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.

Diesels are more expensive than gasoline powered cars. But they drive better; they've got better torque. And they're way more fuel efficient.

The downside is that they're dirty. They spew deadly particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that make it hard to breathe.

The demands of communication put constraints on how everyone talks, regardless of what language they are using.

These pragmatic linguistic universals are the subject of a new study published this week.

Imagine a race of beings who use language just like we do, but who never misunderstand each other; they never need to stop and ask for clarification, as language operates between them in a fluid way. Communication is like the flow of currents and they are all caught up in the flow.

Carl Safina, in his new book on animal minds — Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel makes a strong case for the claim that animals, such as wolves, elephants — and maybe also crayfish — have rich mental lives.

The science press was atwitter with excitement about the blind spot this week.

The words below were written in celebration of Oliver Sacks's 80th birthday in 2013. The renowned neurologist died Sunday.

A comment I heard more than once at a recent event in New York to celebrate the life of Oliver Sacks, who turns 80 this year, is that it isn't Sacks's patients who are particularly interesting; it is the interest that Sacks brings to them that makes them special. He has good eyes.

The headline of a Washington Post article from Aug. 11 reads: "It turns out parenthood is worse than divorce, unemployment — even the death of a partner."

Woody Allen's lovely new movie, Irrational Man, tells the story of an alcoholic philosophy professor, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who arrives one summer to take up a teaching gig at an idyllic, elite liberal arts college.

I'm not sure what is more far-fetched, the proposition that the entire campus is aflutter with erotic anticipation at the "brilliant" man's arrival, or the idea that Joaquin Phoenix is supposed to be a brilliant philosophy professor.

When I was a kid, I noticed that sometimes fear and anticipation felt the same way.

I'd get butterflies, a kind of queasiness in the stomach. To figure out what I was feeling, I came to realize, what was needed was not introspection, but attention to the context.

No need to be a baseball fan to get caught up in the drama that unfolded before our eyes during the television broadcast of the Mets-Padres game at Citi Field in New York on Wednesday evening.

It wasn't a baseball drama, but a life drama that puts all of us — and our reliance on, and misplaced confidence in, Twitter (and other new technologies of would-be connectedness) as a source of information — on the spot.

I have an unusual name. As I've mentioned before in this place, it is difficult or even impossible for me to tell someone my name over the phone. If they don't know it, they can't hear it. It's just too unexpected.

In my experience, this is a quite general phenomenon. We see and hear what we expect to see and hear, at least a fair bit of the time. I don't have to actually hear your response to my "How are you?" to be pretty sure what you said in reply.