What It Means to Be Human

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Counterpoint #ad - This deeply scholarly work is lively and challenging in equal measure, and rewarding throughout” The Boston Globe. If the earnest englishwoman had been capable of looking 100 years into the future, she might have wondered about the human status of chimeras, or the ethics of stem cell research. Ultimately, as souls,  what it means to be human is less an answer than it is an invitation to a series of questions, questions about who and what we are as a species, and as nodes in a larger complex ecosystem of sentient beings.

Brain Pickings. From the author of The Story of Pain. Political disclosures and scientific advances have been re-locating the human-animal border at an alarming speed. Her heartfelt cry was for women to “become-animal” in order to gain the status that they were denied on the grounds that they were not part of “mankind.

In this fascinating account, joanna Bourke addresses the profound question of what it means to be “human” rather than “animal. How are people excluded from political personhood? How does one become entitled to rights? The distinction between the two concepts is a blurred line, permanently under construction.

What It Means to Be Human #ad - In this meticulously researched, illuminating book, and looks forward into what the future might hold for humans, Bourke explores the legacy of more than two centuries, women, and animals. In 1872, a woman known only as “an earnest englishwoman” published a letter titled “Are Women Animals?” in which she protested against the fact that women were not treated as fully human.

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Genes vs Cultures vs Consciousness: A Brief Story of Our Computational Minds

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#ad - It also develops on the history of science and looks into the possible future building on the work of authors like Daniel Dennett, Stanislas Dehaene, Yuval Harari, Josh Tenenbaum, Joseph Henrich, George Church, Robert Boyd, John von Neumann, David Deutsch, Susan Carey, Daniel Kahneman, Moran Cerf, Steven Pinker, Ray Kurzweil, Francis Crick, David Chalmers, Richard Dawkins, Herbert Simon and many more.

With the speed of progress it is timely to communicate an overreaching perspective, this book puts an emphasis on conveying the essential questions and what we know about their answers in a simple, clear and exciting way. Humans, the first brains, the first conscious animals, the first life forms, along with the first RNA molecules, the first societies and the first artificial agents constitute an amazing and crucial development in a path of increasingly complex computational intelligence.

The story of our computational minds, which is ours but not only ours. What is the relationship between computation, cognition and everything else? what is life and how did it originate? What is the role of culture in human minds? What do we know about the algorithmic nature of the mind, can we engineer it?What is the computational explanation of consciousness? What are some possible future steps in the evolution of minds? The underlying thread is the computational nature of the Mind which results from the mixture of Genes, Cultures and Consciousness.

While these three interact in complex ways, they are ultimately computational systems on their own which appeared at different stages of history and which follow their own selective processes operating at different time scales. As technology progresses, the distinction between the three components materializes and will be a key determinant of the future.

Genes vs Cultures vs Consciousness: A Brief Story of Our Computational Minds #ad - Among the many topics covered are the origin of life, geoffrey hinton, cultural evolution and the notion of a selfish Meme, and the recent history of Deep Learning, the hard problem of consciousness, the concept of computation and its relation to Turing Machines, the current status of AI and Machine Learning including the symbolic vs sub-symbolic dichotomy, the different theories of concepts from the perspective of cognitive science, free will and determinism, moral relativity, the contrast between logical reasoning and neural networks, DeepMind and its algorithm AlphaGo.

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Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present

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The New Press #ad - This exciting saga crosses space and time to illustrate how humans, born of stardust, were shaped—and how they in turn shaped the world we know today. Publishers weekly   this book offers “world history on a grand scale”—pulling back for a wider view and putting the relatively brief time span of human history in context.

Big history interweaves different disciplines of knowledge, drawing on both the natural sciences and the human sciences, to offer an all-encompassing account of history on Earth. Here is a path-breaking portrait of our world, from the birth of the universe from a single point the size of an atom to life on a twenty-first-century planet inhabited by seven billion people.

Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present #ad - This new edition is more relevant than ever before, as we increasingly grapple with accelerating rates of change and, ultimately, the legacy we will bequeath to future generations. After all, our five thousand years of recorded civilization account for only about one millionth of the lifetime of our planet Kirkus Reviews.

