Tuesday, January 24, 2012

20 Brain Bending TED Talks for Philosophy Students

Philosophy may get a bad rap for being an unmarketable college major, but in actuality, the lessons taught in philosophy classes can be applied to just about everything we do, day in and day out. From morality and ethics to free will and aesthetics, philosophical questions surround us in the creative, business, and scientific fields. Whether you need a reminder of the awesomeness of all things philosophy-related or just want to stretch your brain, check out these amazing TED talks. You’ll hear from a range of scientists, researchers, academics, and yes, even philosophers on issues that have been troubling the human mind for centuries.

  1. Michael Sandel: What’s the right thing to do?

    Are there ever moral absolutes? That’s one of the questions political philosopher Michael Sandel addresses in this lecture, touching on some of the gray areas in our morality, and asking listeners like you to consider their own positions on right and wrong.

  2. Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

    Issues of right and wrong are usually the domain of religion, not science, but in this lecture you’ll hear from Sam Harris on the ways that science can help answer some of our most pressing moral questions, shape our values, and define what is good or bad.

  3. Nick Bostrom on our biggest problems

    Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom takes a look at issues like death, evolution, and health, suggesting that perhaps changing the blueprint for humanity itself could offer solutions to some of the things that have weighed down humanity.

  4. Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory

    Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman is world-renowned for his research into human behavior, and in this talk he explores human happiness, arguing that our experiencing selves (those in the moment) perceive happiness different from our remembering selves (those looking back on an event).

  5. Dan Dennett: Cute, sexy, sweet, funny

    What makes us coo over babies, crave chocolate, or find Ryan Gosling so darn handsome? Philosopher Dan Dennett shares some surprising answers to these questions in this talk, showing the strange ways evolution has shaped how we define what’s cute, sweet, or sexy.

  6. Sean Carroll on the arrow of time

    Explore the beginnings of the universe and the nature of time itself through this talk from cosmologist Sean Carroll. He addresses everything from the Big Bang to the origin of entropy, with ideas that are sure to give your brain a workout by just thinking about them. The talk is split into two videos, so don’t forget to check out the second half!

  7. Noah Feldman says politics and religion are technologies

    When we think about technology, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a cell phone or a computer, and if you really think about it, factories, cars, airplanes, and medicines might get thrown in, too. What you probably wouldn’t think of as a technology, however, is politics or religion, but that’s just what Feldman argues they are in this talk. He points to the fact that they connect and manage people the way many other, more standard, technologies do.

  8. Sherwin Nuland on hope

    Surgeon Sherwin Nuland has seen hope at play in some of the most heartbreaking and uplifting situations alike, and in this talk he shares his ideas on the very nature of this essentially human emotion.

  9. Barry Schwartz: Using our practical wisdom

    At the heart of this talk from psychologist Barry Schwartz is the question, “How do we do the right thing?” Schwartz explores the answer, showing that following the rules and using our own practical wisdom and understanding might lead to two very different answers to that question.

  10. Dan Dennett on dangerous memes

    Can an idea take on a life of its own? Maybe, believes Dennett. You may come to agree with him after listening to this engaging talk on the nature of memes.

  11. Henry Markram builds a brain in a supercomputer

    In this talk, Markram explains how he and a team of researchers are planning to build a computer brain that models our own, with the aim of shedding light on our brain functions and malfunctions alike. But can a computer ever really replicate how our brains work?

  12. Paul Bloom: The origins of pleasure

    Pleasure (and the absence of it) is an issue that has troubled philosophers for centuries, but modern science is shedding some light on how we experience pleasure from the things in our lives. Listen as he explains how our previous experiences and interactions can change how we perceive pleasure and pain, and not just on a superficial level.

  13. David Deutsch: A new way to explain explanation

    Human beings have always struggled to explain the world around them, leading to mythologies, philosophy, religions, and later science, which is the focus of this lecture from physicist David Deutsch. Deutsch explores how the rapid-fire pace of scientific discovery has changed the world more in the past few centuries than in the previous millennia combined.

  14. Damon Horowitz calls for a “moral operating system”

    Technology, especially the web, allows us to know more about the world and each other than ever before, but what are the philosophical issues that come along with this new power? Listen to this talk to delve into this issue and discover why there may be a need for a new “moral operating system.”

  15. Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran

    Religion has been a controversial issue since, well, forever, and especially so in recent years with regards to Islam. Yet in this enlightening lecture, you’ll hear how Hazleton found something quite different than she expected when she took the time to explore this ancient religion.

  16. Richard Seymour: How beauty feels

    Philosophy has long been trying to define what is beautiful or how we define what is beautiful, but perhaps the real question is why we care so much about it in the first place. In this talk from designer Richard Seymour, you’ll get a chance to learn why we’re so driven by beauty and how it may influence many of our actions.

  17. Keith Barry does brain magic

    Perception isn’t always reliable, as you’ll learn in this talk from Keith Barry. He’ll show you how easy it is to fool the brain, with some amazing demonstrations you’ll have to see to believe (if you still trust perception at all after this).

  18. Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness

    Philosophy has a lot to say about what consciousness is and how we define our sense of self in the world, but what can science offer to the conversation? Quite a bit, as you’ll learn in this talk from neuroscientist Antonio Damasio.

  19. Dan Dennett on our consciousness

    Here, you’ll find another engaging lecture on the nature of consciousness. Dennett argues that humans have very little understanding of consciousness, in part because our brains are always fooling us. Free will and consciousness, he believes, are the result of physical processes in the brain. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s an interesting and engaging argument to hear.

  20. Daniel Goldstein: The battle between your present and future selves

    Why is it so hard to make decisions that will benefit us in the future, but may require sacrifices in the present? Finding an answer to that question, and discovering ways to help us make smarter decisions, could have long-lasting effects on our health, well-being, and happiness, as you’ll hear speaker Goldstein discuss.

Taken From Online Colleges

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