Aesthetics - Wikipedia

Aesthetics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aesthetics and the philosophy of art

Aesthetics is for the artist as Ornithology is for the birds.
For some, aesthetics is considered a synonym for the philosophy of art since Hegel, while others insist that there is a significant distinction between these closely related fields. In practice aesthetic judgement refers to the sensory contemplation or appreciation of an object (not necessarily an art object), while artistic judgement refers to the recognition, appreciation or criticism of art or an art work.

Philosophical aesthetics has not only to speak about art and to produce judgments about art works, but has also to give a definition of what art is. Art is an autonomous entity for philosophy, because art deals with the senses (i. e. the etymology of aesthetics) and art is as such free of any moral or political purpose. Hence, there are two different conceptions of art in aesthetics : art as knowledge or art as action, but aesthetics is neither epistemology nor ethics.[61]

What is "art"?

Harmony of colors
How best to define the term “art” is a subject of constant contention; many books and journal articles have been published arguing over even the basics of what we mean by the term “art”.[62] Theodor Adorno claimed in 1969 “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident.”[63][64] Artists, philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists and programmers all use the notion of art in their respective fields, and give it operational definitions that vary considerably. Furthermore, it is clear that even the basic meaning of the term "art" has changed several times over the centuries, and has continued to evolve during the 20th century as well.

The main recent sense of the word “art” is roughly as an abbreviation for creative art or “fine art.” Here we mean that skill is being used to express the artist’s creativity, or to engage the audience’s aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the “finer” things. Often, if the skill is being used in a functional object, people will consider it a craft instead of art, a suggestion which is highly disputed by many Contemporary Craft thinkers. Likewise, if the skill is being used in a commercial or industrial way it may be considered design instead of art, or contrariwise these may be defended as art forms, perhaps called applied art. Some thinkers, for instance, have argued that the difference between fine art and applied art has more to do with the actual function of the object than any clear definitional difference.[65] Art usually implies no function other than to convey or communicate an idea.

Even as late as 1912 it was normal in the West to assume that all art aims at beauty, and thus that anything that wasn't trying to be beautiful couldn't count as art. The cubists, dadaists, Stravinsky, and many later art movements struggled against this conception that beauty was central to the definition of art, with such success that, according to Danto, "Beauty had disappeared not only from the advanced art of the 1960’s but from the advanced philosophy of art of that decade as well."[63] Perhaps some notion like "expression" (in Croce’s theories) or "counter-environment" (in McLuhan’s theory) can replace the previous role of beauty. Brian Massumi brought back "beauty" into consideration together with "expression".[66] Another view, as important to the philosophy of art as "beauty," is that of the "sublime," elaborated upon in the twentieth century by the postmodern philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. A further approach, elaborated by André Malraux in works such as The Voices of Silence, is that art is fundamentally a response to a metaphysical question ('Art', he writes, 'is an 'anti-destiny'). Malraux argues that, while art has sometimes been oriented towards beauty and the sublime (principally in post-Renaissance European art) these qualities, as the wider history of art demonstrates, are by no means essential to it.[67]

Perhaps (as in Kennick's theory) no definition of art is possible anymore. Perhaps art should be thought of as a cluster of related concepts in a Wittgensteinian fashion (as in Weitz or Beuys). Another approach is to say that “art” is basically a sociological category, that whatever art schools and museums and artists define as art is considered art regardless of formal definitions. This "institutional definition of art" (see also Institutional Critique) has been championed by George Dickie. Most people did not consider the depiction of a Brillo Box or a store-bought urinal to be art until Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp (respectively) placed them in the context of art (i.e., the art gallery), which then provided the association of these objects with the associations that define art.

Proceduralists often suggest that it is the process by which a work of art is created or viewed that makes it art, not any inherent feature of an object, or how well received it is by the institutions of the art world after its introduction to society at large. If a poet writes down several lines, intending them as a poem, the very procedure by which it is written makes it a poem. Whereas if a journalist writes exactly the same set of words, intending them as shorthand notes to help him write a longer article later, these would not be a poem. Leo Tolstoy, on the other hand, claims that what decides whether or not something is art is how it is experienced by its audience, not by the intention of its creator. Functionalists like Monroe Beardsley argue that whether or not a piece counts as art depends on what function it plays in a particular context; the same Greek vase may play a non-artistic function in one context (carrying wine), and an artistic function in another context (helping us to appreciate the beauty of the human figure). '

What should we judge when we judge art?

Nature provides aesthetic ideals.
Art can be difficult at the metaphysical and ontological levels as well as at the value theory level. When we see a performance of Hamlet, how many works of art are we experiencing, and which should we judge? Perhaps there is only one relevant work of art, the whole performance, which many different people have contributed to, and which will exist briefly and then disappear. Perhaps the manuscript by Shakespeare is a distinct work of art from the play by the troupe, which is also distinct from the performance of the play by this troupe on this night, and all three can be judged, but are to be judged by different standards.

Perhaps every person involved should be judged separately on his or her own merits, and each costume or line is its own work of art (with perhaps the director having the job of unifying them all). Similar problems arise for music, film, dance, and even painting. Is one to judge the painting itself, the work of the painter, or perhaps the painting in its context of presentation by the museum workers?

These problems have been made even more difficult by the rise of conceptual art since the 1960s. Warhol’s famous Brillo Boxes are nearly indistinguishable from actual Brillo boxes at the time. It would be a mistake to praise Warhol for the design of his boxes (which were designed by Steve Harvey), yet the conceptual move of exhibiting these boxes as art in a museum together with other kinds of paintings is Warhol's. Are we judging Warhol’s concept? His execution of the concept in the medium? The curator’s insight in letting Warhol display the boxes? The overall result? Our experience or interpretation of the result? Ontologically, how are we to think of the work of art? Is it a physical object? Several objects? A class of objects? A mental object? A fictional object? An abstract object? An event? Or simply an Act?

