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Empathy or Empathies? Uncertainties in the Interdisciplinary Discussion

Summary

The term empathy has become a linguistic commonplace in everyday communication as well as in interdisciplinary research. The results of the research questions, raised in the last hundred (and more) years, coming from different areas, such as aesthetics, psychology, neurosciences and literary theory, lack in fact a clear concept of empathy. Not surprisingly, a recent paper has identified up to 43 distinct definitions of empathy in academic publications. By reconstructing the main research lines on empathy, our paper highlights the reasons for this conceptual inadequacy and the deficiencies in the theorization of empathy that create misleading interpretations thereof. Along the line connecting Plato’s insights on empathic experiences to the present neuroscientific experiments, a broad spectrum of issues is deployed for which “empathy” functions as an umbrella term covering a net of categorical relationships – projection, transfer, association, expression, animation, anthropomorphization, vivification, fusion, and sympathy – that only partially overlap. Our paper therefore recommends that “empathy” should not be assumed as a self-evident notion but instead preliminarily clarified in its definition every time we decide to have recourse to it.

Open access
History of wheat breeding in Latvia

History of wheat breeding in Latvia

A gene pool of Latvian winter and spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) has been created over a very long period, by collection, evaluation and selection of local genetic resources, and investigation of varieties and breeding lines from other countries in the world. It is not only a historical collection, but also serves as the foundation for research and plant breeding. National wheat germplasm is the framework for creating competitive winter and spring wheat varieties of grain with high yield, resistant to lodging and diseases, and quality acceptable for producers in the Baltic agroclimatical region. In Latvia, from 1920 to 1990, the selected wheat varieties were not stable pure lines, but mostly population varieties. After accession to UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), the requirements for new varieties have changed, and only distinct, uniform and stable varieties, characterised by high economical value are registered in Plant Catalogues. To implement wheat breeding programmes it is necessary to improve breeding methods by plant tissue culture and production of doubled haploids (DH). During 90 years, 16 winter and 11 spring wheat varieties of bread wheat (Tr. aestivum L.) have been created at Priekuļi and Stende and introduced in the market. The achievements of several generations of Latvian wheat breeders are reviewed in this paper.

Open access
Fruit-Growing in Latvia – Industry and Science

Abstract

In all times, fruit trees for family use have been grown at Latvian farms. Yet these fruits obtained market value only after the land ownership reform in 19th century. This facilitated rapid area increase of different fruit crops, allowing supply with fruits not only the local market, but also for export to the largest cities of Russia. Especially fast development of fruit-growing was observed during the first independent republic (1919–1940). The demand for planting material increased, and plants were imported from Western Europe. Choice of unsuitable cultivars and rootstocks was the main reason of the massive orchard area loss during the following severe winters. After the Second World War, the Soviet powers supported only the establishment of large orchards for processing needs, 200-300 ha, which were unsuitable for the Latvian climate and terrain. At the same time, numbers of allotment gardens rapidly increased and part of their produce was sold also on the market. After regaining of independence and private property, interest in fresh fruit and berry production for market, as well as processing, renewed. It was hindered by lack of continuity in experience and knowledge. Diversity of terrain, soils and climate all demand considerate choice of suitable orchard location and cultivars. Direct use of foreign experience often led to failure. At present, development of the fruit industry is most of all hindered by lack of qualified specialists of different levels, which does not allow to establish an appropriate consulting system. Cooperation of growers for easier marketing also is developing too slowly. Insufficient economic and market research does not allow to balance the demand with increase of plantation area, especially for large-scale processing and export, so strategic guidance of the fruit industry is not possible. Development of fruit-growing is hindered also by a lack of continuous long-term support to horticultural science. As a result of research by the Institute of Horticulture: 1) new local breeding fruit crop cultivars were obtained and recommended for commercial orchards; variety testing including growing technologies was initiated in different regions of Latvia; 2) monitoring of harmful and favourable organisms was conducted in plantations, with development of a system for prognosis and control; and 3) research results were transferred to growers through practical recommendations, publications, seminars and demonstrations.

Open access
Geschichte zwischen Erinnerung und Phantasie / History between Memory and Fantasy

Summary

This article refers on a recent discussion with the question of the relationship between individual memory and collective history. It is claimed a constitutive role of memory in history. This thesis is examined on the basis of the question according to the value of the autobiography as a historical source. It is shown here that a reference to the collective history is already guaranteed in the relationship between memory and narrative. Four observations shall justify the arguments, they concern (i) the role of intuition in historical narrative, (ii) the relationship between historical actor and his deeds, (iii) the transcendence of memory, and (iv) the role of fiction in the historical narrative. The last observation leads at the end on the role of fantasy in the historical memory.

Open access
Adaptive Intervention Methodology for Reduction of Respondent Contact Burden in the American Community Survey

Abstract

The notion of respondent contact burden in sample surveys is defined, and a multi-stage process to develop policies for curtailing nonresponse follow-up is described with the goal of reducing this burden on prospective survey respondents. The method depends on contact history paradata containing information about contact attempts both for respondents and for sampled nonrespondents. By analysis of past data, policies to stop case follow-up based on control variables measured in paradata can be developed by calculating propensities to respond for paradata-defined subgroups of sampled cases. Competing policies can be assessed by comparing outcomes (lost interviews, numbers of contacts, patterns of reluctant participation, or refusal to participate) as if these stopping policies had been followed in past data. Finally, embedded survey experiments may be used to assess contact-burden reduction policies when these are implemented in the field. The multi-stage method described here abstracts the stages followed in a series of research studies aimed at reducing contact burden in the Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) modes of the American Community Survey (ACS), which culminated in implementation of policy changes in the ACS.

Open access
Survival analysis on data streams: Analyzing temporal events in dynamically changing environments

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce a method for survival analysis on data streams. Survival analysis (also known as event history analysis) is an established statistical method for the study of temporal “events” or, more specifically, questions regarding the temporal distribution of the occurrence of events and their dependence on covariates of the data sources. To make this method applicable in the setting of data streams, we propose an adaptive variant of a model that is closely related to the well-known Cox proportional hazard model. Adopting a sliding window approach, our method continuously updates its parameters based on the event data in the current time window. As a proof of concept, we present two case studies in which our method is used for different types of spatio-temporal data analysis, namely, the analysis of earthquake data and Twitter data. In an attempt to explain the frequency of events by the spatial location of the data source, both studies use the location as covariates of the sources.

Open access
Preface: Reflections on Emotions

Abstract

Many academic disciplines have offered important explanations of various aspects of emotion. In the Preface I try to present a wide range of research and stress that study on emotions had its origins in philosophy.

Open access
Book Review “Religion Explained? The Cognitive Science of Religion after Twenty-Five Years”

Abstract

I review the book “Religion Explained? The Cognitive Science of Religion after Twenty-Five Years.” I discuss all the papers in the book and highlight some recurrent issues.

Open access
The Genesis of Arabic Logical Activities: From Syriac Rhetoric and Jewish Hermeneutics to āl-Šāfi‘y’s Logical Techniques

Abstract

This paper tries to outline a history of development of informal logic in Semitic languages and especially in Arabic. It tries to explain how the first definite formulation of rules of this logic appeared at āl-Šāfi‘y’s Risāla, a work on ’uswl āl-fiqh or methodology of law. It attempts also to provide new theories and hypotheses about the translation movement in the Arabic and Islamic medieval world.

Open access