Showing posts from 2023

AI, invertebrates, and the risk of living absurdly

My friend and comrade Jonathan Birch has gifted me with a guest post. I think of it as a kind of belated spiritual sequel to my own musings on the existential status of our profession here . It's a great read, so without further ado over to Birch! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------   Imagine you're the UK Health Secretary during the worst pandemic in a century, signing your name under the most restrictive public health rules in your country's history. You're forced to resign after being caught on CCTV breaking your own guidance—in a manner that also ends your marriage. Feeling your talents may lie more in the area of performing to hidden cameras, you branch out into reality TV. It's going well—people enjoy voting for you to receive grotesque public humiliations—so you decide to write a bestseller about your pandemic experiences. You hire a ghost-writer who is also a noted lockdown sceptic and trust her with 100,000 privat

The New Alexandria

Here's a little story I tell myself, of very dubious relationship to actual history but through which I understand myself and my own time in philosophy. It's related to the habit (no doubt grounded in some real similarities) people have of describing analytic philosophy as a basically scholastic enterprise. Now, people do not generally mean this as a positive but rather to suggest that analytic philosophy has become (or maybe was from its inception) an exercise in debate for debate's sake, or building castles in the sky. The thought for those who say such things in their most polemical sense is that Scholasticism developed an intricate set of conceptual distinctions and theoretically organised propositions for one to learn, spurred debates about their precise interpretations and interrelations, and... never actually explained anything. Its whole way of approaching the world was divorced from contact with its actual problems, its theories superficial for all their intricacie