Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Ismism is the position that people's positions in debates must be identified with the nearest matching 'ism'. It is often used as a mental shortcut enabling one to rebut the ism with a canned refutation, or cancel the need to by invoking an emotional reaction, while ignoring the subtle issues of the individual case. It's opposite might be called 'issueism' by ismists.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

philosophy and the other disciplines

the difference between philosophy and other disciplines, is that in the other disciplines there are facts and arguments: You don't necessarily have to understand the argument in order to acquire the facts. In philosophy there are no facts without the arguments. If you don't understand the arguments, you have nothing.


People cry when they are sad and when they are overwhelmingly happy. What is the relation between these two kinds of emotional states that we respond similarly to them? Perhaps we cry when we feel an intense connection to some being; and the feeling of connection is evoked both when the being is experienced as intensely present or intensely absent.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the absurdity of number

Are numbers just a useful fiction, or are they real things that exist? It would seem that they have to be real because true things can be said about them, e.g., it is incontrovertibly true that there is no highest prime number, thus there are infinite prime numbers, thus there are numbers. The question is, what are they?
Two answers are:
First, they are abstract, not really tied to any material thing, although we can use them to help us think about material things. If so, then every number must equal 0. This is because in the abstract, there are an infinity of numbers, so any number X is really X/∞ = 0.
Otherwise, they are concrete and we can think of them as not tied to objects, but they don't really exist except in objects. If so, then every number must equal 1. Say there are 14 pencils in a bag. So I count them: 1/14, 2/14, 3/14 ... 14/14 = 1.
So all numbers equal either 0 or 1, which is absurd.
I think that the basis of mathematics is not the number but the ratio. Though we learn to count first, the order of learning is not the order of being, and the most basic mathematical operation is not addition, but division. I haven't worked out the details.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The metaphor of the "foundations" of knowledge

When you build a structure it is essential that you build the foundation first; but when you plan a structure, you don't plan the foundation first: first you see what kind of structure it is, and then you decide on the kind of foundation you need. This is roughly analogous to the process of scientific discovery and its actual structure. We don't know what kind of foundation science needs until we know what the science has to say; but once we know a certain number of scientific data, we need to apprehend the foundations lest science be seen as a collection of unrelated facts.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Global Warming? or Which is the Gentler Cataclysm

Well, either the Earth's climate will grow warmer or it will grow colder. One thing is for damn sure - the climate of the Earth does not, will not stay the same. So which would you prefer? Another ice age? Don't forget that, geologically speaking, we're in middle of an ice age.

From a biodiversity perspective - hot is good, cold is bad. Watery is good, icy is bad. If you really cared about biodiversity, you would not be so concerned about global warming. Will the polar bears go extinct if global warming continues? Perhaps a few specimens will be rugged enough to survive in warmer climates and will evolve into new species. Or they'll go extinct, which they would anyway sooner or later. On the other hand warming will do good for many species, and it will open up the polar regions to all kinds of new life.

Think of it this way. Imagine there was a global phenomenon that would shrink the Sahara desert. Will we try to oppose that, merely because it's a change? The polar regions are the fucking desert. Why are we so afraid of losing it? especially environmentalists!

Would environmentalists rather lose the icecaps or the jungles?

It's not like there's anything we can do about it, but once we're already talking about it, let's talk about it intelligently.