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Archive for August, 2015



I take Searle’s Chinese room argument, the Turing test and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus to be demonstrations of how pragmatically limited are questions about consciousness, reality, freedom, thought, intent, etc…One can argue to a multiverse of endless noumena and still get run over by a bus.


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I’m thinking all definitions are quite circular. In the way a circle is. That is, circularly circular.


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Are space and time the constant and unchanging building blocks of reality (or experience) that Newton (or Kant) thought they were? Experimentally it was discovered that the measured speed of light (C) is a constant no matter how fast the observer is traveling. Einstein realized that if this is indeed true, then our normal idea of the constancy of time and space must be re-evaluated. Because if speed is distance/time and the speed of light cannot change then something about distance and/or time must be changing, to explain the fact that one can never “catch up” to a ray of light (because to catch up to it would mean that its relative speed could change – but this is impossible based on observations). Additionally if nothing can ever catch up to or exceed the speed of light, then gravity thought of as an instantaneously acting force must also be re-evaluated. Gravity cannot be thought of as something that depends only on distance and mass, as Newton had suggested in his famous equation FG = GmM/r2. This is so in part because gravity as an event must be made consistent with the experimentally observed constancy of the speed of light and in part because the distance that Newton put into his equation is no longer the constant he assumed it to be. Moreover another consequence of the constancy of C is that masses also change in response to motion. One of the reasons we can’t ever exceed the speed of light is that as masses accelerate, they become more massive, causing resistance to further acceleration. As a result, one can approach the speed limit, but never achieve it. The consequence of all of Einstein’s ruminations is that we now think of C as constant and space and time as malleable.



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The more I learn about science, the more it looks like religion.


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I think of ethical principles along a spectrum running from empiricist to rationalist tendencies. On the one hand the empirical argument starts from an assumption that morality is a fiction better left largely untouched by the collective. The role of government or society is mainly to make sure the streets are paved and (mostly) free of bloodshed. The rationalist argument would be that morality, even if a fiction, is a useful one that keeps us not just civil, but healthy. Healthy because we are reaching for something greater than ourselves, even if it is a fiction. Of course, many authors neatly dance between the poles of this false dichotomy. The question comes down to this: are you an empiricist or a rationalist? Both or neither?


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One significant problem we seem to face in the 2500 year old modern world is that of signal pollution. The self, being a contingent event, is increasingly scattered across the increasingly heterogeneous range of cues that make up contemporary existence. And being nothing but a set of responses to those cues, it naturally becomes more and more heterogeneous with them. At a certain point the signal sinks below our ability to detect it. Noise overwhelms signal. We ourselves are lost.

What is the remedy?


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Does the rain lament a rainy day? Does the mountain feel its own weight? Do you judge yourself for being yourself?


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