• StreetlightX
    If you (Leo) get the ball rolling on a thread with some discussion from various members, we may at the very least get Prof. Pigliucci to take a read if he has time and possibly respond. No promises of course, but I think it'll be cool if there's an already-ongoing discussion that he can chime into if he'd like.
  • Baden

    Ok, but @leo put that discussion in one of the philosophical categories first, please (if you want to do it that way). We'll keep the guest speaker category clear for now.
  • Amity
    Just to add that we appreciate all the input and effort made here and apologise in advance to anyone who is not chosen. Again, there's a limit to what we can put forward based on our original invitation and if anyone's question doesn't make it through, it shouldn't be taken as a negative judgement on it.Baden

    You have made this as open as you can. However, I think that people will inevitably feel disappointed, especially if they have taken time to prepare a detailed OP. One way to alleviate this might be:

    Given that this thread will be open to comments and questions related to the chosen questions, it might be good ( time allowing ) if Massimo would be gracious enough to select and respond to interesting questions/comments here. Just an idea.
  • Baden

    What we could do is let Massimo know what's been contributed and give him the option of looking further at this thread and Leo's discussion if he chooses to start one. If Massimo does take a look and reply, it would be a nice bonus (though we'd certainly be happy with him just getting involved with the five questions we choose, which is already a significant undertaking).
  • Amity
    What we could do is let Massimo know what's been contributedBaden

    That sounds fair. Thanks again :smile:
  • leo
    Questions go in this discussion only, please. And, sure, you can add a critique. But please make it of a reasonable length. Prof. Pigliucci's time is likely to be limited and we want to share it as evenly as we can among posters.Baden

    Okay I will create a thread then. It will be long because there are too many things to say, even though I focus on the most important points. If I make it too short the reasoning will be full of holes, I make it as short as possible but I can’t make it shorter than that. If his time is limited he can read only part IV, it directly addresses a paper he wrote, he made quite a few mistakes which make his conclusion unwarranted. Parts I to III are so that everyone can understand the problem, understand what has been tried to solve the problem, and most importantly to understand the last part.

    Whether he reads it or not I will probably publish it as a paper, because he and others are wrong about pseudoscience and they have to see why, and if they don’t then at least other people will be able to see why.

    If you (Leo) get the ball rolling on a thread with some discussion from various members, we may at the very least get Prof. Pigliucci to take a read if he has time and possibly respond. No promises of course, but I think it'll be cool if there's an already-ongoing discussion that he can chime into if he'd like.StreetlightX
    Ok, but leo put that discussion in one of the philosophical categories first, please (if you want to do it that way). We'll keep the guest speaker category clear for now.Baden

    Understood :up:
  • Isaac
    he made quite a few mistakes which make his conclusion unwarrantedleo

    Oh No! He'll be gutted.
  • god must be atheist
    I respectfully submit my question to ask Dr. Prof. Massimo Pigliucci. I hope it's of reasonable length and will be found worthwhile to ask. This question may answer why Epictetus got punched in the nose. I figure the puncher did not fancy getting the control of his motivation away from himself.

    "Justice, temperance, courage and practical wisdom. To thrive for applying these in life is the goal of Stoicism. What if someone is not naturally motivated to thrive for these? Then to make them thrive for these is to control their motivation by altering it; which is equivalent to taking the control of their motivation away from them. This is not to be done by Stoic philosophy, yet Stoic philosophy needs to do the very thing in Stoic schools.

    My conclusion is that Stoic philosophy suits beautifully those who are by nature Stoic, but it is not compatible with Stoic philosophy to make those who are not Stoics into Stoics.

    Dr. Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, I ask you: how do you reconcile Stoicism, which holds that motivation is in one's own complete control, with Stoic schools, which try to alter the motivation of people? If you say that control can be changed by a person other than the self, without passing ownership of control, by the influence of one person over the other, then we have problems with how we use the word "control"."
  • fdrake
    I'm very grateful for any time that you spend with my questions, and I hope that you have a fun time interacting with strangers interested in your work on the internet. At the very least, on behalf of my co-questioners, I do hope you find us not too frustratingly uninformed.