What should art be like?

Many goals have been argued for art, and aestheticians often argue that some goal or another is superior in some way. Clement Greenberg, for instance, argued in 1960 that each artistic medium should seek that which makes it unique among the possible mediums and then purify itself of anything other than expression of its own uniqueness as a form.[68] The Dadaist Tristan Tzara on the other hand saw the function of art in 1918 as the destruction of a mad social order. “We must sweep and clean. Affirm the cleanliness of the individual after the state of madness, aggressive complete madness of a world abandoned to the hands of bandits.”[69] Formal goals, creative goals, self-expression, political goals, spiritual goals, philosophical goals, and even more perceptual or aesthetic goals have all been popular pictures of what art should be like.

The value of art

Tolstoy defined art (and by no coincidence also characterized its value) as the following: "Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings and also experience them.

The value of art, then, is one with the value of empathy.
Other possible views are these: Art can act as a means to some special kind of knowledge. Art may give insight into the human condition. Art relates to science and religion. Art serves as a tool of education, or indoctrination, or enculturation. Art makes us more moral. It uplifts us spiritually. Art is politics by other means. Art has the value of allowing catharsis. In any case, the value of art may determine the suitability of an art form. Do they differ significantly in their values, or (if not) in their ability to achieve the unitary value of art?

But to approach the question of the value of art systematically, one ought to ask: for whom? For the artist? For the audience? For society at large, and/or for individuals beyond the audience? Is the "value" of art different in each of these different contexts?

Working on the intended value of art tends to help define the relations between art and other acts. Art clearly does have spiritual goals in many contexts, but what exactly is the difference between religious art and religion per se? The truth is complex; art is both useless in a functional sense, and also the most important human activity.[citation needed]

An argument for the value of art, used in the fictional work The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, proceeds that, if some external force presenting imminent destruction of Earth asked humanity what its value was—what should humanity's response be? The argument continues that the only justification humanity could give for its continued existence would be the past creation and continued creation of things like a Shakespeare play, a Rembrandt painting or a Bach concerto. The suggestion is that these are the things of value which define humanity.[70]


Butterfly effect - Wikipedia

Butterfly effect - Wikipedia

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.

Although the butterfly effect may appear to be an esoteric and unlikely behavior, it is exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill may roll into any of several valleys depending on, among other things, slight differences in initial position.

The butterfly effect is a common trope in fiction when presenting scenarios involving time travel and with hypotheses where one storyline diverges at the moment of a seemingly minor event resulting in two significantly different outcomes.


Origin of the concept and the term

Chaos theory and the sensitive dependence on initial conditions was described in the literature in a particular case of the three-body problem by Henri Poincaré in 1890.[1] He later proposed that such phenomena could be common, for example, in meteorology.[citation needed]

In 1898,[1] Jacques Hadamard noted general divergence of trajectories in spaces of negative curvature. Pierre Duhem discussed the possible general significance of this in 1908.[1] The idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events first appears in "A Sound of Thunder", a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel (see Literature and print here).

In 1961, Lorenz was using a numerical computer model to rerun a weather prediction, when, as a shortcut on a number in the sequence, he entered the decimal 0.506 instead of entering the full 0.506127. The result was a completely different weather scenario.[2] In 1963 Lorenz published a theoretical study of this effect in a well-known paper called Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow.[3] Elsewhere he said[citation needed] that "One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a seagull's wings could change the course of weather forever." Following suggestions from colleagues, in later speeches and papers Lorenz used the more poetic butterfly. According to Lorenz, when he failed to provide a title for a talk he was to present at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972, Philip Merilees concocted Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? as a title. Although a butterfly flapping its wings has remained constant in the expression of this concept, the location of the butterfly, the consequences, and the location of the consequences have varied widely.[4]

The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location. Note that the butterfly does not power or directly create the tornado. The flap of the wings is a part of the initial conditions; one set of conditions leads to a tornado while the other set of conditions doesn't. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events (compare: domino effect). Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different - it's possible that the set of conditions without the butterfly flapping its wings is the set that leads to a tornado.


The butterfly effect in the Lorenz attractor
time 0 ≤ t ≤ 30 (larger) z coordinate (larger)
TwoLorenzOrbits.jpg LorenzCoordinatesSmall.jpg
These figures show two segments of the three-dimensional evolution of two trajectories (one in blue, the other in yellow) for the same period of time in the Lorenz attractor starting at two initial points that differ by only 10−5 in the x-coordinate. Initially, the two trajectories seem coincident, as indicated by the small difference between the z coordinate of the blue and yellow trajectories, but for t > 23 the difference is as large as the value of the trajectory. The final position of the cones indicates that the two trajectories are no longer coincident at t = 30.
A Java animation of the Lorenz attractor shows the continuous evolution.

Theory and mathematical definition

Recurrence, the approximate return of a system towards its initial conditions, together with sensitive dependence on initial conditions, are the two main ingredients for chaotic motion. They have the practical consequence of making complex systems, such as the weather, difficult to predict past a certain time range (approximately a week in the case of weather) since it is impossible to measure the starting atmospheric conditions completely accurately.

A dynamical system displays sensitive dependence on initial conditions if points arbitrarily close together separate over time at an exponential rate. The definition is not topological, but essentially metrical.

If M is the state space for the map f^t, then f^t displays sensitive dependence to initial conditions if for any x in M and any δ > 0, there are y in M, with 0 < d(x, y) < \delta such that
d(f^\tau(x), f^\tau(y)) > \mathrm{e}^{a\tau} \, d(x,y).
The definition does not require that all points from a neighborhood separate from the base point x, but it requires one positive Lyapunov exponent.


