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Alva Noë

Alva Noë is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. He is writer and a philosopher who works on the nature of mind and human experience.

Noë received his PhD from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company and has recently begun a performative-lecture collaboration with Deborah Hay. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship.

He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT Press, 2004); Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009); and most recently, Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012). He is now at work on a book about art and human nature.

  • Philosophical skepticism, in part coming from Decartes, considers the idea that it's impossible to know another person's reality. Alva Noë ponders this in relation to debates in today's world.
  • Behavioral addiction, especially to the new technologies so prevalent today, is the topic of Adam Alter's book Irresistible. Alva Noë proposes two criteria that may determine addiction to technology.
  • It isn't necessarily indifference to the truth to be indifferent to some of the outlandish stuff people say: Maybe it's "post-truth," the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year, says Alva Noë.
  • We may be addicted to sugar as a culture, writes Alva Noë, but not in the way some of us are addicted to drugs like cocaine or heroin: The problem is a collective one.
  • Alva Noë explores a new book that considers the complicated relationship between humans and animals by looking at attitudes toward road kill, taxidermy, dead pets and art by animals.
  • To celebrate the start of the new baseball season, blogger Alva Noë offer thoughts on the poem The Pitcher, by Robert Francis.
  • The idea that physical disability isn't a property of a person, it is a property of a person together with an environmental situation, goes back to Aristotle. Philosopher Alva Noë examines the notion.
  • Commentator Alva Noë examines whether the quest to model the brain at the level of the individual neuron — the connectome project — is looking for understanding in the wrong place.
  • The end of the World Series allows us to revisit baseball's experiment with instant replay. Commentator Alva Noë argues it has been a success — because it makes the game not more fair but more fun.
  • Commentator Alva Noë takes in the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney and says it's an impressive display of this hyper-successful, visionary artist's work. But that's not all he says.