What can the lessons of the stoics do for us in 2021? What did these philosophers and thinkers know that could guide us in managing our emotions for a better outcome? Has stoicism become popularized in recent years, and what can we take from this change of pace? Professor Nancy Sherman of Georgetown University joins on episode 316 of the show to discuss these topics and more from her latest book Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience.
Nancy Sherman is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. She was also the inaugural Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the United States Naval Academy. She is the author of Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of our Soldiers; The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of our Soldiers a New York Times Editors’ pick; Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind; Making a Necessity of Virtue: Aristotle and Kant on Virtue; The Fabric of Character: Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue, and the editor of Critical Essays on the Classics: Aristotle’s Ethics.
She has written over 60 articles in the area of ethics, military ethics, the history of moral philosophy, ancient ethics, the emotions, moral psychology, and psychoanalysis. She has delivered over 60 named or keynote lectures and plenary addresses here and abroad.
What is meritocracy, and how are the dynamics associated with its proliferation affecting equality and culture? Professor Daniel Markovits of Yale Law School joins on episode 313 of the show, and we discuss these concepts from his book The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite.
“Daniel Markovits is Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Private Law. Markovits works in the philosophical foundations of private law, moral and political philosophy, and behavioral economics. He publishes in a range of disciplines, including in Science, The American Economic Review, and The Yale Law Journal.
After earning a B.A. in Mathematics, summa cum laude from Yale University, Markovits received a British Marshall Scholarship to study in England, where he was awarded an M.Sc. in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics from the L.S.E. and a B.Phil. and D.Phil. in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Markovits then returned to Yale to study law and, after clerking for the Honorable Guido Calabresi, joined the faculty at Yale.”
What kind of power does ethics hold, and does the law lag behind where ethics can be in the current moment? What kind of ethical questions should we ask ourselves before making important decisions? Dr. Susan Liautaud covers these topics in her latest book The Power of Ethics: How to Make Good Choices in a Complicated World.
Dr. Susan Liautaud teaches cutting-edge ethics courses at Stanford University, serves as Chair of Council of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and is the founder of the nonprofit platform The Ethics Incubator. She is also the founder and managing director of Susan Liautaud & Associates Limited, which advises clients from global corporations to NGOs on complex ethics matters.
She holds a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science; a JD from Columbia University Law School; a M.A. in Chinese Studies from University of London School of Oriental and African Studies; and a M.A. and two B.A.s from Stanford University. Susan also serves on the advisory board of the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford.
Welcome to episode 293 of the show, with Professor Richard Coss of the University of California, Davis. From his educational transitions to life transitions, he has covered a variety of disciplines, and looks at key elements of animal behavior and predator activity.
Of his biography, “Dr. Coss is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and a faculty member of UC Davis’ Graduate Group in Animal Behavior and Graduate Group in Ecology. Dr. Coss serves as a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Animal Behavior Society, the International Society for Ecological Psychology, and the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. Dr. Coss also served on the Editorial Advisory Board for Behavioral and Neural Biology.”
From his description, “Dr. Coss has two primary research interests, both of which emphasize evolutionary constraints on perceptual and cognitive processes in humans and other species. The first research area examines issues in the behavioral ecology of small mammals. His research typically examines population differences, predator-prey relations, habitat perception, and social communication. Behavioral development in field and laboratory conditions is a consistent theme throughout his experimental studies; Pthis developmental theme is sometimes complemented with neuro-biological measures. The second program of study concentrates on the development of aesthetic preferences and how these preferences are constrained by human evolutionary history. Research on this topic emphasizes visual perception and creativity and often includes cross-cultural comparisons.”
Welcome Professor Matthew Cobb of the University of Manchester, author of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience, to episode 262 of the show. His latest book is about the history of neuroscience, and its recent roots, and how that develops the idea of the brain, while our current understanding of the brain is still very limited. Inspirations come from other researchers, as well as Danish scientist Nicolas Steno of the 17th century.
