What Scientists and Philosophers Get Wrong about Art

Whether it's bacteria or consciousness itself, science and philosophy examine a specific object that stands apart from the observer. Art is more collaborative, says Alva Noë. It changes us as we change it.

The construction of sophisticated tools has long distinguished the human species from those still content with sticks and rock — or nothing at all. We are creators of things in our essence, says UC Berkeley philosophy professor Alva Noë. But artists are a category of creator apart. They do not make tools useful in the sense that a hammer is useful; nor are their works subject to scientific investigation — insofar as science, and philosophy, strictly distinguish between the observer and that which is observed. Noë says that to create art is to create a "strange tool" — one that actively collaborates with us as we create and examine it. Art unveils who we are as people alive at this moment in history, not merely as objective observers standing outside time.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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The culprit of increased depression among teens? Smartphones, new research suggests.

A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.

A teenager eyes her smartphone as people enjoy a warm day on the day of silence, one day prior to the presidential elections, when candidates and political parties are not allowed to voice their political meaning on April 14, 2018 in Kotor, Montenegro. Citizens from Montenegro, the youngest NATO member, will vote for a new president on Sunday 15 2018. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
  • The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
  • Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
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Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

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