The butterfly effect is most familiar in terms of weather; it can easily be demonstrated in standard weather prediction models, for example.[5]

The potential for sensitive dependence on initial conditions (the butterfly effect) has been studied in a number of cases in semiclassical and quantum physics including atoms in strong fields and the anisotropic Kepler problem.[6][7] Some authors have argued that extreme (exponential) dependence on initial conditions is not expected in pure quantum treatments;[8][9] however, the sensitive dependence on initial conditions demonstrated in classical motion is included in the semiclassical treatments developed by Martin Gutzwiller[10] and Delos and co-workers.[11]

Other authors suggest that the butterfly effect can be observed in quantum systems. Karkuszewski et al. consider the time evolution of quantum systems which have slightly different Hamiltonians. They investigate the level of sensitivity of quantum systems to small changes in their given Hamiltonians.[12] Poulin et al. presented a quantum algorithm to measure fidelity decay, which "measures the rate at which identical initial states diverge when subjected to slightly different dynamics." They consider fidelity decay to be "the closest quantum analog to the (purely classical) butterfly effect."[13] Whereas the classical butterfly effect considers the effect of a small change in the position and/or velocity of an object in a given Hamiltonian system, the quantum butterfly effect considers the effect of a small change in the Hamiltonian system with a given initial position and velocity.[14][15] This quantum butterfly effect has been demonstrated experimentally.[16] Quantum and semiclassical treatments of system sensitivity to initial conditions are known as quantum chaos.[8][14]

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b c Some Historical Notes: History of Chaos Theory
  2. ^ Mathis, Nancy (2007). Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado. Touchstone. p. x. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/0-7432-8053-2|0-7432-8053-2]].
  3. ^ Lorenz, Edward N. (March 1963). "Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow". Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 20 (2): 130–141. Bibcode 1963JAtS...20..130L. doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1963)020<0130:DNF>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0469. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  4. ^ "The Butterfly Effects: Variations on a Meme". AP42 ...and everything. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  5. ^ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/chaos-and-climate/
  6. ^ Heller, E. J.; Tomsovic, S. (July 1993). "Postmodern Quantum Mechanics". Physics Today.
  7. ^ Gutzwiller, Martin C. (1990). Chaos in Classical and Quantum Mechanics. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-97173-4.
  8. ^ a b Rudnick, Ze'ev (January 2008). "What is... Quantum Chaos" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society.
  9. ^ Berry, Michael (1989). "Quantum chaology, not quantum chaos". Physica Scripta 40 (3): 335. Bibcode 1989PhyS...40..335B. doi:10.1088/0031-8949/40/3/013.
  10. ^ Gutzwiller, Martin C. (1971). "Periodic Orbits and Classical Quantization Conditions". Journal of Mathematical Physics 12 (3): 343. Bibcode 1971JMP....12..343G. doi:10.1063/1.1665596.
  11. ^ Gao, J. & Delos, J. B. (1992). "Closed-orbit theory of oscillations in atomic photoabsorption cross sections in a strong electric field. II. Derivation of formulas". Phys. Rev. A 46 (3): 1455–1467. Bibcode 1992PhRvA..46.1455G. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.46.1455.
  12. ^ Karkuszewski, Zbyszek P.; Jarzynski, Christopher; Zurek, Wojciech H. (2002). "Quantum Chaotic Environments, the Butterfly Effect, and Decoherence". Physical Review Letters 89 (17): 170405. arXiv:quant-ph/0111002. Bibcode 2002PhRvL..89q0405K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.89.170405.
  13. ^ Poulin, David; Blume-Kohout, Robin; Laflamme, Raymond & Ollivier, Harold (2004). "Exponential Speedup with a Single Bit of Quantum Information: Measuring the Average Fidelity Decay". Physical Review Letters 92 (17): 177906. arXiv:quant-ph/0310038. Bibcode 2004PhRvL..92q7906P. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.177906. PMID 15169196.
  14. ^ a b Poulin, David. "A Rough Guide to Quantum Chaos" (PDF).
  15. ^ Peres, A. (1995). Quantum Theory: Concepts and Methods. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
  16. ^ Lee, Jae-Seung & Khitrin, A. K. (2004). "Quantum amplifier: Measurement with entangled spins". Journal of Chemical Physics 121 (9): 3949. Bibcode 2004JChPh.121.3949L. doi:10.1063/1.1788661.


Discover Dialogue: Geneticist James Watson - The latest in science and technology news, blogs and articles

Discover Dialogue: Geneticist James Watson - The latest in science and technology news, blogs and articles

James Watson's solution: 'Just let all the genetic decisions be made by women'

By David Ewing Duncan|Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Fifty years ago, two unknown molecular biologists at the CavendishLaboratory at Cambridge University had one of the great eureka momentsin the history of science: They discovered that DNA is organized in theshape of a double helix—two intertwining strands of nucleotides on asuperstructure of sugar. Only 25 years old then, James Watson was astringy, thin biologist with wavy hair and a desire to be famous. Bornin 1928, he graduated from the University of Chicago at age 19 and gothis Ph.D. at Indiana University at 22. In 1962 he, Francis Crick, andMaurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for their discovery. In theintervening years, Watson has remained a key figure in genetics,serving as the president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on LongIsland and as the original director of the Human Genome Project. Inthis spirited interview with author David Ewing Duncan, he reinforceshis position as a powerful, independent force in biology.

What are you most proud of?
W: My textbook The Molecular Biology of the Gene and my book The Double Helix.

Not the actual discovery of the double helix?
W:No, because the double helix was going to be found in the next year ortwo. It was just waiting to be found, and I was the one who finallyfound it because I was the most obsessed about it.

How do you account for what you've accomplished?
W:Ambition. You want to get things done. And you want your university oryour school to be good; you want to do important things. And you seethat society will be helped, and so to what extent you say: I'm justtrying to push myself. . . . Francis Crick and I both wanted to do bigthings. If you succeed with your first dream, it helps. You know,people trust you, possibly, for the second one. They give you a chanceto play out your second one.

