Death, Meaninglessness, and Darwinian Heroism

Introduction Freud was right to say that culture or civilization is a symbolic reaction against the physical and psychological terrors of nature. The natural world means uncertainty and chaos. It brings storms, earthquakes, floods, famine, and death. Nature is cruel and heartless – it cares nothing for the needs of man and is indifferent to […]

Teaching in the 21st Century

As another university term comes to an end, I begin to reflect on my experience during the previous months and the reported experiences of my students based on course reviews and comments. The goal, of course, is to critically evaluate my teaching style and topic content in an effort to develop the best possible course […]

Defining the Human Animal (2 of 2)

In the last post I began sketching out a plausible theory regarding the evolution of consciousness. I suggested that our phylogenetic history led us down a dead-end path of painful contradiction – the emergence of the first symbolic animal: a creature that desperately craves meaning and purpose, but exists in a physical world that has […]

Defining the Human Animal (1 of 2)

In the last post exploring language and consciousness, I tried to argue that the human being is not just another animal programmed by evolution and layers of operant conditioning, but one that navigates within a world of symbolic meanings and modes of reference. The human creature would evolve to be part flesh-and-bone, part symbolic self. […]

Do Animals and Computers have Minds? Probably Not

In one of my recent university lectures on human consciousness arose some debate about whether other animals have conscious thought or sustained self-awareness; in short, whether animals have minds. My position: I have yet to hear a convincing argument suggesting that they can. Some of the counterarguments to my position involve reference to chimpanzees that […]

In Remembrance: Ignorance and Dogma

Last year I wrote a brief Remembrance Day post. As that was one of the first entries on this blog, it provides me with another reason to reflect. I created this website in part due to my growing awareness of a widespread attitude of theoretical overconfidence within the field of psychology, and especially with regard […]

Science, Art, and Inspiration

I was invited by Symphony Nova Scotia to be a pre-concert guest panelist leading up to their performance of Hadyn’s Creation at the Rebecca Cohn. This also marked the 150th anniversary of the Nova Scotian Institute of Science. Over the weekend we were asked to discuss and debate the nature and role of “inspiration,” “imagination,” […]

Modern Psychology: Illusions and Dogma

Psychology: Aspirations and Possibilities Pick any university in the world, and you will almost certainly find that the undergraduate program with the highest enrollment is psychology. Psychology programs offer a major source of university funding, yet few students will ever continue on to graduate school or use their degrees in any direct way. There is […]

In Search of Meaning (Part 3/3): Relative Rebellion

This post follows the previous two entries (part 1, part 2) exploring the human desire for meaning and its natural flow into Camus’ notion of rebellion. Rebellion emerges from the rebel’s growing awareness and sensitivity to forms of injustice, slavery, or rational murder. To do nothing is to acquiesce to this state of affairs, or […]

In Search of Meaning (Part 2/3): Rebellion

The unanswered question of human meaning gnaws at the collective unconsciousness like an open wound begging to be stitched. Lucid reasoning led us to the full scope of this dilemma – but it must also note its limits: it cannot reconcile the irreconcilable and one must not ‘forget’ what it has uncovered – human absurdity. […]