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Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell

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Yale University Press #ad - Drawing on the similarities between Pac-Man and an amoeba and efforts to model the human brain, this absorbing read shows that biologists and engineers have a lot to learn from working together. Discover magazine   “Wetware will get the reader thinking. Science magazine. A beautifully written journey into the mechanics of the world of the cell, exploring the analogy with computers in a surprising way” Denis Noble, and even beyond, author of Dance to the Tune of Life.

In wetware, wide-ranging, bray offers imaginative, and perceptive critiques of robotics and complexity theory, as well as many entertaining and telling anecdotes. How does a single-cell creature, such as an amoeba, lead such a sophisticated life? How does it hunt living prey, and smells, sounds, respond to lights, and display complex sequences of movements without the benefit of a nervous system? This book offers a startling and original answer.

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell #ad - Bray argues that the computational juice of cells provides the basis for all distinctive properties of living systems: it allows organisms to embody in their internal structure an image of the world, and this accounts for their adaptability, responsiveness, and intelligence. In clear, jargon-free language, dennis Bray taps the findings from the discipline of systems biology to show that the internal chemistry of living cells is a form of computation.

Cells are built out of molecular circuits that perform logical operations, as electronic devices do, but with unique properties. For the general reader, the practicing scientist, and all others with an interest in the nature of life, this book is an exciting portal to some of biology’s latest discoveries and ideas.

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Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death

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Mariner Books #ad - If it has not been clear to readers by now, this book confirms that Bernd Heinrich is one of the finest naturalists of our time. An enlightening look at animal behavior and the cycle of life and death, from “one of the finest naturalists of our time” Edward O. Wilson. Heinrich reveals, thereby turning not dust to dust, too, how and where humans still play our ancient and important role as scavengers, but life to life.

When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if he might have his “green burial” at Bernd Heinrich’s hunting camp in Maine, it inspired the acclaimed biologist to investigate a subject that had long fascinated him. Life everlasting shines with the authenticity and originality that are unique to a life devoted to natural history in the field.

Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death #ad - Edward O. Wilson, author of the meaning of Human Existence and The Social Conquest of Earth  . How exactly does the animal world deal with the flip side of the life cycle? and what are the lessons, “the premier northern undertakers”; and the “inadvertent teamwork” among wolves and large cats, foxes and weasels, imparted by a close look at how the animal world renews itself?   Heinrich focuses his wholly original gaze on the fascinating doings of creatures most of us would otherwise turn away from—field mouse burials conducted by carrion beetles; the communication strategies of ravens, ecological to spiritual, bald eagles and nuthatches in cold-weather dispersal of prey.

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Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World

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Counterpoint #ad - According to the christian doctrine of original sin, humans are born inherently bad, and only through God’s grace can they achieve salvation. Boyce traces a history of original sin from Adam and Eve, St. Augustine, and martin luther to adam smith, and Richard Dawkins, Sigmund Freud, and explores how each has contributed to shaping our conception of original sin.

Boyce argues that despite declining church attendance, religious ideas of morality still underpin modern secular society. In addition to offering an innovative history of Christianity, Boyce’s “brilliant and exhilarating work of popular scholarship” offers new insights into the creation of the West The Washington Post.

Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World #ad - The sweeping, 2, 000-year history of a controversial idea and the remarkable influence it still wields: “Exceptional, highly recommended” Publisher’s Weekly, starred review. In this captivating and controversial book, acclaimed historian James Boyce explores how this centuries-old concept has shaped the Western view of human nature right up to the present.

If today the specific doctrine has all but disappeared even from churches, what remains is the distinctive discontent of Western people—the feelings of guilt and inadequacy associated not with doing wrong, but with being wrong.

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The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America

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Grove Press #ad - This “stylishly written .  .  . Beautifully organized” boston globe tour de force is a powerful, moving chronicle of the Native American peoples that has been hailed as “the most balanced account of the taking of the American continent I’ve ever seen” Austin American-Statesman. A sweeping, well-written, mayhem, long-view history” of Native American societies and “a sad epic of misunderstanding, and massacre” Kirkus Reviews.

. In this groundbreaking, combining traditional historical sources with new insights from ethnography, critically acclaimed historical account of the Native American peoples, archaeology, oral tradition, James Wilson weaves a historical narrative that puts Native Americans at the center of their struggle for survival against the tide of invading European peoples and cultures, and years of his own research.

The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America #ad - The earth shall weep charts the collision course between euro-Americans and the indigenous people of the continent—from the early interactions at English settlements on the Atlantic coast, through successive centuries of encroachment and outright warfare, to the new political force of the Native American activists of today.