Why did you choose to write a book focusing more on the people involved rather than the science of the double helix?
W:I wanted to see if I could write a good book. It was ahead of its time,you could say, in terms of style. I wasn't thinking of myself as ascientist, you know. My heroes were never scientists. They were GrahamGreene and Christopher Isherwood, you know, good writers.

Did it bother you that some people found your descriptions of them to be somewhat critical?
W: No one said my descriptions were wrong; they just said I shouldn't have had them. Francis Crick and I talked that way.
RosalindFranklin's high-resolution X-ray diffraction images of DNA
became acrucial discovery in Watson and Crick's search for the
structure of thedouble helix. She died of
cancer in 1958 at age 37.
Photograph: SPL/Photo Researchers.

What about Rosalind Franklin? Do you think she got the credit she deserved?
W:She died too soon. We didn't get much credit for those first fiveyears. You know, we knew we'd done something big, but theMeselson-Stahl experiment hadn't been done, which confirmed the doublehelix in 1958. She died in 1958. . . . It was sad when she got ovariancancer. But you know, if she'd just talked to Francis, he would havetold her what we were thinking. And she would have solved thestructural problem. If she had shared her evidence, he would have toldher what it meant. She would have gone back and found the double helix.But she didn't want to speak to us. We were the enemy.

It must have been hard for a woman in the boys'-club atmosphere at Cambridge at the time.
W: I thought she was rather dowdy. I didn't dislike her or anything like that. We never got a chance to know each other.

Should she have shared in the Nobel?
W:Some people have said that we should have shared the glory with her. .. . It's true that when I saw her photograph [of DNA], that galvanizedme into action. But then people think it was all the details of thephotograph that gave me the answer. It wasn't that; it's toocomplicated to go into. But she never held it against Francis when shewas dying. She went to stay in his house. But they never talked aboutit. Francis says they were concerned with the future, not the past.

I'vebeen told by some geneticists that humans are essentially organicmachines and that one day we will understand how we work. If so, whathappens to that unexplainable mystery of what makes us human, where wedraw our passion, our poetry—our soul, if you will?
W: Theluckiest thing that ever happened to me was that my father didn'tbelieve in God, and so he had no hang-ups about souls. I see ourselvesas products of evolution, which itself is a great mystery.

What about the impact of genetics on emotions?
W:Take love. At the end of it, love doesn't come from God, so it's notthe greatest gift of God but the greatest gift of our genes. You seeevidence of maternal care in birds, and they feel seemingly prettystrong about it. So it's an emotion that has an enormous selectiveadvantage. You've probably met someone who you think is just notcapable of love. I suspect that they lack a gene that is necessary forthe emotion.

Does the lack of a love gene mean these people will lose out in evolution?
W:No, as long as you've got a good brain, you can marry for money. Thereare other strategies, so I'm sure there are a lot of loveless women inAmerica.

What about other emotions—say, anger?
W:In several studies researchers have found a gene associated withviolence. They found the gene can exist in two forms: the gene whereyou express a lot of the enzyme and the one where you express a little.Then they correlated that with what happened to children who wereabused. If a child was abused and didn't have much of that enzyme, theyhad a much higher probability of getting into trouble with the law. Ifyou weren't abused, the chance of your getting into trouble with thelaw was much, much slimmer. So most people, if they have a lot of theenzyme, the anger dissipates fast. If you come from a good family, thenwhen you get angry, you don't hit someone in the face. I want to testmyself because I bet I have the root form of the gene, but I keep it inthe background.

Do you get angry?
W: Very fast.

Is it over with fast?
W: Yes.

What is the purpose of this anger gene?
W:It is extremely interesting to find out why some people have onepersonality and others are really different, because if there's onething that doesn't seem to change during people's lives, it's theirpersonality. If someone is phlegmatic, it's with them all their life.You can't change it.

Have you ever been tested for DNA markers for disease?
W:I haven't been. I had my mitochondrial DNA completely sequenced. I havea very common mitochondrion—the most common one. My Irish grandmotherdied in 1992 when she was in a nursing home; she was enraged for ayear, and my mother couldn't handle it. So I suspect it wasAlzheimer's. No one ever used the word, but she had become impossibleto handle.

How do you feel about being tested for the Alzheimer's gene?
W: I don't want to know unless I can do something about it, so I'm acting as if I have the bad news.

Explain your theory of happiness.
W:My idea is we're dominated by our emotions. And emotions, you know,have chemical circuits. And these influence our genes, and this is notsurprising—you might need different sorts of people in a stablesociety. Some people get angry, some people don't. The gene forendorphin makes up part of a protein called POMC. So this protein isbroken down by proteases. On the one end are endorphins, but on theother end is melanocortin and what used to be called MSH. Now MSH ismade when you're in the sun. So when you make MSH, you're also makingendorphins. So my theory is that that's why the sun makes you happy.But if you're not in the sun, you're unhappy. So my theory of happinessis that there are emotions that have a selective advantage; they makeyou do things that are good for you.

What about manipulatingthings like happiness or, say, intelligence or memory—if this becomespossible? What if you were able to genetically enhance these things?
W:I think that would be great, because I think so many people hardly havethe intelligence that lets them survive in our civilization. Maybe oneof the reasons for this growing inequality of income may in some sensebe a reflection of some people being more strong and healthy thanothers. Some people, no matter how much schooling you give them, willnever really be up to what is now considered a necessary degree ofeffective intelligence. We're sitting at the top of the pyramid of anawful lot of things that happen without us knowing it, that allow us tobe sitting here. We never ask what it's like to be at the bottom. Thereseems to be a total lack of compassion for people at the bottom.
Crickand Watson met at the Cavendish Laboratory in
Cambridge, England, in1951, when Watson was 23 and Crick was 35.
Two years later theyannounced their groundbreaking
model of the DNA molecule.

