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Against Fairness (Paperback): Stephen T Asma Against Fairness (Paperback)
Stephen T Asma
R388 R322 Discovery Miles 3 220 Save R66 (17%) Ships in 7 - 11 working days

From the school yard to the workplace, there's no charge more damning than "you're being unfair!" Born out of democracy and raised in open markets, fairness has become our de facto modern creed. The very symbol of American ethics--Lady Justice--wears a blindfold as she weighs the law on her impartial scale. In our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our humanity. In Against Fairness, polymath philosopher Stephen T. Asma drags them triumphantly back into the light. Through playful, witty, but always serious arguments and examples, he vindicates our unspoken and undeniable instinct to favor, making the case that we would all be better off if we showed our unfair tendencies a little more kindness--indeed, if we favored favoritism. Conscious of the egalitarian feathers his argument is sure to ruffle, Asma makes his point by synthesizing a startling array of scientific findings, historical philosophies, cultural practices, analytic arguments, and a variety of personal and literary narratives to give a remarkably nuanced and thorough understanding of how fairness and favoritism fit within our moral architecture. Examining everything from the survival-enhancing biochemistry that makes our mothers love us to the motivating properties of our "affective community," he not only shows how we favor but the reasons we should. Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocqueville to Nietzsche, he reveals how we have confused fairness with more noble traits, like compassion and open-mindedness. He dismantles a number of seemingly egalitarian pursuits, from classwide Valentine's Day cards to civil rights, to reveal the envy that lies at their hearts, going on to prove that we can still be kind to strangers, have no prejudice, and fight for equal opportunity at the same time we reserve the best of what we can offer for those dearest to us. Fed up with the blue-ribbons-for-all absurdity of "fairness" today, and wary of the psychological paralysis it creates, Asma resets our moral compass with favoritism as its lodestar, providing a strikingly new and remarkably positive way to think through all our actions, big and small. Watch an animated book trailer here: http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjPhTQ9zi5Q

The Evolution of Imagination (Hardcover): Stephen T Asma The Evolution of Imagination (Hardcover)
Stephen T Asma
R607 Discovery Miles 6 070 Ships in 10 - 15 working days

Consider Miles Davis, horn held high, sculpting a powerful musical statement full of tonal patterns, inside jokes, and thrilling climactic phrases all on the fly. Or think of a comedy troupe riffing on a couple of cues from the audience until the whole room is erupting with laughter. Or maybe it's a team of software engineers brainstorming their way to the next Google, or the Einsteins of the world code-cracking the mysteries of nature. Maybe it's simply a child playing with her toys. What do all of these activities share? With wisdom, humor, and joy, philosopher Stephen T. Asma answers that question in this book: imagination. And from there he takes us on an extraordinary tour of the human creative spirit. Guided by neuroscience, animal behavior, evolution, philosophy, and psychology, Asma burrows deep into the human psyche to look right at the enigmatic but powerful engine that is our improvisational creativity the source, he argues, of our remarkable imaginational capacity. How is it, he asks, that a story can evoke a whole world inside of us? How are we able to rehearse a skill, a speech, or even an entire scenario simply by thinking about it? How does creativity go beyond experience and help us make something completely new? And how does our moral imagination help us sculpt a better society? As he shows, we live in a world that is only partly happening in reality. Huge swaths of our cognitive experiences are made up by "what-ifs," "almosts," and "maybes," an imagined terrain that churns out one of the most overlooked but necessary resources for our flourishing: possibilities. Considering everything from how imagination works in our physical bodies to the ways we make images, from the mechanics of language and our ability to tell stories to the creative composition of self-consciousness, Asma expands our personal and day-to-day forms of imagination into a grand scale: as one of the decisive evolutionary forces that has guided human development from the Paleolithic era to today. The result is an inspiring look at the rich relationships among improvisation, imagination, and culture, and a privileged glimpse into the unique nature of our evolved minds.

