With a rare exception or two I haven’t written here for several years. Various things have intervened – moving to a new country, starting a new business, and preceding all that some formal study. What I’d like to do is go through here and edit things, weed out the crap, format it nicely, and redo the blog design. Generally keep house.
More important, since you dear reader can skip the rubbish and out of date current events yourself, for now, is that I include here the other main tract of material which matters to me, and that’s the academic-style writing that I did during that formal study. I think I had a few good ideas amongst it, and there are some things I want to be able to refer to in future things I might write.
They’re all PDF files so for now I’ll just link them in this document and add an introduction to each one, to help you sort through and decide which you might want to read. I’ll also try to somewhat order them so that those with the more interesting content are first.
Is, or should, ethics be based on genetic predisposition?
I argue that while genetic and memetic influences are important in forming what’s called these days our “moral intuition”, that we benefit from making the effort to untangle these and understand them so that our ethics is fundamentally from a rational choice of values, even though these values are in the end an intelligent expression of our emotional and practical needs. Social/memetic motives primarily benefit the social or institutional organism they make up, and not the individual. Genetic motives are unsophisticated and may be outdated.
“Change”, not “time” is fundamental.
A defense of the discredited idea that we live in an ever-changing present rather than a 4-dimensional unchanging block of space-time. I think what’s called “presentism” has it slightly wrong, but that space-time (in what is clearly a multiverse) is an untenably inelegant model. The essay doesn’t get into this but this whole thought process shows clearly that our physics, our world-model, is not especially “reality” but rather the most effective way of squaring experience with expected experience. There is no “reality” as such. The block view of space-time has blinded us to a great deal of what we experience, I think.
Passion, meaning, and truth – subjective and objective. Tragedy. Boredom.
All the good stuff, as seen by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. This is a fun little read and it expresses my horror of the conventional and safe.
Buddhist arguments for putting the environment as a system ahead of the needs of humans as a species.
Because wonder is a selfless act. Here’s the article.
The I think in the Critique of Pure Reason
Detailed exegesis. Long. I ended up really understanding Kant, but it’s mostly of academic interest now, if you’ll excuse the pun.
The Buddhist argument from control that there is no self.
It’s a good argument. It’s interesting philosophy. It’s amazing how deeply clever those medieval Tibetans were.
Connectionism and Meaning
I defend the connectionist theory of mind as the mechanism for the construction of meaning. The essay is a little dry but I think somewhere, buried here, is the beginning of an important insight into how we make the world from our senses. But I can’t yet get it clear, it’s only glimpses. “Meaning” is a really interesting and loaded word, and I don’t think it means what we think it means, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya.
The Gorgias, and Freud
These two are the least interesting, unless you thought Freud was anything except a dangerous fraud. Well, a dangerous fraud with one good idea – that the mind is a mechanism constructed from a series of mutually interacting psychological forces. Spoiler alert: psychoanalysis has been proven in double-blind studies not to have the least beneficial effect.
God in Kant and Spinoza
I didn’t know nearly as much about Kant when I wrote this, and it shows. Just the same Spinoza is wonderful and seriously underrated – more for his ethics than his metaphysics, but just the same.