Photograph: James D. Watson
Collection/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives.

Inthe 1990s we had the "digital divide" between the technology haves andthe have-nots. What will happen when the wealthy have access to geneticenhancements but not the poor?
W: The function of geneticsshould be somehow to try to reverse bad truths. I think we need todevelop a political philosophy about this, to establish rules. One isthat some people fail for reasons out of their control. . . . Whatfunction of you is really caused by having a bad throw of the geneticdice?

Do you worry that through genetic engineering we maycreate a new subspecies of human who is stronger, smarter, andhealthier, and that this new species will end up surviving while thecurrent Homo sapiens dies out? Something like the situation with the Neanderthals and our ancestors, the Cro-Magnons?
W:No, I don't think so. It depends on how we approach it. I think somepeople may have to be helped. Whether it's getting the genes for mentalillness out of their family, however you do it. You could add a genethat would make you resistant to HIV. Wouldn't that be a rather nicething? But I'm not in favor of a "sterilizing the lower classes" kindof argument.

Let me jump to the next step of that: You areJim Watson. You're put in charge of how we as a society are going toreact to issues raised by genetics—stem cells, bioengineering, and thelike. What would you do?
W: Well, my sensibility is verylibertarian. Just let all genetic decisions be made by individualwomen. That is, never ask what's good for the country; ask what's goodfor the family. I don't know what's good for the country, but you canoften say what's good or bad for the family. That is, mental disease isno good for any family. And so if there's a way of trying to fightthat, I'd let a woman have the choice to do it or not do it. Not givein and have the state tell you to have a certain sort of child. I wouldbe very frightened by the state telling you one way or the other.

What about some of the issues like stem cell cloning?
W:I think no president could withhold any treatment that works. Since wedon't know whether stem cells will cure Parkinson's, you can, you know,wait and see what happens. But I don't have a problem with George Bush.He wants to be re-elected, and he may actually believe in God.

Do you have a fear that the momentum in research may shift to Europe?
W:No. The religious right is still only 20 percent of the country. Andeven there, if it was a question of whether they would have a healthygrandchild, they might choose a healthy grandchild.

Biotechclaims to be about to deliver dozens of new drugs and therapies foreverything from heart disease to cancer. How can we pay for this with ahealth care system already straining to pay for what we've got now?
W: We've got to find a fairly cheap way to cure cancer.

DavidKessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration,is calling for a big government-funded research project to help fill inthe gaps in genetic pathways in people, which are turning out to be farmore complex than expected for illnesses such as heart disease andwhich may be beyond the ability of private companies and smaller labsto figure out and pay for. Do you think this is necessary?
W:We should have gene expression and big projects organized by theNational Institutes of Health, and they're not doing anything. We gotthe Human Genome Project done because we didn't work through apre-existing institute but set an institute up to do big projects.

Looking around your office here, I notice that you have a copy of Gattaca on your desk.
W: Awfully good movie. It was pretty clever.

What do you think of the world that was depicted there? Is that something we'll see, do you think, or a version of it?
W: No. See, the reality is that we are genetically very unequal now.

So a version of Gattaca already exists today.
W: A version is already here.

All men are created equal, but . . .
W: Yeah. But you know, when he finally has a swimming race, he beats the brother.
In1993, Watson and Crick re-create a famous photograph taken
40 yearsearlier with their model of the DNA molecule. The two
researchersbelieved that knowing the structure
of DNA would lead to anunderstanding of how genes are
transmitted to succeeding generations.

Photograph: James D. Watson Collection/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives.

Whatelse is here in your office? [Watson points to a small drawing and saysthat it is a study done by Salvador Dalí for his famous painting Homage à Crick et Watson,finished in 1963.] So take me back to the early 1960s, when you won theNobel. You were 34, and right afterward, you have Salvador Dalípainting an homage to you. How did that feel?
W: At that time Ithought he was a fascist creep, but we all knew he wasn't saying wewere important; he was saying DNA was important. I think both Crick andI realized we were famous because the double helix was the mostimportant molecule of life, and therefore we got our names associatedwith it. So you know, people are taken seriously for what we did afterthat, not for our discovery.

Nature offers a free archive of five seminal 1953 papers describing the structure of DNA: www.nature.com/nature/dna50/archive.html.

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Mind-blindness - Wikipedia

Mind-blindness - Wikipedia

Mind-Blindness can be described as a cognitive disorder where an individual is unable to attribute mental states to the self and other. As a result of this disorder the individual is unaware of others' mental states. The individual is also not capable of attributing beliefs and desires to others.[1] This ability to develop a mental awareness of what is in the mind of an individual is known as the Theory of Mind (ToM). This allows one to attribute our behaviour and actions to various mental states such as emotions and intentions. Mind-blindness is associated with autism and Asperger's syndrome (AS) patients who tend to show deficits in social insight.[2] In addition to autism, AS, and schizophrenia, ToM and mind-blindness research has recently been extended to other disorders such as dementia, bi-polar disorders, anti social personality disorders as well as normal aging.[3]

Generally speaking, the "Mind-blindness" Theory asserts that children with these conditions are delayed in developing a theory of mind, which normally allows developing children to put themselves "into someone else's shoes, to imagine their thoughts and feelings."[4] Thus, autistic children often cannot conceptualize, understand, or predict emotional states in other people.[5]


