Choose a topic

.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. HUM
A Mind

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

I do not know everything

Not even close :-)

For one thing, I suspect that physical reality is infinite in extent and I'm finite so it's impossible for me to know everything. But even if the universe is just very large and expanding there is no way for me to know what is happening now at a place even a light year away. But let's restrict our conception of knowing. The configuration of pebbles on a beach is not knowable so let's not include stuff like that in the concept of knowledge.

Long ago I was pondering what it meant to understand something. The thought emerged of "stand under" - what do you stand under? Well - you stand under structures that you trust not to fall on you. The idea emerge of a "structure of understanding". This is the structure of interlocking ideas that we have that we use to understand what's going on around us. Not everything we encounter can fit within our personal structure of understanding. New additions have to be compatible with what is already there. Our structure of understanding is populated by things we know but it's a finite thing.

I've been reading and studying for a long time now. I know quite a bit. I'm proud of my personal library of 500 books. I don't even know everything that's in those books. I see pictures of professors with libraries many times bigger. Heh - I think of professors as being professional readers. I'm lucky to be mostly self-taught and that means I can follow my nose and look at the things that interest me. Before they can become professors, students have to master a lot of material that I'd avoid as nonsense. And then I look at the huge number of books in public libraries. There is a lot of knowledge out there that I don't know about at all.

That I don't know everything is not a problem. I have a sense that I can learn anything I want from the vast amount of knowledge I don't know about. Wikipedia is great in that regard - whenever I encounter something I'm interested in I can look it up. But I also did that most of my life at libraries.

I live immersed in a continuous stream of information. Most of that doesn't become knowledge for me. It leaves an impression but the detail is not there. I mean - I've been continuously reading about current events for a long time. What year did Iran/contra happen? I have to look it up. I depend on professors who write study that stuff and write it up. So a lot of what I know is what other people have told me And I know that what people tell me isn't always trustworthy - but where else will I get knowledge of things I can't experience? So I go with "the best I know" - My structure of understanding evaluates new information and the stuff that sticks is the best I know - and that can change

So my image of a structure of understanding is a bit misleading - it's an image of something built of rigid elements Rather, the structure is more like an ecosystem - many things interacting and mutually influencing each other.

In a biological ecosystem all the information is local People with structures of understanding can get information from all over the planet. And we see how people with similar structures of understanding tend to group together. The fact that there are so many mutually hostile groups is a consequence that nobody knows everything.

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.