Tag Archives: teleology

2016 Top 20: Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art

The Book/Arts blog of the prestigious journal Nature has included Fine Lines in its top 20 book list for 2016.

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Fine Lines was also review in Doppiozero in Italy, Haibun in Romania, and science and art blog, and made the top 20 list bioteaching.com

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Fine Lines in The Lepidopterists’ Society News

“…The book also shed light on Nabokov’s confusing legacy with regard to mimicry…Seasoned experts on various aspects of Nabokov’s legacy weigh in on the tricky questions about his dual pursuits in science and arts.  Victoria Alexander of the Dactyl Foundation addresses Nabokov’s understanding of nature in light of more current ‘post-Darwinian’ views of evolutionary processes….”

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PopMatters: Sean Miller interviews VN Alexander

popmattersArtificial intelligence is all the rage these days. Case in point: while I was watching football this past weekend, there were two television commercials in heavy circulation during the games that featured AI avatars—Siri and Watson—having life-like conversations with actors.

As you may know, I have a few opinions about the prospects and limitations of AI. Recently, I had an email chat with novelist and philosopher of science Victoria Alexander about AI, art, and chance. Alexander’s work focuses on the uses of chance in nature and in fiction and the changing conceptions of chance in science, religion, and art. What follows has been lightly edited for clarity. Continue reading

Teleology revisited

Teleology is the study of the purposes of action, development and existence. Its practitioners believe nature is purposeful. An ancient and enduring form of inquiry that has been out-of-fashion among educated people for centuries, teleology’s slow, steady decline as a scientific discipline began in the 17th century with the birth of modern empiricism and continued to plummet apace with the rise of the Enlightenment, Darwinism, and quantum mechanics. Nature is not purposeful, it was said, and those who continued to think it was were primarily spiritualists, artists, or madmen, who credited the guidance of gods, muses, or fate. Continue reading

A teleological tale

As the new millennium began, I, bravely or naïvely, committed myself to this discredited branch of philosophy, officially submitting “teleological narratives” as my dissertation topic. Although I was working on a doctorate in English at City University New York  (CUNY) Graduate School, I needed a scientific advisor on my dissertation committee because teleology and biological self-organization are so entwined. Continue reading