Author Archives: Huenemann

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.

Tim Urban, What’s our problem?

[Reading: What’s Our Problem? by Tim Urban] Tim Urban is a smart and funny guy. He explains all kinds of things in clear and entertaining ways on his website, Wait But Why. Now he is out to explain a great … Continue reading

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Overview of AI and potential threats

Here is a sensible, informed, and wise essay by Ali Minai at 3QuarksDaily that offers a clear picture of the general way AI systems like Chat-GPT work, and some sober recommendations for minimizing the disruptions they are likely to cause. … Continue reading

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Complexities of medieval islamicate thought

Interesting and illuminating essay here debunking Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ignorant, repeated, and insistent claim that Al-Ghazali killed medieval science. Physicists very much like to invent history according to their preconceived notions. Key paragraph: I could keep listing astronomers, physicists, and … Continue reading

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Magic circles

I recently had the chance to visit two centers of the arcane. The first was the Warburg Library, an academic library at the University of London. It attracts a notable but somewhat rare subspecies of academics: those interested in how … Continue reading

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A fuller explanation

I feel that in my last two posts (on Tár and postmodernism) I managed to miss the big idea that was lurking in both of them. The idea is that the study of culture, and especially popular culture, is no … Continue reading

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Approximating post-modernism

“Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse characterized by skepticism toward the “grand narratives” of modernism, rejection of epistemic certainty or the stability of meaning, and sensitivity to the role of ideology in maintaining political power.” [Wikipedia] Postmodernism … Continue reading

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Reflection on Tár

[Spoilers to follow, in case you’re worried!] We recently watched the film Tár starring Cate Blanchette. It’s a film with a lot, I mean a lot, of talking. We split our watching over two days. But the acting was so … Continue reading

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Steven Pinker on linguistics

I just came across this excellent overview of the field of linguistics by Steven Pinker. Highly recommended.

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Some AI art

When I put together the “Two and a half minutes” piece for 3QD (below), I experimented with DALL-E to compose some art to accompany it. I ended up going with something less literal, but here’s what the AI did with … Continue reading

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3QD: Two and a half minutes

There is nothing new in this thought. But it’s worth revisiting now and again. There’s an unbounded muddy terrain as dark and timeless as night. Drifting slowly over the landscape is a disk of light from an unknown source, like … Continue reading

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3QD: Sea monster

Vasco da Gama was the first person we can name who successfully commandeered a voyage around Africa’s southernmost point, the Cape of Good Hope. It is a treacherous passage, where warm currents from the southern part of the Indian Ocean … Continue reading

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3QD: Give me monotony!

“Monotonizing existence, so that it won’t be monotonous. Making daily life anodyne, so that the littlest thing will amuse.” —Bernardo Soares (Fernando Pessoa), The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith, section 171 Senhor Soares goes on to explain that in his … Continue reading

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Knowledge for Humans

I have taught “Epistemology” for many years, but it has always been for me a difficult course to plan. I want to cover traditional philosophical questions about skepticism, justification, induction, and belief in the external world. But then I also … Continue reading

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The argument from design, and the surprising significance of evolutionary explanation

At least on the surface, there seems to be something incongruous in regarding some artifact (like a watch) as clearly implying some kind of intelligent, crafty mind, but then regarding that intelligent, crafty mind as not implying any sort of … Continue reading

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The Thing About Mary

One of the cleanest and most compelling arguments against physicalism in the philosophy of mind is the “Knowledge Argument”. (Here is a quick summary. The response I am going to offer doesn’t show up there, though it fits in as … Continue reading

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