Ten Things Video Games Can Teach Us
By Jordan Erica Webber, Daniel Griliopoulos
WOULD YOU KILL ONE PERSON TO SAVE FIVE OTHERS?If you could upload all of your memories into a machine, would that machine be you? Is it possible we're all already artificial intelligences, living inside a simulation?These sound like questions from a philosophy class, but in fact they're from modern, popular video games. Philosophical discussion often uses thought experiments to consider ideas that we can't test in real life, and media like books, films, and games can make these thought experiments far more accessible to a non-academic audience. Thanks to their interactive nature, video games can be especially effective ways to explore these ideas.Each chapter of this book introduces a philosophical topic through discussion of relevant video games, with interviews with game creators and expert philosophers. In ten chapters, this book demonstrates how video games can help us to consider the following questions:1. Why do video games make for good thought experiments? (From the ethical dilemmas of the Mass Effect series to 'philosophy games'.)2. What can we actually know? (From why Phoenix Wright is right for the wrong reasons to whether No Man's Sky is a lie.)3. Is virtual reality a kind of reality? (On whether VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and HTC Vive deal in mass-market hallucination.)4. What constitutes a mind? (From the souls of Beyond: Two Souls to the synths of Fallout 4.)5. What can you lose before you're no longer yourself? (Identity crises in the likes of The Swapper and BioShock Infinite.)6. Does it mean anything to say we have choice? (Determinism and free will in Bioshock, Portal 2 and Deus Ex.)7. What does it mean to be a good or dutiful person? (Virtue ethics in the Ultima series and duty ethics in Planescape: Torment.)8. Is there anything better in life than to be happy? (Utilitarianism in Bioshock 2 and Harvest Moon.)10. How should we be governed, for whom and by who? (Government and rights in Eve Online, Crusader Kings, Democracy 3 and Fable 3.)11. Is it ever right to take another life? And how do we cope with our own death? (The Harm Thesis and the good death in To The Moon and Lost Odyssey.)
By Kriben Pillay
Three Poisons is a collection of three short stories "giving remarkably vivid and imaginative expression, in a contemporary setting" of the three hindrances to freedom: greed, ill-will and delusion. The setting is South Africa and, far from being bitter or nihilistic, the stories are shot through with an affection for humanity-its cultures and its frailties. It "bears testament to the subtlety of Pillay's understanding of philosophy, the slippery cleft between normality/madness and the complexity of ordinary lives in an extraordinary society." Nowhere does Kriben tell us what to think, but he sets us on a path to make our own enquiry-or just to enjoy three first-rate, truly original short stories.
This Is Water
By David Foster Wallace
How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.Writing with his one-of-a-kind blend of causal humor, exacting intellect, and practical philosophy, David Foster Wallace probes the challenges of daily living and offers advice that renews us with every reading.
Ten Thoughts About Time (New Edition)
By Bodil Jonsson
Ever since the equation Time = Money came into use, Western society has bought the notion of 'saving time' and, by implication, money. Living in a world ruled by the clock, and living longer, with a host of technological advances designed to help us, we still often end up running harder to stay in the same place - and running out of time. Bodil Jonsson shows how the arrival of measured, accurate timekeeping became first our tool then our master. Neither pure philosophy, still less physics or a business text on time management, her inspiring book has elements of all three. With brevity, humour and insight, she encourages a new and positive relationship with time, to make it not our traditional enemy but our friend.
By Aaron Lynch
Fans of Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Bennet, and Richard Dawkins (as well as science buffs and readers of Wired Magazine ) will revel in Aaron Lynch's ground-breaking examination of memetics,the new study of how ideas and beliefs spread. What characterizes a meme is its capacity for displacing rival ideas and beliefs in an evolutionary drama that determines and changes the way people think. Exactly how do ideas spread, and what are the factors that make them genuine thought contagions? Why, for instance, do some beliefs spread throughout society, while others dwindle to extinction? What drives those intensely held beliefs that spawn ideological and political debates such as views on abortion and opinions about sex and sexuality?By drawing on examples from everyday life, Lynch develops a conceptual basis for understanding memetics. Memes evolve by natural selection in a process similar to that of Genes in evolutionary biology. What makes an idea a potent meme is how effectively it out-propagates other ideas. In memetic evolution, the fittest ideas" are not always the truest or the most helpful, but the ones best at self replication.Thus, crash diets spread not because of lasting benefit, but by alternating episodes of dramatic weight loss and slow regain. Each sudden thinning provokes onlookers to ask, How did you do it?" thereby manipulating them to experiment with the diet and in turn, spread it again. The faster the pounds return, the more often these people enter that disseminating phase, all of which favours outbreaks of the most pathogenic diets. Like a software virus traveling on the Internet or a flu strain passing through a city, thought contagions proliferate by programming for their own propagation. Lynch argues that certain beliefs spread like viruses and evolve like microbes, as mutant strains vie for more adherents and more hosts. In its most revolutionary aspect, memetics asks not how people accumulate ideas, but how ideas accumulate people. Readers of this intriguing theory will be amazed to discover that many popular beliefs about family, sex, politics, religion, health, and war have succeeded by their fitness" as thought contagions.