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 questionsabout morality, love, friendship, justice, and politicsthat 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 ourselvesall 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.
Answers for Aristotle is a lively, impressively-argued foray into topics ranging from Keplers improvement of Copernicuss heliocentric theory, to the discovery of Neptune, to Stanley Milgrams obedience experiment, to Kantian duty ethics.... Answers for Aristotle is a veritable Cooks Tour of science, philosophy, and the curious meeting ground of the two. The best approach, as the author intended, is to sit back in a quiet hour or two and take it all in, then look back afterward to behold the vast terrain you have covered.”
The Philosophers Magazine
Wide-ranging and very readable.... [Pigliucci provides] fascinating and well-thought-out examples...he shows us that philosophy and science can together become greater than the sum of their parts.”
Pigliucci is proof positive that the reports of philosophys death have been greatly exaggerated.... This book is a refreshing, sympathetic look at how philosophy can enlist the help of science to answer enduring questions.... [A] highly enjoyable book.”
San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review
[A] very important book.... It is a fascinating book and great reading.... [Pigliuccis] knowledge is astounding.”
Answers for Aristotle explores diverse yet uniformly fascinating and essential subjects weve previously explored and will continue to explore for the foreseeable lifetimelove, morality, what it means to be human, the meaning of life, the limits of science, and much more.”
[Pigliucci] is that rare academic
who is both an evolutionary biologist and philosopher (he has doctorates in both fields), and so he knows, better than most, that both science and philosophy are essential to understanding ourselves and our world.... [A] lively discussion.”
[Answers for Aristotle] will make you reflect on both the meaning of science...and of your own life.”
[A] careful examination of the surprising connections between science and philosophy.... [Answers for Aristotle] is a witty and insightful look at the relevance of philosophy today.”
Bravely renewing the entire Aristotelian project, Pigliucci surveys the latest scientific research in primatology, psychology, and neurobiology, always integrating the researchers empirical findings into a meaningful philosophical perspective. This scientific-philosophical (or sci-phi”) perspective opens onto particularly provocative interpretations of human morality.... Remarkably versatile.... A book sure to spark debate.”
A useful introduction to sources on both sides of the science-philosophy divide.”
Dario Maestripieri, Professor of Comparative Human Development, The University of Chicago, and author of Games Primates Play
Massimo Pigliuccis beautiful mind and encyclopedic knowledge are on full display in Answers for Aristotle. He is as comfortable discussing quantum physics and cognitive psychology as he is explaining the complexities of evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. Answers for Aristotle is a stimulating, entertaining book that demonstrates that we need both science and philosophy to make sense of who we are and how we live our lives.”
Glenn Branch, Deputy Director, National Center for Science Education
From ethics to epistemology, from the self to the state, from the hormones of love to the heavens above, Massimo Pigliuccis Answers for Aristotle argues for the mutual relevance of science and philosophy in understanding the world in which we live. Enthusiastic, enlightening, and enthralling.”
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.