Relevance & Causes

Mind-blindness and Theory of Mind

Mind-blindness is a state where the ToM has not been developed or lost in an individual. The ToM is implicit in the normal individuals. This enables one to make automatic interpretations of events taking into consideration the mental states of people, their desires and beliefs. Cohen described an individual lacking a ToM would perceive the world in a confusing and frightening manner; leading to a withdrawal from society.[6]
An alternative approach to the social impairment observed in mind-blindness focuses on emotion of subjects. Based on empirical evidence, Frith concluded that the processing of complex cognitive emotions is impaired compared to simpler emotions. In addition, attachment does not seem to fail in the early childhood of autistics. This suggests that emotion is a component of social cognition that is separable from mentalizing.[2]
Lombardo and Cohen updated the theory and pinpointed some additional factors that play an important part in ToM of autistic patients. They highlighted that the middle cingulated cortex which is outside the traditional mentalizing region was underactive in autistic patients, while the rest of ToM activation was normal. This region was important in deciding how much to invest in a person and hence required mentalization.[7]

Biological basis of Mind-Blindness

Neural correlates of the ToM point towards three regions of the brains. The anterior paracingulate cortex (Brodmann), is considered at the key region of mentalizing. It is located anterior corpus callosum and the anterior cingulate cortex. This cortex is associated with the medial frontal cortex where activation is associated with the mentalization of states. The cells of the ACC develops at the age of 4 months suggesting that the manifestations of mind-blindness may occur around this time.[1]
In addition to the anterior paracingulate cortex is the superior temporal sulcus and the temporal poles that are involved with the ToM and its pathology. However, these areas are not uniquely associated with mentalization. They aid in the activation of the regions that are associated with the ToM. The superior temporal sulcus is involved in the processing of behavioural information while the temporal poles are involved in the retrieval of personal experiences. These are considered important regions for the activation of the ToM regions and are associated with the mind-blindness. The temporal poles provide personal experiences for mentalization such as facial recognition, emotional memory and familiar voices. In patients suffering from semantic dementia, the temporal regions of these patients undergo atrophy and lead to certain deficits which can cause mind-blindness.[1]
Superior Temporal Sulcus
The amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex also are a part of the ToM. It is in involved in the interpretation of behaviour which plays an important role in social cognition and therefore contributes to the theory of the mind. It is suspected that the damage to the orbitofrontal cortex brings upon subtle impairments, but not a total loss of the ToM that would to mind-blindness.[1] Some studies[citation needed] have shown that the orbitofrontal cortex is not directly associated with the theory of the mind or mind-blindness. However a study by Stone and fellow colleagues were able to show impaired ToM on mentalisation tasks.[8]
Since the frontal lobe is associated with executive function, researchers theorize that the frontal lobe plays an important role in ToM and its associated pathology. It has also been suggested that the executive function and the theory of mind share the same regions.[9] Despite the fact that ToM and mind-blindness can explain executive function deficits, it is argued that autism is not identified with the failure of the executive function.[10]
Lesion studies show that when lesions are imposed to the medial frontal lobe, performance on mentalization tasks is reduced, similar to typical mind-blindness cases.[11] Patients that experienced frontal lobe injuries due to severe head trauma showed signs of mind blindness, as a result of a lost ToM. However it is still debated whether the inactivation of the medial frontal lobe is involved in mind-blindness.[12]
Frith and Frith proposed that a neural network that comprised the medial prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex and the STS, is crucial for the normal functioning of ToM and self monitoring. This so formed dorsal system is crucial for social cognition. Disruption of this neural network leads to mind-blindness in schizophrenic individuals.[13]
Another clue towards a possible explanation of mind-blindness in autism was done by Castelli and colleagues. They were able to show that the connectivity between occipital and the tempero-parietal regions were weaker in the autistic group than the control group. The under activation of this network may inhibit the interactive influences between regions that process higher and lower perceptual items.[2]

Relationship to diagnostic criteria

Relationship to Autism & Asperger's Syndrome

Mind-blindness is usually associated with patients suffering from pervasive developmental disorders such as autism and AS. Impaired performance on the mentalization tasks were the first screening task used to diagnose the autism, with a good prediction level.[2]
Cohen proposed the mind-blindness theory of autism as "deficits in the normal process of empathising". He described empathising to include the ToM, mind reading and taking an intentional stance. According to this view empathising includes the ability to attribute mental states and to react in an appropriate emotional manner which is appropriate to another's mental state. More deficits tend to occur in reference to one's own mental states compared to the other's mental states. It has been proposed that autistic people undergo a specific developmental delay in the area of metarepresentational development. The delay facilitates mind-blindness.[14]
There is some evidence that suggests that certain patients develop a rudimentary ToM and do not suffer from complete lack of ToM causing mind-blindness.[14] A study by bowler concluded that mind-blindness and social impairment is not as straight forward as previously thought. It showed that a complete possession of ToM was not enough to protect from social impairments in AS and autistic patients. Conversely the absence or impairment of the ToM that leads to mind-blindness does not lead to social impairments.[15]
The social and cognitive impairments seen in patients suffering from pervasive developmental disorders can be attributed due to mind blindness. Abnormal behaviour of children with autism include the lack of reciprocity. Severe cases in which mind-blindness manifests includes the child being totally withdrawn from social settings as well as not being able to make eye contact while in less severe cases the individual may attempt to interact with other people. Despite this severe form of autism that is characterised by social detachment, global asocial behaviours is not the rule in autism. Cohen described the cognitive/mind-blindness effects in autistic patients as a "triad of deficits". The triad consists of deficits in social, communication and imagination of others' mind.[14]
Ozonoff and colleagues were able to discriminate between individuals suffering from Asperger's syndrome and autistics by their ability to solve ToM tasks. It is due to patients suffering from AS undergo fewer abnormalities in development early on in childhood. The siblings of individuals diagnosed with AS were shown to have a lesser variant of ToM deficits. This shows that the cognitive deficits that affect the ToM play central role in the phenotype expressed in AS patients.[16]

