Ideas

Yes, Heidegger Believed In The Nazi Cause (For A Time). Now What Do We Do With Him?

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“One reason to take the Notebooks seriously, therefore, is to understand how a figure who inspired such a wide following could have held such views — and what this might mean for his legacy. This is a question of intellectual history and influence. While it is important, there remains an even deeper one: whether there is anything left for us to think about in reading Heidegger.”

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Life Is Random (No Matter How Much We Want It To Be Organized)

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“Futurists and science-fiction authors predict that genetic engineering will someday allow designer children, built to order, with whatever smarts, looks, and personalities their parents prefer. But biology’s new recognition of the role of noise in development gives us one more reason to think that this simply isn’t going to happen.”

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A Post-Adult America

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“It is now possible to conceive of adulthood as the state of being forever young. Childhood, once a condition of limited autonomy and deferred pleasure (“wait until you’re older”), is now a zone of perpetual freedom and delight. Grown people feel no compulsion to put away childish things.”

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A First: Brain-To-Brain Communication

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“We wanted to find out if one could communicate directly between two people by reading out the brain activity from one person and injecting brain activity into the second person, and do so across great physical distances by leveraging existing communication pathways.”

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Bucket Lists: “The YOLO-ization Of Cultural Experience”

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Rebecca Mead: “As popularly conceived, however, the bucket list … partakes of a commodification of cultural experience, in which every expedition made, and every artwork encountered, is reduced to an item on a checklist to be got through, rather than being worthy of repeated or extended engagement.”

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Can A Community Have A ‘Soul’?

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Yes, and that can be created: “A community’s ‘soul’ is not just some ineffable or magical quality. Urban planning and local laws actually affect it.”

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Your Fondest Childhood Memories May Not Be Real

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“You might think you remember your 3rd birthday party when what you really remember are the pictures, or you might believe you have a very vivid memory from elementary school that in reality happened to your brother. Or, you might even be lifting your memories from the books and movies you loved as a child.”

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When Frankfurt School Philosophers Examine Pop Culture

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Theodor Adorno, on an LA Times astrology column that advised, “Accept all invitations.”: “The consummation of this trend is the obligatory participation in official ‘leisure-time activities’ in totalitarian countries.” Alex Ross considers how Adorno and Walter Benjamin “were pioneers in thinking critically about pop culture – in taking that culture seriously as an object of scrutiny.”

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Smartphones And Map Apps Are Messing With Our Spatial Thinking

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“When people plan a route based on their mental representation, they have to form a sequence of these landmarks, and follow this plan by reaching landmark after landmark. When people use navigation systems, they don’t do this planning any longer. … Basically, people don’t really learn their environments.”

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So You’re Having An Artistic Crisis …

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“Now is not the time to compare yourself to others. Personally, I have found that spending too much time reading about the fantastic lives and careers of my friends and colleagues, as presented on Facebook, makes me feel boring and inadequate. If it makes you feel similar, take a break from it.”

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Designing Technology That Lies To Us

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“If you don’t know it already, you should: Many crosswalk and elevator door-close buttons don’t actually work as advertised. … Similarly, the progress bars presented on computer screens during downloads … maintain virtually no connection to the actual amount of time left … But these examples offer only a hint of what we’re liable to see in the near future. … Perhaps now is a good time to ask: How deceitful should our new technologies be?”

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Sleep-Deprived People Have Shrinking Brains (Uh-Oh)

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“If you have ever felt markedly stupider after a long period of sleep deprivation, a new study may hint at a reason. Years of sleep difficulties seem to be associated with a brain that shrinks in size over time, according to a new paper published online today in Neurology.”

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Is The Internet Changing How Our Brains Work?

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“Part of the difficulty with discussing the effects of Internet use is that there are many ways to use the Internet, and there are many ways for it to have an effect – from how we conduct our relationships to how we think, to how our brains are wired up.”

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Science Weighs In On The Idea Of “Tortured Genius”

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The idea that “great art comes from great pain” has long-standing roots in public opinion, rumored to date back to ancient philosophers and poets, but our modern idea of the tortured genius likely stems from a glamorization of mental illness that took hold during the Romantic Era.

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Is It Time To Reign In The Creativity Industry?

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“How did we come to care so much about creativity? The language surrounding it, of unleashing, unlocking, awakening, developing, flowing, and so on, makes it sound like an organic and primordial part of ourselves which we must set free—something with which it’s natural to be preoccupied.”

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Does A Strong Belief In Evil Make Someone More Intolerant?

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“But what does it mean to believe in evil? How do our attitudes about its existence shape our worldviews? While researchers stampeded over one another to understand evil behavior in the wake of the 20th century’s seemingly endless bloodletting … much less research has been done into how the idea of evil itself colors our understanding of the world and its inhabitants.”

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A Festival Of “Dangerous Ideas”

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“Our objective in presenting dangerous ideas is not that these ideas be promoted or adopted, but simply that they be encountered and, thus, assessed on their merits. … We believe that ideas of all kinds are best exposed to the light of reason and discernment.”

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