Professor Cobb is is Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, and got his Ph.D. in Psychology and Genetics from the University of Sheffield in England. He had a postdoctoral position at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Others books of his include The Egg & Sperm Race and Life’s Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code. He has studied animal behavior, human psychology, science history, and more.
how Professor Cobb got into the study of the mind, neuroscience, and fly larvae growth and processes
the way that Nicolas Steno informed the way Professor Cobb looks at the mind
the reductionist view, and how it does not allow for picking up on information regarding detailed nuance
his upcoming book on smell, and how that relates to the virus of our current pandemic, with its attachment to smell receptors
how one structure of the brain is not alone in processing information, separate from other regions of the brain
Eve Marder, and her study on the small number of neurons in the lobster’s stomach, with associated models of these neurons
research in the field done in Manchester and the UK region
fly maggots and their neurons, as well as the priorities that their narrow neural system requires
how maggots have biological clocks in the same light as humans and other animals
replacement of neurons and memories in small animals
Social psychologist and Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University Dr. Peter T. Coleman joins on episode 257 of the show, bringing forth his expertise on conflicts and their peaceful and productive resolution. He has been the director of Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution for over 20 years, and is author of the 2004 book Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement, as well as upcoming 2021 book The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization.
Similar to Dr. Raza of episode 249, Professor Coleman works at Columbia University in New York, and we spoke about the impacts of the pandemic in the region, as well as potential outcomes that manage future conflict related to it. He had written a message about the situation in this Politico article, and we explored that and more. Through his experience with many levels of conflict management and understanding, whether of the base form, or of a governmental size, Dr. Coleman is able to get to the meaning behind what people could be opposing each other for.
Dr. Coleman and his experience with conflict management and resolution
how he got into his current position, and what he does as director of the Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution
how conflicts are different at different levels of society and age
what it takes to resolve issues for people of a younger age group, such as in their 20s, and how that differs from managing the interests of older folks
an example of tensions or conflict from a time period at Columbia University
how it is relevant to allow all parties to voice their concerns in a conflict, so as to resolve it in some form for all
many examples of where Dr. Coleman has been brought in to assist
how value differences can be the source of much conflict
a relation between conflict management, and neurological frameworks of decision-making and energy conservation
how the long-term conflicts we have seen in the world are much more detailed and nuanced than Team 1 versus Team 2
a small example of conflict I bring up from the basketball courts
instrumental violence versus expressive violence
how the pandemic has led to some types of conflict in terms of how it is perceived, due to polarization
the way that times of global struggle can bring groups together which would not have prior, due to the previous battle not making sense in the time of heightened danger/risk
the quote “never let a good crisis go to waste”, which I heavily identify with
Dr. Coleman’s progression through his writing and books
the way that certain conflicts have elements which keep them in place, and what it takes to look at removing the holds on their clearance
a message about how to view conflicts
I was glad to have Professor Coleman on the show. He represents well for Columbia Unviersity, and has messages and experience to help people manage their differences better. You can check out his faculty page, Wikipedia, and his listing of books on Amazon.
How does our focused attention relate to what we call “consciousness”? What types of attention are out there, and what are the functions of each type? Professor Michael Graziano explores this and more in his book Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience.
Author Michael Graziano is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University, and he has written multiple books on neuroscience, evolution, and human nature. The Graziano Lab at Princeton focuses on the brain basis of consciousness, based on attention schema theory, which was formulated by Professor Graziano.
