What Affective Neuroscience Tells Us About Emotions and How to Manage Them

You probably think you know a lot about emotions. You experience them directly on a daily basis, you can name most of them, and you see them expressed in others. You’ve likely been taught that emotions are discrete, universal, and that you’re better off suppressing them or otherwise overcoming them with reason. This is the conventional view of emotion, and it has been handed down to you through millennia of intellectual history. It’s also entirely misguided. 

In Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking, theoretical physicist and science popularizer Leonard Mlodinow shows us why the traditional view of emotion fails to hold up to scientific scrutiny—in particular to the latest findings of affective neuroscience—and how a new picture is emerging of emotion as a core component of cognition—integrated with and complementary to reason. 

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Embracing Meaninglessness: Wendy Syfret on Nihilism as a Way of Life

If you had to pick a single philosophical doctrine or movement that would be most difficult to defend today, nihilism would be a solid choice. Nihilism is associated with the worst parts of Nietzsche‘s teachings, the rise of Nazi and fascist ideology, the alt-right, and the tendency toward anarchy, chaos, immorality, despair, and destruction. Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nihilism as “the belief that a society’s political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed.”

So writing a book defending nihilism—no matter how many optimistic-sounding adjectives you place in front of it—is a tall order. In fact, it would probably be easier to ditch the term entirely and either invent a new one (like how some authors now use “progressive capitalism” in place of socialism) or, in this case, use a readily available close alternative: existentialism. 

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