Choose a topic

.. Cognition
Intelligence and Motivation

.. HUM
A Mind

.. Society
Drag Story Tellers
I Distrust the News
What is to be said?

Structures of Understanding

Culture is Ordinary

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

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
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
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?

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
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

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
Semiotics and Body Language
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

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?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

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

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

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

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

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

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


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
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?

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


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

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Inclusion and Christmas
Open Society and Falsification
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Should We Go to Mars?
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
We Live in the Present
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

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

I Lost My Knife


I have a folding knife that is pretty sharp that I used to use a lot. I can't find it. I haven't seen it in months now. It's here in my apartment. I never take it outside. It is probably someplace within arms reach as I type this but I can't locate it. The thing is that when I DO locate it I'll recognize it right away.

I don't have a particularly strong capacity for visualization but that doesn't seem to impair my capacity to recognize things. That capacity somehow isn't linked to anything like an image. After all, an image is a thing seen from a particular perspective and the image presented changes a lot according to the perspective. And yet if I catch a glimpse of even a small part of the knife from whatever angle I'll go "AHA!! There it is!"

Recognizing faces seems to be a special capacity within the capacity to recognize things in general. I can recognize faces even when they are wearing a face mask. My capacity to recognize faces somewhat outpaces my memory for names. It might just be that memory is a slower acting system. It happens sometimes that I'll recognize a face and smile and greet but no name springs to my lips. And then a block later the name Candace pops up in my mind.

I recently learned that some people are super recognizers. They can recognize faces even if given just a short glimpse. And the short glimpse lets them recognize the face if they see the face again from another angle. The are in high demand among police and intelligence agencies. I've worked a bit with face recognition systems used to clock people in and out of work. Never worked very well. Even my own modest recognition capacity far outperforms that system.

I would place recognition as a capacity that underlies other cognitive capacities. I've written that we process raw sensory data into meaningful experience of a world. This assumes that we recognize things.

Just as there are people who are super recognizers there are people who are bad at recognizing faces. This is caused by damage to a region of the brain called the fusiform gyrus. People who suffer the impairment seem to do OK at recognizing objects or patterns. This suggests a kind of layered structure to cognition that reflects our evolutionary history. Before we can recognize THISface we have to recognize that we are looking at A face We share that capacity with many other mammals. I'm not sure if a frog has the capacity to even recognize people as people (as opposed to just recognizing a large living threat).

But frogs are as highly evolved as people are. They may not have a fusiform gyrus so they can't recognize faces but they can snatch flies from the air with their tongue while sitting on a lily pad. I'd bet that there are specialized structures in their brains that makes that possible for them.

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.