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.. Epistemology
Language and thought

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Fake art

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General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. Epistemology
Consciousness defined
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Training vs learning
What is a Vegetable?

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Dire Warnings

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

.. HUM
A Mind

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Cut Energy Use
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Jesus and the Money Changers
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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
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Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
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Gender dysphoria
I Lost My Knife
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Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
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On Affordances
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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
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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
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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

Society and The State

Its real

Margaret Thatcher (long time PM of Britain, now deceased) was of the opinion that there is no such thing as a society; there is only individuals and families.
That's not the way it works; it's like saying there is no such thing as individuals there are only cells. Or there are only atoms or fields or whatever.

I want to present now is a simile; a society is like an organism. I don't want to get too fancy defining what an organism is; examples are bananas, diatoms, fruit flies, paramecia, blue whales and people. The range is pretty wide but a common thing we see is well we SEE them as things with capabilities and projects.

Rocks and mountains and the weather don't act like they have projects. The point I make with my simile is that we can see society as an organism in the same way.

That perspective is easiest to attain if we look outside our own. If we look at societies around the world and through history we see a wide variety of forms, like we see in biology. There are very many ways people can be organized into things that can be seen as societies but those ways all have things in common.

Each society has the same sort of problem that organisms do. It has to feed itself and maintain itself against competing interests. And each society has a variety of capabilities that it brings to bear on it's projects. That's what we see when we look at a society as a whole interacting with other societies.

If we examine an organism in enough detail to see how it actually functions we are confronted with a new aspect of the organism; there is a WAY it functions.

That is, it functions this way and not that way. It wouldn't be what it is unless it functions this way. The way an organism functions is not something other than the organism any more than the organisms capabilities and projects are.

Here's a second simile; The State is like the WAY an organism functions. The State is the WAY a society functions. From this perspective, as soon as there is a new society there is a new State.

We can be quite general about this. As soon as you have a distinguishable social group that group has a state. That is, the group has a way of creating the capabilities that it uses to undertake it's projects.

For example; remember the Occupy Movement from a while back? They had a very distinct way of functioning. Besides being the way a society functions. The State also reflects the state of affairs of the society at a moment.This perspective on The State distinguishes it from government.

Government is like a society's mind. Government is where perception of the environment happens and where decisions get made about how to deploy the functionality of The State. An important distinction between societies and organisms is that societies are composed of organisms that are themselves highly autonomous, self aware, and capable people. The society that people are embedded in has it's projects, but the people themselves have personal projects, or group projects, that subvert societies projects.

This makes for a certain tension.
For instance: It might be a project of society to preserve global fisheries to create a sustainable food supply.
It might be the project of fishermen to catch as many fish as they can to feed and educate their families.

When that sort of thing happens in organisms we call it disease. But in human society we have to expect it to be the norm. And, as might be expected, there are ways the society has to try to regulate fishing. That is: The State intervenes with everything from cops to social programs making opportunities for people that make fishing seem like a hardship.

There is no doubt at all that a State can be oppressive. We've seen many examples in history and in the present. We can see it in the logic of the situation too. If you want to fish and The State takes your boat away because you went over your quota you feel oppressed.

And, if the State takes your boat away and leaves you high and dry on the beach with no resources then the State has harmed you. And if the State starts acting against you because they know you are pissed and it anticipates trouble then you are fucked er oppressed.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The State could approach it's goal of a sustainable fishery for instance by just giving fishermen a lot of money not to fish.

And we can all see the outcome of that; some people would take that money and still fish. And the State would come and take their boats away and they'd be pissed off but would they be oppressed anymore than a debtor is oppressed when his car is repossessed?

Finishing up then; here are some take away ideas from this discussion.
-You can't have a society without a State. -There are many different ways of being a society and each way is a different State.
-The way a society functions is also influenced by the state of affairs it finds itself in.

That is, it's not only the way it works but it's also what work needs doing that determines the State. It's easy to see how a State can be oppressive. But it's easy to see that not all societies involve oppressive States.

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.