Busy, Busy, Busy.
Mentioned strange times regarding work-load and productivity a few posts ago; my pipeline stuffed with unread bookmarks and unresolved references, and a to-do-list with at least seven dimensions of priorities to juggle, personally and professionally. Not exactly “treading water”, but difficult to discern progress going anywhere. Ironic that the immediately previous Wittgensteinian post (and comments) ends up focussed on what we mean by progress anyway.
So for now, this is a bit of a housekeeping clear-out.
The topic I need to focus on in this Psybertron context is essentially the disfiguring effects of identity politics and political correctness on human rationality which in turn drive and/or limit the progress of humanity – working title “Good Fences” as I mentioned a couple of days ago. But obviously that also comes with a model of understanding what we (should) mean by rationality and progress. A normative ethical question, not a technical problem.
Lots of holding links in that post, but two others popped-up already today. The place of Cybernetics in my journey through this landscape since 2002, last summarised in 2012. That is itself linked in this Jan 2021 post where I was looking for a hero for this story – John Doyle in (human) systems thinking and Jay Rosen in journalism. Cybernetics and communications.
So those two paragraphs are essentially a placeholder for what I need to focus on – at least as far as my personal reading & writing priorities are concerned, ignoring other dimensions of my to-do list. What I need to clear out for now (even if eventually linked cogently into the above) is as follows:
I left my review of “The Murder of Professor Schlick” hanging at the mid-point, the peak of logical positivism in the Vienna Circle (the Ernst Mach Society). Suffice to say the fall of the Circle continues to be a great read, so David Edmonds book is highly recommended. I won’t however be adding to my brief review of it.
Schlick is however the last book I actually read.
As well as the backlog of bookmarks (see busy, above) I have a pile of unread and unreviewed books acquired during 2020, and several more arrived (still arriving) since. No more an untidy pile on the nightstand, but a whole temporary filing box on which the lid can no longer close. Out of courtesy, and as part of being organised, I should probably at least list them, but maybe not.
No shame in a library of unread books says Umberto Eco; books acquired for good reasons, to have as references when the moments arise, but still valued as friends, given houseroom.
The Hidden Spring
Here one example for now, a review of an unread book, in fact a book I’ve not even read any other reviews of nor seen referenced by others. I bought Marks Solms’ “The Hidden Spring” on the strength of seeing him give an on-line talk mentioned here.
As usual I’ve been skimming the bibliography, index, references and endnotes and I find so many references I already consider my own primary sources, that I can in all conscience recommend it without reading it, for now.
Does he mention my hero Dennett? Yes he does, three times in the index, two of which are endnote references, and no specific bibliography references – not the three decades old Consciousness Explained!
Ashby to Zeman via Chalmers, Conway, Crick, Davies, Edelman, Ellis, England, Friston, Humphrey, Kurzweil, Markov, Nagel, Panksepp, Posner, Pribram, Rovelli, Shannon, Skinner, Sperry, Strawson & Tononi, including Damasio, Ramchandran & Sacks on abnormal brains and the “Free-Won’t” take on Libet – hooray. 100 pages of endnotes and index. All the ingredients are there.
One especially intriguing appendix entitled “Arousal and Information”
Quite a few of the usual illustrious suspects in the cover blurb recommendations including my favourite Brian Eno “A remarkable book. It changes everything.” I will no doubt read Solms one day, but can rest easy on other priorities for now, one of which is no doubt that memetically catchy appendix.
Those deleted bookmarks, in no particular order:
Joshua Rosenberg on the Grainger test of “belief”.
(In the context of the Maya Forstater employment tribunal appeal.)
Robin Hill on the Philosophy of Computer Science at the APA.
Bob Doyle as the “Information Philosopher” with a massive on-line resource of his information philosophy takes on philosophers, scientists and ideas – originally picked-up on his Frank Ramsey page.
Tim O’Connor’s web pages – following a YouTube link I can no longer find. (Interesting combination of Free Will, Emergence and Theism.)
