Alva Noë

Alva Noë is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. He is writer and a philosopher who works on the nature of mind and human experience.

Noë received his PhD from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company and has recently begun a performative-lecture collaboration with Deborah Hay. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship.

He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT Press, 2004); Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009); and most recently, Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012). He is now at work on a book about art and human nature.

Pages

12:01pm

Fri March 27, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Fight Against Addiction: Is Love All You Need?

Ben Goode iStockphoto

If anything deserves to be called "the establishment view," it is what Johann Hari — in his new book on addiction and the war on drugs, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugscalls the pharmaceutical model of addiction.

The pharmaceutical model says that addiction is about chemicals. Addiction is a chronic incurable disease of the brain. The brain's pleasure centers are hijacked.

Read more

12:12pm

Sun March 8, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Who Was Mr. Spock?

Actor Leonard Nimoy in 2006.
RIC FRANCIS AP

Leonard Nimoy, who died on Feb. 27 at age 83, wrote two memoirs. One was called I Am Not Spock and the other was called I Am Spock.

Read more

7:49am

Fri March 6, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Evolution And Airplane Security

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 4:29 pm

iStockphoto

On my way to Vancouver by air recently, I found myself wondering about the practice of using service trolleys to block access to the cockpit when the pilots need to unlock their secured doors to come aft.

The problem is a real one; opening the door to the flight deck gives would-be maniacs a chance to rush the cockpit. The question is: What's the fix?

Read more

11:14am

Fri February 20, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Taking A Good Look At Touch

iStockphoto

Vision comes first in our society. The study of perception has tended to be dominated by the study of vision. Vision, said Aristotle, is the queen of the senses.

There's something to it: I may hear you in the kitchen — but there's a sense that when I see you, only then do I really know exactly what you are doing.

Read more

3:38pm

Fri February 6, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Getting Caught Up In Telling Stories

NBC News anchor Brian Williams with his daughter, actress Allison Williams, and his wife Jane Williams at HBO's "Girls" fourth season premiere party in New York.
Evan Agostini AP

A lot of folks are trying to make sense of what would drive Brian Williams, a reporter, the face of NBC news, to make up easily fact-checkable stories about his experiences as a reporter embedded with troops during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. His apology has only made things worse.

Read more

1:13pm

Sun February 1, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Case Against The Phrase 'No Problem'

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 3:22 pm

iStockphoto

The phrase "no problem" has always struck me as a fine way to respond to an apology. It is friendly to say to a person who has interrupted you, or cut you off, or woken you up, or missed an appointment, that the problem they caused you is no problem. By minimizing the wrong done — by saying that it was no problem — you both acknowledge the apology and express forgiveness. Perfect.

Read more

11:29am

Fri January 23, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Ethics Of The 'Singularity'

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 9:31 am

iStockphoto

Some people argue that we will one day reach a point when our machines, which will have become smarter than us, will be able themselves to make machines that are smarter than them. Superintelligence — an intelligence far-outreaching what we are in a position even to imagine — will come on the scene. We will have attained what is known, in futurist circles, as the "singularity." The singularity is coming. So some people say.

Read more

5:28am

Fri January 16, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Making A Brain Map That We Can Use

iStockphoto

It is now conventional wisdom that the brain is the seat of the mind; it is alone through the brain's workings that we think and feel and know.

But what is a brain, anyway?

Read more

9:14am

Fri January 9, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Biased Eye

iStockphoto

Recent events give us occasion to think hard about racial stereotypes and the way they may bias even the unprejudiced mind.

Studies have shown that prejudice can operate in us covertly. Even people who openly reject racial prejudice, for example, may express prejudice in the way they react to situations. Prejudice can operate, in the language of social science, implicitly (or unconsciously).

Remarkably, this sort of implicit bias can affect even the way we see.

Read more

8:17am

Tue December 30, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

In Search Of A Science Of Consciousness

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 1:43 pm

Any color you choose can be matched by a mixture of short, medium and long wavelength light (i.e., blue, green and red light). This perceptual observation led to the formulation, early in the 19th century, of a neurophysiological hypothesis: The eye contains three kinds of distinct color-sensitive receptors (cones); just as colors themselves can be composed of lights of different spectral character, so we can see the vast range of visible color thanks to the joint operation of only three distinct kinds of receptors.

Read more

Pages