Relationship to Schizophrenia

People suffering from schizophrenia also show deficits associated with mind-blindness. However there is an ongoing debate as to whether individuals suffering from schizophrenia have an impaired ToM leading to mind-blindness or display an exaggerated ToM. Unlike autism or AS, schizophrenia is a late onset condition. It is speculated that this difference in the condition may account for differences seen in the ToM abilities.[17] Brain lesion studies show that there are differences seen in the laterality of brain that account for mind-blindness. It is unknown whether the ToM in schizophrenia deteriorates in the affected person as the condition progresses.[3]
The cognitive impairment linked to mind-blindness is best explained by a modular theory; the domain specific capabilities that account for mindreading and mentalization are lost in schizophrenia. Furthermore Frith has predicted that the extent of mind-blindness depends on whether the objective/behavioural or subjective symptoms of ToM abilities prevail.[2] Patients suffering the behavioural symptoms perform the poorest in ToM tasks, similar to autistic subjects, while patients displaying subjective/experiential symptoms have a ToM. However, these patients are impaired in using contextual information to infer what these mental states are.[3]


The mind-blindness theory helps to explain the impairment in the social development of individuals as well as the impairment in the communication skills of autistics and AS patients. However one of the most important limitations of this theory is that it is unable to explain the highly repetitive behaviours which is a characteristic trait seen in AS and autism. This triad is explained through the process of systemising.[14] The theory also did not account for the motor problems and the superior rote memory skills that were associated with autism.[2] These aspects along with the highly repetitive behaviours formed the triad of strengths. Simon Baron-Cohen himself has acknowledged that the theory, while adept at explaining the communications difficulties experienced by autism and Asperger's patients, fails to explain such patients' penchants for narrowly defined interests, an important step to proper diagnosis. Furthermore, mind-blindness seems decidedly non-unique to those with autism or Asperger's syndrome, since conditions ranging from schizophrenia to various narcissistic personality disorders and/or anti-social personality disorders all exhibit mind-blindness to some degree.[4]
Another issue associated with the mind-blindness theory is that researchers are unable to predict whether the social deficits are a primary or secondary result of mind-blindness. In addition, Klin and his fellow researchers highlighted another limitation that was that the mind-blindness theory failed to delineate whether the ToM deficits are a generalised deficit or a specific discrete of a mechanism.[18] Stuart Shanker also argued in favour of Klin's argument, that a major part of the mind-blindness theory depicts the ToM as an autonomous cognitive capacity compared to being part of a more general ability for reflective thinking and empathy.[19]
A boy with autism, obsessively stacking cans
Other researchers have pointed out the inherent flaws of assuming autism develops from a "theory of mind" deficit, pointing out that this presupposes autism (or Asperger's syndrome) derives from a single, core insufficiency within the brain. This contrasts, they say, with the very same researchers' description of autism as a "puzzle," which implies a far more diverse range of causes than a single, unifying theory.[20]
Many have also pointed out that Mind-blindness wrongly categorizes autism as a problem to be fixed, rather than a condition to be accommodated. This assumes an inherent lack of intelligence in autism sufferers, which ignores the nuanced view of intelligence (as in varying types of intelligence) that has been observed in cognitive research.[20]
The drawbacks in the Mind-blindness theory of autism and asperger's syndrome paved way for the E-S theory which helps to explain the observations seen in these individuals. The E-S theory accounts for both the triad of deficits which is the loss of empathising and the triad of strengths is related to hyper systemisation of certain behaviours. The theory also helps to explain the exaggerated male spectrum termed as the extreme male behavior.[21]
Recently, Simon Baron-Cohen and other "Theory of Mind" theorists have shifted away from the Mind-blindness Theory in favor of the E-S theory, which seeks to explain the relationship between forms of autism and repetitive, narrowly defined behavior patterns.[4]

See also

Empathizing–systemizing theory - Wikipedia

Empathizing–systemizing theory - Wikipedia

The empathizing–systemizing (E-S) theory classifies people on the basis of their scores along two dimensions: empathizing (E) and systemizing (S). It measures a person's strength of interest in empathy (defined as the drive to identify a person's thoughts and feelings and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion); and a person's strength of interest in systems (defined as the drive to analyse or construct a system). A system in turn is defined as anything that follows rules, key classes of systems including mechanical systems, natural systems, abstract systems, and collectible systems. Rules in turn are defined as repeating, lawful patterns.

The E-S theory has been tested using the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ), and generates 5 different 'brain types' depending on the presence or absence of discrepancies between their scores on E or S. E-S profiles show reliable sex differences in the general population (more females showing the profile E>S and more males showing the profile S>E).[1] The E-S theory is a better predictor of who goes into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects than is gender.[2] The E-S theory has been extended into the 'Extreme Male Brain' (EMB) theory of autism who show deficits and delays in cognitive empathy (also called 'theory of mind') alongside intact or superior systemizing.[3]



E-S theory was developed by psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen as a major reconceptualization of cognitive sex differences in the general population; and in an effort to understand why the cognitive difficulties in autism appeared to lie in domains in which on average females outperformed males and why cognitive strengths in autism appeared to lie in domains in which on average males outperformed females.[4]
He had previously proposed the mind-blindness theory in 1985, which argued that children with autism are delayed in their development of a theory of mind, that is, the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of themselves or others. A strength of this theory lies in its power to explain one of the core features of autism (the social and communication difficulties), but a limitation of the mindblindness theory is that it ignored the other main domain in autism (unusually narrow interests and highly repetitive behaviors, also called 'resistance to change or need for sameness'). To address this, Baron-Cohen put forward the E-S theory.[3][5]


Females on average score higher on measures of empathy and males on average score higher on measures of systemizing. This has been found using the child and adolescent versions of the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and the Systemizing Quotient (SQ), which are completed by parents about their child/adolescent,[6] and on the self-report version of the EQ and SQ in adults.[7]
Similar sex differences on average have been found using performance tests of empathy such as facial emotion recognition tasks [8] and on performance tests of systemizing such as measures of mechanical reasoning or 'intuitive physics'.[9] People with autism and Asperger syndrome show significantly lower scores on these same measures of empathy and either intact or even significantly higher scores on these measures of systemizing.

