Hey look, finally an effective altruist arguing for epistemic humility
Why computational complexity means longtermism isn't action-guiding

Someone makes a brilliant point in the comments: "Loved this post - reminds me a lot of intractability critiques of central economic planning, except now applied to consequentialism writ large."

from this thread on philosophical critiques of EA/longtermism

We are not living in a simulation

"It's not about the drop, it's about the build." - Kasima

via ilx


For everything that is understood and sensed is nothing other than the apparition of the non-apparent, the manifestation of the hidden, the affirmation of the negated, the comprehension of the incomprehensible, the utterance of the unutterable, the access to the inaccessible, the intellection of the unintelligible, the body of the bodiless, the essence of the beyond-essence, the form of the formless, the measure of the immeasurable, the number of the unnumbered, the weight of the weightless, the materialization of the spiritual, the visibility of the invisible, the place of the placeless, the time of the timeless, the definition of the infinite, the circumscription of the uncircumscribed, and the other things which are both conceived and perceived by the intellect alone and cannot be retained within the recesses of memory and which escape the blade of the mind.

ART THOUGHTZ: Post-Structuralism

Ladies and Gentlemen, Slavoj Žižek
Guardian interview
He sighs and closes his eyes and seems to deflate before my eyes. "I will tell you my problem openly and for this my publisher will hate me. All the talk and the writing about politics, this is not where my heart is. No. I have been sidetracked. I really mean this."

He opens a copy of Living in the End Times, and finds the contents page. "I will tell you the truth now," he says, pointing to the first chapter, then the second. "Bullshit. Some more bullshit. Blah, blah, blah." He flicks furiously through the pages. "Chapter 3, where I try to read Marx anew, is maybe OK. I like this part where I analyse Kafka's last story and here where I use the community of outcasts in the TV series Heroes as a model for the communist collective. But, this section, the Architectural Parallax, this is pure bluff. Also the part where I analyse Avatar, the movie, that is also pure bluff. When I wrote it, I had not even seen the film, but I am a good Hegelian. If you have a good theory, forget about the reality."

Why, then, given that he does not like most of his books and does not have any enthusiasm for the lecture circuit, does he not call a stop to the Žižek show? "I am doing that right now!" he shouts. "I am writing a mega-book about Hegel with regard to Plato, Kant and maybe Heidegger. Already, this Hegel book is 700 pages. It is a true work of love. This is my true life's work. Even Lacan is just a tool for me to read Hegel. For me, always it is Hegel, Hegel, Hegel," he says, sighing again. "But people just want the shitty politics."

(apologies RSS readers, Zizek's name did not survive the transition)

Vague, hand-wavey, inspiring thoughts about why politics sucks
Alasdair MacIntyre wrote the last philosophy book I found compelling enough to finish. He recently talked about the failures of our politics, making these provoking if sort of vague points:
There are two types of 'shared deliberation' in contemporary society, one that's focused on resolving conflicts between individuals over competing goods, and another (which he's championing) that's focused on building the common goods that we need qua being a member of groups.
Because we're so good at the former, and so bad at the latter, we have virtually no resources in our politics for asking what we owe each other, and so we mostly talk about what we're owed ourselves.
Check the link for a bit more. I'm searching desperately for a video or transcript.

Katamari Damarcy - A Critique
Part One, Part Two
"Over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to eight schools of criticism – Biographical, New Critical, Marxist, Structural, Jungian, Psychoanalytical, Feminist, and Post-Colonial – giving a little history behind each, and showing how they can be used to critique the video game Katamari Damacy for the PlayStation 2."

a brief correspondence between Mahatma Ghandi and Count Leo Tolstoy on non-violence

Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society
Currently featuring: visionary architecture (including houses made of living trees), timelines of timelines, cat pianos, the lawn chair balloonist.

Manifesto of Surrealism, by André Breton
"We are still living under the reign of logic: this, of course, is what I have been driving at. But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest. The absolute rationalism that is still in vogue allows us to consider only facts relating directly to our experience. Logical ends, on the contrary, escape us. It is pointless to add that experience itself has found itself increasingly circumscribed. It paces back and forth in a cage from which it is more and more difficult to make it emerge."

Political Theory Daily Review
A lot like Arts & Letters Daily, but less annoying.

"real niggaz do what they gotta do, bitch niggaz do what they can" - pac

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Home & Professional Page
"Book-Jacket Style Summary: NNT is an essayist, belletrist, (literary) flâneur, researcher, and practitioner of uncertainty (“mathematical trader”) focusing on the attributes of unexpected events, with a focus on extreme deviations, the “Black Swans” (i.e. outliers), their unpredictability, and our general inability to forecast."

Also, coo-coo for cocoa puffs. I mean that in a nice way.

pancake people
"...a new kind of self—evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the 'instantly available'. A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance—as we all become 'pancake people'—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information."

The author's ideal "complex inner density" has never been achievable by very many people. It demands an orderly life, access to high-quality education, and lots of free time for reading and long walks. Only the elites tend to have this, which is maybe why we value it so much.

On Bullshit
"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted."

Quitting the Paint Factory: On the Virtues of Idleness
My God, how did I miss this amazing quote from Ovid: "Love yields to business. If you seek a way out of love, be busy; you'll be safe, then."

awesome article on 20th century analytic philosophy, followed by email discussion
"I have gone on about this in an article called `Having concepts, a brief refutation of the 20th Century,' in a recent issue of MIND AND LANGUAGE."

