By interpreting suffering as a commentary on self rather than system, we banish difficult experiences from public discussion. The mental health sector helps stifle collective and community action.

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This kinda conflates medication and therapy and then compares them both—erroneously, I think—to religion, based purely on the “opiate of the masses” comment. I tend to agree that over-pathologizing and over-medicating are problems, but I wouldn’t lump them in with therapy, which comes in a lot of different forms mostly because of how complex and varied the human psyche is.

Seems like a false dilemma overall. Societal criticism has only increased alongside the mental health industry. Although the rise of the Internet correlates as well, so who knows…


Well, that depends on which current in mental health you refer too. Contextualist psychologists believe most of the cause for the suffering of a person is not “innate” nor their own responsability but rather coming from the environment they live in which, of course, includes society. From this point of view (and I tend to adhere myself to this) depresion, as a construct, is not only an issue of the subject, but and issue of society.


I recently finished the book Sapiens which explores why homo sapiens and not other homo species ended up taking over the world. There was a bit of a blending but the author’s conclusion is that sapiens, despite their smaller brains, were able have collective beliefs whether it be in religion or people or systems of government. This allowed them to grow into groups larger than the clan (150-200 people). The problem is that a portion of the population believes climate change is real, a portion is too apathetic to see beyond their own needs, a portion believes it’s in god’s hands, etc. We don’t (apparently) have the ability to make collective rational decisions. Couple that with a dominant economic system that holds profits as paramount, a system of government that is manipulated by the key players in that economy, and a highly sophisticated advertising and public opinion shaping apparatus including social media and you have what we see today. Mental health counseling may pacify some but helping people get to a state of mind where they can actually find ways to be helpful is a noble goal. I think a lot of the young people today have it very rough indeed and their suffering is real.


Suffering is by definition internal. And if you’re sympathetic to Buddhism, suffering is caused by identifying with Self in the first place


This is so egregiously false I do not even know where to begin.

First. By placing blame of difficulty or mental issues on the self rather than on society, you create a problem where society blames this person for mental problems and mental difficulties; this alienates and further exacerbates the problem; the individual is often ostracized if they seek help they need,

Second. It is the responsibility of society to create a space that is well and just. By creating a society that mental health is seen as negative, you create a society where people hide their issues from others. These issues increase and compound, and eventually the person snaps.

Third, the addition of the mental health community is NOT, in any way shape or form, stifling the community and preventing society from advancing. If anything, mental health treatment helps to keep people from trying to dismantle the society they live in. By removing this core resource and by stifling the mental health community, you stifle collective and community action.

Source: went to school and studied Cultural, Social, Cognitive, and Developmental Psychology.


Algorithms vs Art: Saving our culture from cowboy capitalism

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Im not sure i would call rupauls show a “trojan horse” for lgbtq visibility. The point of the horse was that the soldiers hiding inside was a surprise.


I work in the music industry and this article made my teeth itch, assuming I’m not missing the point in some way.

The art world has ALWAYS been capitalized, and no one is ENTITLED to make a living in an artistic field. Artists and musicians back in the Renaissance had to depend on the church or royal benefactors most of the time because those were the institutions that had money and could support them if they saw value in their work. Entities decide whether they do or do not want to support an artist’s work based on “will it create financial return” but for individuals, it goes no deeper than “do I like this?”, which is valid. Again, no one is entitled to make a living as an artist just because they want to. That struggle is a big part of what goes into creating great art.

Nowadays, the tools of distribution are democratized to the point that you can write a book, make a song, or create a visual piece on a laptop and upload it to any number of places where you can find your audience if it isn’t available locally, and where it has the potential to be seen or heard by millions. So I don’t really have a whole lot of sympathy for people complaining that algorithms or financial systems are standing in the way of success. Chances are, it’s less of those and more that they aren’t that good and need to keep woodshedding.


