The maturity of fiction awareness

Mesopotamian religious imagery

In an ongoing series, I'm covering topics that catch my interest as I read Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.  One topic that Harari returns to often is the idea of imagined worlds.  Homo sapiens acquired the ability to create imagined worlds in what he called "the cognitive revolution".  Most anthropologists see … Continue reading The maturity of fiction awareness

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

This is an interesting video from Big Think.  It features discussion from a variety of thinkers like Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, Susan Schneider, and others, including a lot of intelligent remarks from someone I wasn't familiar with until now, Joanna Bryson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETVr_lpIMO0 Consciousness lies in the eye of the beholder.  There is no universally agreed … Continue reading Does conscious AI deserve rights?

Scientific and philosophical possibilities for immortality

A question that has come up in a couple of recent conversations: Is there any hope within a scientific or philosophical view of reality for immortality, something like an afterlife that is typically promised in the major religions? The most popular hope these days is the Technological Singularity, the idea that sometime soon we will … Continue reading Scientific and philosophical possibilities for immortality

The problem with philosophical thought experiments

James Wilson has an article up at Aeon, looking at the trolley problem and other ethical and philosophical thought experiments.  One of the things he discusses is the notion that many philosophers have, along with many fans of particular thought experiments, that they're sort of like a scientific experiment.  It's not that unusual for someone … Continue reading The problem with philosophical thought experiments

Platonism and the non-physical

On occasion, I've been accused of being closed-minded.  (Shocking, I know.)  Frequently the reason is not seriously considering non-physical propositions, a perception of rigid physicalism.  However, as I've noted before, I'm actually not entirely comfortable with the "physicalist" label (or "materialist", or other synonyms or near synonyms).  While it's fairly accurate as to my working … Continue reading Platonism and the non-physical

The antecedents of western philosophy

Peter Flegel has an interesting article in Philosophy Now looking at possible connections between ancient Greek philosophy and conceptions explored in the Egyptian New Kingdom period.  Ideas like the four elements and the theory of forms seem to have pretty clear antecedents in Egyptian thought. (There's also a brief suggestion that Akhenaten, known for a … Continue reading The antecedents of western philosophy