Friday, 28 December 2012

Post festivities

Ah, the festivities have ended. Or rather they have entered a lull prior to the entry of 2013.

The Mayan "prophecy" didn't come to pass after all. Well why should it? It was no more a prediction of the end of the world than the last page of your personal organiser is.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of gullible people out there who were willing to swallow some old codswallop that because a calendar had run out it meant that there would be no more days.

I admire the people who managed to make money out of this - and pity the gullible fools who fell for it. They're probably waiting for the rapture about now.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Thoughts about the big day

Well, preparations well underway for the visit of the big man in red. Or green, if you prefer that imagery.

Father Christmas (or Santa Claus, or whomever) seems to appeal on such a visceral level - kindness without any expectation of reward, other than maybe a mince pie and a small drink.

And we perpetuate the story with our children whatever (generally) our own belief system, because it is so appealing - we so want out children to believe in the magic of someone being so selfless.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Progress

This is becoming quite cathartic.

Well, I've come to the conclusion that although solipsism has a significant advantage when you've had a bad day - you can just put it down to everything being an aspect of one's own mind - basically you just have to get on with it and make the best of things!

I've got a bit more active on some forums (again), started charging the old digital camera - not sure why but it seems like a good idea, installed Fluxbox on my dekstop machine, tried Cinnarch and hated it ;-) and generally just got on with things.

I think next I'll carry on reading more philosophy, finish "Flatlands" - which I'm really enjoying, and do so stuff with development.

Oh, and I've signed up to a hackathon in January because... well, because it interests me! What better reason could there be for diving in?!

Oh, and the obligatory plug: www.cafepress.com/stuartsthinkingstuff

Thank-you!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Repetition

"Practice doesn't make perfect - it makes permanence."

How true this is!

So, today has been a mixed day - some thinking about my general direction in life as I've been finding motivation hard lately, other than the motivation of my family and wanting to do my utmost for them.

From an analytical standpoint I'm thinking ethically and morally here - what is a "good" life? Is it about total utility, or is it more, as I suspect, about self love in the way that Hume meant?

I think that the resolution to this is to take positive action, so to this end I have decided to sign up for some more forums on the internet, get involved in some communities - such as documentation for Linux distributions, and I've made some contact with people about getting a project I have been plugging away with for nearly two years off the ground.

On this point if anyone with an interest/aptitude in programming (Actor based?) and/or immunology, disease, demographics and related fields - heck, even if you haven't but are intrigued, please get in touch via this blog.

Cheers.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Blog title

Intriguingly solipsism has been exercising my mind over the past couple of days, as I've been thinking about identity and the problem of other minds.

Is the problem insurmountable?

Ah, well, actually I think it doesn't matter. Whatever the "truth" of the matter one just has to get on with it and enjoy it!

The areas that have REALLY been interesting me a lot have been the philosophy of time - why does time only seem to travel in one direction? Is it really possible to travel in more than one direction in space, anyway? If a set has an infinite number of members (like the set of positive integers) does it have an infinite number of members when you take a member away? What difference does adding a member make? Can you divide a limit like the Planck length in half?

I'm not disputing that physics could give us some answers (a la Brian Cox) but which physics? Newtonian, quantum, non-Newtonian... and then what about consciousness?

Would one say that Watson (of Jeopardy fame) was conscious? After all, it performed what seemed to be a challenge of consciousness in the way that one would expect a human to?

And what about geology and vulcanology - are they really sciences, because just how experimental are they, really? Same with astronomy, isn't it just observational? How do you experiment in astronomy? All you can really do is wait for observations to prove your theory, and doesn't that run the risk of confirmation bias?

At least philosophical thought experiments really are experiments...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday

Sunday always strikes me as one of the oddest days of the week.


The social convention of the "slow day" always seems to overtake the idea that it's a "catching up day", and in the end it becomes a massive compromise.

Ah well.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

More measurement and mental gymnastics

I've been thinking even more about the stuff in the last post.

And having just listened to, and read about the BBC Radio 4 podcast/show "The Infinite Monkey Cage" (henceforth TIMC).

Now, although I have a certain degree of respect for Prof. Brian Cox, I have to say that his "Philosophy is dead" angle is... misguided, IMHO.

OK, Brian, riddle me this:

If the Planck length (let's call it P) is the smallest measure possible, what is P/2? Sounds a bit metaphysical to me, mate! What is "4"? Ditto!

And just saying that "the universe is made up and follows beautiful simple, elegant rules" or similar while gazing wistfully at the night sky in HD on the BBC is making a direct appeal to aesthetics, a philosophical concept!

