According to the philosopher Anselm Jappe, who has come to Lisbon to give a talk at the Teatro Maria Matos, in capitalism we are defined by our relation to labor. But the system is a “house of cards that is beginning to collapse”. It is time to rethink the concept of labor.
The political economy of a universal basic income
: "your view of what is feasible should not be backwards looking. The normalization of gay marriage and legalization of marijuana seemed utopian and politically impossible until very recently. Yet in fact those developments are happening, and their expansion is almost inevitable
given the demographics of ideology... UBI
— defined precisely as periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable
and politically achievable
among policies that might effectively address problems
of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation." [more inside]
The Enlightenment’s ‘Race’ Problem, and Ours. Why have we chosen to go with Hume and Kant, rather than with the pre-racial conception of humanity?
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
(A theoretical physicist explains why) Science Is Not About Certainty [more inside]
This Letter to a Young Haskell Enthusiast
is mostly not about Haskell, or about programming, but about being a good person in an online community.
"... a series of curated, open access books about life — with life understood both philosophically and biologically — which provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences."
Although they offer "frozen PDFs," these books—on topics like biosemiotics
, animal experience
, and air
—are curated collections of links to open access science articles, reviews, interviews, podcasts, sometimes with embedded sounds and videos. They have ISBN numbers and editors vetted by the Open Humanities Press
, which is generally a gold mine of interesting books
. They feel perfectly at home on the open internet, evoking hope and nostalgia for a flourishing academic world wide web, without paywalls and login screens. [more inside]
From behind the New Yorker's temporarily removed paywall, a postmodern murder mystery
from Poland in 2007.
Carlos Slim calls for a three-day working week
"We've got it all wrong, says Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms tycoon and world's second-richest man: we should be working only three days a week." also btw
: The four-day work week
The new issue of the journal The Good Society
is about "Democratic Theory and Mass Incaceration." All articles are available online.
From the Introduction: The United States is the “world champion” in incarceration, to borrow Nils Christie's words, and United Kingdom jurisdictions, though some distance behind, are persistently among the European countries with the highest per capita rates of imprisonment [...] This symposium of the Good Society seeks to catalyze an engaged, multi-disciplinary discussion among philosophers, political theorists, and theoretically inclined criminologists on how contemporary democratic theory might help us think beyond mass incarceration. Rather than viewing punishment as a natural reaction to crime, and imprisonment as a sensible outgrowth of this reaction, we will frame these as institutions with deep implications for contemporary civic identity, which present unmet demands for public oversight and reflective democratic influence.
The rest of the issue can be read online here
. [via mefi projects
Tao Lin became very interested in Terence McKenna
over the past two years, and now he's writing a weekly column about the man and his ideas for Vice. Part I: Beyond "Existentialism"
. Part II: Terence McKenna's Memes
, featuring 30 of Lin's favorite memes propagated by the philosopher-explorer, touching upon entheogens, consciousness, evolution, belief, language, the internet, and mankind's search for meaning. If you have time on your hands, here's over ten uninterrupted hours of McKenna
as referenced in the first column.
Atheist bashing or tough love?
A thought-provoking review by Michael Robbins
of Nick Spencer's new book
on the history of atheism in Slate magazine. It reads like an autopsy of the recently murdered religious/atheist dialogue, with the "intellectually lazy" new atheism atop the list of suspects. [more inside]
Pianist Jeremy Denk has been living in a state of emergency. Instead of consulting a professional, I have come up with a three step solution. Recalibrating my life solution. The first step is to ignore all existing emergencies. Now, this—I can already hear you saying it—can’t last, this is not a workable solution. It sounds in fact like the opposite of a solution. Patience! Wait till you hear my next two steps. Step two—the real genius hinge of the whole thing—is then, in the absence of all emergencies, in the vast plain of false calm left after the tyrannical banishment of all the old emergencies, to choose to treat the smallest things as emergencies.
An interview with Peter Unger, Professor of Philosophy at NYU, regarding his new book, Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy
: "In a way, all I’m doing is detailing things that were already said aphoristically by Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations. I read it twice over in the sixties, pretty soon after it came out, when I was an undergraduate. I believed it all — well, sort of. I knew, but I didn’t want to know, and so it just went on. And basically what Philosophical Investigations says is that when you’re doing philosophy, you’re not going to find out anything. You find out some trivial things, you’ll be under the delusion that you’re doing a great deal, but what you should do is stop and do something more productive."
Scott Aaronson on building a 'PageRank' for (eigen)morality and (eigen)trust
- "Now, would those with axes to grind try to subvert such a system the instant it went online? Certainly. For example, I assume that millions of people would rate Conservapedia as a more trustworthy source than Wikipedia—and would rate other people who had done so as, themselves, trustworthy sources, while rating as untrustworthy anyone who called Conservapedia untrustworthy. So there would arise a parallel world of trust and consensus and 'expertise', mutually-reinforcing yet nearly disjoint from the world of the real. But here's the thing: anyone would be able to see, with the click of a mouse, the extent to which this parallel world had diverged from the real one
." [more inside]
For it is the future generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble...That growing affection of two lovers for each other is in reality the will to live of the new being, of which they shall become the parents...The lovers have a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but combined and united in one being, are perpetuated...Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself... Arthur Schopenhauer on the Metaphysics of Love
"While the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.
Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.
Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. 'I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,' he says."
Discouraged by limited access, exclusivity in subject matter and author demographics, lack of transparency and long wait times, Ergo
is a new take on the philosophy journal
that recently released their first volume.
Failed Philosopher King Michael Ignatieff
confirms Machiavelli in the latest edition
[direct link to mp3] of the Philosophy Bites Podcast
Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can't check
- "A computer has solved the longstanding Erdős discrepancy
problem! Trouble is, we have no idea what it's talking about — because the solution, which is as long as all of Wikipedia
's pages combined, is far too voluminous
for us puny humans
to confirm." (via
The chaplain then explained how he had spoken with the dead man’s wife, who related a vivid dream she’d had that night of her husband standing next to her bed, apologizing and explaining that he had been in a car accident, and that his car was in a ditch where it could not be seen from the road...They recovered the body 20 minutes later. Most scholars have no idea what to do with such poignant, powerful stories, other than to dismiss them with lazy words like "anecdote" or "coincidence."...We should put these extreme narratives, these impossible stories, in the middle of our academic table. I would also like to make a wager, here and now, that once we put these currently rejected forms of knowledge on our academic table, things that were once impossible to imagine will soon become possible not only to imagine but also to think, theorize, and even test. Professor Jeffrey Kripal
explains why the humanities needs to expand its field of acceptable topics for investigation.
Congratulations, you won the lottery and got offered a tenure-track job offer in the humanities! Now it's time to start negotiating. But don't negotiate on the terms, because your new colleagues might decide to rescind the offer.
Further coverage at Inside Higher Ed
Discovering Free Will
, Part III
) - a nice discussion of the Conway-Kochen "Free Will Theorem". [more inside]
La bella vita: True beauty pleases the eye and the mind – but can it help us to become better people?
"In 1795, the German dramatist and poet Friedrich Schiller
published a book with a fearsome title – On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters
. It has never become well-known, which is a pity, because it contains some of our most useful insights into the nature and value of beauty
. Schiller’s starting point is an analysis of the human condition. He wants to understand our delight in what we find beautiful. Instead of asking which things are beautiful, Schiller is curious about what is going on in us when we respond with this distinctive, intimate thrill and enthusiasm that leads us to say ‘that’s beautiful’. Different things might provoke this response in different people. But why do we have it at all?" [Via]
The deep philosophical differences between the two main conservative factions of the Catholic Church, pitting adherents of John Courtney Murray against the followers of Alasdair MacIntyre is the root cause of the mixed messages being put out by the Church on public policy matters. It is the fight worth watching.
M.I.T. professor Max Tegmark explores the possibility
that math does not just describe the universe, but makes the universe.
Is accepting failure essential to empathy?
Reading this made me think of how we are very fortunate to experience failure and how it's essential to human progress
. Interested in reading about the greatest failures that lead to your success in another area of your life.
Let me tell you a story. I was at a presentation that a friend, an Astrophysicist, gave to a potential donor ... After the talk the sponsor said to him, “you know what, I’m gonna pass because I just don’t feel inspired… you should be more like Malcolm Gladwell” ...
So I ask the question: does TED epitomize a situation where ... a scientist... is told that their work is not worthy of support, because the public doesn't feel good listening to them?
I submit that Astrophysics run on the model of American Idol is a recipe for civilizational disaster.
Benjamin H. Bratton (Dept. of Visual Arts
, UC San Diego) uses a TEDx
talk to critique the medium of the TED talk itself. Does TED
—"weird, inadequate and symptomatic"—encapsulate the twenty-first century's inability to face the challenges of the future in any honest way?
has passed away at the age of 82
. He rose to fame in the 50s
with The Outsider
, which made him a figure amongst Britain's Beat movement and Angry Young Men
. His writing has spanned the fiction and non-fiction, with an interest in the paranormal and the occult, his thoughts on which he blended with HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to produce The Mind Parasites
. A TV series based on his The Space Vampires, also the basis for the movie Lifeforce
), is currently planned
. Wikipedia page
, 2004 Guardian interview
, Times Obituary
Last month, we lost one of the great philosophers of the 20th century.
Arthur C. Danto was perhaps the most eminent voice in contemporary aesthetics. Always on the cutting edge, Danto shined a light on aesthetics in the post-art world. [more inside]
The FBI files on being and nothingness.
"From 1945 onwards, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI spied on Camus and Sartre
. The investigation soon turned into a philosophical inquiry…" [Via]
Gilded Birds: A Snapshot of Contemporary Ideals of Beauty.
Writers, artists, and philosophers are prompted to select a piece that they consider beautiful, and then interviewed about their reasons for choosing it.
Today is World Philosophy Day
. Celebrate by reading the Euthyphro
, Al Jazeera's Defense of Philosophy
, or the first chapter of the new book Why We Argue? (And How We Should.)
But don't just sit there interpreting the world! The point is to change it
, so maybe spend some time advocating for early-childhood philosophy education
A Philosophy of Tickling. As Nietzsche put it, in an ironic jab at eudaimonism: “What is the best life? To be tickled to death.”