    Question synopsis

    In an ideal world, what take home messages would you like the general public to have from the Extended Synthesis?

    Motivating context

    It seems to me that the most common intuitions about evolution and the role genetic inheritance play in it are:

    (1) An organism's structure follows entirely from its genetic code in a reductive way. Examples; if you "have the gene for running" you can become Usain Bolt. Conversely, "if you have autism, eventually scientists will understand just how this occurs in the genome and be able to treat it".

    (2) Individual centric "strong prey on the weak" bastardisations of selection. Examples; far right ideologies of racial supremacy and justifications for suffering in the third world. Appeal to "survival of the fittest" when looking at company success/failure in markets.

    If I have read correctly, The Extended Synthesis is a research programme you have championed in evolutionary theory that seeks to update the central tenets of evolutionary research to be more expansive. In particular, as a research programme it seeks to raise awareness of the important roles non-genetic (as in, not regarding gene sequences) heritability, organismal development and a variety of organic units being subject to selection at once play in understanding evolution.

    To my understanding, the Extended Synthesis seeks to highlight the central importance of phenotypic plasticity
    identical genomes lead to different phenotypes depending on the context
    epigenetic effects
    (heredity through gene expression rather than genetic code)
    , the evolution of evolvability
    (organisms are selected for their evolutionary adaptability too)
    , and multi-level selection
    (for example simultaneous selection on the cell and organismal level of an organism)
    to our understanding of evolution.

    I hope I am not wrong in saying of the first two (phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic effects) that they are examples of ecological and bodily context sensitivity of the operation of a genetic code; that is, organismal development is context specific and this is relevant to how heredity and selection work. And in the latter as selection acting (differentially) on more types of organic units than is usually envisaged, and on more capacities of organic units (like their capacity for evolutionary adaptation), than just genetic information. That is, how evolution itself works is context specific and need not focus solely on changes in the genetic code as the singular causal locus of evolutionary change. Broadly construed, it seems to me the Expanded Synthesis wants to highlight the context sensitivity of the units of evolution and the role the variation in developmental context plays of those units.

    It seems to me that these effects play a role of highlighting the contextual or ecological sensitivity of evolutionary mechanisms; not just the ecological sensitivity (niche stuff) of reproductive fitness as is more well known. Moreover, they make reductive explanations based on bastardisations like in (1) or (2) not just specious, they are almost unthinkable from (what I understand as) the perspective of the Expanded Synthesis. This role the Expanded Synthesis could play in demystifying the public understanding of evolution by highlighting the various ways it is context sensitive is what I would like to ask you about.

    Well, firstly, I suppose I should ask if you believe that heightened awareness of the Expanded Synthesis would demystify the public understanding of evolution?

    Given that, I would like to ask the same question in three ways. What changes would you like widespread knowledge of the content of the Extended Synthesis to have on the public understanding of evolution? What should we garner from it, and how should it inspire what questions we ask and answer using it? What transformation of the understanding of evolution would you like the Expanded Synthesis to bring among the general public?

    Follow up question

    To what extent do you think great emphasis on the central dogma in biology research, science journalism and teaching has lead to the reductive understandings of evolution and genetics the general public has?
  • I like sushi
    When is the deadline for posing questions?
  • Baden

    We've committed to getting back to Massimo with more details within three more days, and I think we'll have five good questions by then, so that's the provisional deadline, I guess, unless one of the the other mods has a better idea, which they might. The tricky part will be choosing which questions to run with. We haven't finalized that aspect of it yet.
  • I like sushi
    Okay, I’ll try and figure out a way to word my question that is broad and specific enough in regards to the limits of science.

  • tim wood
    Any brief C&C of Christianity (very broadly understood) and Stoicism he cares to make. If this question forwarded, I hope and would have you tell him that the intent is not a versus, but more how they overlap, if at all, and how they don't, and how they are incompatible, and opposed.

