As individual people, embedded in our daily lives, of course we're interested in what makes one person different from another. We've got to hire one person and not another, marry one person and not another.
Consciousness surely does not depend on language. Babies, many animals, and patients robbed of speech by brain damage are not insensate robots; they have reactions like ours that indicate that someone's home.
I've never argued that humans are massively hot-wired. What I was trying to point out was that you can't understand how we learn unless you identify the learning mechanisms. And these have some genetic basis.
Even if he does occasionally hurt people's feelings -- he occasionally hurts my feelings -- but I'm a big boy. I can get over it. I can argue back. We really need somebody to question the way a university is run.
If you look in general at people who live in anarchy, they have quite high rates of death from either homicide or warfare or both. Anarchy is one of the main reasons for violence, and it may be the most important.
I do look for openings where I can overturn popular misconceptions, but unlike Christopher Hitchens, I am neither a contrarian nor a lone heretic. I like to have a significant number of academics watching my back.
There is no society ever discovered in the remotest corner of the world that has not had something that we would consider the arts. Visual arts - decoration of surfaces and bodies - appears to be a human universal.
Life is better than death, health is better than sickness, abundance is better than want, freedom is better than coercion, happiness is better than suffering, and knowledge is better than superstition and ignorance.
My worst boss was a departmental chair who never learned to appreciate new developments in the field. He had contempt for students and younger researchers, and he saw the job of running the department as a nuisance.
In the 1970s, many intellectuals had become political radicals. Marxism was correct, liberalism was for wimps, and Marx had pronounced that 'the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.'
Roads, better harnesses for horses, time-keeping devices, financial instruments like a currency that was recognized everywhere in the kingdom, enforceable contracts - all of this made commerce more appealing than plunder.
The thinkers of the Enlightenment sought a new understanding of the human condition. The era was a cornucopia of ideas, some of them contradictory, but four themes tie them together: reason, science, humanism, and progress.
Why do people believe that there are dangerous implications of the idea that the mind is a product of the brain, that the brain is organized in part by the genome, and that the genome was shaped by natural selection?
In the past two decades anthropologists have gathered data on life and death in pre-state societies rather than accepting the warm and fuzzy stereotypes. What did they find? In a nutshell: Hobbes was right, Rousseau was wrong.
Conventions are unstated agreements within a community to abide by a single way of doing things - not because there is any inherent advantage to the choice, but because there is an advantage to everyone making the same choice.
According to a recent study of the brains of identical and fraternal twins, differences in the amount of gray matter in the frontal lobes are not only genetically influenced but are significantly correlated with differences in intelligence.
In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.
America had, for one thing, lived in anarchy for - until much more recently than Europe. We had the Wild West, where the cliche of the cowboy movies was the nearest sheriff is 90 miles away, and so you had to pack a gun and defend yourself.
Whenever you speak to someone, you are presuming the two of you have a certain degree of familiarity - which your words might alter. So every sentence has to do two things at once: convey a message and continue to negotiate that relationship.
Academics lack perspective. In a debate on whether the world is round, they would argue, 'No,' because it's an oblate spheroid. They suffer from 'the curse of knowledge': the inability to imagine what it's like not to know something that they know.
Every aspect of thought and emotion is rooted in brain structure and function, including many psychological disorders and, presumably, genius. The study confirms that the brain is a modular system comprising multiple intelligences, mostly nonverbal.
It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings.
Evolutionary psychologists seem to want to unmask our noblest motives as ultimately self-interested - to show that our love for children, compassion for the unfortunate and sense of justice are just tactics in a Darwinian struggle to perpetuate our genes.
The European wars of religion were more deadly than the First World War, proportionally speaking, and in the range of the Second World War in Europe. The Inquisition, the persecution of heretics and infidels and witches, they racked up pretty high death tolls.
Cognitive psychology has shown that the mind best understands facts when they are woven into a conceptual fabric, such as a narrative, mental map, or intuitive theory. Disconnected facts in the mind are like unlinked pages on the Web: They might as well not exist.
I have never been a fan of science fiction. For me, fiction has to explore the combinatorial possibilities of people interacting under the constraints imposed by our biology and history. When an author is free to suspend the constraints, it's tennis without a net.
If the myth of pure evil is that evil is committed with the intention of causing harm and an absence of moral considerations, then it applies to very few acts of so-called 'pure evil' because most evildoers believe what they are doing is forgivable or justifiable.