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.. Society
We Live in the Present

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

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

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

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
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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
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Programming
Loopsidaisy

Science
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Correlation Wins
Fields
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Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
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Time
Too Small to See
UFOs
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

Society
A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
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Family Values
Governance
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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
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







The Imagined Order

A necessary illusion

The Imagined Order

I'm reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It's a very interesting book. The reviews are mixed and I'm about 30% through. At the start he presents a case that hominids in general, when they moved out of Africa they dominated other ecosystems to the point that many species went extinct. His account of why hominids were dominant is fairly conditional, involving the emergence of toolmaking and language.

From language and toolmaking (which he sees as closely related) emerged imagination. That is, with imagination a sapiens could think of things that don't actually exist. Harari notes that most of the structure of society is imaginary in the sense that you won't see it by examining physical reality. The idea is closely related to the world/reality distinction; where perception of things in reality depends on those things being meaningful to the perceiver. So Harari says that a social structure is the result of a large group of people imagining the same thing even though that thing is not found in reality. That is, a social structure is an imagined order.

He uses Hammurabi as an example. In his empire people were divided into (say) superior people, common people, and slaves. Within that system it was just natural for superior people to be wealthier and for slaves to be miserable. That seeming "just natural" is the way we perceive the imagined order.

Harari examines imagined orders throughout the world. He examines the historical roots of racism in the USA in some detail and talks of it as an imagined order. He also knows that imagined orders can clash. And that seems to me to help us understand our present polarized situation. It's a clash of imagined orders.

When I was young, Norman Vincent Peale's ideas about positive thinking were popular. As I got the idea then it was that you need a positive attitude towards life. That you need confidence in yourself and your abilities And that you need to act on and express that confidence in a positive way. That positivity causes other people to react to you and your projects positively. Sounds pretty benign.

It never occurred to me then that anyone would present themselves positively by telling bald lies but it should have been obvious - we weren't that far in time from the Nazis and the Big Lie. And then we encounter a man who rises to become POTUS who is a serial liar and is manifestly ignorant.

What's going on?

Then I discovered that Trump had known and admired Peale since he was a kid. Peale even officiated at his first wedding. Scales sort of fell from my eyes. Trump doesn't see himself as lying. He sees himself as presenting himself and his projects as positively as he can. He thinks that if enough people buy into his lies they won't be lies anymore. If that happens, the lies become a part of the imagined order.

We know that perception is not directly tied to reality. We are prone to illusions, delusions, and hallucinations. But we also know that if our perceptions are not pretty closely influenced by reality we make mistakes like walking off of cliffs. The same applies to imagined orders. It may be possible to get a group to imagine almost any order. But then, will that order work?

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.