    Or another way: if I were one and wanted to be the other, or both, possible? If not, what might I have to give up from either, in terms of details or even world-view? My interest is less in answers to specific questions, but more a broad educational encounter.

    Or, from a pre-Christian Stoic's point of view, what does it mean to be a Christian that is different from being a Stoic, and the other way 'round.
  • Artemis

    Question: how will responses to Pigliucci be moderated? The forum tends to be pretty lenient in terms of anything from sarcasm, snark, up to and including (sometimes vulgar) personal attacks, and while I generally see that as up to the mod's discretion (this being a privately owned, online forum and all), I would hate to see a professional receive some of the same treatment we've all seen regular forum members endure.
  • Baden

    It's a more formal context, so moderation will be stricter. But as only chosen posters will be interacting with Massimo, we don't expect a problem.
  • I like sushi
    These are my two attempts. I could probably be more explicit with the first question, but fear it would turn into a mini essay with too many obscure points. I’m assuming it will make enough sense if he’s reasonably familiar with Husserl’s Crisis - if not I doubt it’ll make a whole lot of sense as I’m looking spceifically at Husserl’s view of psychology being consumed by ‘objective’ science and thus embedding its main line of engagement with ‘subjective’ being in a method based around a discipline of reducing ‘subjectivity’ - an obvious ‘bias’ (if it ca be called ‘bias’) as the heart of experimental science.

    Question 1 (can refine - see above):

    Regarding the limitations of science and Husserlian Phenomenology

    As science is orientated around producing experimental data that actively absconds from ‘subjectivity’ what is there for scientific disciplines (such as psychology) to offer in terms of shining a light on ‘subjective’ contents?

    This question is based on Husserl’s critique of modern psychology and his attempts to point toward a ‘subjective science’ as opposed to, but NOT in opposition to, the objectivity of science.

    And/also, I heard an interview on Philosophy Now where the question of ‘science’ and ‘logic’ was touched on briefly. As Husserlian Phenomenology was concerned with the ‘origin’ of logic how exactly do you relate logic/mathematics to science? Is this essentially the area that defines the ‘limitations’ of what is and isn’t ‘science’?

    I was also a little confused by someone stating in that interview (not yourself, yet you seemed to be in some agreement) that some ‘phenomenological’ approach was ‘illusionary’ and ‘silly’. Granted this appears to have been in reference more or less to more ‘literary’ ideas rather than Husserlian Phenomoenlogy, but clarification on this point would be nice.

    Note: I view Husserl as making attempts to undercover a rational means of finding a ‘subjective’ measurement of phenomenal items that fail to fall into regular means of ‘measuring’ - meaning as an approach to delineate subjective contexts. As a brief example as a way of distinguishing Mental Movement from Physical Movement. By this I mean when I pick up a chair the environment ‘mentally moves’ around this focus of attention, where physically the ‘movement’ is the chair within the environment, or as another example looking ‘into’ a mirror being differentiated from looking ‘at’ the mirror - the point being the empirical data in both circumstances is identical yet the conscious experiences highlighted are delineated.


    Question 2:

    Regarding the use of philosophy for science and the application of dichotomies and magnitudes

    As you appear to have stated in the discussion with Dennett and Krauss, you believe the use of philosophy to be how to examine questions and sort out what questions are of use and what limits a question may or may not have. In terms of experience what has philosophy to say outside of the Husserlian Phenomenological approach and leaving aside its function as a means of putting worded questions into hierarchies of importance/use? My view here is is that philosophy is generally engaged in demarcating, and selecting, different and vague dichotomies and magnitudes - in linguistics choosing what ‘antonym’ (the ‘gradable’, ‘complimentary pair’, and/or ‘relational pair’) fits and how/if measurements can be made in an accurate/‘universal’ enough manner.
  • Baden

    Cheers for that. Any final efforts, folks? And then we'll get to choosing (and we'll make it fully transparent how we do that).
  • I like sushi
    As a bonus question that is not something that anyone tends to ask anyone in interviews (surprisingly!).

