Is the Mind Immaterial or Material?

Cartesian dualism has been a point of contention in philosophy since at least, well, Descartes. The dispute is whether the mind is a separate, immaterial entity from the physical body. Problems have plagued the dualist view since the time of Descartes, primarily how it is that the immaterial mind and material body interact.

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More CRISPR Gene Editing Babies

Nature reported that Russian molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov is planning to perform CRISPR experiments on human embryos. He’s running the experiments on the same CCR5 gene as Chinese scientist He Jiankui in 2018. This is once again raising questions on the ethics of human genetic experimentation.

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Knowledge, Belief, and Action

Can propositional beliefs (belief about the truth or falsehood of a that P statement) be held without it influencing behavior? It’s difficult to say whether a belief is really a belief if it doesn’t change behavior, or if beliefs, by their very nature, necessarily change behavior. I think one can argue that a belief is more justified if it changes behavior in a particular way. That is what I’ll discuss here.

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Quantum Computing

What is quantum computing and why is it so damn difficult?

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Categories of Understanding, Qualia, and the Operations of Intuition

Understanding how consciousness and the mind is generated is best done using the bottom-up approach of neuroscience, but if the consciousness/mind is performing recursive, downwardly causal actions on the Lockean Ideas – the content of thinking/cognition – then what are the mental mechanisms being utilized? Here I present some nascent ideas for your consideration.

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Is Human Nature Immutable?

Human nature, as I define it, is the set of cognitive and behavioral patterns that are innate in human beings, regardless of culture and specific upbringing. These are patterns passed down to us by evolution. With humans, though, we seem to be unique in our ability for metacognition – thinking about our thinking and our behaviors. Does that give us the ability to change our innate human nature?

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Journal Club: Chen et al, 2018: Neural Ordinary Differential Equations

In the 2018 NeurIPS conference, 4,845 papers were submitted. The paper I’m reviewing here by Chen et al, 2018, titled Neural Ordinary Differential Equations, won best paper award. The paper discusses using continuous Ordinary Differential Equations (ODE) for Neural Networks (NN) as opposed to the sorts of discrete layers used in the standard Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN).

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World War II Week by Week

Between 2014 and now, I’ve been regularly watching The Great War series on Youtube, which follows the First World War week-by-week, while also doing mini-biographies and answering viewer questions. Tons of content there, all worth watching. But since last September, the same person who hosted The Great War (they have a new host there as they cover the interwar years who is also great), Indy Neidell, has begun covering World War 2 week-by-week (79 years to the week after it occurred for WW2, as opposed to 100 years for WWI).

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Quantum Mechanics qua Being

Aristotle defined metaphysics as the study of Being qua Being – or, one might say, studying Being being Being. He says in book VII of his Metaphysics that Being is the individual instances of essence, which is the substance that defines what a thing is in-itself. Now, in our present time, we’ve narrowed down the primary substance further than our everyday sensible objects, down to subatomic particles. Can Aristotle’s philosophy be a useful lens to think about quantum mechanics?

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Foreign Policy Realism, Idealism, or Transactionalism?

An article in The American Conservative by Daniel R. Depetris contrasts Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy (as a synecdoche for the Republic Establishment) to that of Donald Trump. The former is a sort of idealism, where America takes point in the “U.S.-led liberal international order.” The latter sees international relations as a business transaction, where alliances are treated as a quid pro quo relationship. Is there a foreign policy realism that can be used as a middle ground?

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Transhumanist Virtue Ethics: Desirable Innate Preferences Determined by Reason

Natural rights don’t exist, except in the human mind. They are a way for a social species to maintain social cohesion. But, as useful as natural rights may be in deciding how to organize society, they are not fundamental; instead, they are derivative of what humans, in general, desire.

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The Absurd Heroism of D-Day

Today, June 6 of 2019, is 75 years after the June 6, 1944 Anglo-American amphibious invasion of Normandy, France. But what did those brave men fight and die for?

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