Choose a topic

The Past and the Future.

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
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
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


Getting together

Lately I've messing around with prints of my snowflakes.
I've found a way of folding a hexagon so it makes a thing I call a dangler and then I make mobiles from the danglers.

I get files printed at the drug store and then cut the hexagon out of it to fold. This leaves me with lots of scraps of colored paper.
I noticed that the printing system does some colors much better than others and made a rainbow blend to print on the background behind the snowflake hexagon.
This led to me having strips of paper with a rainbow blend on it.
Very pretty - but what do you do with strips of rainbow blend paper.
Pretty obvious - weave them together.

I did that and after a struggle achieved the picture this: Spectrum Weave I was surprised and quite pleased.

When I was a kid I used to gather popsicle sticks and weave them together like this. It was fun because it was hard to do - a mistake would make the whole thing blow up :-) And it's hard to imagine these days gathering sticks that people had been sucking on to play with: but hey; it was a different world then.
But also it was fun to make a plane from some sticks held together by friction.

I once took a weekend weaving workshop with my girlfriend. The woman giving the workshop had a barn full of beautifully coloured yarn. That kind of weaving is very satisfying to do. The work is very repetitive so you get practiced but also you need to keep your mind on what you are doing. And you emerge with a pretty piece of cloth.
I didn't pursue that craft because I don't know how to sew.

Most weaving is done on huge mechanical looms now. Weaving was one of the first industries to become mechanized in the industrial revolution and I suspect that weavers were the sort of workers Marx considered to be the 'proletariat" Weaving at that level is both an art and a science that requires huge teams of people designing the patterns of the weave as well as operating the machinery.

A weave illustrates the idea of levels of abstraction.
The woven fabric has properties that the threads it is woven from don't have The threads basically just have a length while the fabric has a length and a width. You make a tent out of a fabric but not out of thread. So the thread and the fabric are on different levels of abstraction.

I think that that is a good way to think about society and culture.
Each of us can be thought of as a thread moving through time.

But we are not alone. We are intertwined with many other people. And the fabric that emerges from that intertwining we call society.

An interesting thing here about levels of abstraction. The idea is generally present as lower levels creating higher levels with new properties. But in this case a property is lost at the higher level.

People are intelligent. They have projects and needs and can act fairly deliberately to accomplish them.

I don't think society is intelligent. That's because I think intelligence can only arise in creatures like us, with senses and memory and individual autonomy. I do think that we will develop machines with that sort of capacity and who knows whether that would be good or bad - but society isn't like that.

We see that in the pandemic - most people comply with social distancing but many people don't and that pushes society into a state of turmoil that can't be called intelligent.

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.