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 fasciitis) 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. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
The History of Philosophy podcast has the ambitious goal of covering the entire history of (Western) philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the modern day, without skipping any major philosophers or schools. At 110 episodes, it's just reached the end of the Roman Empire and Boethius and has very far still to go.
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
Stuck on a train for an hour every day and sick of sudoku? Hands love to knit but the brain gets bored? Riding out the recession as a streetcorner sign-twirler? Or maybe you've just got a burning desire for "cultural conversation of the depth you demand." If so, then Metafilter's own Colin Marshall has got what you need at the Marketplace of Ideas. [more inside]
Philosopher Alvin Plantinga discusses the evolutionary argument against naturalism with philosopher Stephen Law. Plantinga, now retired from his position at Notre Dame, is one of the most well known analytic philosophers of recent times. The podcast is targeted at a non academic audience and keeps things on a fairly basic level in non-technical language. Plantinga and Law conduct a congenial, mutually respectful discussion of the issue. Previously. [more inside]
Stanford Italian literature professor Robert Harrison does a conversational show on KZSU, the university radio station, called Entitled Opinions (on Life and Literature), which is also distributed as one of the most fascinating, engaging podcasts in any possible universe. Choicest topics include mimetic desire, Proust, the inflationary universe, 1910, American writers in Paris and the history of the book.
Philosophy Bites is a podcast by David Edmonds (of Wittgenstein's Poker fame) and Nigel Warburton. Listen to: Edward Craig - What is Philosophy?, Timothy Williamson on Vagueness, or Stephen Law on The Problem of Evil, and others. [more inside]
The Philosophy Podcast seems to be a podcast where great philosophical works are read aloud. Unfortunately you need to pay for the full works, but the bits are fun. For something a little more contemporary, check out Philosophy Talk, hosted by Ken Taylor and one of the funniest contemporary analytic philosophers: John Perry. In particular, check out Perry's light essays in which the power of procrastination can be harnessed (and apparently now put on t-shirts), an ideal desk is a giant lazy susan, and connections are drawn between golf and suffering.
Kant. Modern thought begins with Kant yet his work is dense and hard to understand. Perhaps this set of lectures, some 12 hours in total from the University of Glasgow will help. Titled 'Kant's Epistemology' they cover most of the subject matter of the Critique of Pure Reason - an extremely ambitious task. They are free and appear to be available only for a limited period. Perhaps worth downloading now - to savour when you have an few idle years.