Choose a topic


.. Society
We Live in the Present

...HUM
10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
Culture is Ordinary
Dataism
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

Art
AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
Weave
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Cognition
Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
Genius
GIGO
I Lost My Knife
Illusion
Incomplete Information and Stories
Instinct
Is free will an illusion?
Metarepresentations
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Superstition
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

Economics
A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Markets
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Environmentalism
Blowing Up Pipelines

Epistemology
Absolute Knowledge
Equivalence
Exists
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Unpredictability
Verificationism

Evolution
Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Networks
Omicron
Politics and Evolution
Roles
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Freedom
Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Laws
Libertarian Coercion

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

Mathematics
As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Memetics
Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Morality
Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?

pending
Police

Philosophy
Agency
Being
Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Ratchets
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

Politics
If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority

Programming
Loopsidaisy

Science
Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Fields
Neurophilosophy
Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
The Material Space
Thinking about Interconnection
Time
Too Small to See
UFOs
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

Society
A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Civilization
Corruption
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Governance
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Magic
Open Society and Falsification
Privacy
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
Totalitarianism
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

UBI
Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs







Belly of the Beast

Let me out

The biological world self-organizes in a way that is distinct from the physical world of mountains and valleys and lakes and rivers.
The biological world has a common structure where macro things depend on microthings and visa versa. I look as I write out onto a grove of trees. They seem like distinct individuals. But I think they interact underground via microscopic root hairs exchanging chemicals.
For instance - all the trees start producing buds at once. I imagine that a chemical signal propagating through the grove when one tree passes some kind of triggering milestone.
In a forest with rich humus the interaction is more complex still. The root hairs also interact with the mycelia of various fungi as well as bacteria and bugs.
These interactions produce waves of propagating influence at a microscopic level that influences what happens at the macro level of trees.

We see this kind of structure in ourselves as animals with needs and projects.
On one level we are neurons controlling muscles and on another level we are reaching for a cup of coffee to take a sip.
People don't interact with each other by exchanging chemicals via root hairs. We can communicate via many forms of speech. This produces propagating waves of influence that influence our individual behavior.
That causes us to group together in various ways.
Groups of people group with other groups to form metagroups.
And the metagroups group to form metametagroups.
In a world with 7 billion people this can involve very many meta levels.
We end up with the fractal structure we call society.

When I look at those propagating waves of influence on a social level it looks crazy.
I've been in a reading group studying how capitalism works. For instance, why did society choose a polluting power source like steam over non-polluting sources like wind and water. It wasn't really good for the majority of people at the time and lead pretty directly to our global warming problem now so it looks like a pretty crazy thing to do from the perspective of a person.
It seems like society is like a beast that does what it wants no matter how crazy it seems to be to the people who make it up.

Lately we've been reading about the global banking and finance system. It really does seem crazy. But also, it's a system that evolved at the level of society - not at the level of any one wanting to create it.
The news is full of craziness.
A central thing these days is disinformation - I've seen the problem on a personal level for years. If people tell you straight up lies it's often hard to prove that they are lying.
I used to talk a lot with creation scientists who would deny Natural Selection and would insist that an "intelligent designer" (aka God) was required to explain the apparent design in the natural world. I'd point out that that God was impossible for various reasons.
That's what I believe they'd say and that would be that.

At the time I never dreamed of a Trump and trumpists who have taken disinformation to the highest level of society.

And think how crazy war is. But you can also see them coming from a distance and they are as unstoppable as a hurricane.
An element of the situation that is novel is that people are aware and smart and often can be pretty adaptable. We may be made of cells but the cells are not aware.
The beast may be made of people, but the twist is that the beast isn't smart or aware - people are.

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.