The Anthropocene Era
Now that we have solidly entered the Anthropocene Era (geological period where humans are having a significant effect on climate and environment), many serious philosophical, moral and existential questions arise.
“Earth has lost half of its wild animals in the last forty years. What does it mean to be philosophical about this? The last time there was this much carbon in the atmosphere, humanity didn’t even exist. What should we think or feel about this terrain we’re entering: the prospect that future generations may see those born in the late 20th century as the last humans to know ecological innocence?”
#philosophy #anthropocene #survival
The Normalization of Wickedness
I find myself agreeing with those who argue that one of the most damaging effects of the Trump Presidency and rise of racist, bigoted, xenophobic and divisive influence in American politics (euphemistically called “alt-right”), is that we are lowering the bar to what constitutes “normal” behaviour and thinking.
“What we regard as Evil is capable of a fairly ubiquitous presence if only because it tends to appear in the guise of good.” (Joseph Brodsky)
“The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.” (Hannah Erendt)
“What he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.” (Hannah Erendt)
Are We Facing a World Without Consciousness?
“A worry for Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers is creating a world devoid of consciousness. He sees the discussion of future superintelligences often presume that eventually AIs will become conscious. But what if that kind of sci-fi possibility that we will create completely artificial humans is not going to come to fruition? Instead, we could be creating a world endowed with artificial intelligence but not actual consciousness.”
#philosophy #consciousness #artificialintelligence #ai
The Reality of War
“Of course, war and the large military establishments are the greatest sources of violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.”
#philosophy #war #violence #morality
Consciousness is Hot: Westworld Philosophy
I have posted a few times now about my pleasure at seeing the growing popularity of metaphysically themed shows often dealing with issues around consciousness, AI etc. Great article here by Jeremy Johnson on some of the philosophical roots to the show Westworld and its links to Julian Jayne’s The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. I read that book (struggled through it actually), more than 25 years ago. Although I still haven’t warmed up to the theory that meta-consciousness, self-consciousness evolved through the development of metaphorical language, the idea seems to have found a role in science fiction and speculations around AI.
“Early on in Westworld’s first season Dr. Ford, one of the creators of the park, explains how he and his co-founder Arnold used a “debunked” theory about the origins of consciousness to bootstrap A.I. The scientific community didn’t recognize bicameralism as an explanation for the origins of the human mind, but, as Dr. Ford suggests, it could be useful for building an artificial one. Thousands of people—perhaps more—started Googling for “bicameral mind.” Bloggers and YouTube channels capitalized on the sudden interest by writing articles and introductory videos about this weird, arguably psychedelic theory of consciousness. Suddenly everyone was interested.” (Jeremy Johnson)
#philosophy #consciousness #westworld #julianjaynes
Is Self-Consciousness Morally Significant?
In other words, if an animal/species has self-consciousness, does this fact alone support moral reason’s for not killing that creature/species?
“I have considered two ways to defend the claim that the possession of self-consciousness generates strong moral reasons against harming or killing: one indirect, the other direct. I argued that the best-known arguments along the indirect route depend in various ways on unwarranted assumptions about self-consciousness’s functional significance and that once these assumptions are undermined motivation for these arguments dissipates. Further, I have considered the possibility that self-consciousness generates strong moral reasons against harming or killing in virtue of its intrinsic or final moral significance. But it seems that self-consciousness lacks enough intrinsic or final significance to generate strong moral reasons. We lack good reasons to think that self-consciousness is highly morally significant. Reflection on the nature and grounds of human and non-human moral significance should turn elsewhere.”
The Purpose of Philosophy
“I’m not a philosophical megalomaniac,” says Slavoj Žižek. Philosophy is not here to provide all of the answers. What it can do however, which is more powerful, is ask the right questions.”
#philosophy #zizek #slavojzizek
Where Are The Philosopher’s?
“Philosophy used to be a staple of television and the newspapers. Not any longer. So where did all the philosophers go?”
Conformation Bias & Fake/False News
“And now we want to take a few minutes to talk about why people seem willing to believe or at least tolerate assertions that may or may not be grounded in truth. Social scientists call this confirmation bias. That’s when we are drawn to information that aligns with our world views and when we hold onto these beliefs, even in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.”
#philosophy #confirmationbias #fakenews
What Makes Us Tick? – Plato
“This is the second diablog* with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. RNG is a philosopher, novelist, certified MacArthur “genius,” winner of a National Humanities Medal, and likely the closest we can get to Plato being alive in our midst (see Plato at the Googleplex, which wonderfully images what would happen if Plato had to go on a contemporary book tour).”