I think this while ascribing “hypervalue” onto art, algorithms and social media status may be a feature of late-capitalism, the fundamental act of ascribing cultural “hyper” value to commodities and activities is not a Baudrillardian nightmare, but a simple feature of all societies. This was a central tenet of Mauss’ seminal work, *The Gift.*

“In the systems of the past we do not find simple exchange of goods, wealth and produce through markets established among individuals. For it is groups, and not individuals, which carry on exchange, make contracts, and are bound by obligations; the persons represented in the contracts are moral persons—clans, tribes, and families; the groups, or the chiefs as intermediaries for the groups, confront and oppose each other. Further, what they exchange is not exclusively goods and wealth, real and personal property, and things of economic value. They exchange rather courtesies, entertainments, ritual military assistance, women, children, dances, and feasts; and fairs in which the market is but one element and the circulation of wealth but one part of a wide and enduring contract. Finally, although the prestations and counter-prestations take place under a voluntary guise they are in essence strictly obligatory, and their sanction is private or open warfare. We propose to call this the system of total prestations.” (Mauss, 1967, p. 3)


This is kind of an incoherent rant. As if name recognition is suddenly now relevant in the art world. She argues that inequitable distribution of capital is the problem while simultaneously arguing that the masses don’t have the capacity to value true art.


From what I can gather, the author’s position seems to be a complicated statement of the view that she is upset that people value things that she deems to be not valuable, and ignore things she considers valuable.

This is not, I think, a crisis. This is an inevitable consequence of living in a society where individuals are allowed to value the things they value as they wish.


Why philosophy is crucially needed today in the age of the Coronavirus

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Occasionally, I’ll come across someone with a like-minded statement and consider myself unneeded. “There’s already so much white noise in the world, what would we (humanity) gain by me adding to it?” I’ll think. The greatest obstacle to critical thought itself may well be this loudness I’ve found myself kowtowing to. In this modern environment of noise, philosophy is by and large ignored by most. We didn’t get here overnight, but, as the boiling frog, gradually. Philosophy is always needed, especially now, when human trust seems so brittle.

Without time, energy, or interest to consider the current state of being, we throw ourselves blindly upon the future, crashing our bodies upon the shores of intense anxiety that we are unaware of or self-blaming for. Analyzation of human failure is essential to future human success, and without it, without philosophy, we doom ourselves to continued failure.

Whether we thrive or falter is entirely dependent on our ability to compensate for our failures. Before this, however, we require the ability to accurately identify our failures.


Im just going to thank you for the read. I enjoyed it, in itself.


People need to stop turning philosophy into some misguided/self-absorbed and prophetical form of sociology… not only this was just all over the place, that last paragraph was just so cringe.


If philosophy is supposedly important but no one cares, how are you going to get people to care? Is philosophy ultimately just “critical thinking”? Because people do that all the time whether they know who Hegel is or not, and their most pressing problems usually aren’t about interpreting the meaning of freedom, dignity, etc, but thinking about how to develop vaccines so that millions of people don’t die.


> Finally, with philosophical engagement comes the component of critical thinking which allows one to ruminate dangerously and courageously while perpetually gaining new knowledge along the way.

Okay. I’ll bite. What could one possibly ruminate about that is dangerous or courageous? Sure, some topics are egodystonic, but simply risking the story that one tells about oneself is hardly a threat.


Grand theories of consciousness will not help us understand ourselves and our everyday experiences | Patricia Churchland

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This is an intersting talk, but I don’t think Churchland really succeeds in her goal here.

She begins by arguing that eliminative materialism is correct, and alternatives are silly (not surprising, giving that it is Churchland). But what follows is a presentation on neuroscience and brain states. The argument seems to be that, because we can quantify brain states, and because eliminative materialism is the (non-extravagant) default, it is, therefore, the correct stance.

Does this conclusion follow from her presentation? I don’t think so. First, practically every theorist of consciousness, from dualists to panpsychists, already considers brain states to be important, and so outlining them isn’t really a slam dunk against them.

Second, Churchland details some of the operations of the brain—wakefulness, skill learning, etc., and defines consciousness as these operations. Yet the core of the issue around the theory of mind is about *subjective* *experience*, not just brain operations. The entire p-zombie argument hinges on the possibility that brain operations could conceivably exist independent of experience; so why do we have experience?

Third, she assumes that eliminative-materialism is non-extravagant, making it the obvious default position. Personally, I believe *all* theories of consciousness are extravagant, including hers. In Churchland’s brand of materialism, for example, it’s believed that quantifiable processes in the brain can produce something inherently immeasurable, such as my subjective experience of the color red; she may be correct, but that is still pretty extravagant!

I liked the talk, and I learned something from it. But I’m no nearer to her position after having watched it.


Great biology talk! However her opinion when it comes to the philosophical problem of consciousness seems to be ‘it won’t cure someone’s depression so why talk about it’. Of course these are separate questions, and taking each seriously is not mutually exclusive.