What Three Words geolocation paradigm, where my question is how its 3m resolution handles the often much larger discrepancy (more than a kilometer (!)in some parts of the world) between the default Google Map and available Satellite images – basically what frame of reference is W3W fixed to – the default Google Map isn’t accurate to that resolution?
Deborah Soh on Gender Identity – a recurring “identity politics” topic here- prompted by recent reference by Mark Hammonds.
Leeds Skelton Lake new M1 motorway services – latest venture in the multi-billionaire Issa brothers retail empire – a fascination of mine.
Jonathan Rowson’s “Tasting the Pickle: Ten flavours of meta-crisis and the appetite for a new civilisation” (See progress in civilisation.)
Lise Eliot sticking to the PC Identity politics that male and female brains do not differ significantly at Conversation. (Tweeted response, but no takers, despite many retweets.)
Beg to differ. Evidence is stronger what the differences are. Small in scope, and small in relation to plastic development factors, but nonetheless significant and positive for human development. ie it’s a good thing we are different.
— What, Why & How do we know? (@psybertron) April 22, 2021
Holman Jenkins in WSJ on our Epistemological Crisis re climate change after Obama, in book by his chief scientist Steve Koonin. (Separate but see also that fake climate change evidence that made it to our BBC screens daytime TV)
Jonathan Egid in New Humanist reviewing Tim Williamson’s “Doing Philosophy” – if philosophy isn’t science than what is it, implying it should be?
Michael Rosen on the word “Denier” also in New Humanist.
Randy Gallistel with a whacky suggestion on SubStack that some mysterious calculating stuff actually exists in neurons. Too whacky, but …
Patrick Casey piece on “Group Identity” in Discourse, shared on Teesside SitP Facebook page, to which I replied positively regarding my Good Fences “identity” agenda.
Piece by Ian Taylor and Jon Butterworth “bluffers guide” on the recent Fermilab story about a brand new force of nature. I remain sceptical, but Jon knows his stuff.
Hans Sluga blogged recent counter-story to suggestions Foucault was a paedophile. (Foucault useful to my agenda metaphysically, whatever misuse is made of his “queer theory” social agenda.)
Economist piece on China aims to change identity of groups – eg Christian or Uigyur groups. More Identity Politics.
Chris Beckett’s Fiction – 2019 two-tribes story outline on day of its 2021 paperback publication. One to add to the book list.
Keith Frankish on why panpsychism is probably wrong in The Atlantic. (Interacted on Twitter)
Donald Hoffman on “Realism is False” at The Edge.
Friston et al in MPDI on Markovian Monism / Markov blanket, entropy and information theory?
John Horgan in SCIAM on the Rise of Neo-Geocentrism. Anthropic perspective maybe?
Angela Saini in Nature on objectivity vs subjectivity in science. (Someone I’ve disagreed with before, could be interesting.)
Robert Pepperell on Consciousness as the “organisation of energy” in Frontiers in Psychology. Like it.
Francois Vannucci on Einstein’s two mistakes in The Conversation. Includes that Flammarion 1888 woodcut where earth meets sky.
Philip Ball on the epidemiology of mis-information in Prospect. Sounds like memetics.
Briana Toole on Standpoint Epistemology at Cambridge. No knowledge is independent of human perspective?
Robin Varghese on what Hofstadter got wrong in 3 Quarks Daily. Intriguing.
Uller and Laland on evolutionary causation at MIT – add to booklist.
Adam Frank on Minding Matter (one of my own constructions) at Aeon.
Ole Peters on Egodicity in Nature Physics.
Kevin Hartnett on Navier Stokes in Quanta (and many more at this link)
Goldstein interviewed by Richard Marshall in 3:16am on Plato, Godel, Spinoza and Ahab
Peter Vickers is panpsychism pure speculation at IAI (Ew – “science-first philosopher”.)
The Raven – magazine of philosophy.
Phew – done.
Used top use a bookmarking tool for that – why did I stop?