EPICURUS and THE PLEASANT LIFE: A Philosophy of Nature by Haris DimitriadisIn our era of email, smartphones, and wild consumerism, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Few know this better than Haris Dimitriadis, an ex-corporate climber who one day realized that, although he had all the hallmarks of success—money, a good job, the respect of his peers—he wasn’t happy. In fact, he felt hollow, dissatisfied, and anxious. Thankfully, he discovered Epicurus.
In this pioneering thinker, Dimitriadis found a teacher whose ideas seemed specifically designed to cure our uniquely modern ache. Indeed, few classical philosophers remain as relevant and practical today; Epicurus’ worldview is rooted in our senses, feelings, and natural dispositions. Sweeping aside our modern assumption that the acquisition of happiness is necessarily painful and regimented—think of our love for strict workouts, diets, hard work, and other ascetic practices—Epicurus declared that finding happiness is easy: we simply need to embrace our natural desires.
With wit, rigor, and in simple, easy-to-understand language, Epicurus and the Pleasant Life joyfully brings Epicurus singing into the twenty-first century. Leading the reader through the worlds of philosophy, religion, neuroscience, psychology, and astrophysics, Dimitriadis and Epicurus present a great, self-affirming truth: that you too can lead a blissfully happy life, if you only learn how to reach out and take it.
What are the limits within which life can exist? What are the limits of the natural sciences in explaining life and its origins? I recently attended a fascinating lecture at Oxford on the existence of a variety of micro-organisms in what would seem an improbable environment: the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, which is the driest place on earth. This research is especially intriguing because the Atacama is seen as a terrestrial analogue for Mars. In fact, NASA is interested in the ways in which research in this desert might contribute to its astrobiology program.
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Aeon for Friends
Life is often defined in basic biology textbooks in terms of a list of distinctive properties that distinguish living systems from non-living. Although there is some overlap, these lists are often different, depending upon the interests of the authors. Each attempt at a definition are inextricably linked to a theory from which it derives its meaning Benner Some biologists and philosophers even reject the whole idea of there being a need for a definition, since life for them is an irreducible fact about the natural world. Others see life simply as that which biologists study. There have been three main philosophical approaches to the problem of defining life that remain relevant today: Aristotle's view of life as animation, a fundamental, irreducible property of nature; Descartes's view of life as mechanism; and Kant's view of life as organization, to which we need to add Darwin's concept of variation and evolution through natural selection Gayon ; Morange In addition we may add the idea of defining life as an emergent property of particular kinds of complex systems Weber