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


Storms don't have them

I first thought of roles in the context of theatre where people took on roles in a play. I liked working backstage and never thought that I had a role.
But of course I did.
It was just that my role was in the context of putting the play on rather than in the context of the story the play was presenting. The role was satisfying. I was one of an ingroup that valued my contribution. Security would smile when I went backstage. I was privy to stuff the public couldn't see. It boosted my status among my classmates.

I always liked that about having a job. I liked having a role on a team. I liked being the one who knew how to run specialized machinery. Whenever I got laid off I'd lose that role and become an outsider.

Now I'm retired. I have a role as an old guy who has been in the neighborhood since forever and people cheer my beard. I have a role in Second Life that is pretty important to me.

When I was working backstage or at a job, my role was closely connected to my purpose. The role needed to be fulfilled and my purpose in the context was to fulfill it.

Now, for most of the day, I have no role. I'm sitting here by myself doing whatever I please within a range of possibilities. I make pictures and write programs and essays and read. To what purpose?

In general there is no purpose. Or at least - the purpose is to pass the time in a pleasant way.
Within that I have sub-purposes.
I'm working on a program that simulates the gravity field. I've been working on it for months. There is purpose involved there. The project itself gives purpose to all sorts of sub-projects too. That is, I can create my own purposes.

It's plain to me that reality as a whole has no purpose. I think that the context of things that evolve by Natural Selection creates purpose in reality. When you have something like a fish you can ask about the purpose of fins. You can't ask that about the shape of a rock or even a star. Those shapes just happen.

But I harken back to Christian thinking that thought that reality had purpose; ie - reality's purpose was to fulfill God's plan; inscrutable to mere humans as that might be. The idea was that each of us existed for a purpose within that plan. That is; each of us has a role to play.

When I stopped believing in a deity it didn't cause me to have an identity crisis. I met many people full of angst wondering things like; who am I? I never quite understood the feeling at the time. But then, I'd never had having a role in God's plan as a part of my own identity. We can find roles in purposeless systems like ecosystems if we think of the role of something in terms of what is it's effect. For instance; predators are said to have the role in an ecosystem of keeping the population of herbivores in check. But I wouldn't say that that is the purpose of predators.

There are other evolutionary systems besides biology. For instance, memes evolve according to the Evolutionary Algorithm just as biological things do. This shows up a thing about both roles and purpose. An individual meme just is - it has no role or purpose. But a meme can have a role when it is part of a memeplex. For instance; imagine a conspiracy theory and somebody asks of it "Why is there no evidence for it?" And the defensive meme "That's how good the conspiracy is" get's deployed. That meme has a role.

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.