"Still, there was felt to be trouble pretty early on. For one thing, no concepts ever actually did get analysed, however hard philosophers tried. (Early in the century there was detectable optimism about the prospects for analysing 'the', but it faded)."

Tit for Tat defeated in Prisoner's Dilemma
Kind of. Different setup than the original competition.

the long now foundation - seminar downloads
Listen to Brian Eno, Bruce Sterling etc talks as mp3s.

update: I'm disappointed. Not in the seminars, which I haven't listened to yet, but in whatever geek they got to create the mp3s. They're 128kbps, really excessive for voice, and no ID3 tags. The illusion of infalliability is shattered.

the long now
Transcript of a talk given by Brian Eno last November in San Francisco.
So I thought they lived in a very short Now, their sense of Now was from about the beginning of last week to the end of next week. And if you said what are you working on now they would tell you what they had been working on that morning, not what they’d been working on for the last couple of years or so - it was exciting but it was very narrow and that kind of narrowness in time-thinking slightly worried me, because it doesn’t translate into terribly productive social behaviour. It doesn’t encourage you to set in place projects and agreements and arrangements between people that will flower over very long periods.

Camus and Sartre
The most in-depth comparison of their thought I've found yet. Well, mostly it just answers my question "What's wrong with The Myth of Sisyphus?" I always caught a faint whiff of condescension from scholars about it, but I couldn't figure out why.

Rules for Living
“You done ruined the romance, so go ahead and say whatever it is you want to say.”

How to Deconstruct Almost Anything
I would like to read a response to this. Eric, did you have to get into this stuff for Folk & Myth?

Crooked Timber
Am I a Bright? Or just a pretentious fuck?

After having lunch with Judge Learned Hand, Holmes entered his carriage to be driven away. As he left, Judge Hand’s parting salute was:

“Do justice, sir, do justice.”

Holmes ordered the carriage stopped.

“That is not my job,” Holmes said to Judge Hand. “It is my job to apply the law.”
Robert H. Bork, The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law (New York: The Free Press, 1990), p. 6

Social Fiction index
carthographic sadism. gabber avant-gardism. disco socialism. peripatetic hedonism. autonomous spacetravel. RIGHT!

The Decline of Redemptive Truth and the Rise of a Literary Culture, by Richard Rorty
"...the question 'Do you believe in truth or are you one of those frivolous postmodernists?' is often the first one that journalists ask intellectuals whom they are assigned to interview. That question now plays the role previously played by the question 'Do you believe in God, or are you one of those dangerous atheists?'."

Dennett disagrees.
Haven't read Simon Blackburn's take yet.

Psychologists now know what makes people happy
Bullshit. I'm bookmarking this so I can read it closely later and tear it apart.

A Lost Buddhist Literary Tradition Is Found
"The manuscripts are the [Dead Sea Scrolls] of Buddhism...but he adds, 'From the beginning, I've structured this project's strategies to be the exact opposite to the Dead Sea Scrolls. That entails actually doing research and publishing it, rather than dickering around for 40 years, or whatever they were doing.'"

Nick Bostrom's home page
Sport philosophy: breezy essays on topics lifted directly from science fiction.

Ask A Philosopher!
I'm so abusing this.

Pirsig's SODV
Holy shit. Robert Pirsig is still working, and pretty lucid. Doesn't make me want to read 'Lila', though.

Those wacky pattern language people! "This book [Salingaros, 'Principles of Urban Structure'] addresses the needs of professional urbanists who wish to understand how and why cities are successful or not, depending on their form, components, and substructure. It marks the beginning of a revolution in urban science."

Skimming...I understand his hostility to modernism, but modernism isn't just Le Corbusier, it's also Frank Lloyd Wright and Joyce. Modernism doesn't have some nihilistic, anti-human agenda at its core.
(author homepage)

Great resource on Italian Futurism.
Futurism was an international art movement founded in Italy in 1909. It was (and is) a refreshing contrast to the weepy sentimentalism of Romanticism. The Futurists loved speed, noise, machines, pollution, and cities; they embraced the exciting new world that was then upon them rather than hypocritically enjoying the modern world’s comforts while loudly denouncing the forces that made them possible. Fearing and attacking technology has become almost second nature to many people today; the Futurist manifestos show us an alternative philosophy.

Too bad they were all Fascists.
Links to a bunch of breathless manifestos, including Russolo's Art of Noises.

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."
  • William Blake

Synchronicity! Peter Merholz blogs Cognitivism, which, as it turns out, is a variety of Constructivism. This essay (which I have barely skimmed) seems more level-headed than the other contructivist stuff I've read. In turn, I'm more ready to consider some heady claims for the field -- cognitivism as an organizing paradigm for human psychology? (kidding, kidding...)

This collection of Chinese propaganda posters led me on a search for equivalent Russian designs. I had trouble coming up with what I thought of as archetypal Soviet propaganda posters, until I realized I was looking for a specific school called Constructivism. Constructivism turns out to be a classic old-school capital-letter Movement with (occasionally rabid) proponents in education and the arts. I want to argue passionately about ideas and make love as a political act. I want to belong to a movement. That said, I'm still looking for a good online gallery of Constructivist propaganda posters.

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