Ideas of Peter Watson, by Theme

[British, fl. 2005, At the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University.]

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 3. Wisdom Deflated
Because of Darwin, wisdom as a definite attainable state has faded
1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 1. History of Ideas
The three key ideas are the soul, Europe, and the experiment
The big idea: imitation, the soul, experiments, God, heliocentric universe, evolution?
2. Reason / E. Argument / 3. Analogy
Babylonian thinking used analogy, rather than deduction or induction
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / c. Counting procedure
Mesopotamian numbers applied to specific things, and then became abstract
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 1. Faculties
There are 23 core brain functions, with known circuit, transmitters, genes and behaviour
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 1. Physical Mind
Traditional ideas of the mind were weakened in the 1950s by mind-influencing drugs
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
Humans have been hunter-gatherers for 99.5% of their existence
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / d. Representative democracy
Modern democracy is actually elective oligarchy
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 1. Nature
Greek philosophers invented the concept of 'nature' as their special subject
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 7. Eliminating causation
The Uncertainty Principle implies that cause and effect can't be measured
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / a. Electrodynamics
The interference of light through two slits confirmed that it is waves
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / c. Electrons
Electrons rotate in hyrogen atoms 10^13 times per second
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / d. Quantum mechanics
Quantum theory explains why nature is made up of units, such as elements
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / a. Concept of matter
Only four particles are needed for matter: up and down quark, electron, electron-neutrino
27. Natural Reality / F. Chemistry / 1. Chemistry
The shape of molecules is important, as well as the atoms and their bonds
27. Natural Reality / G. Biology / 2. Life
Information is physical, and living can be seen as replicating and preserving information
In 1828 the animal substance urea was manufactured from inorganic ingredients
27. Natural Reality / G. Biology / 3. Evolution
DNA mutation suggests humans and chimpanzees diverged 6.6 million years ago
28. God / C. Attitudes to God / 4. God Reflects Humanity
During the rise of civilizations, the main gods changed from female to male
29. Religion / A. Polytheistic Religion / 3. Hinduism
Hinduism has no founder, or prophet, or creed, or ecclesiastical structure
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 2. Judaism
Modern Judaism became stabilised in 200 CE
The Israelites may have asserted the uniqueness of Yahweh to justify land claims
Monotheism was a uniquely Israelite creation within the Middle East
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 3. Zoroastrianism
The Gathas (hymns) of Zoroastrianism date from about 1000 BCE
Zoroaster conceived the afterlife, judgement, heaven and hell, and the devil
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Christianity / a. Christianity
Paul's early writings mention few striking episodes from Jesus' life
Jesus never intended to start a new religion
29. Religion / C. Spiritual Disciplines / 1. Confucianism
Confucius revered the spiritual world, but not the supernatural, or a personal god, or the afterlife
29. Religion / C. Spiritual Disciplines / 2. Taoism
Taoism aims at freedom from the world, the body, the mind, and nature
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 1. Religious Commitment / a. Religious Belief
The three basic ingredients of religion are: the soul, seers or priests, and ritual
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / a. Immortality
In ancient Athens the souls of the dead are received by the 'upper air'