A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (via man-of-prose)

(via moloweez)

Is this life real?
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Philosophers and physicists say we might be living in a computer simulation, but how can we tell? And does it matter?
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Our species is not going to last forever. One way or another, humanity will vanish from the Universe, but before it does, it might summon together sufficient computing power to emulate human experience, in all of its rich detail. Some philosophers and physicists have begun to wonder if we’re already there. Maybe we are in a computer simulation, and the reality we experience is just part of the program. Modern computer technology is extremely sophisticated, and with the advent of quantum computing, it’s likely to become more so. With these more powerful machines, we’ll be able to perform large-scale simulations of more complex physical systems, including, possibly, complete living organisms, maybe even humans. But why stop there? The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds. A pair of philosophers recently argued that if we accept the eventual complexity of computer hardware, it’s quite probable we’re already part of an ‘ancestor simulation’, a virtual recreation of humanity’s past. Meanwhile, a trio of nuclear physicists has proposed a way to test this hypothesis, based on the notion that every scientific programme makes simplifying assumptions. If we live in a simulation, the thinking goes, we might be able to use experiments to detect these assumptions. (via Is this life real or a simulation? – Matthew R Francis – Aeon)

Is this life real?
-
Philosophers and physicists say we might be living in a computer simulation, but how can we tell? And does it matter?
-
Our species is not going to last forever. One way or another, humanity will vanish from the Universe, but before it does, it might summon together sufficient computing power to emulate human experience, in all of its rich detail. Some philosophers and physicists have begun to wonder if we’re already there. Maybe we are in a computer simulation, and the reality we experience is just part of the program. Modern computer technology is extremely sophisticated, and with the advent of quantum computing, it’s likely to become more so. With these more powerful machines, we’ll be able to perform large-scale simulations of more complex physical systems, including, possibly, complete living organisms, maybe even humans. But why stop there? The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds. A pair of philosophers recently argued that if we accept the eventual complexity of computer hardware, it’s quite probable we’re already part of an ‘ancestor simulation’, a virtual recreation of humanity’s past. Meanwhile, a trio of nuclear physicists has proposed a way to test this hypothesis, based on the notion that every scientific programme makes simplifying assumptions. If we live in a simulation, the thinking goes, we might be able to use experiments to detect these assumptions. (via Is this life real or a simulation? – Matthew R Francis – Aeon)

While there may be some domains where knowing is half the battle, there are many more where it is not. Recent work in cognitive science has demonstrated that knowing is a shockingly tiny portion of the battle for most real world decisions. You may know that $19.99 is pretty much the same price as $20.00, but the first still feels like a significantly better deal.

Edge.org

He might have been the first Cynic, but Diogenes’ cynicism was not a flood of relentless negativity and bile: unlike modern cynics, he had a profoundly idealistic streak. When asked where he was from, Diogenes said ‘I’m a citizen of the world.’ The word he used was kosmopolites, from which our ‘cosmopolitan’ derives, so strictly speaking he was expressing allegiance with the cosmos; but the term is usually translated as ‘citizen of the world’. This would have sounded heretical to an Ancient Greek: strong allegiance to your city-state was meant to be the source of your identity, security, and self-respect. But Diogenes wasn’t simply trying to scorn orthodoxy and shock those around him. His declaration was a signal that he took nature — the cosmos — as his guide to life, rather than the parochial and often arbitrary laws of a particular city-state. The cosmos had its own laws. Rather than being in thrall to local custom and kowtowing to those of high status, Diogenes was responsible to humanity as a whole. His loyalty was to human reason, unpolluted by petty concerns with wealth and power. And reason, as Socrates well knew, unsettled the status quo. It might be tempting to see this kind of thinking as simply a quaint notion from the museum of the history of ideas — a utopian fantasy. On the contrary, I suggest that it has a special relevance for us in the 21st century.

Nigel Warburton –Cosmopolitanism

TO: Given our evolutionary heritage, could we ever really adopt this meta-morality?

JG: There is no guarantee, but what is the alternative? To keep going with our gut reactions and pounding the table? To try to come up with some Kantian theory to deduce right and wrong from first principles, like moral mathematicians? The question is not, is this guaranteed to work? The question is, do you have a better idea?

Evolution of morality: The brain science of ethical decisions.

The difficulties with freedom are many. Freedom is not a fact, rather an assumption. It is assumed in order to promote the following of a binding law. In the same moment that freedom is accepted it must also be negated. Freedom of practical and speculative reason are mutually dependent upon one another. It can only be speculative in relation to its practical use. On the same hand a practical side can only come about with the assumption of the speculative side. These are the problems within Kant’s philosophy. Further problems occur when one views freedom as a societal reality, even when this occurs only philosophically, such as in respect to Kant’s Metaphysic of Morals. What Kant postulates here as freedom is actually freedom for the citizens and a lack of freedom for all others.

20th WCP: What is Freedom?