Everything she says that is ‘data driven’ is compatible with almost all philosophies of mind. Ever since we’ve been bashing our brains in we’ve known there are correlations between seemingly physical states and mental states. We’re just becoming more fine grained in our understanding, which is great! But it doesn’t begin to even attempt a solution at the hard problem of consciousness.


In this talk neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues progress in understanding consciousness will not be driven by exploring grand theories which are rich in metaphor and poor in data, but by addressing specific questions grounded in neuroscientific understanding. To that end, Churchland seeks to explore the contrast between conscious and nonconscious states via the examples of epileptic seizures and anaesthesia, grounding her argument in the very practical need to reduce pain during surgery. She explains the effects of local and general anaesthetic drugs like procaine and propofol show how neuron activity is disrupted to lead to a lack of coordinated responses in the brain, and to a lack of consciousness. This gives us a powerful understanding of what it means for the brain to be in a conscious or nonconscious state – one that has meaningful implications for people trying to understand the conscious experience of debilitating pain or depression. Grand theories of consciousness – for example the claim that consciousness is a fundamental feature of the universe – can tell us nothing about these experiences, she claims. She goes on to discuss the role of the thalamus in conscious brain states, and how nonconscious functions develop.


When you’re trying to study neurophilosophy you’re encroaching the philosophical study of the knowledge that neuroscience has produced thus far, and that’s epistemology. It’s the same study as the study of knowledge in general. Now, once you do that, you run into a deep fact and it’s that epistemology is substrate independent. Once you have knowledge or any other kind of information instantiated in a physical system, then for the purposes of explaining and understanding that system, all it’s physical attributes fall off and become irrelevant, and you can instead focus on the properties of those abstractions. If you don’t understand that neurophilosophy is epistemology, you attempt to explain people’s behaviors and decision making by establishing correlations to states of the substrate, states of the brain. That doesn’t work because correlation is not causation, and those correlations are established in explanationless studies – studies where there isn’t even an attempt to explain *how* specific brain states cause specific behaviors or states of mind, there’s just the assertion that the occurrence of certain self reported states of mind is correlated with certain brain states, and that certain behaviors are correlated with certain brain states.

So there’s no real discussion about what pleasure is good for, how much we should prioritize pleasure over justice for example, what criteria is reasonable to imply in decision making, etc. There’s just a categorization that correlates these concepts of morality to brain states and effects. Meanwhile many efforts in neuroscience are just coarse repetition of studies and methodologies that lead nowhere but contribute to this categorization effort

Explanationless science isn’t science, it’s scientism. It’s just identifying unexplained *patterns in data* and presenting them as conclusion in themselves.


I listened carefully I don’t see how any of the examples “prove” full materialism. Lets take the hypothesis that consciousness is outside of the body and outside of materialism, and the body and mind is a material entity. Let’s take the analogy that the body is a computer or a radio receiving information that are not in the computer or the radio. If you break the computer or the radio you destroy/break the object and you don’t receive any information anymore, signal is lost. Doesn’t mean you broke the Internet or the radio waves. That could be the case with consciousness. So yeah nice work and arguments, but there is a long way to go before being able to assert anything with a real degree of certainty.

If you like a counterpoint on this, Bernado Kastrup has really fun views on consciousness.


The Tragedy of the Commons is a lie. Neither wild biological systems nor humans in traditional communities tend toward selfish collapse, as both systems have robust methods for disincentivizing cheaters. The case for Homo economicus – the corporation – is a different story…

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Can you give examples of large societies in history where there were not issues of people overusing communal resources without punishment or regulatory measures by a state or local body?


Tragedy of the commons is not a lie for one, there’s plenty of examples in nature as well as humanity.

It’s really more just a model to explain certain phenomenon, for two.

Everything from the free-rider problem to historical honor cultures derived from shepharding unfenced areas are defined by the same models.

A loose interpretation/confirmation of the phenomenon might be John Calhoun’s Universe 25 experiment in the 1960s, or the natural practice of acorn masting by trees to keep squirrel populations down.

There are plenty of examples of common areas not being over utilized or abused, but there’s plenty of examples of the opposite as well.

This is a universe capable of infinite complexity and we’re a species capable of even more complexity. Absolute statements about behavior just don’t work.


You only have to look at the population graphs of predator and prey species to see a example of a biological “tragedy of the commons”. Given abundant prey, predators will overpopulate until the prey population crashes, bringing on mass starvation of predators and ultimately a population crash. This is then followed by a boom in the prey species as there are fewer predators.

