Showing posts from September, 2010

Death: A User's Guide

Have you ever wondered what it's like to die? I'm not talking about the famous tunnel of light reported by near death experience patients ; by definition that isn't what it's like to die otherwise those describing it wouldn't have been able to pass on their report. If this is the case, then it could very well be impossible to know; however, I'd like to make an informed guess. Ever since I've been writing this blog on a regular basis I've touched on topics like the nature of consciousness, time, space and reality. It shouldn't be that difficult to cobble together a basic description of the dying of the light. I'm not really that concerned with the actual cause of death, provided it's not being run over by a steamroller or evaporated by a nuclear explosion. I'm more interested in deaths of the slipping away variety. I'm going to start talking about noses here for a paragraph or so. It's not as much of a non sequitur as it m

Medicated Swallower of Passion

There are no emotional qualia . As I have discussed before , it's all very well saying you're happy, but how can we possibly tell that your happy is the same as my happy? Describing it is no good, because any qualitative words we use would by definition only refer to our own emotional experiences and our personal definitions. The only way to be sure would be to become each other and then... well we'd actually be each other so we still wouldn't be able to compare and contrast. Given that this is the case, it is odd that some emotions are treated the same in different people. Treated being the operative word. I am talking about depression. Unfortunately it's an emotion that is never really taken seriously and often misunderstood.  On the one hand the unsympathetic tell you to " snap out of it ", " pull yourself together " or " cheer up (it may never happen) " whilst on the other the condition is used to describe trivia: "

Data Storage Solutions

Readers of my recent blog entry about how reality is in all probability a computer simulation are quite right to feel sceptical. It's clearly a ridiculous notion, a clever bit of philosophical reasoning designed to invoke a paradox. Instinctively we know this. The Simulation Hypothesis goes against what we feel is the truth and as William of Occam himself carved with his famous Razor, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. The original words of Occam's Razor are in fact particularly astute in this case; pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate or in plain English, plurality should not be posited without necessity . Why hypothesize a multitude of simulations when one simple reality will do? It's just common sense. However, common sense isn't always right. The ancients believed that the Earth was flat - and you can see why. It feels like common sense. Down is down - it's where things fall to. The ground is clearly flat and the sky "u

I Was A Teenage Toyah Fan 8: Which came out of the opened door?

" Burn up The Sun and all magazines / Pull down the abattoirs and all that's obscene... " I'd never bought The Sun and was uncomfortable about doing so now. It held all sorts of negative connotations for me. Recently I'd been supportive of the successful campaign to get its sale banned from the campus newsagent but it ran deeper than that. In my head The Sun would always be associated with The Fuckers at school, the bullies. They'd bought it regularly, imagining this made them adult and daring. They'd subsequently sellotaped an endless parade of monochrome newsprint breasts inside their desks and - on one memorable occasion - to the blackboard during an RE lesson. So I was in a quandary. Tom had sold his story to The Sun and I was curious to read it. You'll have to take my word for this - and some of you may be cynical - but it wasn't in a lascivious " I'm going to get to read all Toyah's secrets " way. I just wanted to k

Aping reality

Nothing is real. No, that's not strictly true. To put it another way, everything is real. If it wasn't real it wouldn't be . The point I'm trying to make is that this world may very well not be the real one. Whatever that means. I'll start again. There is a theory that states that if it ever became possible to simulate reality in a computer, such a simulation would be indistinguishable from the real thing and any inhabitants of the simulation would be completely unaware that they were all simply part of a gigantic computer program. There is another theory that states that this has already happened. It's known as the Simulation Hypothesis and has been put forward by Nick Bostrom who is either a philosopher at the University of Oxford or (if his hypothesis is to be believed) a simulation of a philosopher at a simulation of the University of Oxford. The premise is very simple. If, hypothesises Bostrom, it ever becomes possible to simulate reality i