The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are. In the past few years, the playing field of American intellectual life has shifted, and the traditional intellectual has become increasingly marginalized. A s education in Freud, Marx, and modernism is not a sufficient qualification for a thinking person in the s. Indeed, the traditional American intellectuals are, in a sense, increasingly reactionary, and quite often proudly and perversely ignorant of many of the truly significant intellectual accomplishments of our time. Their culture, which dismisses science, is often nonempirical.
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Last year Edge received an invitation from Juan Insua, Director of Kosmpolis, a traditional literary festival in Barcelona, to stage an event at Kosmopolis 05 as part of an overall program "that ranges from the lasting light of Cervantes to the ambiguous crisis of the book format, from a literary mapping of Barcelona's Raval district to the dilemma raised by the influence of the Internet in the kitchen of writing, from the emergence of a new third culture humanism to the diverse practices that position literature at the core of urban creativity.
Marc D. Hauser — Lee Smolin. Eduard Punset — Redes-TV. Click here for a 2-minute tv clip. Las nuevas lecturas del 'Quijote' copan los actos de Kosmopolis. Cervantes was not the the only protagonist of the second day of Kosmopolis. Also debated was the influence of Darwin's theory of the natural selection in the advances of diverse scientific disciplines, that include evolutionary biology to neuroscience to cosmology. In this colloquy, which also covered the future of the humanism, were the cosmologist Lee Smolin, the biologist Robert Trivers and the neurocientist Marc Hauser.
The presentation of the event was Eduard Punset and the moderator was John Brockman, who is know for spreading scientific publications. Smolin emphasized the importance of the investigations of Darwin in the later development of Einstein's theory of the relativity and wondered if we were prepared to accept a world without absolute laws, where everything changes. Hauser pointed out that the revolution of Darwin's revolution was also about morality, as it counters the rationality of Kant and the predominance of emotions in Hume.
In terms of science, the third culture is front and center: geneticist J. Craig Venter is attempting to create synthetic genes as an answer to our energy needs; biologist Robert Trivers is exploring the evolutionary basis for deceit and self-deception in human nature; biologist Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, is using nuclear transfer to produce embryonic stem cells for research purposes and perhaps eventually as cures for disease; cosmologist Lee Smolin researches the Darwinian evolution of universes; quantum physicist Seth Lloyd is attempting to build quantum computers; psychologist Marc D.
Hauser is examining our moral minds; and computer scientists Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google are radically altering both the way we search for information, as well as the way we think.
Kosmopolis The relation between science and the third culture was another one of the subjects of debate of this Celebration of Literature.
Four personalities of the scientific world participated in the Third Culture event. They demonstrated that Literature is not is not just the province of the old school of the humanities culture. Can a person be considered cultured today with only slight knowledge of fields such as molecular biology, artificial intelligence, chaos theory, fractals, biodiversity, nanotechnology or the human genome?
Can we construct a proposal of universal knowledge without such knowledge? There's no need in the modern way of talking about biology for any absolute concepts for any things that were always true and will always be true. This is not to say that science takes over philosophy, by no means.
It works together with philosophy, to figure out what the deep issues are, what the overlapping areas are, and how we can meet together. I believe that self-deception evolves in the service of deceit. That is, that the major function of self-deception is to better deceive others.
Both make it harder for others to detect your deception, and also allow you to deceive with less immediate cognitive cost. So if I'm lying to you now about something you actually care about, you might pay attention to my shifty eyes if I'm consciously lying, or the quality of my voice, or some other behavioral cue that's associated with conscious knowledge of deception and nervousness about being detected.
But if I'm unaware of the fact that I'm lying to you, those avenues of detection will be unavailable to you. Something radically new is in the air: new ways of understanding physical systems, new focuses that lead to our questioning of many of our foundations. A realistic biology of the mind, advances in physics, information technology, genetics, neurobiology, engineering, the chemistry of materials: all are questions of capital importance with respect to what it means to be human.
Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution through natural selection are central to many of these scientific advances. Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist, Marc D. Hauser, a cognitive neuroscientist, and Robert Trivers, an evolutionary biologist, travelled to Barcelona last October to explain how the common thread of Darwinian evolution has led them to new advances in their respective fields.
A Redes television program based on the event was broadcast throughout Spain and Latin America. The house was packed. Because I think you miss the truth about each if you are not conscious of the other and the relationship between the two. If by deception you only think of conscious deception, where you're planning to lie or aware of the fact that you're lying, you will miss all the lying that goes on that the individual is unaware of, and this may be the larger portion of lies and deception that is going on.
Conversely, if you think about self-deception without comprehending its connection with deception, then I think you'll miss the major function of self-deception. In particular, you'll be tempted to go the route that psychology went a hundred years ago or so and think of self-deception as defensive: I'm defending my tender ego, I'm defending my weak psyche.
And you will not see the offensive characteristic of self-deception. What do I mean by that? I mean that I believe that self-deception evolves in the service of deceit.
Regarding the second argument, it is intrinsically difficult, and mentally demanding, to lie and be conscious about it. The more complex in detail the lie—the longer you have to keep it up—the more costly cognitively. I believe that selection favors rendering a portion of the lie unconscious, or much of the knowledge of it unconscious, so as to reduce the immediate cognitive cost. That is, with self-deception you'll perform better cognitively on unrelated tasks that you might have to do moments later than if you had just undergone a lot of consciously mediated deception.