Rinse and repeat.


A virus killing its host and thus destroying itself seems like a pretty common example of TOC happening in the wild. Granted, while you may or may not be willing to accept a virus as “living” it is nonetheless an agent interacting within a biological system. The argument could also swap a virus for bacteria, specific kinds of parasites or maybe even cancer cells.


You’ve clearly never used shared instrumentation in an academic laboratory.


Free MIT introduction to philosophy course – starts June 10

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Will we be able to access the course after it ends?


If anyone is wondering if this class is interesting or if the professor is any good, I took this class at MIT a few years ago, and the class is fantastic and Casper is an awesome teacher!


Has anyone taken an MITx course? How was it for you?


Thanks for this. I took Philosophy 101 seven years ago but the syllabus for this looks much different so I enrolled.


Theres a youtube channel, YaleCourses that also has a fair amount of philosophy, as well as other areas. Watched a lot of them during lockdown, highly recommend if thats your bag.


Humans sometimes use heuristics to balance out disproportional causes and effects. If the effects are large, but the cause seems small, we ascribe more value to the cause by creating a conspiracy.

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I started to react to conspiracy theories for the last years by quoting Hanlon’s Razor, which is my main-semi-Occams Razor-substitute: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Which also means, we as humanity are just a highly irrational species which just survives by sheer luck and outnumbering deaths with childbirths


Mental health is a more important factor to whether people attach themselves to conspiracies or not. When it comes to healthy people occasionally having a paranoid thought or two, then yes, I agree with the premise.

However, conspiracy nuts have a far more intimate relationship with their chosen flavor of conspiracy theories. They need them to be true. The conspiracies are a container that they shove their own unhappiness into. They structure their lives around that container, and thus seemingly isolate themselves from the unhappiness within.

It’s a rug they push their problems under and they desperately work to convince themselves it’s working. They try to convince others as well, since having alibis and allies makes their internal story more believable.

It’s a mental health crisis and it’s why logic and reason will not help. Ultimately people who excessively try to dissuade conspiracy theorists have their own, not so pure, reasons for doing so. Mental care is the solution, not proving them wrong.


Isn’t there some way to test this notion? Because honestly it just sound like psychobabble pseudoscience.

This whole notion originally came from the JFK assassination. Its a way of dismissing the notion that their could have been a coup by saying that people that think there was are just simpletons that can’t believe a lone gunman could cause so much change. Of course its believable that a lone nut did it. Of course it also believable that it was an orchestrated coup involving elements of deception and secrecy.

The thing is that isn’t why most people who end up believing in the JFK coup do so. The real reason people end up believing in the JFK conspiracy is they look at the facts surrounding the case and end up finding the official story *unbelievable.*.

Which is what all this “conspiracy” bashing boils down to – if you question official narratives you are de facto crazy, and you can be dismissed a priori without even listening to any of your arguments. Oh, how convenient for those that disseminate the official narrative. The whole thing is really just an avoidance of engaging in actual rational inquiry. Neat.


Or perhaps the true power and nature of the cause was just successfully hidden?


And sometimes there are conspiracies to do illegal, quasi-legal or induce others to believe and act in ways that have large scale consequences. Operation Northwoods. CIA, Defense, Bush-Cheney deliberately allowing the US to be attacked on 9/11.


Man and His Symbols is an introduction to the thoughts of Carl Jung. The book addresses the essence of Jung’s philosophy of life: Man becomes whole when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete.

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Man and His Symbols is the last work undertaken by Carl Jung before his death in 1961. The principle aim of “Man and His Symbols” is an introduction to Jung’s work and ideas.

It is an examination of man’s relation to his own unconscious, emphasising the importance of dreams in the life of the individual.

The book was first published in 1964 and is divided into five parts, four of which were written by Jung’s closest associates in the world of analytical psychology.

One of the most important part of the whole book is his idea of individuation, the process by which consciousness and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another. This addresses the essence of Jung’s philosophy of life: Man becomes whole when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete.


Just a small nitpick: the process of individuation is never complete.


I like the presentation of the video, well constructed, good imagery and clear explanation.