On Monsters - An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Paperback): Stephen T Asma On Monsters - An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Paperback)
Stephen T Asma
R405 R339 Discovery Miles 3 390 Save R66 (16%) Ships in 10 - 15 working days

Hailed as "a feast" (Washington Post) and "a modern-day bestiary" (The New Yorker), Stephen Asma's On Monsters is a wide-ranging cultural and conceptual history of monsters-how they have evolved over time, what functions they have served for us, and what shapes they are likely to take in the future. Beginning at the time of Alexander the Great, the monsters come fast and furious-Behemoth and Leviathan, Gog and Magog, Satan and his demons, Grendel and Frankenstein, circus freaks and headless children, right up to the serial killers and terrorists of today and the post-human cyborgs of tomorrow. Monsters embody our deepest anxieties and vulnerabilities, Asma argues, but they also symbolize the mysterious and incoherent territory beyond the safe enclosures of rational thought. Exploring sources as diverse as philosophical treatises, scientific notebooks, and novels, Asma unravels traditional monster stories for the clues they offer about the inner logic of an era's fears and fascinations. In doing so, he illuminates the many ways monsters have become repositories for those human qualities that must be repudiated, externalized, and defeated. Asma suggests that how we handle monsters reflects how we handle uncertainty, ambiguity, and insecurity. And in a world that is daily becoming less secure and more ambiguous, he shows how we might learn to better live with monsters-and thereby avoid becoming one.

The Emotional Mind - The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition (Hardcover): Stephen T Asma, Rami Gabriel The Emotional Mind - The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition (Hardcover)
Stephen T Asma, Rami Gabriel
R645 R588 Discovery Miles 5 880 Save R57 (9%) Ships in 10 - 15 working days

Tracing the leading role of emotions in the evolution of the mind, a philosopher and a psychologist pair up to reveal how thought and culture owe less to our faculty for reason than to our capacity to feel. Many accounts of the human mind concentrate on the brain's computational power. Yet, in evolutionary terms, rational cognition emerged only the day before yesterday. For nearly 200 million years before humans developed a capacity to reason, the emotional centers of the brain were hard at work. If we want to properly understand the evolution of the mind, we must explore this more primal capability that we share with other animals: the power to feel. Emotions saturate every thought and perception with the weight of feelings. The Emotional Mind reveals that many of the distinctive behaviors and social structures of our species are best discerned through the lens of emotions. Even the roots of so much that makes us uniquely human-art, mythology, religion-can be traced to feelings of caring, longing, fear, loneliness, awe, rage, lust, playfulness, and more. From prehistoric cave art to the songs of Hank Williams, Stephen T. Asma and Rami Gabriel explore how the evolution of the emotional mind stimulated our species' cultural expression in all its rich variety. Bringing together insights and data from philosophy, biology, anthropology, neuroscience, and psychology, The Emotional Mind offers a new paradigm for understanding what it is that makes us so unique.

On Monsters - An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Hardcover): Stephen T Asma On Monsters - An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Hardcover)
Stephen T Asma
R643 R593 Discovery Miles 5 930 Save R50 (8%) Ships in 7 - 11 working days

Monsters. Real or imagined, literal or metaphorical, they have exerted a dread fascination on the human mind for many centuries. They attract and repel us, intrigue and terrify us, and in the process reveal something deeply important about the darker recesses of our collective psyche. Stephen Asma's On Monsters is a wide-ranging cultural and conceptual history of monsters-how they have evolved over time, what functions they have served for us, and what shapes they are likely to take in the future. Asma begins with a letter from Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. detailing an encounter in India with an "enormous beast-larger than an elephantthree ominous horns on its forehead." From there the monsters come fast and furious-Behemoth and Leviathan, Gog and Magog, the leopard-bear-lion beast of Revelation, Satan and his demons, Grendel and Frankenstein, circus freaks and headless children, right up to the serial killers and terrorists of today and the post-human cyborgs of tomorrow. Monsters embody our deepest anxieties and vulnerabilities, Asma argues, but they also symbolize the mysterious and incoherent territory just beyond the safe enclosures of rational thought. Exploring philosophical treatises, theological tracts, newspapers, pamphlets, films, scientific notebooks, and novels, Asma unpacks traditional monster stories for the clues they offer about the inner logic of an era's fears and fascinations. In doing so, he illuminates the many ways monsters have become repositories for those human qualities that must be repudiated, externalized, and defeated. Asma suggests that how we handle monsters reflects how we handle uncertainty, ambiguity, insecurity. And in a world that is daily becoming less secure and more ambiguous, he shows how we might learn to better live with monsters-and thereby avoid becoming one.

