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Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life

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Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life Cover

ISBN13: 9780465021383
ISBN10: 0465021387
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

DANE, July 28, 2014 (view all comments by DANE)
I've been listening to Massimo Pigliucci's podcast for years now so was very excited to read this book. There has been a great deal of back n'forthing between scientists and philosophers in the past couple of years over the question of whether or not philosophy is relevant today so I wasn't surprised to see this come out. Philosophy certainly can't answer ALL the questions but it certainly has a place and a few brilliant scientists (who shall remain unnamed but you know who they are) need to accept this. And seeing as we're each responsible for finding our own meaning in life, this is even more true than ever. Definitely worth a read!!
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hernandez.matt.m, March 19, 2013 (view all comments by hernandez.matt.m)
I was initially drawn to philosophy for its therapeutic attributes, which may be an odd thing to hear. How does an often times esoteric academic discipline help one out? I would claim it is within the practice of self reflection and the ability to think about questions on a deeper level, giving one the ability to weed out false beliefs from potentially true ones. I loved philosophy for these reasons more than for any scholarly reasons, but I didn't have any means to communicate this point of view. Massimo Pigliucci, on the other hand, was able to unpack all of why I love philosophy (and science) in his book "Answers for Aristotle."

Pigliucci, in an interview, said himself that the book has very little to do with Aristotle, and much more to do with being a "self help book for people who don't like self help books." Given this approach to reading it, I can say he completely succeeded in that goal. He does a brilliant job at introducing the reader to a pantheon of philosophical giants (including my favorite, David Hume) and to the most recent developments with the sciences. In addition, he gives the reader an ability to understand the fundamental nature of the two disciplines for those who may not be familiar.

It is a great feat that Pigliucci has accomplished in terms of fitting in a wide range of material. While giving one of the best explications of how to construct arguments in one section to an introduction to a variety of ethical theories in another, and a defense of evolution and the nature of academic science in yet another. (And of course, much more!) The book also gives many practical lessons in how to evaluate claims and avoid falsity.

For some readers, particularly those who are well educated in either philosophy or the science, the book may seem redundant or simple, but I do not believe such readers are the target audience. The book is not concerned with advancing either of the two disciplines or even arguing for the strong coexistence between the two, it is about the value of these two academic disciplines and moving them from the ivory tower to the average citizen. Pigliucci explains many complicated theories and concepts extremely well so that any competent person should not only be able to understand them, but also see their worth and how knowing them can lead to a more meaningful life.

The work is also one of naturalism, in a sense the book can be seen as a way of showing how atheists/agnostic/skeptics can live meaningful lives without god. Too often are people with a naturalistic worldviews painted as being depressed, angry, and lost. Pigliucci shows exactly why this does not need to be the case, and often is not. It is because of these qualities that I believe it should be given to every person fortunate enough to escape religion and religious beliefs.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780465021383
Author:
Pigliucci, Massimo
Publisher:
Basic Books (AZ)
Subject:
Philosophy & Aspects
Subject:
Philosophy | Ethics
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
from 18

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Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life Sale Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Basic Books (AZ) - English 9780465021383 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.
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