    The short version:

    What is the most outrageous/unconventional idea/thought you’ve ever had in your field of interest?

    The longer version:

    What is your most whacky, speculative and/or contentious opinion/view/interest? Basically what ‘out there’ thought do you carry around that you wouldn’t necessarily put reasonable weight behind, but that nevertheless holds a place at the back of your mind?

    I guess people don’t ask this one much because people generally don’t like to have themselves associated with an idea/view that is considered ridiculous by their peers.
  • Amity
    I guess people don’t ask this one much because people generally don’t like to have themselves associated with an idea/view that is considered ridiculous by their peers.I like sushi

    Yes well. I think it would be great to have a few miscellaneous,fun questions.
    Like, is it true what @Wallows said about Massimo liking ducks, a lot :cool:
    Go Wallows ! :up:

    Follow-up - if so, do you dialogue or dance with the ducks ? As per Eva Meijer, a Dutch philosopher, novelist, visual artist and singer-songwriter, who talks to Fagan the horse.

    What does Stoicism have to say about animals, do they have a soul ? What about their rights ?

    While the ancient Greeks saw humans as part of a greater whole with other animals, Christianity and the Enlightenment set people apart from mere beasts. Descartes believed animals had no soul. In recent decades, however, the list of things that “only humans are capable of” has become steadily shorter. Thinking, empathy, expressing emotions, grammar, generalised reciprocity (doing something for someone unknown, or without expectation of a return favour) – science is beginning to show that other animals can do it all. Understanding how animals communicate can unlock these insights.


    The issue of communication actually links in to my earlier comments to @Wallows questions.
    Re your book 'How to Be a Stoic':
    I read in an interview * that Massimo talked of Epictetus as 'playing the role of his personal 'daimon'. This reminded me of Socrates' 'daemonion' who kept him on the right track. This seems to be spiritual if not divine in nature.
    It would be interesting to ask just how Massimo has his Conversations with Epictetus ? Is it 'spiritual' in that Epictetus is seen as some kind of 'God' - or is it by a close, analytical reading of the Discourses.
    * https://dailystoic.com/massimo-pigliucci-interview/

    How does anyone communicate effectively with a dead person via a book ?
    Given the different translations/ interpretations, what advice would you give forum participants who might wish to read Epictetus, individually or as a group ?
    For example, some have issues with concentration, others wish to speed on before fully understanding a concept...
    Do you have to be on a certain wavelength ?

    Finally, thanks for sharing your personal exploration of Stoicism: in the way it has changed your life and your hope that it will change others as well.
    I particularly enjoy hearing advice about how to treat insults ( quite useful on a philo forum ! ).
    Talking of which:
    Do you think Greta Thunberg is a Stoic philosopher ?

    Not sure if she practises all the spiritual exercises. Or has even read Epictetus...
    However, I love how she dealt with Trump's Viciousness.
    This was when he belittled her ( after she glared at him and condemned him for inaction on climate change ) with the sarcastic: " She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future...so nice to see !"
    Greta fully embraced this by adding it to her Twitter profile which had read "16yr old climate activist with Asperger's".

    I'd say that Greta, and all that she progresses, is a shining example of Virtue in Action.
    Just as you are :sparkle:
    * Ducks quacking in agreement *
  • Shawn

    Easy on the mentions @Amity. I just posted some quasi-philosophical questions. Heh.
  • Amity

    You mean like this @Wallows ?
    How can I not give you credit for all the inspiration, huh ?
    They should join our questions and make us as One :wink:
    Wallamity ! Yeah :smile:
  • Shawn
    You mean like rhis Wallows ?
    How can I not give you credit for all the inspiration, huh ?
    They should join our questions and make us as One :wink:

    Yes, I suppose our mental/intellectual profiles are meshing in some sense. Eeeek.
  • Baden
    Let's keep this clean and on-topic folks. :)
  • Amity

