A number of people I know are illusionists about consciousness: that is, they think that the way consciousness seems to us involves some fundamental misrepresentation. On an extreme version of this view (which Frankish (2016) calls "strong illusionism"), phenomenal consciousness simply does not exist; it only seems to exist (I'll say more about what I… Continue reading Grokking illusionism
Lots of people want to do big things -- start a big company, write a bestselling book, participate in an important project. I'll call this the "accomplishment desire." Often this is centrally tied to social status; the relevant type of "bigness" is highly correlated with what would seem cool at, e.g., a college reunion. But… Continue reading The impact merge
Recently, in an effort to clarify my views about personal identity, I looked back at the discussion of the topic in Part III of Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons. This post is an attempt to grok Parfit's view more fully than I have in the past. Parfit's analysis is an inspiring example of analytic philosophy… Continue reading Thoughts on personal identity
Some people I know claim that they are not confused about consciousness. That's not how I feel. I feel very confused about consciousness. Actually, I'm not sure that "confusion" covers it. Some things feel confusing like a puzzle: "Where did my keys go? I literally just had them. I put them right there." That is,… Continue reading How core is confusion about consciousness?
In my last post, I wrote about an ethos expressed in A Wizard of Earthsea -- an ethos that I find deeply resonant, but that I also think worth some scrutiny. This post attempts some of that scrutiny. Here is an effort to summarize some part of this ethos: turn outwards to the world --… Continue reading To light a candle
Recently I read Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea. The book has a certain kind of ethos, which I found moving and beautiful, but which can seem -- to some, and to some parts of me -- questionable. In this post, I'm going to try to gesture at that ethos; in the next, I… Continue reading The gestures of trees
I started reading The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman's account of the beginning of World War I. One passage in particular struck me. She describes the German general Alfred von Schlieffen, who authored, in 1905 and 1906, the plan that Germany eventually employed in attacking France in 1914, via Belgium on the right wing. Image… Continue reading Mistaking the plot