Profiting From The Written Word

– Mentorbox is a new subscription-based service which sends customers a monthly box containing interesting books filled with study sheets, detailed notes, summaries, and the like. – Alain De Botton’s School of Life has a bibliotherapy service in which people are guided to penetrating works of literature that grapple with whatever problems they’re currently facing. Feeling […]

Postmodernism

I just finished Christopher Butler’s “Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction”, and my impression of the philosophy is still that it consists of a half-dozen genuinely useful insights inflated to completely absurd dimensions. Yes, to a surprisingly large extent the things we take for granted are social and linguistic constructions; yes, the ‘discourse’ of mutually connected […]

Duty and the Individual

Because I’m an individualist libertarian who cares deeply about the single greatest engine of human progress in the history of Earth: Western European Civilization, and its greatest modern expression: the United States of America, I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about how individualism intersects with duty. On my view Ayn Rand was correct in pointing out that […]

What is a Simulation?

While reading Paul Rosenbloom’s outstanding book “On Computing” I came across an interesting question: what is a simulation, and how is it different from an implementation? I posed this question on Facebook and, thanks to the superlative quality of my HiveMind I had a productive back-and-forth which helped me nail down a tentative answer. Here it is: […]

Pebble Form Ideologies

(Epistemic Status: Riffing on an interesting thought in a Facebook comments thread, mostly just speculation without any citations to actual research) My friend Jeffrey Biles — who is an indefatigable fountainhead of interesting stuff to think about — recently posited that the modern world’s aversion to traditional religion has exerted a selection pressure on meme vectors which has […]

Profundis: “Crystal Society/Crystal Mentality”

Max Harms’s ‘Crystal Society’ and ‘Crystal Mentality’ (hereafter CS/M) are the first two books in a trilogy which tells the story of the first Artificial General Intelligence. The titular ‘Society’ are a cluster of semi-autonomous sentient modules built by scientists at an Italian university and running on a crystalline quantum supercomputer — almost certainly alien […]

Reason and Emotion

One of the most pervasive misconceptions about the rationalist community is that we consider reason and emotion to be incontrovertibly opposed to one another, as if an action is irrational in direct proportion to how much feelings are taken into account. This is so common that it’s been dubbed ‘the straw vulcan of rationality’. While it’s true that people reliably […]