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Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Lifeby Massimo Pigliucci
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Massimo Pigliucci is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the City University of New York-Lehman College. He has a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Tennessee. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pigliucci has published upwards of 100 scholarly papers and numerous scholarly books, including, most recently: Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. He regularly writes columns for Skeptical Inquirer and for Philosophy Now, and has given public lectures throughout the United States and Europe, in addition to appearing on local radio and television shows to talk about science, pseudoscience and philosophy. He has been featured in Newsweek, Washington Post, the New York Times, as well as in Science and Nature. He lives in New York City.
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