Fetal testosterone

Whilst experience and socialization contribute to the observed sex differences in empathy and systemizing, biology is also suggested to play a role and a candidate biological factor influencing E and S is fetal testosterone (FT) (PLOS Biology, 2011). FT levels are positively correlated with scores on the Systemizing Quotient[10] and are negatively correlated with scores on the Empathy Quotient[11][12] A new field of research has emerged to investigate the role of testosterone levels in autism.[13] Correlational research demonstrated that elevated rates of testosterone were associated with higher rates of autistic traits, lower rates of eye contact, and higher rates of other medical conditions.[14] Furthermore, experimental studies showed that altering testosterone levels influences the maze performance in rats, having implications for human studies.[15] Overall, the fetal testosterone theories posit that the level of testosterone in the womb influences the development of sexually dimorphic brain structures, resulting in sex differences and autistic traits in individuals.[16]

Evolutionary explanations for sex differences

There are several evolutionary psychology explanations for this gender difference. For example, better empathizing may improve care of children. Better empathy may also improve women's social network which may help in various way with the caring of children. On the other hand, systemizing may help males become good hunters and increase their social status by improving spatial navigation and the making and use of tools.[17]
Research on one-day-old babies has found that boys look longer at a mechanical mobile while girls look longer at a face. This, as well as the effects of fetal testosterone on later behavior, is argued to be evidence against the sex differences being only due to socialization.[17]

The extreme male brain theory of autism

The E-S theory was extended into the extreme male brain theory of autism, which hypothesizes that autism shows an extreme of the typical male profile.[1] This theory divides people into five groups:
  • Type E, whose empathy is at a significantly higher level than their systemizing (E>S).
  • Type S, whose systemizing at a significantly higher level than their empathy (S>E).
  • Type B (for balanced), whose empathy is at the same level as their systemizing (E=S).
  • Extreme Type E, whose empathy is above average but whose systemizing is below average (E>>S).
  • Extreme Type S, whose systemizing is above average but whose empathy is below average (S>>E).
Tests of the E-S model show that twice as many females than males are Type E and twice as many males than females are Type S. 65% of people with autism spectrum conditions are Extreme Type S.[3] The concept of the Extreme Type E brain has been proposed; however, little research has been conducted on this brain profile.[13]
Apart from the research using EQ and SQ, several other similar tests also have found female and male differences and that people with autism or Asperger syndrome on average score similarly to but more extremely than the average male.[18] For example, the brain differences model provides a broad overview of sex differences that are represented in individuals with autism, including brain structures and hormone levels.[13]
Some, but not all studies, have found that brain regions that are different in average size between males and females also differ similarly between people who have autism and those who do not have autism.[18]
Research on relatives of people with Asperger syndrome and autism has found that their fathers and grandfathers are twice as likely to be engineers as the general population.[citation needed] Natural science students have more relatives with autism than humanities students. Another similar finding in California has been referred to as the “Silicon Valley phenomenon”, where a large portion of the population works in technical fields, and autism prevalence rates are ten times higher than the average of the US population.[19] These correlational data suggest that genetics and the environment play a role in autism prevalence, and children with technically minded parents are therefore more likely to be diagnosed with autism.[19] However, a 2010 analysis of autism diagnoses in California did not find that autism clustered preferentially around areas rich in IT industry. Instead, it found that clusters tended to occur in areas where parents were older and educated to a higher level than were parents in surrounding areas.[20]
Asperger syndrome is found more often in mathematicians and their siblings than in the general population. Both mothers and fathers of children with Asperger syndrome tend to score high on systemizing. Both mothers and fathers of children with autism or Asperger syndrome often have father who worked in systemizing occupations. Both mothers and fathers of children with autism have a strongly masculine pattern of brain activity when doing systemizing activity.[17]
Another possibility has been proposed that spins the perspective of the extreme male brain. Social theorists have been investigating the concept that females have protective factors against autism by having a more developed language repertoire and more empathy skills. Female children speak earlier and use language more than their male counterparts, and the lack of this skill translates into many symptoms of autism, offering another explanation for the discrepancy in prevalence.[13]
The extreme male brain theory explores the biological and social explanations for sex differences in autism.

Assortative mating

Diagnosed autism has greatly increased. This may be due to factors such as better awareness or changed criteria for diagnosis. Another possibility is that reduced barriers between people have increased assortative mating, including for high systemizers, which would increase the likelihood of a child developing autism.[17]

Cognitive versus affective empathy

Empathy can been subdivided into two major components:
  • cognitive empathy (also termed 'theory of mind' or 'mentalizing') defined as the drive to identify another's mental states;
  • affective empathy, defined as the drive to respond with an appropriate emotion to another's mental states.
Whilst numerous studies have reported difficulties in cognitive empathy in autism and Asperger syndrome, affective empathy may be intact in people with these diagnoses. That is, individuals with autism have difficulties ascertaining others' thoughts and feelings, but experience empathy when they are aware of others' states of mind.[21]
Baron-Cohen argued that autistic persons and psychopaths are mirror opposites. Psychopaths show intact cognitive empathy but impaired affective empathy whilst people with autism show impaired cognitive empathy but intact affective empathy. He argues that this is why psychopaths can go on to commit acts of cruelty and why acts of cruelty are uncommon in autism. People with autism struggle to understand other people's motives, intentions and behaviour and tend to avoid relationships, finding them confusing, but rarely hurt others. In contrast, psychopaths tend to manipulate others by using their intact cognitive empathy and often hurt others.[22]