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Answers for Aristotle
Cover of Answers for Aristotle
Answers for Aristotle
How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
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How should we live? According to philosopher and biologist Massimo Pigliucci, the greatest guidance to this essential question lies in combining the wisdom of 24 centuries of philosophy with the latest research from 21st century science.In Answers for Aristotle, Pigliucci argues that the combination of science and philosophy first pioneered by Aristotle offers us the best possible tool for understanding the world and ourselves. As Aristotle knew, each mode of thought has the power to clarify the other: science provides facts, and philosophy helps us reflect on the values with which to assess them. But over the centuries, the two have become uncoupled, leaving us with questions — about morality, love, friendship, justice, and politics — that neither field could fully answer on its own. Pigliucci argues that only by rejoining each other can modern science and philosophy reach their full potential, while we harness them to help us reach ours.Pigliucci discusses such essential issues as how to tell right from wrong, the nature of love and friendship, and whether we can really ever know ourselves — all in service of helping us find our path to the best possible life. Combining the two most powerful intellectual traditions in history, Answers for Aristotle is a remarkable guide to discovering what really matters and why.
How should we live? According to philosopher and biologist Massimo Pigliucci, the greatest guidance to this essential question lies in combining the wisdom of 24 centuries of philosophy with the latest research from 21st century science.In Answers for Aristotle, Pigliucci argues that the combination of science and philosophy first pioneered by Aristotle offers us the best possible tool for understanding the world and ourselves. As Aristotle knew, each mode of thought has the power to clarify the other: science provides facts, and philosophy helps us reflect on the values with which to assess them. But over the centuries, the two have become uncoupled, leaving us with questions — about morality, love, friendship, justice, and politics — that neither field could fully answer on its own. Pigliucci argues that only by rejoining each other can modern science and philosophy reach their full potential, while we harness them to help us reach ours.Pigliucci discusses such essential issues as how to tell right from wrong, the nature of love and friendship, and whether we can really ever know ourselves — all in service of helping us find our path to the best possible life. Combining the two most powerful intellectual traditions in history, Answers for Aristotle is a remarkable guide to discovering what really matters and why.
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About the Author-
  • Massimo Pigliucci is a professor in the philosophy program at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and was formerly a biology professor at Stony Brook University. He is the author or editor of eight previous books, most recently Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. He lives in New York City.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 20, 2012
    In this careful examination of the surprising connections between science and philosophy, CUNY-Lehman College philosopher Pigliucci (Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk) begins with "sci-phi," the "idea that philosophy and science can be combined to give us the best possible knowledge about the world and how to act within it." He links Aristotle's observations on the striving for moral and physical happiness against the desire for immediate gratification with recent research on weight loss, demonstrating the physical limits of most treatments. Using the often-discussed "trolley dilemma," in which one person must be sacrificed if the majority are to be saved, the author explains how most people follow a utilitarian approach toward moral decision-making—pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. They follow a different theory, however, if the situation requires them to actively harm someone in order to save lives. Brain scans of healthy people support these tests, showing that different situations provoke reactions in sections of the brain associated with either emotion or abstract reasoning. This is a witty and insightful look at the relevance of philosophy today. Agent: Judy Heiblum, Sterling Lord Literistic.

  • Kirkus

    September 1, 2012
    A look at why both science and philosophy are necessary to "approach the perennial questions concerning how we construct the meaning of our existence." Pigliucci (Philosophy/CUNY-Lehman Coll.; Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk, 2010, etc.), who holds doctorates in both biology and philosophy, provides an overview of relevant philosophic arguments about virtue, beginning with Aristotle's thoughts on how to achieve a happy and fruitful life: "doing the right things for the right reason" while rising above "weakness of the will." Pigliucci compares this with the views of utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and the rule-based prescriptions of Immanuel Kant. He also looks at how neuropsychologists deal with the putative existence of free will by constructing experiments (using fMRI scanning devices) that show brain activations of muscles before a subject is aware of making a conscious decision to act. Warning that experiments often do not simulate realistic situations, he argues that the relationship between science and philosophy is highly complex. We must "let philosophy (informed by science) guide us in principle, and to use science (steered by philosophy) as our best bet for implementing those principles," he writes. Pigliucci applies Aristotle's four causes principle to illustrate the nature of religious belief, which "is made possible by the neurobiological characteristics of the human brain that make us prone to superstitious thinking." A useful introduction to sources on both sides of the science-philosophy divide.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
Massimo Pigliucci
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