Better Living Through Sci-Phi

Greetings Neglected (by me) Reader(s?). Things have been muy interesante over here. Lots going on including knitting, attending, watercoloring, bicycling, birthdaying, cake decorating, dechorionating, reading, and even a bit of philosophizing partaken in tonight. I just returned from listening to a guest lecture delivered by Mossimo Pigliucci, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at City University in New York, and writer at the blog Rationally Speaking. His talk was entitled Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life. The lecture served as the formal elevator speech for the October 2 release of his “self help book for people who don’t like self help books.” In the book and his lecture, he presents ways we can best contemplate the meaning of life, justice, and love most effectively by using both science and philosophy to consider our world. After attending his lecture, I will be adding this book to my reading queue (in spite of the implication that it could be marketed as a self help book.)

The lecture paired common philosophical topics with empirical results generated by science. My favorite example he presented described the correlation between the predominance of different neuropeptides and different stages of love. Infatuation, the very short lived, often nonexclusive, physical stage of love was marked by high levels of androgens, especially testosterone. As this love transforms into what has been termed romantic love, the (on average) 6 month to two year period of time where one sees the other as infalliable and unsurpassed in characteristics x, y, and z, dopamine predominates while serotonin subsides. Finally, attachment, the phase ranging from 1 to 50+ years, is marked by increased levels of oxytocin, a molecule known for its role in pair bonding and maternal behaviors. On the more dour side of this example was the assertion that most relationships tend to fail between the romantic love and attachment phases and that the average duration of the attachment phase averages only 4 years… the same length as the average marriage according to this lecturer.

This lecture brought back some good memories of my Honors Classes from college (I even remembered the difference between deontologists and natural law theorists, thank you, Dr. Ryan) and reinvigorated my recognition of the relevance of philosophy in science and science in philosophy. I am also interested in the another book by the speaker called Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk and I’ll let you know how they go. In the meantime, I hope we can all find better living through Sci-Phi. 

 

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