A Suicidal Tendency in the Humanities

There is an interesting question as to why those in the humanities – most notably literary studies – have felt so dissatisfied with their performance as not just to re-invent themselves – which is fine and healthy – but to attempt to destroy their very rationale. I want to examine a tendency amongst some of

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Participants and Spectators


There remains great controversy in philosophy over the issue of how we should make sense of what people do, of their actions, as opposed to explaining what happens to them. Some philosophers believe that if the question is: what distinguishes naturally occurring events like bodily movements in space from metaphysically distinct purposive doings initiated

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Science and the Humanities

At odd moments, often when I’m distracted, it occurs to me that a song or a piece of music has been repeatedly running through my head. It’s an experience nearly everyone has. Sometimes it’s invigorating to realize that you have been striding through the day to the chords of Beethoven, but it’s often quite irritating

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On Reading 300 Works of Electronic Literature: Preliminary Reflections

In a panel discussion at the 1998 “Bookends” conference at SUNY Albany, Jacques Derrida spoke of Internet initiatives under way by his younger colleagues in France at the time. The first thing they would do, he said, is set up editorial boards, appoint in-house grant writers, and establish closed review processes – effectively replicating the

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The Adaptive Function of Literature and the Other Arts

Massive Modularity vs. Cognitive Flexibility

Evolutionists insist that genes constrain and direct human behavior. Cultural constructivists counter that culture, embodied in the arts, shapes human experience. Both these claims are true, but some evolutionists and some cultural constructivists have mistakenly regarded them as mutually exclusive (D. S. Wilson, “Evolutionary”). Some evolutionists have either ignored the

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Who am I computing?

In Terrence’s Self-Tormentor the old man Chremes proclaims, “I am a human being. I consider nothing human alien to me” (homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto) – a proclamation of magnanimity that lept out of this 2nd-century B.C. play and took on a proud, expansive life of its own. But alongside the humanistic

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