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The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World [Format Kindle]

Owen Flanagan

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If consciousness is "the hard problem" in mind science -- explaining how the amazing private world of consciousness emerges from neuronal activity -- then "the really hard problem," writes Owen Flanagan in this provocative book, is explaining how meaning is possible in the material world. How can we make sense of the magic and mystery of life naturalistically, without an appeal to the supernatural? How do we say truthful and enchanting things about being human if we accept the fact that we are finite material beings living in a material world, or, in Flanagan's description, short-lived pieces of organized cells and tissue?Flanagan's answer is both naturalistic and enchanting. We all wish to live in a meaningful way, to live a life that really matters, to flourish, to achieve eudaimonia -- to be a "happy spirit." Flanagan calls his "empirical-normative" inquiry into the nature, causes, and conditions of human flourishing eudaimonics. Eudaimonics, systematic philosophical investigation that is continuous with science, is the naturalist's response to those who say that science has robbed the world of the meaning that fantastical, wishful stories once provided.Flanagan draws on philosophy, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and psychology, as well as on transformative mindfulness and self-cultivation practices that come from such nontheistic spiritual traditions as Buddhism, Confucianism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, in his quest. He gathers from these disciplines knowledge that will help us understand the nature, causes, and constituents of well-being and advance human flourishing. Eudaimonics can help us find out how to make a difference, how to contribute to the accumulation of good effects -- how to live a meaningful life.

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  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2228 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 304 pages
  • Editeur : A Bradford Book; Édition : Reprint (13 février 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
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Amazon.com: 3.3 étoiles sur 5  19 commentaires
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A dialogue between science and philosophy 27 juillet 2008
Par Tyler Curtain - Publié sur Amazon.com
Owen Flanagan's new book, The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World, offers a synthesis of ancient wisdom traditions with the best of contemporary science, ethics, and epistemology. The amalgamation is a delightful and thought-provoking survey of what it means for humans to flourish. Flanagan explains why what we know from today's best science should leave us genuinely hopeful for a sketch of best-practices for living full, ethically committed lives. Written in a clear, dryly witty style, The Really Hard Problem speaks to lay readers and theorists alike. I worked through the book over the course over three days, often stopping to read passages aloud to my partner and take notes about how humans should understand themselves in the world. If you're interested in a fruitful, spiritually-expansive dialogue between science and wisdom traditions, then I recommend this book highly. It's simply terrific.
46 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Looking for Happiness in All the Right Places 23 novembre 2007
Par Joe Karma - Publié sur Amazon.com
Contrary to popular conceptions about "spirituality," Indian religion and philosophy are closely related to the Indic natural sciences (i.e. mathematics and astronomy). Around the sixth century BCE, philosophical works were produced that examined the position of living beings, and the universe, as a "natural phenomenon" (Warder, 1970). Many of these thinkers maintained that life evolved out of natural laws, and was not subject to the control of gods -- or a God. Their diverse systems of thought ranged from philosophical materialism to im-materialism; however these philosophers were united by a common goal -- the search for meaning and happiness. One of the more famous individuals to emerge from this era of Indian history was the Buddha. It is little wonder that the contemporary philosopher, Owen Flanagan, has taken a serious interest in the rich philosophical literature of Buddhism, and its most visible spokesperson -- the Dalai Lama.

Flanagan's new book, THE REALLY HARD PROBLEM: MEANING IN A MATERIAL WORLD, is the product of many years of research in both Western and Eastern philosophy of mind. While he champions certain elements of non-Western thought, he never strays from his foundational commitment to naturalism. The purpose of his project is clearly pragmatic in its multidisciplinary approach and its aim to promote "human flourishing." Resurrecting the language of Aristotle, Flanagan refers to this as "Project Eudaimonia." He says:

"Eudaimonics, as I conceive it and depict it in what follows, provides a framework for thinking in a unified way about philosophical psychology, moral and political philosophy, neuroethics, neuroeconomics, and positive psychology, as well as about transformative mindfulness practices that have their original home in non-theistic spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism. . . Eudaimonics is the activity of systematically gathering what is known about these three components of well-being and attempting to engender as much flourishing as is possible" (page 4).