Why We Need Religion - An Agnostic Celebration of Spiritual Emotions (Hardcover): Stephen T Asma Why We Need Religion - An Agnostic Celebration of Spiritual Emotions (Hardcover)
Stephen T Asma
R528 R431 Discovery Miles 4 310 Save R97 (18%) Ships in 10 - 15 working days

How we feel is as vital to our survival as how we think. This claim, based on the premise that emotions are largely adaptive, serves as the organizing theme of Why We Need Religion. This book is a novel pathway in a well-trodden field of religious studies and philosophy of religion. Stephen Asma argues that, like art, religion has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder and the sublime -we can feel the sacred depths of nature- but there are many forms of human suffering and vulnerability that are beyond the reach of help from science. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike secular authors who that praise religion's ethical and civilizing function, Asma argues that its core value lies in its emotionally therapeutic power. No theorist of religion has failed to notice the importance of emotions in spiritual and ritual life, but truly systematic research has only recently delivered concrete data on the neurology, psychology, and anthropology of the emotional systems. This very recent "affective turn" has begun to map out a powerful territory of embodied cognition. Why We Need Religion incorporates new data from these affective sciences into the philosophy of religion. It goes on to describe the way in which religion manages those systems-rage, play, lust, care, grief, and so on. Finally, it argues that religion is still the best cultural apparatus for doing this adaptive work. In short, the book is a Darwinian defense of religious emotions and the cultural systems that manage them.

Buddha for Beginners (Paperback): Stephen T Asma Buddha for Beginners (Paperback)
Stephen T Asma; Illustrated by Stephen T Asma
R353 R335 Discovery Miles 3 350 Save R18 (5%) Ships in 7 - 11 working days
Why I am a Buddhist - No-nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey (Paperback): Stephen T Asma Why I am a Buddhist - No-nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey (Paperback)
Stephen T Asma
R487 R456 Discovery Miles 4 560 Save R31 (6%) Out of stock

Profound and amusing, this book provides a viable approach to answering the perennial questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How can I live a meaningful life? For Asma, the answers are to be found in Buddhism.
There have been a lot of books that have made the case for Buddhism. What makes this book fresh and exciting is Asma's iconoclasm, irreverence, and hardheaded approach to the subject. He is distressed that much of what passes for Buddhism is really little more than "New Age mush." He loudly asserts that it is time to "take the California out of Buddhism." He presents a spiritual practice that does not require a belief in creeds or dogma. It is a practice that is psychologically sound, intellectually credible, and esthetically appealing. It is a practice that does not require a diet of brown rice, burning incense, and putting both your mind and your culture in deep storage.
In seven chapters, Asma builds the case for a spiritual practice that is authentic, and inclusive. This is Buddhism for everyone. This is Buddhism for people who are uncomfortable with religion but yearn for a spiritual practice.

Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads - The Culture of Natural History Museums (Paperback): Stephen T Asma Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads - The Culture of Natural History Museums (Paperback)
Stephen T Asma
R524 Discovery Miles 5 240 Out of stock

This book will trace the cultural history of natural history museums from their origins in the 18th century through to the present day, by tracing the changing attitudes and philosophies that influence the public displays of major natural history museums. The author will make his points with many anecdotes and stoies, showing the development over time from displays of individual collectors' curios and occasionally gruesome oddities, to the more politically sensitive and intellectually ambitious exercises in public education that constitute the modern day perminent exhibitions at museums. This book makes an entertaining and thoughtful contribution to recent comparative cultural and intellectual history, the history of public education, and the popularisation of science. The dichotomy between the front window, exhibit portion of natural history museums, and the backstage areas where scientific work goes forward, and the dual roles and missions served by this cultural institution, are well portrayed here.

