Choose a topic

.. Epistemology
Language and thought

.. Art
Fake art

.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. Epistemology
Consciousness defined
Dialectics and Evolution
Intentional Stance
Training vs learning
What is a Vegetable?

.. Epistmology
Dire Warnings

.. Evolution
Life is Amazing
What is a Species?
Why are Tropical Birds So Colorful

.. HUM
A Mind

.. Society
Adversarial Legislatures
Cut Energy Use
Emotional Plague
Improving Democracy
Jesus and the Money Changers
Merry Christmas
Misinformation and disinformation
Moral Hazard
Red flags
Red Rover Red Rover
Reusable Bags
Sleeping in a tent
Social Media

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Excellence is a Plateau
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
Gender dysphoria
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Intelligence and Motivation
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
Structures of Understanding
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?
What is going on?

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
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
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?

Body Plans
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 Job
A society needs a government.
Babies and Bathwater
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Drag Story Tellers
Family Values
Governance and Power
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
I Distrust the News
Inclusion and Christmas
Its a Free Country
Life Extension
Moral Decline
Open Society and Falsification
Parents, Children, and Community
Rethinking Rights
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Should We Go to Mars?
Social vs Individual Responsibility.
Society and The State
Society evolved
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Common Good
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
The Rule of Law.
Thoughts on Justice
To the Moon
Trial by jury
Virtue Signalling
We Live in the Present
What is to be said?
What made freedom a bad word?
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

Culture is Ordinary

Not high falutin

I've started a non-credit university cultural studies course at UBC called Hum (short for Humanities 101).

Cultural studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines the political dynamics of contemporary culture (including popular culture) and its historical foundations. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with, or operating through, social phenomena. These include ideology, class structures, national formations, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and generation. Employing cultural analysis, cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes.
(wiki @,

The course I'm doing is focused a lot on indigenous issues.

Interestingly, cultural studies stands somewhat opposed to the traditional humanities topics like Literature or Philosophy or Anthropology which are viewed as bastions of Western, male dominated ideology.
Full disclosure: for me cultural studies seems very close to what I used to think of as post-modernism so I find it pretty challenging to be quiet and listen. But so far so good.

This week our reading include an essay called 'Culture is Ordinary" by Raymond Williams who was one of the founders of cultural studies in the late 1950s. Williams was a country boy from Wales who ended up at Cambridge. He was not impressed at the culture he found there.
Basically - I think he found the culture of Cambridge to be 'stuck up'; with a high opinion of itself combined with a sense of entitlement obsessed with a narrow range of interests and fashions.

He found the lively culture of the village he came from to be far superior because it was firmly grounded in the work and ritual and play of everyday life.
The idea nestled into my structure of understanding like it had always been there. And in a way it always had been there; just not articulated as well as Williams did.

I grew up listening to rock. Beatles, Stones, Grateful Dead . . .
They weren't considered to be culture. Culture was opera and symphonies.
Basically, culture was the music that rich people could indulge in. The same applied to the other arts; from pictures to stories to dance and on to sculpture.
These are things that ordinary people do all the time - but they aren't rich and the productions are modest.
Consider the difference between an orchestra and a garage band.
The former is generally a big organization with a big hall and lots of professional musicians.
The latter was a bunch of high school friends with a few guitars and a drumset.

The symphonic orchestra was/is extraordinary culture .
Extraordinary culture had very many more spectators than creators. This can make it very profitable for promoters.
Ordinary culture often has more creators than spectators.

I'm using 'culture' here in a narrow sense; referring to art.
The word has a much broader sense. Culture can be thought of as - what a society is like.
Each society feels different; that difference is culture.
We feel the culture of a location by walking down the street and interacting with people. The more we learn about the society and its history the richer the culture seems.

Contemporary extraordinary culture is different now than when Williams was writing. Back then they barely had TV and record players. The mass culture we experience today was just getting started.
With extraordinary culture you might get an audience to creator ratio of (say) 1000 audience members to 50 performers (20:1).
With mass culture we get audience to performer ratios like 10,000,000 to 1 Mass culture can be extremely profitable. Since mass culture is so popular the images and ideas it presents become seen as 'normal'.
With mass culture an unexpected thing happens. A society can have many mass-subcultures that interact in unexpected ways.
Subcultures can be big enough that they become self-sustaining silos of a 'normal'.

So the ordinary cultural experience on the street is that there is a lot of variety which is in tension with the normality of life within a silo.
And back to Williams - Ordinary culture is necessarily richer than extraordinary culture.

What do you think?
I open the floor

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.