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.. Society
We Live in the Present

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

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

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

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
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
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

Public Art

You can't please everyone

I tend to think of visual art in terms of pictures hanging in a person's personal space. A place without pictures seems very sterile.
I have this idea that art involves the 'aesthetic experience' which for me is a kind of mental feedback loop where looking causes the viewer to have a thought which causes another look which causes another thought . . . .
The thought can be anything from appreciation of beauty to a psychological insight but it brings the viewer back for more.
I like the idea. It fits with my own experience and it's an idea that I use in my own work.

One time I was friends with binners. These were scavengers who scoured the city for anything they could find of value.
A merchant at the Public Market would give away the coffee left in his pots at closing time and the binners would gather. I was working in a studio nearby too and would go for my free cup.
I like binners. Way generous people. They are a bit like hunter/gatherers; they give away their surplus because they can't carry it around and karma smiles on the generous.

One day one of them asked if I would liketo see where he lived. I knew he lived outside. I'd done that myself. I was like honored.
He took me to a garden of bushes beside a bridge over a gully with railway tracks. The gully was sort of a wild zone in the city.
We looked around when nobody was watching ducked under the bushes and crawled on all fours - a path emerged in the woods by the tracks. Along the path was a plastic fantastic that was his home. The results of his scavenging were carefully organized. He had a snug dry place with a mattress and sleeping bag and a jug of wine.

He had pictures on his walls.
That struck me. I surmise that the pictures were part of what made the place feel like home to him.

But that's private art.

Public art serves a similar function in public spaces I think but there is a huge difference.
That's because private art only has to satisfy one person's (or a small group's) taste.
And though taste can vary very widely, with private art senses of taste don't conflict.
I may like chocolate and you like vanilla and she likes strawberry. Different tastes but since we have individual portions we can each be happy. It's different if we all need have just one flavor; some people will be dissatisfied. And that's kind of the situation of public art. The public isn't monolithic with a common taste. In fact, somebody is sure to be dissatisfied with anything that is installed in public.

So public art makes the public space more livable but also causes disagreement.
What is to be done?

In a democratic society the solution is basically a bureaucratic one. I looked at what Vancouver requires for public at proposals. Here's some pdf files that give guidance:

Public art has to be safe and durable in a public space. There are a lot of engineering things to think about and many of the guidelines deal with that.

In Canada the aesthetic judgements tend to be made by committees of 'peers'. That is, a committee of artists decides on the aesthetic merit of a proposal.
And these committees are serious people - for them art is meant to be challenging.
I take a jaundiced view of that. What I've seen is that they choose work that is challenging to thee but not to me.

The upshot is that for a public art project to be completed a whole bunch of requirements must be met. It's the fact of all those requirements being met that justifies the installation against the complaints of those who dislike it.

Strange to say; the process seems to work.
This piece caused a big ruckus last summer. I liked it. sigh

There is another kind of public art that doesn't go through that process at all. We call it graffiti and most of that is pretty good too. The artists don't exactly respect other's property though.

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.