The Gods Drink Whiskey - Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha (Hardcover): Stephen T Asma The Gods Drink Whiskey - Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha (Hardcover)
Stephen T Asma
R430 R344 Discovery Miles 3 440 Save R86 (20%) Out of stock

Theravada Buddhism is considered the oldest form of Buddhism, focusing on the historical Buddha, and is mostly practiced in Southeast Asia. In the early seventies, Theravada Buddhism was virtually destroyed in Cambodia amidst the rule of the Khmer Rouge, but has begun to re-emerge over the last few decades. Stephen T. Asma taught Buddhist philosophy in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, while traveling extensively throughout the region. The Gods Drink Whiskey describes Asma's experiences of drinking with holy men and poets, encountering with overzealous Christian evangelical missionaries, witnessing a political assassination, and climbing mountains to visit ancient animistic temples. The end result is a compelling, darkly comic, never-before-experienced look into the clash of cultures in a little-known corner of our shrinking world. Stephen T. Asma is a professor of Buddhism at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of the bestselling Buddha for Beginners (Writers & Readers, 1996), and the highly acclaimed Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums (Oxford, 2002). "His forays into Southeast Asian politics, violence and globalizing trends, colorfully entertaining as travel writing, illuminate the ways in which Buddhism plays a primary role in the collective welfare of the region." - Publishers Weekly--Beliefnet.com

Against Fairness (Hardcover): Stephen T Asma Against Fairness (Hardcover)
Stephen T Asma
R494 R460 Discovery Miles 4 600 Save R34 (7%) Out of stock

From the school yard to the workplace, there's no charge more damning than "You're being "unfair" " Born out of democracy and raised in open markets, fairness has become our de facto modern creed. The very symbol of American ethics--Lady Justice--wears a blindfold as she weighs the law on her impartial scale. In our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our humanity. In "Against Fairness," polymath philosopher Stephen T. Asma drags them triumphantly back into the light. Through playful, witty, but always serious arguments and examples, he vindicates our unspoken and undeniable instinct to favor, making the case that we would all be better off if we showed our unfair tendencies a little more kindness--indeed, if we favored favoritism. Conscious of the egalitarian feathers his argument is sure to ruffle, Asma makes his point by synthesizing a startling array of scientific findings, historical philosophies, cultural practices, analytic arguments, and a variety of personal and literary narratives to give a remarkably nuanced and thorough understanding of how fairness and favoritism fit within our moral architecture. Examining everything from the survival-enhancing biochemistry that makes our mothers love us to the motivating properties of our "affective community," he not only shows "how "we favor but the reasons we "should." Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocqueville to Nietzsche, he reveals how we have confused fairness with more noble traits, like compassion and open-mindedness. He dismantles a number of seemingly egalitarian pursuits, from classwide Valentine's Day cards to civil rights, to reveal the envy that lies at their hearts, going on to prove that we can still be kind to strangers, have no prejudice, and fight for equal "opportunity "at the same time we reserve the best of what we can offer for those dearest to us. Fed up with the blue-ribbons-for-all absurdity of "fairness" today, and wary of the psychological paralysis it creates, Asma resets our moral compass with favoritism as its lodestar, providing a strikingly new and remarkably positive way to think through all our actions, big and small.
Watch an animated book trailer here: http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjPhTQ9zi5Q

Following Form and Function - Philosophical Archaeology of Life Science (Paperback, New): Stephen T Asma Following Form and Function - Philosophical Archaeology of Life Science (Paperback, New)
Stephen T Asma
R775 Discovery Miles 7 750 Out of stock

The concepts of form and function have traditionally been defined in terms of biology and then extended to other disciplines. The author examines the various interpretations of form and function in science and philosophy, reflecting on the philosophical presuppositions underlying the work of Geoffroy, Cuvier and Darwin, among others. In the continental tradition of Canguilhem and Foucalt, the author's treatment of the historical form/function dispute analyzes the complex interactions among ideology, metaphysical commitment and causal mechanisms.

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