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

What is Public Schooling For?

Should it be child's work?

I read a critique of schooling for my cultural studies class. It's by Kevin M Gannon. It's chapter 1 of a book called Radical Hope: a teaching manifesto. It uses phrases like "classrooms of death" and similar hyperbole. (Title of chapter 1) The idea comes from a Danish educator from a couple of hundred years ago who was writing that the curriculum that was taught had nothing to do with "life".
I've had a bit of experience of that. Starting in grade 9, I studied latin for 3 years, because it was then a requirement to get into university. I don't regret what I learned. It's a part of me now and I never was fluent. But then the universities dropped the latin requirement and I stopped studying latin. I didn't like it but I understood why I was taking latin.
It was presented as a sort of universal language that spanned many cultures and disciplines. By the mid-60s it wasn't really fulfilling that role any more.

Since I left university to go live in the woods I've certainly been an outsider to the world of education but also have watched it evolve with keen interest. I've seen new pedagogical theories evolving as educators make sincere attempts to engage their students better. I don't think it worked very well. My impression is that literacy and numeracy rates have been dropping for decades.

Also I've observed that the idea of a public education that is the same for all students is falling by the wayside. We have all sorts of private schools promoting their own private view of society and culture. That seems to me to have contributed a lot to the polarization of society.

I now realize how bad it was when I was a kid that the public school narrative was about how good and great white anglosaxon culture was so a lot of the polarization that existed was just not acknowledged.

I do feel though that public education for all students is extremely important. All students to learn to read and write well. All students should learn the fundamentals of science. Daniel Dennett, a famous atheist, recommended that religious studies be a big part of a public school curriculum. By this he meant a serious sympathetic study of all the major religious ideas extant in a culture. A similar approach could be taken for the study of history and art.

The idea is that all adult citizens have a shared body of knowledge and understanding. This does not mean that everyone would agree with what the public education taught but would give a common ground for conversation.

When I was a kid I took going to school as my job. Adults go to work (both my parents did) and my job was to go to school. And it was work. It took many hours of practice before I knew the alphabet well enough to be able to read. But the thrill I felt when I actually first read a sentence (something like "Dick sees Spot") is still a high point in my life. But it was work to get there. Same with arithmetic. I can do it pretty automatically now - but it took years of practice to get there. That was all work. It wasn't unpleasant but it's not what I would have done spontaneously. And the skill I gained then has been invaluable.

Besides skills, schools also teach attitudes and behaviours. When I went to school there was an unspoken curriculum that kids absorbed through their skin. We got used to being punctual and sitting quietly listening to the teacher. We got to know what the bells meant. Also we learned how to get along and make friends with people who were outside our family and church.

Lots of the curriculum was physical education. We got stronger but we also played games and learned to compete as teams.

Public education need not preclude private education as well. And as students advance in their education they specialize according to their interests building on the base of literacy and numeracy that they got when younger.

The point I make is that public schooling should be thought of as giving citizens the tools they need to have to prosper as citizens.

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.