This week I read (actually listened to) The Invention of Tomorrow: A Natural History of Foresight by Thomas Suddendorf, Jonathan Redshaw, and Adam Bulley. I was alerted to the existence of this book by Sean Carroll's interview of Bulley on his podcast, which provides a good overview of their overall thesis. People have long struggled … Continue reading The Invention of Tomorrow
Scrutinize what makes you angry
We all have ideas or concepts that exasperate us when they're brought up. Mine have changed over the years. When I was younger, anything that called into question certain ideas, such as the religious faith I was raised in, or the mantra of American patriotism, irritated me to no end. I tended to reject propositions … Continue reading Scrutinize what makes you angry
Mark Solms’ theory of consciousness
I recently finished Mark Solms' new book, The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. There were a few surprises in the book, and it had what I thought were strong and weak points. My first surprise was Solms' embrace of the theories of Sigmund Freud, including psychoanalysis. Freud's reputation has suffered a … Continue reading Mark Solms’ theory of consciousness
The complex composition of pain
When I was very young, the top of my feet started itching, so I started scratching. The itching continued for weeks and months, with me constantly scratching. My poor mother, seeing my red and scratched feet, implored me to stop. But the itching was relentless and I was maybe five or six, so I kept … Continue reading The complex composition of pain
The layers of emotion creation
What are emotions? Where do they come from? Are they something innate or something we learn? The classic view is that they're precognitive impulses that happen to us. If so, this would imply that they have specific neural signatures. Early in her career, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett attempted to isolate the neural basis of emotions … Continue reading The layers of emotion creation
Politics is about self interest
I've read a lot of history, including American history of the 18th and 19th centuries. It's interesting to read about the politics of these periods. From a distance across generations and centuries, you can see the distinction between the self interested stances people took and the rhetoric that was used to justify those stances. An … Continue reading Politics is about self interest
Don’t trust your emotions. They will betray you.
I've mentioned before that my views have changed dramatically over the years. But thinking about that the other day, it occurred to me that most of that change happened in a fairly narrow period. At the beginning of 2004, I was still a nominal Catholic, often voted Republican, was suspicious of gays and other non-traditional groups, and … Continue reading Don’t trust your emotions. They will betray you.
Is there a moral arc to history?
The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. As someone who isn't able to find an objective basis for morality, I've often wondered what that means for the above statement from Martin Luther King. It certainly feels like we're making moral progress, that the status of previously oppressed or marginalized people … Continue reading Is there a moral arc to history?
SMBC: Apologies by discipline
Click through for full sized version. via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. STRICT REDUCTIONIST: Anyway, apologies are an evolutionary survival mechanism and therefore just an illusion.
When should we consider an AI a fellow being?
Fears of AI (artificial intelligence) are still showing up the media, most recently with another quote from Stephen Hawking warning that it might be the end of us, with Elon Musk, due to his own anxious statements, now being referenced whenever the subject comes up. I've written many times before why I think these fears … Continue reading When should we consider an AI a fellow being?