premises and long-held conclusions." -- Adam Wilkins, <I>BioEssays</I>

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Exploratory Experiments

Ampère, Faraday, and the Origins of Electrodynamics

by Friedrich Steinle

This book is an English translation; the German edition was published by Franz Steiner Verlag in 2005. It is a history of early electrodynamics from 1820 through the end of the nineteenth century. The author focuses on research practice, reconstructed from laboratory notes, diaries, letters, and interactions with instrument makers, within the context of the larger questions of how scientific knowledge is generated and stabilized; how experimental, conceptual, and theoretical activities are connected; and how validity is established and accepted. His third major theme incorporates the ideas of “New Experimentalism,” which seeks to broaden the discussion beyond the traditional view that the only meaning of experiment lies in testing hypothesis or theories.

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The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, Antiquity to 1915

A Source Book

Edited with commentary by Michael J. Crowe

This book presents key documents from the pre-1915 history of the extraterrestrial life debate. Introductions and commentaries accompany each source document, some of which are published here for the first time or in a new translation. Authors included are Aristotle, Lucretius, Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Fontenelle, Huygens, Newton, Pope, Voltaire, Kant, Paine, Chalmers, Darwin, Wallace, Dostoevski, Lowell, and Antoniadi, among others. Michael J. Crowe has compiled an extensive bibliography not available in other sources. These materials reveal that the extraterrestrial life debate, rather than being a relatively modern phenomenon, has extended throughout nearly all Western history and has involved many of its leading intellectuals. The readings also demonstrate that belief in extraterrestrial life has had major effects on science and society, and that metaphysical and religious views have permeated the debate throughout much of its history.

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Fighting for Life

Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness

by Walter J. Ong

"Fighting for Life is a book about contest, the agonia of the Greek arena, and its roots in male life, especially academia. Ong describes this work as an 'excavation' which was prompted by his previous explorations of such areas as the characteristics of oral and literate cultures, Peter Ramus and his 16th-century intellectual milieu, and the early dominance and more recent decline of classical rhetoric in education. In Fighting for Life, he weaves the results of a year's study of agonistic structures running through the biological, social, and noetic worlds. Describing his text as an 'essay in noobiology,' the biological roots of human consciousness, Ong claims that 'contest has been a major factor in organic evolution and it turns out to have been a major, and seemingly essential, factor in intellectual development.' . . . The work is a valuable synthesis of a wide body of research and theory."-Rhetoric Society Quarterly

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The Force of the Virtual

Deleuze, Science, and Philosophy

Peter Gaffney

Gilles Deleuze once claimed that “modern science has not found its metaphysics, the metaphysics it needs.” The Force of the Virtual responds to this need by investigating the consequences of the philosopher’s interest in (and appeal to) “the exact sciences.” In exploring the problematic relationship between the philosophy of Deleuze and science, the original essays gathered here examine how science functions in respect to Deleuze’s concepts of time and space, how science accounts for processes of qualitative change, how science actively participates in the production of subjectivity, and how Deleuze’s thinking engages neuroscience.
 
All of the essays work through Deleuze’s understanding of the virtual—a force of qualitative change that is ontologically primary to the exact, measurable relations that can be found in and among the objects of science. By adopting such a methodology, this collection generates significant new insights, especially regarding the notion of scientific laws, and compels the rethinking of such ideas as reproducibility, the unity of science, and the scientific observer.
 
Contributors: Manola Antonioli, Collège International de Philosophie (Paris); Clark Bailey; Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht U; Manuel DeLanda, U of Pennsylvania; Aden Evens, Dartmouth U; Gregory Flaxman, U of North Carolina; Thomas Kelso; Andrew Murphie, U of New South Wales; Patricia Pisters, U of Amsterdam; Arkady Plotnitsky, Purdue U; Steven Shaviro, Wayne State U; Arnaud Villani, Première Supérieure au Lycée Masséna de Nice.

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