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

Shifting Meanings

Language evolves

Shifting Meanings

Let's look at the word fascism:
Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy[3] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[4]
The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before spreading to other European countries.[4] Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far right within the traditional left - right spectrum.[4][5][6] Roderick Stackelberg places fascism - including Nazism, which he says is "a radical variant of fascism" on the political right by explaining:
"The more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be"

This way of thinking about fascism is pretty clear and distinguishes fascism from, say, communism, or socialism or democratic capitalism.
But now the word fascism has become a catch-all pejorative term.
A government is fascist if it passes regulations that force people to behave in certain ways. So a regulation about humane treatment of farm animals is deemed fascist by farmers who think they can make more profit if they are cruel.

As a pejorative it amounts to an ad hom attack on whatever regulation is disliked. The idea is that the regulation is bad because it's fascist which prevents discussion of the merits of the case. So we get an inversion of meaning. We get right wing people calling left wing people fascist.

When the meaning of fascism degenerates into a pejorative we lose the ability to speak clearly of things like it being "a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy."
"dictatorial power"
"strong regimentation"
A hundred years ago we saw the rise of the Fascist movement in Italy, Germany and Japan . We got a good look at the sort of society fascists create.

"We" fought against them - the democracies of the world and even allied with Communists to do it. All that emotional baggage is lost when 'fascist' becomes a mere pejorative. I notice that as the meaning of fascism shifts to being a meaningless pejorative that ideas like "white power" are more and more acceptable.

Stackelberg's take on the left-right spectrum is interesting: For him that spectrum lies along a social equality dimension. The more you are into equality, the more left you are. The more you are into inequality, the more right you are. I can see that - but it's also a shift in meaning. For me left-right dimension has always been about who owns and controls and benefits from the means of producing the goods and services people need to live. If you think that the means of production should be owned by 'the people' then you are on the left. If you think that the means of production should be privately owned then you are on the right.

For the meaning of "the people" let's go with the US Constitution: " We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

At the time the Constitution was written, a lot of people were excluded from 'the people' of course. Slaves and Native Americans and women and people without property were excluded Over time 'the people' encompasses more and more people. But a smaller and smaller proportion of those people own private property let alone private means of production.

Looking back at the history another inversion emerges. Once 'the people' was a fairly exclusionary group but a high percentage of those people privately controlled their own means of production. Now, a higher percentage of people is included within 'the people' but the percentage of those people who control their own means of production is very small. Let's not forget that in practice, those who control the means of production are the powerful people in a society. And the interests of the majority of people are less and less aligned with the interests of those who control the means of production. Who knows what happens then?

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.