And don't give me all that Occam's Razor stuff as justification... just because something is simple doesn't make it right, it just makes it more likely to be so, or at least more likely to be closer to the truth. And the truth is most definitely not immutable.

Many thanks to Rationally Speaking, The Partially Examined Life and various other podcasts and blogs for inspiring and supplying much of the material for this post. If you haven't already checked these things out then you should. Now.

The Partially Examined Life

Rationally Speaking

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Measurement

Been thinking about measurement... I find it interesting that we have a common language (whether it be metres or feet), and that we can measure to incredibly large distances (with a high degree of accuracy) and incredibly small ones (to a high degree of accuracy).

But... is there a limit, particularly in regard to the smaller distances, to which we can measure?

I know there is a discussion to be had as to whether there is a paucity of language and comprehension as to whether we can understand what these sort of small distances really mean.

I also know there is a theoretical limit - but why should there be? Is this a result of a pixellated universe?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Podcasts

Delighted to see that there is new episode of "Rationally Speaking" to listen to.

That's me sorted for an hour or so.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Survey

I've been taking part in a fascinating qualitative study for the University of London, looking at their advertising campaigns.

It's made me think - what appeals to me about an advert? Is it the text, is it the image... or actually is my mind already made up?

So, for example, if I'm looking for a tin of baked beans, the choice of whether it's brand X or not is a bit moot, because I'm going to buy some anyway. The only question is when and where, and if brand X is the only one in the shop then it's Hobson's choice.

I'm not sure whether there is any sort of quantitative research into the effectiveness of advertising at actually persuading someone to buy something when they are not going to buy it in the first place.

I mean, if I go to a car dealership it's really carrying a subtle signal that I want to buy a car (even if I dress it up as just passing a couple of hours and getting the salesman's hopes up only to cruelly dash them).

And what do I mean by "having already made up my mind" - questions of free will, maybe?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Metaphysics and naturalism

Some discussion lately about this. Personally I do favour that metaphysics does require naturalising, but would not necessarily go down the route of one reality.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Lying and trust

Interesting.

Here.

Now... How do we "trust"? If I give a false set of information (possibly in breach of terms of use), does that make less trustworthy for others? When is it OK to lie?

There seems to be an interesting area to explore here.

And then there are questions of personal identity- which is the real me?

And legal questions - if I create a false online persona and it's hijacked and used to perprtrate crime am I an accessory before the fact?

And are these online identities to be given rights? Do I have the right to delete them? Do they have any rights?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cosmology and reality

Now... The big bang isn't necessarily provable or disprovable, if you take the view that our perceptions are just that: perceptions, and not necessarily the reality behind it.

Maybe the issue is with the scientific method being used as confirmation and a posteriori rather than a priori, or vice versa but either way for the "wrong" purpose.

If one takes the view that this is all a simulation would this explain the Planck length, in that our "curiosity" has outgrown the anticipated parameters of our existence?

That is not to in any way posit a creator, but that this "reality" we experience and describe is but one simulation of many, just another scenario with different starting variables, with the resolution set by the system running it.

Earthquake

Read about the Italian court decision on L'Aquila. Incredible, in the true sense of the word.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Morality

I favour the moral relativist stance, that there are no underlying principles of morality. This to me seems to offer a route out of the problem of evil, and find utilitarianism per se less than satisfactory as anything other than a framework.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Pain

Interesting thing, pain. Do we feel it where, for example, we are wounded or in the brain/mind? How does this reconcile with people's experiences of phantom limbs?

If it's about nerve endings being related to sensitivity to pain how do we brace for it, for example as we fall, so that effectively we "manage expectations of pain"?

How do anaesthetics and analgesics affect the process of experiencing pain? Sleep? Coma?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Validity

How do you test the validity of a statement? Just a thought.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Solipsism

Is solipsism a valid position to take? Probably is my view, although it could cause difficulties in describing relationships and try to resolve through reductionism, I think.

Plus it makes life REALLY tough.

Commercialism

Aha! Stuff to show that you read this blog available soon at www.cafepress.com/stuartsthinkingstuff

Sunday, 14 October 2012

T-shirts

Wonder when my cafepress designs will be available? Spent inordinate time with the GIMP on my desktop machine setting them up, really don't want to have to go through that again.

Thoughts

Where are thoughts? Are they part of the brain or do they exist beyond the neural activity and chemistry?

Atomic

So, if I'm looking at a piece of paper and regard its colour as being white, my understanding is that although Wittgenstein may say I can describe its existence in terms of position to the desk, the notion of its colour is trickier, because I can't be sure that your perception of white is the same as mine.

Plus the spacial relationship between the piece of paper and me is different from its spacial relationship to you, so the "whiteness" may not be atomic - which I take in these terms to be irreductible.

Discuss.