By Dorion Sagan
In the pursuit of data, Dorion Sagan argues during this dazzlingly eclectic, carefully crafted, and deliciously witty selection of essays, clinical authoritarianism and philosophical obscurantism are both ambitious hindrances to discovery. As technological know-how has develop into extra really expert and extra high priced, its questing spirit has been limited through dogma. And philosophy, maybe the self-discipline most sensible positioned to query orthodoxy, has retreated in the back of dense theoretical language and arcane issues of learning.
Guided by way of a capacious, democratic view of technology encouraged by means of the examples set through his overdue parents—Carl Sagan, who popularized the learn of the cosmos, and Lynn Margulis, an evolutionary biologist who many times clashed with the clinical establishment—Sagan attracts on classical and modern philosophy to interfere provocatively in often-charged debates on thermodynamics, linear and nonlinear time, goal, ethics, the hyperlinks among language and psychedelic medications, the quest for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the profession of the human physique by means of microbial others. proficient through a countercultural sensibility, a deep engagement with speculative notion, and a hardheaded medical skepticism, he advances arguable positions on such probably sacrosanct topics as evolution and entropy. even as, he creatively considers quite a lot of thinkers, from Socrates to Bataille and Descartes to von Uexküll, to mirror on intercourse, biopolitics, and the unfastened will of Kermit the Frog.
Refreshingly nonconformist and polemically incisive, Cosmic Apprentice demanding situations readers to reject either dogma and cliché and as an alternative recuperate the highbrow spirit of experience that should—and can as soon as again—animate either technology and philosophy.
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Extra resources for Cosmic apprentice : dispatches from the edges of science
We must be there with the face of the other, accountable, responsible to it. I read large sections of Levinas’s Totality and Infinity, and I thought this idea of grounding ethics in the face, before the face of the other, was a fascinating idea. I was in a rush to apply, to appropriate it. I did so, naively no doubt,1 to the face of Earth so that we might have ethical accountability toward the planet, our mother, the biogeochemical matrix from which the flesh of our body comes but also the environment we co-opt and infect in our nonstop proliferation.
Toxoplasma gondii sexually reproduces in bodies of members of the Felidae family, notably house cats. But mice, usually afraid of cats, lose their fear when their brains become infected with Toxoplasma. Also, and curiously, they become sexually attracted to feline urine. Toxoplasma also infects large numbers of humans. Even though a possessor of Toxo may not know it’s there, he or she can be affected by it. Toxoplasma infection in men correlates with enhanced risk taking and jealousy. 16 Toxo-men are more likely to be unfriendly, unsociable, and withdrawn.
Radical solutions have long been the norm. In 2006 researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Glasgow Veterinary School in Scotland reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that endogenous retroviruses called enJSRVs are essential for attachment of the placenta and therefore pregnancy in sheep. We are as pure as the driven slush. Like bacteria, viruses “R” us: They have moved into our genomes. Viral structural proteins have been “hijacked” and integrated into mammal reproductive tissues, immune systems, and brains.
Cosmic apprentice : dispatches from the edges of science by Dorion Sagan