Science, Mind, and God. Part I: The New Atheists

Not long ago I developed and taught a class on the so-called New Atheists, a group of thinkers who put out books around the same time (2004 – 2007) arguing against Western religion. As a long-time devotee of Nietzsche, I was intrigued by these books and sympathetic towards many of the arguments they contained. I’ll … Continue reading Science, Mind, and God. Part I: The New Atheists

PLATO ON TRUMP AND THE CORRUPTION OF TYRANTS

In a recent New York Times column, “The Revenge of the Lesser Trumps,” Frank Bruni talks about those who have been sucked into Trump’s orbit, fell out with him, and now are turning against him. He writes: The problem with being Donald Trump isn’t just being Donald Trump. It’s all the other, lesser Trumps around … Continue reading PLATO ON TRUMP AND THE CORRUPTION OF TYRANTS

The Mind Projection Fallacy, or: Do You Exist Before I Look at You?

This is a fun piece from a while back. Have a look.

Mark T. Conard

In my humble opinion, one of the wackiest things about contemporary physics is the notion of indeterminacy, or the idea that (as a recent essay put it): “Reality Doesn’t Exist Until You Look at It.” This title is doubly silly, since it equates reality with what goes on at the subatomic level, and not with trees, dolphins, mountains, gerbils, Buicks, and non-fat yoghurt (the yoghurt definitely exists before you look at it, fyi). This was Schrödinger’s complaint with his famous cat thought-experiment (read here for the details).

For a long time I’d been naming this the “fallacy of deriving ontological conclusions from epistemological premises.” Ontology is the study of being; epistemology is the study of knowledge. So, in other words, one has premises concerning what one can or cannot know, and one derives a conclusion about the structure of reality from those premises. This is as illegitimate as…

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A Writer’s Question: To Plot or Not to Plot?

I recently read Stephen King’s On Writing for the first time. Everyone knows that King is a wildly successful writer, and there’s that perennial question of whether he’s actually a good writer. (Yes, bad writers can be wildly successful, witness Dan Brown, who is a horrific writer.) I’ll confess that I’ve only read one of … Continue reading A Writer’s Question: To Plot or Not to Plot?