This Cato Institute 2019 poll has some telling results about the state of people’s feelings toward a meaningful existence. What does it mean to have a meaningful existence? Religion, of course, says that a meaningful existence can only happen through religion. Without religion, people seem to seek meaning through politics. Once politics is seen for what it really is – a soul-shaped cavity overflowing with fetid swamp water where dreams go to die – people are left with nothing but hollow materialistic consumerism. When that fails to satisfy the need for purpose, the meaning-wheel comes full circle and people seek a metaphysics to explain how the world works. The most popular of which currently is identity politics.
Is Consciousness Logically Supervenient?
I am currently reading David J. Chalmers’ 1996 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory which claims that, due to consciousness not being logically supervenient, there is no reductive explanation for consciousness. Thus Chalmers concludes that consciousness must be explained through a dualist paradigm. I have some issues with the argument.
Categories of Understanding, Qualia, and the Operations of Intuition – Revisited, Revised, and Expanded
What follows is, as the title says, a revisit, revision, and expansion of an earlier post I made. I may continue doing this as new thoughts come to mind while I work through my thinking on the subject of Philosophy of Mind.
Persistence of Self-Identity Through Time
Should I be responsible for things I did ten years ago? Or am I a different person now than I was then? And not just in a ‘personal growth’ way, but actually a different person.
God Does Not Exist: Philosophical Arguments
Among the Abrahamic religions, multiple arguments have been put forward by philosophers and theologians to prove the existence of God. I’m an atheist and don’t think any of these arguments are convincing. In this post – the first in a series I will do concerning the existence of God – I will demonstrate why I personally don’t think these philosophical arguments are very convincing.
The second post in the “series” on the scientific reasons for not believing in God is here.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
Structure of the Mind
Consciousness and qualia are problems that are still unsolved by philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. My way of viewing consciousness and qualia is that consciousness is the process by which our brains organize the world into working models and qualia is the ‘stuff’ that consciousness uses to generate those models. For better or worse, both of these exist due to evolutionary forces. That means they’re fine tuned to a very specific sort of survival, not for any pure understanding of the world or ourselves. In order to understand the limitations of our own minds, we need to know the inner workings of how the world is organized in our minds on a fundamental level. That requires knowing the structure of our minds.
Russiagate, Cognitive Bias, Human Nature, and My Political Nihilism
After two years of investigation and constant media coverage, the Mueller Report is finally finished. While anyone outside the Justice Department has yet to read the full report, Attorney General William Barr has released a summary. The so-called Russiagate story is not yet over, however, as there are now calls for the entire Mueller Report to be made public. Exactly what the Russiagate story is and how it started is expertly told by Matt Taibbi in his “It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD” piece. What I’m more interested in is how this whole story is indicative of human nature.
Jordan Peterson and God: Truth, Myth, and the Bible
In this post, I am going to write a response/review of Jordan Peteron’s 2017 lecture titled Biblical Series I: Introduction to the Idea of God, which is available to watch on Youtube.
Machine learning and deep learning has never been more advanced than it is today, with computing power evolving tremendously and becoming capable of processing information and learn from larger data sets than ever before. An emerging type of computing, known as neuromorphic computing, is making breakthroughs and becoming popular with AI and neuroscience researchers.
Quiet Contemplations Questioning Consciousness
The first law of thermodynamics tells us that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted into other forms of energy – for example, if you slap the wall, the mechanical energy that goes into the slap is converted into the energy needed to produce sound. With Einstein’s famous equation E=mc^2 it is easy to see that conservation of energy translates into conservation of matter.
This dictum applies to the physical reality that we inhabit. But what about the individual that experiences this physical reality? What is the mind?