Let me step back and say a word or two about the underlying logic. First of all, we understand that if we are making an evolutionary argument in terms of natural selection, we are talking about benefits to individuals in terms of the propagation of their own genes, and there are innumerable opportunities in nature to gain a benefit by deceiving another. The deceived is typically losing knowledge or resources or whatever, resulting in a decrease in the propagation of their genes.
So you have what we call a co-evolutionary struggle: with natural selection improving deception on the one hand, and improving the ability to spot deception on the other. Now let me just say that deception is a very deep feature of nature. At all levels, all interactions, e. They may mimic your own cell surface proteins. They may have other tricks to deceive your system into not recognizing them as alien and worthy of attack. Even genes inside yourself, which propagate themselves selfishly during meiosis may do so by mimicking particular sub-sections of other genes so as to get copied an extra time, even though the rest of the genome, if you asked their opinion, would be against this extra copying.
When you turn to insects and larger creatures like those, we know that in relations between species, again there's a huge and rich world of deception. Considering insects alone: they will mimic harmless objects so as to avoid detection by their predators. Or they will mimic poisonous or distasteful objects to avoid being eaten. Or they will mimic a predator of their predator, so as to frighten away their predator. Or, in one case, they will mimic the predator that's trying to eat them, so that the predator misinterprets them as a member of their own species and gives them territorial display instead of eating them.
They will even, I have to tell you, mimic the feces, or droppings, of their predators. That's so common it has a technical term in the literature, forgive me, "shit mimics".
And they come in all varieties and sizes. There are moths that look like the splash variety of a bird dropping. And you can understand from the bird's standpoint, you might have a strong supposition that this is a butterfly or a moth, but you'd be unwilling to put it to the test—especially if you have to use your beak to put it to a test.
Now when you turn to relations within species, you find a rich world that we're uncovering now of deception also. To give you two quick examples. Warning cries have evolved in many contexts to warn others of danger. But they can be used in new and deceitful contexts. For example you can give a warning cry in order to grab an item of food from another individual. The individual's startled and runs for cover, you grab the food. You can give a warning cry when your offspring are at each other's throats—they run to cover and then you separate them and protect them from each other.
It has even been described that you can give a warning call when you see your mate near a prospective lover—get them dashing to safety, and then you intervene. In this continually co-evolving struggle regarding truth and falsehood, if you will, there are situations in other creatures as well as ourselves where we have to make tight evaluations of each others' motive in an aggressive encounter.
I'm lining up against Marc Hauser; how confident is he of himself? I'm courting someone; the woman is looking at me; how confident am I of myself? And so on. That allows misrepresentation of these kinds of psychological variables and you can see how self-deception can start coming in.
Be more confident than you have grounds to be confident and be unconscious of that bias, the better to manipulate others. Once you have language, that greatly increases the opportunity for both deception and self-deception.
We spend a lot of time with each other pushing various theories of reality, which are often biased towards our own interests but sold as being generally useful and true. Let me just mention a little bit of evidence—and of course there's a huge amount of evidence regarding self-deception, from everyday life, from study of politics and history, autobiography, et cetera.
But I just want to talk about some of the scientific evidence in psychology. There's a whole branch of social psychology that's devoted to our tendencies for self-inflation. If you ask students how many of them think they're in the top half of the class in terms of leadership ability, 80 percent say they are. But if you turn to their professors and ask them how many think they're in the top half of their profession, 94 percent say they are.
And people are often unconscious of some of the mechanisms that naturally occur in them in a biased way. For example, if I do something that is beneficial to you or to others, I will use the active voice: I did this, I did that, then benefits rained down on you.
But if I did something that harmed others, I unconsciously switch to a passive voice: this happened, then that happened, then unfortunately you suffered these costs. One example I always loved was a man in San Francisco who ran into a telephone pole with his car, and he described it to the police as, "the pole was approaching my car, I attempted to swerve out of the way, when it struck me".
Let me give you another, the way in which group membership can entrain language-usages that are self-deceptive. You can divide people into in-groups or out-groups, or use naturally occurring in-groups and out-groups, and if someone's a member of your in-group and they do something nice, you give a general description of it—"he's a generous person".
If they do something negative, you state a particular fact: "in this case he misled me", or something like that. But it's exactly the other way around for an out-group member. If an out-group member does something nice, you give a specific description of it: "she gave me directions to where I wanted to go".
But if she does something negative, you say, "she's a selfish person". So these kinds of manipulations of reality are occurring largely unconsciously, in a way that's perhaps similar to what Marc Hauser in his talk was saying about morality.
A new world of the neurophysiology of deceit and self-deception is emerging.
TRIVERS,SMOLIN, HAUSER: "DARWIN Y LA TERCERA CULTURA" IN BARCELONA
The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution is a book by John Brockman which discusses the work of several well-known scientists who are directly communicating their new, sometimes provocative, ideas to the general public. John Brockman has continued the themes of 'The Third Culture' in the website of the Edge Foundation , where leading scientists and thinkers contribute their thoughts in plain English. The title of the book refers to Charles Percy Snow 's work The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution , which described the conflict between the cultures of the humanities and science. The book influenced the reception of popular scientific literature in parts of the world beyond the United States.
ISBN 13: 9788472239548