Friday, October 25, 2019

Philosophical Methods and This Blog!

A bit of meta-blogging news!

Yesterday I Skyped with a Philosophical Methods class at the University of North Florida taught by my friend and colleague Dr. Aaron Creller. Dr. Creller had his students read some selected posts and a few more of the students' choice as an assignment exploring different ways to engage in public philosophy.

During our Skype session, I gave a bit of an overview of how I started the blog (you can get some idea about that by reading my first post). Students and Dr. Creller asked a lot of really great questions on topics such as similarities between philosophy and science fiction, why I like subtle humor, and how I see the relation between traditional academic philosophy and the type of thing I do here.

It was fun and humbling to have this blog serve as a point of discussion in a Philosophical Methods course!

Unfortunately I forgot to get photographic evidence, which I realize is an unforgivable offense in this digital age, but hopefully this report offers some small consolation.

Random Thoughts, Part 6

Made at:

A while back I started writing down some of my random thoughts and posting them on the blog. I've made five such posts now, and you are reading the sixth!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Lunar Leitmotifs: Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Moon is definitely not destined to be among my favorite Kim Stanley Robinson novels.  It's nowhere near the Mars Trilogy, Aurora, or The Years of Rice and Salt (my personal favorites), nor is it quite as much fun as Galileo's Dream, as engaging as Shaman, or as wide-ranging as 2312.  In fact, Red Moon may be my least favorite of KSR's novels I've read.  But as I said in my review of New York 2140 (another book I liked but didn't love), I'd be happy to read KSR's grocery list.

The focus on China is interesting, although sometimes it felt as if people forgot that countries besides China and the US exist. China is going to be a major player in space exploration in the future, and it was interesting and presumably realistic to read about all the factions within the government. My favorite character was Ta Shu, a TV host with a penchant for what might be called "science fictional Feng Shui" and the vehicle for a lot of KSR's typical ruminations on history, philosophy, science, economics, etc.  The odd couple of Qi and Fred is fun, but in retrospect it was odd that it was always from Fred's POV and never from Qi's.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Was Social Media a Huge Mistake?

Was social media a huge mistake?

This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. From large scale harms like the propaganda machines of Russian troll farms to smaller issues like the way random acquaintances treat each other on your Facebook page, it seems that social media was maybe a colossal mistake on the part of humanity.

I’m not saying social media is all bad. If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d have lost touch with a lot of friends over the years. Twitter has connected me with philosophers around the world. And of course there was plenty of propaganda and rudeness long before social media.

My concern isn’t so much that social media makes new bad things. Humans have always been intellectually and morally fallible. My concern is that it exacerbates our weaknesses in a deeply unhealthy way.