1. Who labelled the early 6th & 5th century philosophers "PreSocratics," and what did they invent?
2. Aristotle said the Milesians were the first what?
3. Why does Gottlieb say Thales was not simply silly to suggest that H2O is the origin and essence of everything? OR, What must we do in order to refute him?
4. What essential facet of scientific thinking did Anaximander's work exemplify?
5. What famous poetic image do we associate with Pythagoras?
6. What was a good Pythagorean supposed to study?
7. What did Bertrand Russell, echoing Pythagoras and Plato, consider the mind's "highest good"?
8. How does Gottlieb think Aristotle was unfair to the Pythagoreans in his interpretation of their claim that numbers are the principles of all things?
Discussion Questions (Post your DQs too, and comment on mine and others' before class. Each gets you a base.)
- What do you think Xenophanes meant when he said the following? Do you agree?
But if cattle and horses and lions had hands
or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do,
horses like horses and cattle like cattle
also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies
of such a sort as the form they themselves have.
- Do you favor natural, or supernatural, explanations of phenomena? Do you think it's possible to be a naturalist who also believes unproven religious or metaphysical claims about god(s), heaven, immortality, the soul, etc.? Or should naturalists consider themselves atheistic or agnostic, with respect to the objects of such claims?
- Is it a good practice in science and/or philosophy to try and reduce complex phenomena to a simpler explanation?
- Can we make sense of our experience without invoking invisible causes? What makes some invisible phenomena preferable to others, scientifically?
- Anaximenes was "struck by the fact that people breathe and corpses do not." (15) Was he onto something important? Is breath the essence of life?
- Are you "comforted" by the turn from Milesian speculations about nature to ethical questions about "the proper way to live" (17)? Or do you think both kinds of philosophizing are necessary?
- Followers of Hippocrates "did not divide the world into the divinely mysterious... and the naturally explicable" (18) but instead tried to explain everything naturalistically. Was that an important milestone for medical science? Are modern-day "alternative" healers anti-Hippocratic?
- Pythagoras famously had both a scientific/mathematical and a mystical/superstitious side. Do you find this incoherent, or intriguing?
- Do modern humans unwittingly worship Dionysus, seeking some sort of transcendence via self-indulgent sensualism? (27) Is there anything to be said for that?
- Do you believe numbers can "unlock the secrets of how the world work[s]"? (32) Or does the world include important qualities and experiences that cannot or need not (should not?) be quantified? Is it "madness" to relate everything to a corresponding number?-eg, maleness=2, femaleness=3, justice=4...(34)
- Do you share or reject Shakespeare's "pure Orphism" in Merchant of Venice? (38)
- Do you share or reject young Russell's "feeling that intellect is superior to sense"? ((42)
- Post your DQs
Get Up and Move. It May Make You Happier.
When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still, according to an interesting new study that used cellphone data to track activities and moods. In general, the researchers found, people who move are more content than people who sit.
There already is considerable evidence that physical activity is linked to psychological health. Epidemiological studies have found, for example, that people who exercise or otherwise are active typically are less prone to depression and anxiety than sedentary people.
But many of these studies focused only on negative moods. They often also relied on people recalling how they had felt and how much they had moved or sat in the previous week or month, with little objective data to support these recollections.
For the new study, which was published this month in PLoS One, researchers at the University of Cambridge in England decided to try a different approach. They would look, they decided, at correlations between movement and happiness, that most positive of emotions. In addition, they would look at what people reported about their activity and compare it with objective measures of movement.
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To accomplish these goals, they first developed a special app for Android phones. Available free on the Google app store and ultimately downloaded by more than 10,000 men and women, it was advertised as helping people to understand how lifestyle choices, such as physical activity, might affect people’s moods. (The app, which is no longer available for download, opened with a permission form explaining to people that the data they entered would be used for academic research.)
The app randomly sent requests to people throughout the day, asking them to enter an estimation of their current mood by answering questions and also using grids in which they would place a dot showing whether they felt more stressed or relaxed, depressed or excited, and so on.
Periodically, people were also asked to assess their satisfaction with life in general.
After a few weeks, when people were comfortable with the app, they began answering additional questions about whether, in the past 15 minutes, they had been sitting, standing, walking, running, lying down or doing something else.
They also were asked about their mood at that moment.
At the same time, during the 17 months of the study, the app gathered data from the activity monitor that is built into almost every smartphone today. In essence, it checked whether someone’s recall of how much he or she had been moving in the past quarter-hour tallied with the numbers from the activity monitor.
In general, the information provided by users and the data from activity monitors was almost exactly the same.
Of greater interest to the researchers, people using the app turned out to feel happier when they had been moving in the past quarter-hour than when they had been sitting or lying down, even though most of the time they were not engaged in rigorous activity.
In fact, most of the physical activity that people reported was gentle walking, with little running, cycling or other more strenuous exercise.
But the links between moving in any way and feeling happy were consistent for most people throughout the day, according to the data from their apps. It also didn’t matter whether it was a workday or weekend.
The researchers also found that people who moved more frequently tended to report greater life satisfaction over all than those who reported spending most of their time in a chair.
In general, the results suggest that “people who are generally more active are generally happier and, in the moments when people are more active, they are happier,” says Gillian Sandstrom, a study co-author who was a postdoctoral researcher at Cambridge and is now a lecturer in psychology at the University of Essex.
In other words, moving and happiness were closely linked, both in the short term and longer term.
Of course, this type of study does not establish causation. It cannot tell us whether being more active actually causes us to become happier or, conversely, whether being happy causes us to move more. It only shows that more activity goes hand-in-hand with greater happiness.2COMMENTS
The study also is limited by its reliance on cellphone data, Dr. Sandstrom says, because it may not have captured information about formal exercise. People often do not carry their phones when they run, cycle or engage in other types of vigorous activity, she and her colleagues point out in the study. So those types of workouts would not be reflected in the app or the phones’ activity monitor, making it impossible to know from this data set whether formal exercise is linked to happiness, for better or worse.
Still, the size of the study group and the consistency of the findings are compelling, Dr. Sandstrom says. They do indicate that if you get up and move often, you are more likely to feel cheerful than if you do not. nyt
George Orwell’s classic book “1984,” about a dystopian future where critical thought is suppressed under a totalitarian regime, has seen a surge in sales this month, rising to the top of the Amazon best-seller list in the United States and leading its publisher to have tens of thousands of new copies printed.
Craig Burke, the publicity director at Penguin USA, said that the publisher had ordered 75,000 new copies of the book this week and that it was considering another reprint.
“We’ve seen a big bump in sales,” Mr. Burke said. He added that the rise “started over the weekend and hit hyperactive” on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Since Friday, the book has reached a 9,500 percent increase in sales, he said.
He said demand began to lift on Sunday, shortly after the interview Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Donald J. Drumpf, gave on “Meet the Press.”
In defending a false claim by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, that Mr. Drumpf had attracted the “largest audience ever to witness an inauguration,” Ms. Conway used a turn of phrase that struck some observers as similar to the dystopian world of “1984.”