Making Medical Knowledge



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Miriam Solomon is interested in the scientific and social processes which come together to create medical knowledge. Patients come in all shapes and sizes and their socioeconomic backgrounds vary widely. Basic sciences and clinical practices produce vast amounts of data that are evaluated and interpreted. Often the data are contradictory. Millions of articles, reports, and conference proceedings are published. Pharmaceutical companies experiment and test drugs with an eye to the marketplace. How do doctors come to consensus on the best diagnoses and treatments?

In Making Medical Knowledge (Oxford University Press, 2015) Miriam Solomon addresses this question. She explains how consensus conferences and evidence-based, translational, and narrative medicine promote differing methodologies and organizational schemas for coming to consensus on medical problems. After analyzing the advantages and limitations of each, she recommends a “developing, untidy, methodological pluralism” for “making medical knowledge.”

Miriam Solomon is a professor of Philosophy at Temple University with research interests in philosophy of science, philosophy of medicine, epistemology, gender and science, and bioethics. I spoke to her on December 17, 2015.

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—Fred Rowland

Life and teachings of Jamgön Mipam

Douglas Duckworth image








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Jamgön Mipam (1846 – 1912) is a representative of the Nyingma school, or “old school,” of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingma trace their roots to the earliest entry of Buddhism into Tibet in the eighth century of the Common Era by Indian Buddhists, including luminaries Santaraksita and Padmasambhava. The “new” schools – Jonang, Geluk, Sakya, and Kagyu – that developed from the eleventh century viewed the Nyingma with suspicion, charging that Nyimgma scriptures were not based on Indian originals.

Mipam’s great strength was his ability to synthesize currents from the different new schools into the Nyingma tradition. As a monastic who spent considerable time in meditation and a scholar versed in the Middle Way, logic, poetics, medicine, astrology, and tantra, Mipam was well-placed to bridge the gap between the scriptural and meditative approaches to enlightenment. His writings cover a vast range of topics and genres, all the more surprising considering that he spent so much time in meditative retreat.

Religion professor Douglas Duckworth is a specialist on Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. His 2011 book Jamgon Mipam: His Life and Teachings fills a need for an introduction on this important scholar, polymath, and mystic. Organized into three parts, it reviews Mipam’s life and the Buddhist traditions and teachers from which he drew, explores Mipam’s doctrines and philosophy, and then provides selected translations of Mipam’s works.

I spoke to Professor Douglas Duckworth on September 22, 2014 about his book Jamgön Mipam: His Life and Teachings, published in 2011 with Shambhala Publications.

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—Fred Rowland

Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy

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I spoke to David Wolfsdorf on June 12, 2013 on his new book, Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2013).  He is an associate professor of philosophy at Temple University specializing in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. This new work examines the views of Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, the Old Stoics, and the Cyrenaics with regards to pleasure. At the end of this work, he also touches on modern treatments of pleasure in philosophy. For the ancient Greeks an understanding of pleasure was a necessary part of appreciating what constituted the “good life”, an important focus of their ethical and moral theorizing. Professor Wolfsdorf’s previous work includes Trials of Reason: Plato and the Crafting of Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2008) and many articles in leading classics and ancient philosophy journals.

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—Fred Rowland

Whither the soul?

Julien Musolino


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The growth of the cognitive and brain sciences has raised interesting questions about the brain and the mind.  No less, it raises interesting questions about traditional notions of the  soul.  Julien Musolino, professor of Psychology at Rutgers University and the director of its Psycholinguistics Laboratory, is interested in science in the public interest and in communicating scientific ideas to the general public.  He is writing a book on the soul for a general, popular audience which looks at the current scientific evidence for the soul’s existence.  Since I’m the classics, philosophy, and religion librarian – all disciplines that have had a long interest in the soul – I thought it was incumbent upon me to find out the latest on the soul.  Julien Musolino was kind enough to share a copy of his introduction with me and agree to an interview.

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—Fred Rowland


FREE! Foreign Service Institute language courses

A colleague just brought to my attention that the language courses used by the US to train foreign service workers are now free online (FSI Language Courses).

As stated on its web site:
These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.

This site is dedicated to making these language courses freely available in an electronic format. This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages. Courses here are made available through the private efforts of individuals who are donating their time and resources to provide quality materials for language learning.”

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Translation Movement

Great discussion of the 9th Translation Movement in Baghdad in which much of Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic. It’s a story of Arabs, Greeks, Persians; Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and pagans; philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astrology/astronomy, optics; Galen, Aristotle, Euclid; Al Kindi, Averroes, and Avicena. A menagerie of scholarship, a feast of knowledge, a heartwarming story of international cooperation. Go here: ————————————————————————————————————– Subject Guides Classics // Islamic Studies // Jewish Studies // Philosophy // Religion ————————————————————————————————————–

Philosophers Annual “Ten Best Articles” of 2007

Philosophers Annual “Ten Best Articles” of 2007:

Search by Citation for the full-text of the articles below.

“Reflection and Disagreement”
Adam Elga
from Nous 41 (2007), 478-502

“Why Nothing Mental is Just in the Head”
Justin Fisher
from Nous 41 (2007), 318-334

“Socrates’ Profession of Ignorance”
Michael N. Forster
from Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 3 (2007), 1-36

“When is a Brain Like a Planet?”
Clark Glymour
from Philosophy of Science 74 (2007), 330-347

“But Mom, Crop Tops are Cute!
Social Knowledge, Social Structure and Ideology Critique”
Sally Haslanger
from Philosophical Issues 17, The Metaphysics of Epistemology, pp. 70-91

“Innocent Statements and their Metaphysically Loaded Counterparts”
Thomas Hofweber
from Philosophers’ Imprint 7 (2007), 1-33

“Honest Illusion: Valuing for Nietzsche’s Free Spirits”
Nadeem Hussain
from B. Leiter & N. Sinhababu, eds., Nietzsche and Morality
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, 157-191

“Moral Responsibility and Determinism:
The Cognitive Science of Folk Intuitions”
Shaun Nichols & Joshua Knobe
from Nous 41 (2007), 663-668

“Covenants and Reputations”
Peter Vanderschraaf
from Synthese 157 (2007), 167-195

“Epistemic Modals”
Seth Yalcin
from Mind 16 (2007), 983-1026

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Classics // Economics // Islamic Studies // Jewish Studies // Philosophy // Religion

Review of Alan Sokel’s Beyond the Hoax

Book Review of new book by Alan Sokel, author of the now famous hoax in Social Text hoax.

Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture, by Alan Sokel
Book Review (reviewer: James Ladyman)

Here’s the original article: “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity”

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Classics // Islamic Studies // Jewish Studies // Philosophy // Religion

e-Reference Trial: Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism, trial goes through 10/17/08. (For all current database trials, go here.) “Now expanded and updated, The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism is an indispensable resource for scholars and students of literary theory and discourse. Revised extensively in 2004 to reflect a decade of rapidly changing scholarship, the Guide currently features 52 new entries and subentries and is updated annually. Compiled by 275 specialists from around the world, the Guide presents a comprehensive historical survey of the field’s most important figures, schools, and movements. It includes more than 240 alphabetically arranged entries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.” from the web site Have a look at it. Let me know what you think. Fred ————————————————————————————————————– Subject Guides Classics // Islamic Studies // Jewish Studies // Philosophy // Religion ————————————————————————————————————–