Showing posts from June, 2014

“Culture”: a user’s guide

David de Ugarte57 ~ April 11th, 2013
What is national culture, really, and how should it be understood when it’s time to travel and deal with people “from outside?” While the word “people” is in ever-greater danger of sliding, the word “culture” was born in a dangerous place, because, in spite of how it might appear, it’s very much a political term, a concept formed and created in the bosom of German romantic nationalism. It carries such amibiguity that Gustavo Bueno, a notable archaeologist of concepts, ended up exclaiming that
"No one understands what Culture is, as no one understood in the days of yesteryear what the Grace of God was. Culture is a myth, and an obscurantist myth, as was the myth of Grace in the Middle Ages or as was the “twentieth-century myth,” the myth of Race, in the first half of that century. In a certain way, it could be said that the myth of Culture incorporates, additionally, through the nationalisms of t…

Nature, nurture and liberal values (snippets)

By Roger Scruton JANUARY 25, 2012

Biology determines our behaviour more than it suits many to acknowledge. But people—and politics and morality—cannot be described just by neural impulses Human Nature by Jesse Prinz (Allen Lane, £22)
Incognito by David Eagleman (Canongate, £20) You and Me: the Neuroscience of Identity by Susan Greenfield (Notting Hill Editions, £10)
The answer given by evolutionary psychologists is that culture is an adaptation, which exists because it conferred a reproductive advantage on our hunter-gatherer ancestors. According to this view many of the diverse customs that the standard social science model attributes to nurture are local variations of attributes acquired 70 or more millennia ago, during the Pleistocene age, and now (like other evolutionary adaptations) “hard-wired in the brain.” But if this is so, cultural c…

The Biology of Risk

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Continue reading the main story
By John Coates, NY Times 6/7/14

SIX years after the financial meltdown there is once again talk about market bubbles. Are stocks succumbing to exuberance? Is real estate? We thought we had exorcised these demons. It is therefore with something close to despair that we ask: What is it about risk taking that so eludes our understanding, and our control? Part of the problem is that we tend to view financial risk taking as a purely intellectual activity. But this view is incomplete. Risk is more than an intellectual puzzle — it is a profoundly physical experience, and it involves your body. Risk by its very nature threatens to hurt you, so when confronted by it your body and brain, under the influence of the stress response, unite as a single functioning unit. This occurs in athletes and soldiers, and it occurs as well in traders and people investing from home. The state of your body predic…

‘Free choice’ in primates can be altered through brain stimulation

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When electrical pulses are applied to the ventral tegmental area of their brain, macaques presented with two images change their preference from one image to the other. The study by researchers Wim Vanduffel and John Arsenault (KU Leuven and Massachusetts General Hospital) is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behaviour in primates.

Big Mac, Thin Wallet

Gray Matter By SANFORD E. DeVOE IN recent years we have seen plenty of studies of the impact of fast food on our bodies. But what about our psychological health? It stands to reason that fast food would have an effect on our mental state. From its production to its consumption, fast food both embodies and symbolizes speed and instant gratification. Moreover, through extensive franchising and large advertising budgets, fast-food companies shape many of the cues in our everyday environment.

With South Bronx Trail, a History and a Culture Will Be Clearly Marked

A tour led by Elena Martinez, center, visits spots under consideration for inclusion on the South Bronx Culture Trail.CreditNicole Bengiveno/The New York Times Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

Continue reading the main story Casa Amadeo on Prospect Avenue, a Latin record store on the National Register of Historic Places, is perhaps the only place in the city where one can worship at a shrine dedicated to the Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández. On a recent Saturday, Miguel Angel Amadeo told the tale of his shop’s beginnings in East Harlem, its move to the Bronx and Mr. Amadeo’s reign as owner, cultural arbiter and link to politicians, salsa legends and historians since 1969.