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On Language: Chomsky's Classic Works: Language and Responsibility and Reflections on Language

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The New Press #ad - In part i, moral, chomsky presents a fascinating self-portrait of his political,  Language and Responsibility, and linguistic thinking. The two most popular titles by the noted linguist and critic in one volume—an ideal introduction to his work. Language and responsibility is a well-organized, clearly written and comprehensive introduction to Chomsky’s thought.

The new york times book review   “language and Responsibility brings together in one readable volume Chomsky’s positions on issues ranging from politics and philosophy of science to recent advances in linguistic theory.  .  .  . The clarity of presentation at times approaches that of Bertrand Russell in his political and more popular philosophical essays.

Contemporary psychology   “Reflections on Language is profoundly satisfying and impressive. In part ii,  reflections on language, philosophers, Chomsky explores the more general implications of the study of language and offers incisive analyses of the controversies among psychologists, and linguists over fundamental questions of language.

On Language: Chomsky's Classic Works: Language and Responsibility and Reflections on Language #ad - It is the clearest and most developed account of the case of universal grammar and of the relations between his theory of language and the innate faculties of mind responsible for language acquisition and use. Patrick Flanagan. On language features some of Noam Chomsky’s most informal and highly accessible work.

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God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?

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Mariner Books #ad - One of the clearest, most enjoyable new science books in years .  .  . Explains the entire history of physics and cosmology. En route, you’ll laugh so hard you won’t realize how much you are learning. San francisco examiner   “the story of the search for the ultimate constituents of matter has been told many times before, but never with more verve and wit.

 .  .  . His hilarious account of how he helped persuade President Reagan to approve the construction of the Super Collider is itself worth the price of the book. Los angeles Times. In this extraordinarily accessible and witty book, leon lederman—“the most engaging physicist since the late, much-missed Richard Feynman” San Francisco Examiner—offers a fascinating tour that takes us from the Greeks’ earliest scientific observations through Einstein and beyond in an inspiring celebration of human curiosity.

God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? #ad - It ends with the quest for the Higgs boson, nicknamed the God Particle, which scientists hypothesize will help unlock the last secrets of the subatomic universe. A nobel prize–winning physicist’s “funny, clever, entertaining” account of the history of particle physics and the hunt for a Higgs boson Library Journal.

This is not only an enlightening journey through baryons and hadrons and leptons and electrons—it also “may be the funniest book about physics ever written” The Dallas Morning News.

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The Tyranny of Words

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Mariner Books #ad - It is one of those books that never lose its message. CounterPunch. In 1938, stuart chase revolutionized the study of semantics with his classic text, The Tyranny of Words. A thoroughly scholarly study of the science of the meaning of words. Kirkus reviews   “when thinking about words, I think about Stuart Chase’s The Tyranny of Words.

The pioneering and still essential text on semantics, urging readers to improve human communication and understanding with precise, concrete language. Decades later, this eminently useful analysis of the way we use words continues to resonate. A contemporary of the economist Thorstein Veblen and the author Upton Sinclair, Chase was a social theorist and writer who despised the imprecision of contemporary communication.

The Tyranny of Words #ad - Wide-ranging and erudite, this iconic volume was one of the first to condemn the overuse of abstract words and to exhort language users to employ words that make their ideas accurate, complete, and readily understood.

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The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History

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Indiana University Press #ad - A “well-reasoned and timely” Booklist essay collection interrogates the Lost Cause myth in Civil War historiography. Is a tangible and influential phenomenon in American culture and this book provides an excellent source for anyone seeking to explore its various dimensions. Southern Historian. In the myth of the lost cause and civil war history, nine historians describe and analyze the Lost Cause, identifying ways in which it falsifies history—creating a volume that makes a significant contribution to Civil War historiography.

Misrepresenting the war’s true origins and its actual course, the myth of the Lost Cause distorts our national memory. The lost Cause .  .  . Unfortunately, skillful propagandists have been so successful in promoting this romanticized view that the Lost Cause has assumed a life of its own. Was the confederacy doomed from the start in its struggle against the superior might of the Union? Did its forces fight heroically against all odds for the cause of states’ rights? In reality, these suggestions are an elaborate and intentional effort on the part of Southerners to rationalize the secession and the war itself.

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