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


One thing after another

Time is queer. It seems so fundamental that it's hard to imagine anything without it. And as we might expect of something fundamental it seems hard to define time in terms of anything else. The question “What is time made of?” seems absurd. Time has to do with sequences of events. Reality is just a long sequence of one thing after another. We experience that directly.

And yet, in the equations of physics, time is a variable that can have a positive or negative value. In physics the past and the future are the same - displaced from the present by a certain amount of time. So is time just an artifact of our own experience rather than something important in reality?

Think about a star - it's what happens when a cloud of gas in space collapses to a centre under the influence of gravity. The presence of the star now shows that that process happened in the past.

Doesn't that show that time is more than an artifact of our experience? But if we change our perspective from the star to the atoms that make it we see time differently. Events still happen in sequences, but you can't distinguish past from future.

At the scale that we live at entropy makes it possible to tell the future from the past - the future is more disordered. But what could be more disordered than the quantum jitteriness of atoms and sub-atomic particles? There's a certain symmetry to time at that scale - there is nothing to indicate the passage of time. Every time you look everything looks the same.

Geology gives another perspective on time. The flow of energy from the sun and from the stored energy of the earth continually churns the material of the earth. And as happens when material is churned by energy the matter becomes ordered. We are familiar with what that order out chaos looks like - it's the landform of our planet. Mountains are pushed up out of the oceans and eroded back into them in a continuous cycle. And the result is the sort of fractal terrain we live in where the landscape of the past was very much the same sort of landscape we have now.

If we think of change through time of things like stars or mountains the change happens at the same rate for long periods of time punctuated with sudden shifts. Think of a cloud of gas collapsing into a star. For millions of years conditions are much the same - just a cloud slowly becoming more dense. Then a critical density is passed and fusion reactions start. Then for millions of years conditions are much the same again.

Perhaps it is this situation of a state of affairs existing for a long time that motivates the predictable equations of physics. It's the form of those equations that raises the possibility that the time variable can be positive or negative. But every predictable system also has bifurcation points; points where all the rules suddenly change and the system starts evolving in a new direction. Like when fusion ignites in a star.

We are creatures that act. If one traces our trajectory through time the line is jittery and constantly changing.

So time for things that can act is very different than it is for things that only exist. Instead of producing a feeling of predictability where the future is like the past the experience of things that can act produces the feeling that the past is irretrievable but memorable and the future is rushing upon us and is unknown. So we feel the passage of time in a way that a star or a mountain doesn't. We care.

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.