Samhälle, evolution, kultur, politik

Per Kraulis

Twitter @PerKraulis

Hannon, Elizabeth: Why We Disagree about Human Nature Review 2023-09-26

This is an anthology. It is, unsurprisingly, a mixed bag. That said, the various contributions do make up a fairly diverse and well-presented set of viewpoints. What does the idea of human nature mean? What is it supposed to do? Is it meaningful in light of the combined influence of nature and culture on human existence?

Johansson, Sverker: På vandring i språkens fotspår Recension 2023-09-10

En mycket god redogörelse för människans globala historia under de senaste 10-15 000 åren utifrån språkvetenskaplig och genetisk information. Just den här kombinationen gör boken extra intressant, eftersom man får två helt olika fönster in mot historiens skeenden. Frågan om hur olika kulturer har uppstått, förändrats och försvunnit beroende på folkvandringar eller kulturella skeenden har varit central, och numera finns data som kan hjälpa till att reda ut många frågor.

Schmidtz, David: Living Together: Inventing Moral Science Review 2023-08-28

It is widely assumed that political philosophy is dependent on moral philosophy. That is, in order to argue about political issues, one has to first sort out morality. The philosopher David Schmidtz argues in his book "Living together. Inventing moral science" that it is the other way around. The problem of how to live together, that is, politics, is primary. Morality then becomes part of the solution. The question "how to live together?" is more fundamental than "how to live?".

Rhodes, Richard: The Making of the Atomic Bomb Review 2023-07-17

This is almost certainly the definite description of the background and history of the atomic bomb, from the beginning of the discovery of the atom starting around 1900 to the detonations of the two bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Richard Rhodes gives very good descriptions of the basic facts of the physics and engineering, and also provides an overall comprehensible explanation of the politics of the process. Having some previous knowledge of the basic theory and history of nuclear physics, I cannot find any mistakes or misleading statements of any consequence. As a Swede, I notice that the southern port of Limhamn is misspelled Linhamm.

Buchanan, Allen: Our Moral Fate: Evolution and the Escape from Tribalism Review 2023-07-13

Are humans inherently tribal? Has evolution focused our moral sense to consider only the group to which we belong ? Allen Buchanan thinks it is obvious that the two Great Expansions, as he calls them, shows that this cannot be the case. The first Great Expansion is the inclusion of all humans in the moral sphere, that is, the ideal of universality, that all humans, as humans, have equal moral standing. The second Great Expansion is the view that also (some) animals have a moral standing, that mistreatment of animals is a moral problem. These two expansions do not make sense if one takes for granted that the human moral sense has evolved solely as a regulator of tribal life.

Lindenfors, Patrik: Äckel. Smitta, synd, samhälle Recension 2023-06-20

En lättläst och givande exposé om äckel och relaterade teman ur evolutionär synvinkel. Kopplingar till moral och politik undersöks.

Hrdy, Sarah Blaffer: Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding Review 2023-06-20

A very good description of the theories and investigations that focus on the nurturing of infants as a central aspect of human evolution. A mother simply cannot bring up a child all on her own, she needs a lot of assistance and collaboration from other mothers, fathers, relatives, older children, grandmothers and so on. How did this dependency come about? What does it entail, and what are the consequences? This book summarizes the research in this field up to 2008. It should be required reading for anyone interested in how humanity works.

Pagel, Mark: Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind Review 2023-05-05

Mark Pagel writes well about how culture is a central feature in an evolutionary understanding of Homo sapiens. Altruism, selfishness, group formation, compassion, enmity and many other topics are discussed from the evolutionary point of view. Culture has emerged out of human sociality, but as any emergent phenomenon, it partially transcends its origins, and becomes a force of its own.

Är moral biologiskt programmerad? Inlägg 2023-04-23

Vilken är förhållandet mellan biologi och moral? Den frågan berördes i en Twitter-diskussion (som egentligen handlade om en annan fråga). Där yttrades följande av filosofen och skribenten Jesper Ahlin Marceta:

Vet inte riktigt vad du menar med instinkter men jag är skeptisk till biologiskt programmerad moral.

@JesperAhlin 2023-04-22

Den korta frasen provocerade mig till att försöka formulera tankar om just den saken, eftersom jag har läst och funderat en del om detta på sistone.

Wolin, Richard: Heidegger in Ruins: Between Philosophy and Ideology Review 2023-04-15

Martin Heidegger was an influential existentialist philosopher who lived from 1889 to 1976. He was also a member of the German Nazi party from 1933 to 1945. Some of those who consider him to be a great philosopher have tried to find ways of explaining away or isolating his Nazism, either as a regrettable necessity in German academia of the day, as a lapse of judgement, or as political naivety. The present book by Richard Wolin demolishes these attempts. Heidegger's Nazism was wholly congruent with, even strongly influenced by, his philosophical outlook. As the so-called Black Notebooks amply illustrate, his antisemitism and German imperialism were genuine expressions of his philosophical analysis of the world situation. Wolin presents many quotes and arguments from Heidegger's writings and makes his case forcefully.