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

The Imagined Order

A necessary illusion

The Imagined Order

I'm reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It's a very interesting book. The reviews are mixed and I'm about 30% through. At the start he presents a case that hominids in general, when they moved out of Africa they dominated other ecosystems to the point that many species went extinct. His account of why hominids were dominant is fairly conditional, involving the emergence of toolmaking and language.

From language and toolmaking (which he sees as closely related) emerged imagination. That is, with imagination a sapiens could think of things that don't actually exist. Harari notes that most of the structure of society is imaginary in the sense that you won't see it by examining physical reality. The idea is closely related to the world/reality distinction; where perception of things in reality depends on those things being meaningful to the perceiver. So Harari says that a social structure is the result of a large group of people imagining the same thing even though that thing is not found in reality. That is, a social structure is an imagined order.

He uses Hammurabi as an example. In his empire people were divided into (say) superior people, common people, and slaves. Within that system it was just natural for superior people to be wealthier and for slaves to be miserable. That seeming "just natural" is the way we perceive the imagined order.

Harari examines imagined orders throughout the world. He examines the historical roots of racism in the USA in some detail and talks of it as an imagined order. He also knows that imagined orders can clash. And that seems to me to help us understand our present polarized situation. It's a clash of imagined orders.

When I was young, Norman Vincent Peale's ideas about positive thinking were popular. As I got the idea then it was that you need a positive attitude towards life. That you need confidence in yourself and your abilities And that you need to act on and express that confidence in a positive way. That positivity causes other people to react to you and your projects positively. Sounds pretty benign.

It never occurred to me then that anyone would present themselves positively by telling bald lies but it should have been obvious - we weren't that far in time from the Nazis and the Big Lie. And then we encounter a man who rises to become POTUS who is a serial liar and is manifestly ignorant.

What's going on?

Then I discovered that Trump had known and admired Peale since he was a kid. Peale even officiated at his first wedding. Scales sort of fell from my eyes. Trump doesn't see himself as lying. He sees himself as presenting himself and his projects as positively as he can. He thinks that if enough people buy into his lies they won't be lies anymore. If that happens, the lies become a part of the imagined order.

We know that perception is not directly tied to reality. We are prone to illusions, delusions, and hallucinations. But we also know that if our perceptions are not pretty closely influenced by reality we make mistakes like walking off of cliffs. The same applies to imagined orders. It may be possible to get a group to imagine almost any order. But then, will that order work?

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.