Monthly Archives: June 2018

Ignoring Politics

The political situation in the US is so depressing I often have to focus on something else. Were I to absorb all the dishonesty, hypocrisy, ignorance and cruelty that permeates the current administration and the Republican party … I would be consumed in misery. Were I to swallow all the psychic waste they flush into the world whenever they speak and act, my being would be contaminated. And that helps no one. Continue reading Ignoring Politics

Great Popular Philosophy Books (that changed my life)

I am a reader of non-fiction. (A post about the most influential work of fiction that I ever read, Orwell’s 1984, can be found here.)

Since a list of all the non-fiction books I’ve read would be quite long—literally thousands— I would like to briefly mention four books that changed my life before I was a professional philosopher and four more that changed my life after I became a professional philosopher.) Continue reading Great Popular Philosophy Books (that changed my life)

The Basics of the “G.I. Joe Fallacy”

Chimp Brain in a jar.jpg

I previously linked to a graph of all known cognitive biases and I have recently encountered a short BBC video that nicely captures four of them.

What I found of particular interest was the G.I. Joe fallacy which refers roughly to the idea that knowing is half the battle. But in fact, knowing about, for instance, our cognitive biases doesn’t help much in overcoming those biases. Thus some scholars chose the idea that knowing is half the battle as an idea that must be retired.

As a philosopher, I would say that the G.I. Joe fallacy shows, among other things, that Socrates and Plato were mistaken in believing that knowledge is sufficient for virtue. As Aristotle knew there is a large gap between knowing the right thing and doing it. In a sense this is depressing. Even if we know that our brains bias us in multiple ways that seem to help little in overcoming those biases. The gap between knowing the good, true, and beautiful and doing the good, seeking the truth, and creating beauty is huge. Still, it seems to be better to know than not. Knowing may not be half the battle but perhaps it is a tenth of the battle. And even that little bit is worth something. In the meantime, we should proceed full speed ahead with rewiring our brains.

Finding Meaning of Life in Prison (Convict 79206)

In 1930 the historian and philosopher Will Durant—who was at that time a famous public intellectual—received a number of letters from persons declaring their intent to commit suicide. The letters asked him for reasons to go on living. In response Durant asked a number of luminaries for their views on the meaning of life, publishing those responses in his 1932 book, On the Meaning of Life. Continue reading Finding Meaning of Life in Prison (Convict 79206)