Choose a topic


.. Epistemology
Semiotics and Body Language

.. HUM
A Mind

...HUM
Culture is Ordinary

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
Whatever happened to The Truth?

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

HUM
10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
Dataism
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?

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.
Antisemitism
Belly of the Beast
Civilization
Corruption
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Governance
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Immigration
Inclusion and Christmas
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
Voting
We Live in the Present
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
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







Magic

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

The idea here is based on looking backwards.
We have radios and computers and airplanes and vaccines. All of that tech and much more would have seemed like magic to people even 200 years ago let alone the ancient Greeks or Romans. This is a powerful image.

The ancients didn't know what we know but they had our capacity to imagine and explain. Terms like sunrise and sunset are relics of that time: a time when the earth stood still and the sun and stars revolved around it.
In fact, the Ptolemaic system of astronomy worked quite well for a long time.

I think that if an ancient encountered people using radios they'd encounter something that would seem inexplicable and so be magic in Clarke's sense, but I don't think they'd think of it as magic in the sense that we think of magic.
I think they'd develop an explanation involving things like gods (which were a part of their 'world' at the time) and treat it as normal.
I think we look at magic differently now.
We have a scientific world view now. That world view is based on the idea that there is nothing besides physical reality.
Actually - that puts it too strongly - science took the stance that it wouldn't look beyond physical reality in seeking explanations for phenomenon and events - ideas like a spiritual reality (as opposed to a physical reality) were just laid aside as irrelevant.
It turned out that that constraint produce the biggest flowering of human knowledge in history that is expanding exponentially as we speak.
This is in contrast with the stasis of societies with a spiritualist base.

In this context, magic is not just some event or phenomenon that we don't understand. Magic is something that is caused by something outside of the closed physical reality.

In the context of our present world with strife on so many levels that present such a huge global danger I'm like "C'mon people, Can't we just get along?"
And people just spontaneously getting along on a global scale seems to me to be magic - magic that I very much wish could occur.

I see a glimpse of that magic every day when I'm out on my daily walk getting groceries.
The sidewalk is crowded with people and dogs and nobody bumps into each other and that all seems to happen unconsciously.
There is a harmony to the flow that is based on the simple fact that none of us wants the hassle of running into somebody else.
Quite a bit like murmuration among starlings when you think about it.

But for that to work there has to be some sort of common interest at work - like the desire not to run into each other.
I might like to live in a reality where all 7 billion of us had a perception of how we had to behave to create a harmonious global society where each of us had a good life. I think that would require magic and probably wouldn't work even then.

Theodicy or 'the problem of evil' is relevant here. The question is: Why is there evil in a universe created and ruled by an all loving, all powerful, all knowing god?
The religious answer is basically there is nothing god can do about it.
I agree and take that as a proof that the proposed god does not exist.
My friends smile benignly on me and say: No no no - it shows that god gave us free will and that free will is meaningless unless we can be bad and do evil.
But free will just points to my own conclusion - an admission that it's impossible for even a magic god to create harmony among people.

When I walk up the sidewalk we are all individuals sharing a need to not run into each other. Groups interacting often do not have that need - in fact it seems they try to run into each other.

This is a product of our culture of competition on the one hand and competitive pressure applied by evolution on the other but maybe we could mitigate it a lot.

I use the present debacle about abortion as an example.
It has been normal now for 50 years for women to have pretty free access to abortion.
There were always lots of people who opposed abortion because of deeply held beliefs but the two groups were able to get along in public (mostly) because they respected each others privacy.
This had the effect of keeping groups from bumping into each other.
Now the groups are going at each other hammer and tongs. This cannot end well.
I can point to a similar thing on the left. Remember that case where a baker was sued by a gay couple for refusing to make a wedding cake for them? I was like really? A case for SCOTUS? I thought those guys should have just found another baker.

But but but but - the anti-abortionists say - we sincerely believe that abortion is murder of babies - how can we possibly tolerate that without pushing back?
But sincere belief is not enough in cases like this - people have to be right when they want to tell others what to do.
And they say a soul is created at conception. I say they are wrong. I don't believe in magic. Time for them to step up to the plate and demonstrate that their ideas are correct. They don't even try (and I've looked)

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.