Is Dumbledore gay? The question highlights a deeper literary debate

Once a book is published, who gets to interpret it? Us or the author?

Credit: Bruno Vincent via Getty Images
  • Intentionalism is the view that authors have a special authority over their work and can determine what is or is not the "proper" meaning to be found.
  • Anti-intentionalism is the view that "there is nothing outside the text," and that while the author might be important, they are no more authoritative than the reader in determining meaning.
  • The joy and wonder of reading is how we all find our own meanings in literature. We find answers and truths that no one else can define for us.
Keep reading Show less

Is it good for you? According to Nietzsche, it's better to ask, "Does it dance?"

Dancing, fot Nietzsche, was another way of saying Yes! to life.

YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images
Friedrich Nietzsche's body of work is notoriously difficult to navigate. He wrote in multiple styles, including essays, aphorisms, poems, and fiction.
Keep reading Show less

How your brain bonds with fictional characters

Scans show similar activity to what occurs when you think about yourself.

Credit: Aneta Pawlik/Unsplash
  • Researchers explored the brain activity that accompanies our often-close association with fictional characters.
  • The same brain region that's active when we think about ourselves seems to be involved.
  • When we like a fictional character, the research suggests, we see ourselves in them.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Researchers read centuries-old sealed letter without ever opening it

    The key? A computational flattening algorithm.

    Credit: David Nitschke on Unsplash

    An international team of scholars has read an unopened letter from early modern Europe — without breaking its seal or damaging it in any way — using an automated computational flattening algorithm.

    Keep reading Show less

    How sci-fi helps humanity avoid species-level mistakes

    Technology of the future is shaped by the questions we ask and the ethical decisions we make today.

    • Robots (from the Czech word for laborer) began appearing in science fiction in the early 1900s as metaphors for real world ideas and issues surrounding class struggles, labor, and intelligence. Author Ken MacLeod says that the idea that robots would one day rebel was baked into the narrative from the start. As technologies have advanced, so too have our fears.
    • "Science fiction can help us to look at the social consequences, to understand the technologies that are beginning to change our lives," says MacLeod. He argues that while robots in science fiction are a reflection of humanity, they have little to do with our actual machines and are "very little help at all in understanding what the real problems and the real opportunities actually are."
    • AI has made the threat of "autonomous killer robots" much more of a possibility today than when Asimov wrote his three laws, but it's the decisions we make now that will determine the future. "None of these developments are inevitable," says MacLeod. "They're all the consequences of human actions, and we can always step back and say, 'Do we really want to do this?'"

    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast