Skip navigation

Tag Archives: epistemology

A lot rests on the assumption of the I, so much so that it is even hard to show that it is an assumption. Almost everything that I know comes with a degree of uncertainty, but this little bit seems certain: I am myself.

I am unable to doubt this because I look at myself. This is a reflex, and a strong one. I introspect = look inside. I know this! How could it be wrong? Even if I go into zen-style stuff about becoming one with everything, there is still an I who is doing the becoming.

Who is it that knows there is no ego? — Alan Watts

Read More »

Advertisements

In one sense, Plato’s Cave Alegory is the perfect criticism of Platonism.

There might be an element of extemporaneous simplification there, but Platonism basically is saying that the idea of a triangle is more real than a triangle made of wood. This is taking flat, featureless and unreachable things in preference to actual things. Plato’s prisoners prefer the shadows than the objects that cast them. That puts Plato as the prisoner, not the free man.

Then again, flat and featureless things are easier to parse, so you could expect the cognitive system to prefer attaching to those and thus feel Platonism as more expedient. Maybe that’s why MineCraft is such huge success. Low-res pixelated images as “more Platonic”.

A few weeks ago someone posted on hacker news an (oldish) long rant by a certain Steven Dutch against the weasel wording of post-modern philosophy of science.

For a physicist, being called solipsist is tantamount to being accused of inventing his experimental results, pretty much the worst thing one could do. For anyone in the humanities, people being their object of study, and people having a strong tendency to behave in solipsist ways, disregarding solipsism out of hand is inventing experimental results. Read More »

A primate brain, say a chimp’s or a bonobo’s grey matter, sees the world in monkey terms. That is to say, it first and foremost is part of a band of other monkeys, it tries to figure out who’s boss and who’s to be exploited, who is enemy, who controls the food, etc. Mostly it is all about «who»s. Inside the head, it is a lot of monkeys. Primates are social animals and the pecking order is way more important than anything else. The same brain also helps with spacial navigation, cause-and-effect modelling, literature criticism and so on, but those are side-effects.

But the thing is: Those side effects turn out quite impressive. So: How, exactly?

Science, Art, Pornography, Philosophy, J-Pop, Mathematics, Culinary, Religions, Traffic Jam, Po-Mo, Bureaucracy, 4chan — all of those (and many others) are one way or another a product of human brain activity. Now if all brain activity is monkey business, if all the brain does is deal with the politics of ape packs, then how exactly do we understand all of those things? Read More »