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Alva Noë

Alva Noë is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. He is writer and a philosopher who works on the nature of mind and human experience.

Noë received his PhD from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company and has recently begun a performative-lecture collaboration with Deborah Hay. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship.

He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT Press, 2004); Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009); and most recently, Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012). He is now at work on a book about art and human nature.

  • Commentator Alva Noë considers a widely discussed study — and debate that has ensued — showing that we'd rather get shocked with electricity than spend time alone with our own thoughts.
  • The end of the World Series allows us to revisit baseball's experiment with instant replay. Commentator Alva Noë argues it has been a success — because it makes the game not more fair but more fun.
  • In RoboCop, a character named Dreyfus is at odds with one named Dennett. In real life, Dennett is one of AIs great champions, and Dreyfus one of its most trenchant critics.
  • Could it be that we are living in a giant, convincing simulation? If so, we've got a lot to be mad about, says commentator Alva Noë.
  • Can you choose to be a fan? Not really. Not if you're honest with yourself. As the philosopher David Papineau notes, choosing a team isn't like choosing a washing machine. With the Super Bowl looming, and his family taking sides, commentator Alva Noë tries to define what it means to be support a team.
  • There's a lot of coughing in audiences at concerts and plays. Why? Commentator Alva Noe suggests that the answer has something to do with the importance of art.
  • What rankles so many of Lance Armstrong's detractors is the sense that somehow, he artificially enhanced himself to reach seemingly superhuman heights. Yet the story of modern humans, argues philosopher Alva Noe, is a story of our integration with artificial and mechanical enhancements.