Choose a topic

.. Epistemology
Semiotics and Body Language

.. HUM
A Mind

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
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
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

Maps and Territories

Guides are helpful though

Alfred Korzybski (the founder of General Semantics) drew attention to the distinction between maps and territories in the 1930s when he said "the map is not the territory".

This idea is related to Kant's idea that we never know the reality as it is, but instead only know representations of reality. And the representations can be so different that each of us can be said to live in a different 'world'.

General Semantics' focus is on how the structure of language influences the way we think and perceive. In this example, we maybe very familiar with a map which can deceive us into thinking we know the territory. General Semantics didn't so much deny the usefulness or validity of maps, just warns us to remember which we are talking about maps or territories. If you think about it, the territory itself is distinct from reality.

Territories have boundaries for instance. Territories have owners. Territories have entities struggling to possess or defend them. You can check out reality and you won't find any of those things that territories have. I've crossed boundaries many times and unless they are very conspicuously marked in a territorial way they don't show up in reality.

If the map is not the territory and if the territory is not reality why do we bother with either? Why not just cut to the chase and deal with reality directly?
Wouldn't that be more efficient and bring us closer to knowing what reality is really like?

Don't you remember? When you were first born you were dealing with reality that directly. That state has been called a blooming buzzing confusion and for most people it doesn't last long babies learn very quickly to recognize Mom and make up maps.

As children we learn to be careful about the sort of maps we set up in our heads. We need to learn to stop vividly imagining monsters under our beds.

The territory/map relationship is an example of various levels of abstraction. There seem to be many situations where that relationship emerges.

For instance we can think of a dictionary as being a map it maps meanings onto the territory of words.And notice how the mapping is vulnerable to the same sort of flaws. Sometimes the dictionary meaning of words maps very poorly to the idea that is both transmitted and received.

I'm sure all of us found that out long ago. We rarely hear "define yer terms" in philosophy discussions anymore because we know that that rarely leads to increased understanding. In fact it's often a distraction from increased understanding.

Sometimes we can have an interesting inversion a map can become a reality For instance the military used to use big maps on tables to practice strategic games. Could we say that the map has become an abstract 'reality' within which the game gets played? And that within that reality various territories exist that don't show on the reality anymore than a border shows on the ground. And there could be maps of the map that showed where the borders are.

Perhaps we have seen the same inversion happen with money. Conceptually it's just a means of exchange that maps the value of one thing onto another. But that conception has inverted in many situations the money has become the reality. Our bank accounts are the territory. And accountants the mappers.

A final question what about Second Life? We call it a 3d virtual reality but it presents itself as a 2 dimensional cartoon on our monitors. I made a map of the sims that host Thothica that map has it's uses but nobody would mistake it for SL. Though it has some advantages-like labels :-) And in Second Life we use many maps for instance our inventories are maps of sorts. They map names to objects. And they do the same thing that geographical maps do they take a lot of information and strip away everything but certain sorts of indexing information.

Can you imagine trying to find something if you had to actually look at every item on every search? (Though sometimes I wish there was a really fast way to do just that :-) So does that make our inventories a reality?

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.