Flanagan's innovative thinking is a refreshing contrast to the parochial and culturally myopic ideas of his philosophical peers. In choosing to address a "really hard problem" (i.e. human happiness), he not only contributes a much needed voice, but adds his name to a lineage of naturalist thinkers going back to ancient Greece and India. This book will surely be a milestone in the ongoing (perhaps never-ending) endeavor to find "meaning in a material world."
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Secular Meaning, Secular Enchantmnent 17 août 2009
Par Bob J. Baker - Publié sur Amazon.com
The Really Hard Problem
by Owen J. Flanagan

Without god, angels, fairies or devils, demons or trolls, how can we become enchanted (again) or terrorized, for that matter, in our purely natural mundane world? Well, look around--there's secular mystery aplenty (& terror sans devil, for that matter).

In showing the harmfulness of "positive illusions, he offers each of us, as a potential eudaimon, various "Spaces of Meaning" to explore, one of which is a real world spiritually--a humanist appreciation, & connection with our natural world, its intricate laws & the limitless cosmos.

Other needed Spaces include Science, Art, Technology, Politics & Ethics. With an eye to locating within them their respective Truths, Beauties & Goodness, we must inhabit--study, learn, enjoy, practice--all of these spaces at appropriate times, singly or in combination in due measure if we are to become a complete human beings in a well lived life.

Despite it seriousness this is a good-humored book, but rather difficult reading for me. Be prepared, you of a similar sort, to look up some hard words & even check your Plato. Professor Flanagan, an accomplished lecturer, has a witty winning way with which he convincingly dispenses with supernatural notions embedded in our language & behavior. The old enchantment dazzled but hid the truth from us. Experimental data aplenty is included to support his conclusions. Life is more wonderful, more rewarding, more "enchanting" without its superstition, without its good or bad bogeymen.
24 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Flanagan empowers his readers to summon up their own wisdom 22 novembre 2007
Par R. M. Hogendoorn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Owen Flanagan endeavours to find meaning in a material world - no less. And what a quest it is! Never mind his conclusions, Flanagan's book trumps the not-so-intelligent works of design theorists by its sheer breadth of argument, imaginative approach and evocative style, empowering its readers to summon up their own wisdom in answering the one really hard question that life has in store for us: supposing that consciousness is nothing but an emergent property of a functioning brain, what does that mean? Who else would have the philosophical wherewithal to draw on the Dalai Lama's interlocutory exploration of Western science to shed light on our own culture's tentative grappling with the findings of neuroscience and evolutionary biology? Flanagan's graceful treatment of the Dalai Lama's so-called caveat - not finding something does not prove it does not exist - is a first, as is his discussion of this modern Tibetan philosopher's stance on the neuronal-correlates-of-consciousness view. Any reader who prefers to think for himself of herself about the meaning of life - instead of being lectured on it ex cathedra - should read Owen Flanagan's work.
34 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 I was disappointed 29 mai 2009
Par folderol50 - Publié sur Amazon.com
I wasn't able to get much out of this discussion. One problem for me was the author's rather academic and, to my mind, affected style of writing.

What really disappointed me, however, was that the book fails to live up to its title. Had it been called "the anthropology of happiness" or "the psychology of happiness", I would have no problem; but the cover specifically promises a discussion of how one conjures meaning from matter. Rather than tackling this problem, which is the genuine "really hard problem", the author simply takes our intuitive valuations of meaning, goodness, etc., as a given, and discusses them from different angles. The actual question of where this "meaning" comes from, or why some configurations of matter should be deemed "better" than others, is essentially dismissed in an offhand line or two about "is-ought" concerns.

The study of what makes people happy is all well and good, but it is not a "really hard problem". Quite the contrary, since there are now six billion living and breathing case studies to draw from. But all the knowledge in the world concerning what makes people happy fails to add one whit of understanding about why such happiness is meaningful.
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