A Brief Reflection on the “Placebo Effect”

“Placebo effect” has become a term of tacit dismissal today. The word is largely invoked in a context that contrasts it with “active” or “effective” treatment, the implication being that the placebo effect exerts none of these influences. Of course, the claim is empirically false—as the existence of the term “placebo effect” in the first…

Miscellany: involution, evolution, and “the experience machine”

On the twice two-fold of evolution; “casting off,” “enfolding,” ontogeny, and phylogeny: Evolution seems to be a two-fold movement: at once (1) “casting off” and also (2) “enfolding.”  The first is demonstrated in the human phylogeny in the human being having successfully “shed” all other forms of life—icthyoid, saurian, mammalian, hominoid—before finally incarnating into human…

Elements of an Ethics Textbook (6): Self, Society, Nature

In this final section, I have included a diversity of readings that are intended to encourage both a concentration, a synthesis, and an expansion of the view of ethics that we have developed to this point. From the utilitarian outlook, measuring morality as it did by evaluating the consequence of a given action, we proceeded…

Elements of an Ethics Textbook (3.1): Seven Reservations with Utilitarianism

An introduction to the project is here.An introduction to the utilitarianism chapter is here. Utilitarianism has a straightforward and immediate appeal to many people; after all, why wouldn’t we wish to reduce suffering and maximise pleasure? In fact, there are a number of reasons to harbor reservations against the utilitarian doctrine. These include, but are…

Miscellany: On beauty, science, and revolution

On Beauty: Beauty is a revelation of the soul to the senses. The sky can be seen with the eyes but the beauty of the sky can only be seen with the heart.  Beauty is not something subjective, but the approach of the essence of things in the form of sensory appearance. The soul is…

Miscellany: on education, art, science, music, and the Tower of Babel

On music: Music is among the great spring of joy among this vale of tears. The German philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche famously asserted that “without music, life would be a mistake.” You seemed somewhat tentative in your designation of music as art. On the contrary, some of Nietzsche’s earlier contemporaries considered music to be the purest…