Why Phi Needs XPhi

Scientia Salon

exhibition-poster by Mark O’Brien

Humans are alone in the natural world (as far as we know) in the richness of our dealings with other members of our own species and in the fact that we have a complex language with which to negotiate these interactions. We have evolved a sophisticated suite of concepts and intuitions, and a correspondingly complex brain to help us succeed in this challenging social environment.

But as the products of evolution (whether biological or cultural), notions such as morality, justice, love, beauty, knowledge, truth, duty, loyalty and so on are only required to be useful heuristics. They are usually not, in their “native” states at least, the result of a robust foundation in rational analysis. These concepts are instead understood and recognized on a basis best described by Justice Potter Stewart with the famous words “I know it when I see it” (regarding obscenity). [1]

Unfortunately, this…

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