Personally speaking about Man and His Symbols, I am not knoweldgeable on psychology, but without further research I would say this is a bit sketchy. This seems overty interperetive, don’t get me wrong I think qualitative results and research are good but this is creating a whole boatload of theory. True it is based on a career of practice and observation but it is just from one man. There is also the problem of being in his time where people are surrounded by common environments, symbols, and systems; there is the problem of people developing a common symbol set. Again I don’t have much knowledge of Jung or his work, this is just what I am seeing here.

If there are several careers and case studies from multiple practitioners from different periods of time then this would be more credible to me.


People often attribute a lot of importance to dreams, but as someone who smokes weed daily, I can’t remember the last dream I had (side effect of weed consumption). Now, maybe I still sometimes dream and don’t remember it, but either way if I don’t ever feel like I’m dreaming it’s hard to think dreams would have any communicative property with the conscious mind.


Excellent book


“Reading shapes our moral sensibilities, and underrepresentation in the arts impoverishes our ethical understanding” -Rachel Fraser (Oxford) on our duty to read writing by women.

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We should reject the entire premise. New York Times best seller volume reached gender parity in 2001 and has floated around that point since. You can’t just point to gender imbalance of well known authors from over a century ago to suggest a problem. It simply isn’t there.


For an article trying to get me to read more books by female authors, they really don’t make a good case as to why reading a balance of male and female authors is a more valuable experience.


I rarely know anything about the author I’m reading…


I dont have a duty to read anything. I’ll read what I want to read, if it happens to be written by a woman, or a gay person, or someone who’s not white, then cool I guess. But it’s of no consequence to me who wrote something, I care if its good and if it will appeal to me. If its good it will be equally cool to me no matter who made it.

I won’t change my tastes to suit ideology.


>Put otherwise, by giving a moral and conceptual shape to previously inchoate experiences, literature can expand and enrich a society’s hermeneutic resources. But when literature is dominated by white men, we are likely to end up with a set of hermeneutical resources too narrow to facilitate genuine moral understanding.

If the society that we have now isn’t capable of genuine moral understanding, then we cannot know whether the people who are indignant about women and non-whites being under-represented in literature are correct or not. We cannot peak into alternate realities where people have more refined moral sensibilities than we do.

I am honestly more sympathetic to the prestige allocation argument than the hermeneutic resource argument. The former gives us a herculean task. But the latter leaves us blind, with no way of knowing if the task is something that we should even attempt.

Edit: I now realize that the argument the author settles on is one of how the arts shape our notion of selflessness and not the “hermeneutic resource” argument. However, that doesn’t change anything. In both cases, our current moral understanding is supposedly defective. So we can’t tell if the indignant people are right in either case. We need to assume that correct moral understanding is possible in the society that we now have before we can critique that society morally. Denying the possibility of correct moral understanding and using that to make a moral critique is sawing off the branch while you are still sitting on it.


There are no real facts about possibilities – science is not modal, and nor should our metaphysics be.

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“In trying to make sense of the way we talk about possibility, David Lewis argued that everything that could possibly exist does exist, in some possible world. But our best scientific theories suggest that there are no real facts about what’s possible, and therefore possible worlds aren’t real, argues John Divers.”


The author gives us no reason to think that modal realism is the only way to make sense of modal claims. There are like two living philosophers who actually believe this. Basically everybody else thinks that possible worlds are something like abstract objects (like numbers), and that Lewis has no good arguments to the contrary.

The author is committed to denying it is a fact that, e.g. “Nothing can be accelerated to a velocity that exceeds that of light”. Good luck finding many scientists who agree with him here. The author’s only argument for this is that if this was a fact, then modal realism would be true. Again, he provides no reason to think this.


So this is just an argument against modal realism and not modality in general?


The multi-verse is merely an interpretation of the absurd-seeming (non-deterministic) behaviour of quantum phenomena, one of many interpretations, like de Broglie’s or the Copenhagen interpretation.


Great read, might have to read it again tho.

Personally, I’d argue science tells us “if what we think is true is statistically repeatable enough to agree on that thing to be true as a community”

As in, are you sure there are sociopaths? Or do enough people show enough of the predetermined traits of a psychological disorder so the scientific community can run studies and decide that the likelyhood of sociopaths existing is over a certain percentage at which point peer review would acknowledge it as “Scientific-Fact”
I admit using psychology as example may not be the best science.

So. Do we know that a higgs boson exists in the real world?
Or are the abstract measurements of voltage discrepancies in a higly clinical environment just enough in line with the (loaded by the “standardmodel”) question we were asking?

I’m in no way “anti-science” just higly cynical.