I talked with Professor Graziano about his book and concepts related to consciousness. The mechanistic approach he brings to the topic is something that I am able to relate with.
what Professor Graziano works on with students in the Graziano lab
how the brain basis of consciousness is studied, and ways that we accept consciousness as defined
what the attention schema theory is, and how the model has two functions for daily living
the way that signals compete with each other in the computational process of attention
how a frog’s form of attention differs from that of a person, and the types of awareness that exist
what “biased competition” is, and and the battle for incoming stimuli to the cortex
why covert and overt attention are both needed, and how they differ
consciousness only being present in a few types of organisms/mammals
the concept of affordance, and how the brain works tirelessly as a prediction machine
why consciousness is defined as a hard problem, and if that difficulty can be usurped with some research method
Understanding risk is an economic way to understand the decisions and systems in our communities and finances. Economist Allison Schrager looks at risk in fields at the more extreme ends of the spectrum, to understand it with less noise in place.
Professor Allison Schrager teaches at NYU, and has a PhD in Economics from Columbia University, with her Bachelors from the University of Edinburgh. She is an economist, journalist at Quartz, and cofounder of LifeCycle Finance Partners, LLC. She has contributed to The Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
what sex work can teach about risk management, and how Allison looked at a specific brothel to understand the value proposition
where in life you have your risks managed, whereas you have them completely ignored in other categories
when to take a risk and when to lean towards the safer option
why you should define what risk and reward mean to you, so that you can take and seek levels complementary to your nature
how to include your human irrationality into your risk modeling
what it takes to get the most bang for your buck in the department of risk-taking
how hedging and insurance are methods used to master your domain
what you can expect in your assessments, and what type of room you need to leave for unanticipated events
where the perspective of the world has gone, in terms of having control of the world you live in
The way that organisms move is a precursor to how robots will map their movements out. Animals can do things like walk on water and climb up vertical surfaces, and knowing how this works is useful. Professor David Hu of Georgia Tech explores these topics in his book How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls.
Professor Hu is Associate Professor of Fluid Mechanics at The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. He runs the Hu Laboratory for Locomotion at his institution. He got his Bachelors and Masters, along with his PhD in Mathematics, at MIT. Most of his research focuses on hydrodynamics and elasticity problems as they relate to biology.
what biolocomotion is involved with, and how evolution has impacted animals and the insect world in terms of movement
why looking at nature is a good way to get ideas for mechanical devices that are more effective or better maintaining
where Professor Hu looked for inspiration, or bioinspiration, to see what the next item of research would be
how insects or animals can walk on water based on surface tension
what kinds of analysis it requires to be able to take a guess regarding locomotion and test it out in terms of basis
how body movements and material properties have to be looked at as a pair to be able to decipher their value
what kinds of animals need to undulate or slither to be able to get the most efficiency for their movement
how some of these advances connect to upcoming robots that are able to touch and move things in a more gentle way than current robots
I was glad to have Professor Hu on the show. He is a personable individual with a good sense of humor. You can check out his book on Amazon, look at his research articles, or look at his lab page.
Biology will reach out to the endless openness, but it will be limited and managed by physics and the equations that govern our universe. In this episode, we discuss with Professor Charles S. Cockell of the University of Edinburgh about topics in his book The Equations of Life.
Before Professor Cockell taught in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, he was a Professor of Geomicrobiology and microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. He got his doctorate in Molecular Biophysics at Oxford University, and has published over 300 scientific papers in the categories of astrobiology, geomicrobiology, and life in extreme environments. As well, he has contributed to plans for Mars exploration.
In my episode with Professor Cockell, we discussed:
Professor Cockell’s fascination with space and biology
the progression he made in his career to the University of Edinburgh
what kind of research he performed in his time at the Antarctic
examining life at the boundaries of what is physically viable
where in our solar system may have opportunity for viability
what kinds of studies Professor Cockell has been part of designing
involving incarcerated individuals in a moon-like confinement study
a ladybug physics project that the professor set for his students
predictability of biology and physics, and thoughts on free will
how the things around us are not so out of place based on the laws
Welcome to episode number 202, with Dr. Robin Hanson, co-author of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.
Robin Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University, and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, master’s degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, and nine years experience as a research programmer, at Lockheed and NASA.
On my episode with Dr. Hanson, we discussed topics and tangents connecting off of his blog articles and book messages, including: