The most prominent strain of A.I. encodes a flawed conception of language and knowledge.
Tag Archives: Philosophy
The Power of Art in a Political Age
Searching for beauty as the world turns ugly.
In the Age of A.I., Major in Being Human
How to acquire the skills no machine can have.
AI Is Becoming More Conversant. But Will It Get More Honest?
At a new website called Character.AI, you can chat with a reasonable facsimile of almost anyone, live or dead, real or (especially) imagined.
These Engineers Want to Build Conscious Robots. Others Say It’s a Bad Idea.
The pursuit of robot consciousness may be humankind’s next moonshot. But it comes with a slurry of difficult questions.
The Question of Life Itself
How people regard the start of life is complicated, polarizing and worthy of exploration.
What Should You Do Differently in 2023? Try Taking Suggestions.
More than offering prescriptions, suggestions — good or bad — about how we should live broaden our worldview and put us in touch with our desires.
How Henri Matisse (and I) Got a ‘Beautiful Body’
The new limitations of the artist’s body became an opportunity for renewal. With paint, scissors and paper, he constructed a new self.
Why Jesus Loved Friendship
A vulnerable God is an essential part of the Christian story.
FTX’s Collapse Casts a Pall on ‘Effective Altruism’ Movement
Sam Bankman-Fried, the chief executive of the embattled cryptocurrency exchange, was a proponent and donor of the “effective altruism” movement.
How a Scottish Moral Philosopher Got Elon Musk’s Number
In a few short years, effective altruism has become the giving philosophy for many Silicon Valley programmers, hedge funders and even tech billionaires.
Friedrich Schelling’s Philosophy Can Help Us Through the Climate Crisis
Friedrich Schelling’s ideas might provide a foundation on which to anchor the fight for our climate and our survival.
The Subtle Art of Appreciating ‘Difficult Beauty’
The writer Chloé Cooper Jones talks about bodies, disability and how searching for beauty can change our lives.
Three Sentences That Could Change the World — and Your Life
The philosopher William MacAskill lays out the case for longtermism: “Future people count. There could be a lot of them. And we can make their lives better.”
If I Get Canceled, I Want Friends, Not Allies
I want friends whose minds are not tethered to mine in bonds of allegiance but spin freely of their own accord.
Spiritual Coaches Are on the Rise
As more and more Americans call themselves spiritual but not religious, spiritual coaches give us a glimpse of the allure and the hazards of 21st-century D.I.Y. religion.
The Ethics of Abortion
The law professor Kate Greasley examines moral quandaries around life, personhood and bodily autonomy that underpin the abortion debate.
How Democrats Can Win the Morality Wars
First, they have to understand the deep philosophical differences underlying these conflicts.
Courage Seemed to be Dead. Then Came Zelensky.
Can economics make sense of heroism?
Whatever Happened to Identity Politics?
A conversation with the philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò about how “elite capture” has changed the conversation about social justice.
Searching for What Connects Us, Carlo Rovelli Explores Beyond Physics
The physicist ranges widely — from black holes to Buddhism to climate change — in his new book, “There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness.”
How to Pray to a God You Don’t Believe In
I like my religion inscrutable.
The Man Who Made Thinking Sexy
Jerry Z. Muller’s “Professor of Apocalypse” tells the story of Jacob Taubes, who is largely forgotten today but was at the center of intellectual life after the war.
Wittgenstein’s ‘Private Notebooks’ Shed Some Light on an Enigmatic Genius
These journals offer a view of the philosopher’s preoccupations, his sexual anguish, his struggles with work and his time in the military.
How the ‘Homeless Billionaire’ Became a Philosopher King
Money can buy influence over nearly anything in the world — including in the world of ideas.
Are We Measuring Our Lives in All the Wrong Ways?
The philosopher C. Thi Nguyen believes that to understand modern life, we need to understand how games work.
How to Process the Covid Deaths of Anti-Vaxxers
Don’t give in to schadenfreude. It warps the soul.
