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.

13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:02 am
Fri July 17, 2015

Our Robot Servants


Industrial robots are big machines capable of merciless speed and power. In a recent report in Time, a robot "grabbed and pushed" a man against a metal plate at a Volkswagen production plant, crushing him.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:46 am
Sat November 22, 2014

Artificial Intelligence, Really, Is Pseudo-Intelligence


Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 4:14 pm

One reason I'm not worried about the possibility that we will soon make machines that are smarter than us, is that we haven't managed to make machines until now that are smart at all. Artificial intelligence isn't synthetic intelligence: It's pseudo-intelligence.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
4:44 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Three Cheers For The Instant Replay

Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants celebrate winning Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
David J. Phillip AP

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 3:25 pm

The Giants challenged a call in Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night. It took the umpiring crew — in conference with the umpires holed up in the video monitoring station in New York City's Chelsea district — almost three minutes to overturn the on-field decision. They called the runner out at first, giving the Giants a potentially game-changing double play.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
3:44 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

What Art, And The Game Telephone, Teach Us About Copying


Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 6:21 pm

In the game of Telephone, a message gets repeated from person to person in a chain. By the time it comes around again, it's been transformed.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:22 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Why Can't Dutee Run?

Dragan Trifunovic iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 3:46 pm

The case of Dutee Chand — the Indian sprinter who has been banned from competing as a woman because she has naturally high levels of androgen — casts international sport in a bad light.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:40 am
Sat October 4, 2014

Is A Picture Always Worth A Thousand Words?


Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 5:33 am

The beheadings of journalists, aid workers, tourists and countless soldiers by the group calling itself the Islamic State (or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) are noteworthy for their terrifying depravity, but also for the fact that they are staged as acts of political theater or, more accurately, video.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:03 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Finding Answers In Our Stories


Originally published on Sun September 21, 2014 8:49 am

In a fascinating interview on the topic of atheism versus theism over at The Stone in The New York Times, Yale University philosopher Keith DeRose, in email conversation with Gary Gutting, makes the claim that theists don't know that God exists and that atheists don't know that there isn't a God. It's a stand off.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:11 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Actors in the TV series Star Trek (from left) Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock, William Shatner as Captain Kirk, DeForest Kelley as Doctor McCoy and James Doohan as Commander Scott.

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 2:06 am

"European society is very advanced, very civilized. Between holocausts."

The painter Barnett Newman is said to have replied along these lines to a friend who was bemoaning the sorry state of American political life and praising European social democracy.

It's a good joke. It casts light on the whole religion versus science controversy as well.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
1:31 pm
Sat September 6, 2014

Civilization In The Time Of Selfies


Originally published on Sat September 6, 2014 1:50 pm

According to a paper just published in the PNAS, our Neanderthal cousins made pictures.

Or at least they found reason to use stone implements to carve shapes onto the surfaces of cave walls. This was hard work requiring hundreds of scrapes. Whether compositions of lines of this sort should be thought of as images, or pictures, or as proto-pictures, of this we can be sure — making them was a deliberate act and it was important to someone.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
1:01 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

An Attempt To Explain The Magic Of The Ballpark


Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 12:44 pm

No doubt some of the autograph seekers leaning across the fence straining for the baseball players' attention were in it for the money.

I suppose a baseball signed by the right person is worth something. Others were collectors working to complete their sets.

But most of us clumped up along the side of the dugout were fans — and our motives were of an entirely different nature.

Well, to be accurate, I wasn't begging for autographs. My kids were. I was there as a chaperone.

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