philosophy

A Formula for Funny: The Surprisingly Smart Humor of The Simpsons

FOR CENTURIES, FERMAT’S LAST THEOREM defied mathematicians to prove that there are, in fact, no natural numbers for x, y and z that can satisfy the equation xn+yn=zn when n is greater than 2. Countless great minds tried and failed, until 1995, when mathematician Andrew Wiles, after years of monk-like devotion, provided the undisputed proof once and for all. 

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

WATCH: Does This Thing Have Selfhood?

What is the self? The answer to the question, often explained away by religious thinkers and philosophers as “spirit” or “soul,” has long been science’s “big blind spot,” says Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and professor at UC Berkeley.  

Your Brain on Drugs: Five Questions for David Presti

More than 550 Berkeley students take your course Drugs and the Brain every year. What do you hope your students take away from the class?

Respect for the power of drugs, and specifically that all drugs are poisons as well as medicines. This is embedded in the ancient Greek word pharmakon. The origin of our words pharmacy, pharmaceutical, and pharmacology, it means both medicine and poison. While the ancients appreciated this dual property of drugs, it is often overlooked, even forgotten, in contemporary society.

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

Is Santa Real? Comedy Writer Earning a Ph.D. in Philosophy’s Eye-Opening Conclusion

When it comes to the existence of Santa Claus, it’s tough to find reliable sources. A quick Google search will lead you to theories ranging from Santa being a commercialized hoax used to sell Coca-Cola, to Santa being a shaman stoned on psychedelic mushrooms. These explanations, mixed in with the usual Illuminati and CIA conspiracies, aren’t of much help when your kids get to that pesky age where skepticism becomes as cool as Ugg boots and Legos. Wait, those are still cool, right?

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