Exploring mind-bending questions about reality and virtual worlds via The Matrix
There’s a famous scene in The Matrix where Neo goes to see The Oracle. He meets another potential in the waiting room: a young child who seemingly bends a spoon with his mind. Noticing Neo’s fascination, he tells him, “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.” And what is that truth? “There is no spoon,” the child says.
The implication is that the Matrix is an illusion, a false world constructed by the machines to keep human beings sedated and docile while their bodies serve as batteries to power the Matrix. But what if this assumption is wrong, and the Matrix were instead just as real as the physical world? In that case, the child would more accurately have said, “Try to realize the truth. There is a spoon—a digital spoon.”
That’s the central argument of a new book, Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, by New York University philosopher David Chalmers. The Australian-born Chalmers is perhaps best known for his development in the 1990s of what’s known as the hard problem of consciousness. Things like the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli; the brain’s ability to integrate information; and the difference between wakefulness and sleep can all be explained by identifying an underlying mechanism.
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We’re Probably in a Simulation. How Much Should That Worry Us?
Virtual reality is getting very real — real enough to call into question what “reality” even means.
Michael Schur’s Unending Quest to Be Perfect
The comedy writer, known for shows like “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Place,” has a surprising new project: a book about moral philosophy that explores how to be a good person.
Diet Culture Is Unhealthy. It’s Also Immoral.
Resolve, this year, to just say no.
Death Is for the Living: Lessons From Religious Scholars
There is so much to learn from facing the about what is unknowable.
How We Make Sense of Time
January 2022 arrives as our methods of keeping time feel like they are breaking. Calendar pages turn, yet time feels lost. In this year of all years, what does it mean for a year to be new?
Better Living Through Stoicism, From Seneca to Modern Interpreters
The philosophy — which, among other things, counsels how to deal with catastrophe — has experienced a revival over the past decade or so, with another uptick in interest at the start of the pandemic.
Why Jesus Never Stopped Asking Questions
Jesus liked to turn the tables on his interlocutors, especially those who were in the business of asking questions themselves.
Sylvère Lotringer, Shape-Shifting Force of the Avant-Garde, Dies at 83
He succeeded in making French philosophy hip and provoking mainstream American culture, but he couldn’t vanquish his childhood memories of Nazi rule.
What Astroworld, the Rust Shooting and the Surfside Collapse Have In Common
From the Salem witch trials to the Astroworld disaster, conspiracy theories and reformist narratives have battled for dominance in the American consciousness.
How I Became Obsessed With Accidental Time Travel
The web is awash with ordinary peoples’ stories of “time slips.” Their real magic is what they can tell us about our relationship to time.
Imagination Is More Important Than You Think
Our society isn’t good at cultivating the faculty that we may need the most.
The Resilient Beauty of Flowers
Flowers testify to life’s transience, but they are also rugged emblems of resilience.
My Thoughts on Life After Death
Death, for all of us, is a journey interrupted.
On Charles W. Mills, a Great Philosopher We Lost This Week
A tribute to Charles W. Mills.
Searching for Plato With My 7-Year-Old
In Athens with his daughter, Thomas Chatterton Williams could finally pay homage in person to the classical education his own father gave him.
What Psychology Tells Us About Self-Awareness
We know what we’re feeling, just not how and why we got here.
What Would Real Sexual Liberation Look Like?
The philosopher Amia Srinivasan explores the complex interactions among desire, love and politics.
I Can’t Stop Wondering What’s Going On Inside My Cat’s Head
How my new pets got me to consider life’s deepest mysteries.
The Zen of Weight Lifting
Chop wood, carry water and other lessons that apply far beyond the gym.
What is the Lindy Effect?
A technology lawyer named Paul Skallas argues we should be gleaning more wisdom from antiquity.
How to Think Outside Your Brain
The days when we could do it all in our heads are over.
Reading Dan Frank, Book Editor and ‘Champion of the Unexampled’
Alan Lightman, Janna Levin and others recall the editor who shaped their work and a literary genre. Plus, more reading recommendations in the Friday edition of the Science Times newsletter.