    What's wrong with a bit of wallamity? :hearts:
  • Valentinus
    The remarks the Professor makes regarding discipline and order of training in Epictetus are well done.
    I wonder how he looks at Marcus Aurelius citing his skills as inheritances of different kinds, encounters and conditions that make a person able to do things.
    Or does he consider that discussion as outside of the circle of the "Stoas"?
  • leo
    I said I would make a thread on why there is no fundamental difference between science and pseudoscience (whereas Pigliucci promotes the opposite), and I will, but I'm trying to make it as clear, thorough and short as possible, and personal life is getting in the way so it is taking longer than expected. The OP said the discussions would take place in the beginning of December, hopefully it will be ready by then, if not I will post it anyway once it is done.
  • god must be atheist
    I proposed to ask a question which presents a challenge to Dr. Prof. Pigliucci.

    My proposal was based solely on his presentation of what Stoicism is. No outside theory or consideration was pulled in. My question concerned the very idea of schools of Stoicism by Stoics being a self-defeating institution.

    Nobody else has posted a question so far, unless of course I missed reading that post.

    In order that you guys and gals don't have to seek for my earlier post, I repeat my question, heavily paraphrased, here:

    1. Stoicism relies on 1.1. Human nature, 1.2. and on the two pillars of Stoicisim, which are 1.2.1. Justice, temperance, courage and practical wisdom and 1.2.2. being satisfied to control those things which one can, and not be affected by those things which one can't control.

    2. Human nature, as such, is static with each human, as it is "the nature" not "the nurtured qualities" of humans.

    3. Human nature is diverse, and do not necessarily comprise the values, or actions, or considerations, of justice, temperance, courage and practical wisdom for any given individual. Human nature is diverse, and do not necessarily comprise the attitude of being satisfied with controlling those things which one can, and not being affected by those things which one can't control.

    4. Teaching Stoicism in Stoic schools is to teach those non-Stoics to live how to live as Stoics. If someone is already is a Stoic, he or she needs no school to learn how to live like a Stoic.

    5. Teaching Stoicism to non-Stoics presumes they are either lacking in any one of the following: Justice, temperance, courage and practical wisdom, and/or lacking in attitude of being satisfied with controlling those things which one can, and not being affected by controlling those which one can't control. Let's call the teaching of these as "teaching the Stoic goals".

    6. But teaching Stoic goals to those who already don't have Stoic goals requires that their nature be changed.

    7. But nature can't be changed, as nature is not an acquired quality, but an innate, inborn quality. Otherwise it would be called "nurtured human qualities" and it would not be called "human nature".

    8. Therefore the Stoic schools are a complete waste of time, as their goal is futile; they can't change those who are not Stoics by nature, and there is no reason to teach Stoicism to those who are Stoics.

    9. Therefore my question to Dr. Prof. Pigliucci is this: "Dear Dr. Proferssor Pigliucci, in light of the contents of the previous 8 points, how do you reconcile the drive to teach Stoicism when it can't be taught at all to human beings?"
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    I haven't got any questions for Mr. Pigliucci at this time, but I have some suggestions which may be useful to help facilitate the success of this project. They are as follows.

    1. Allow Mr. Pigliucci to choose which questions (members) to address, directly from this thread.
    2. Start with one topic, and create a parallel thread to allow other members to discuss the discussion. The parallel thread will help Mr. Pigliucci to get acquainted with the way that other members relate to his ideas, as the parallel discussions develop.
    3. Leave this thread open to receive new topic suggestions at any time, and allow Mr. Pigliucci to choose new topics (members) to engage with, at will.

    I would like to see a log running interaction, with numerous members joining the discussion with Mr. Pigliucci. Thank you very much for the efforts of all involved in this project.
  • creativesoul
    Human nature is diverse, and do not necessarily comprise the attitude of being satisfied with controlling those things which one can, and not being affected by those things which one can't control.god must be atheist

    Precisely... hence Stoicism!
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