Category Archives: 3QD essays

3QD: Living in Bubbles

A crisis, by definition, has dramatic effects. It changes how we behave, where wealth goes, what policies we enact, and what we hope. But it also can bring into higher relief features of our lives that have not changed, but … Continue reading

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3QD: Freedom and determinism – what we can learn from the failures of two pretty good arguments

The “Consequence Argument” is a powerful argument for the conclusion that, if determinism is true, then we have no control over what we do or will do. The argument is straightforward and simple (as given in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy): … Continue reading

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3QD: Our very own annus mirabilis

This isn’t the first time universities have shut down from fear of pestilence. In 1665, “it pleased the Almighty God in his just severity to visit this towne of Cambridge with the plague of pestilence”, and Cambridge University was closed. … Continue reading

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3QD: Thoughts on Killing a Dog

Last week we had our dog put down. It was time. She was getting old and facing some serious neurological difficulties. The tipping point was a pair of severe seizures in the middle of the night, spaced about a minute … Continue reading

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3QD: Reflections on It-ing and Thou-ing

We find ourselves always in the middle of an experience. But it’s what we do next – how we characterize the experience – that lays down a host of important and almost subterranean conditions. Am I sitting in a chair, … Continue reading

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3QD: Conversation with a Genie

Essay here.

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Back to 3QuarksDaily

After a bit of a break, I’m going to resume contributing monthly essays at 3QuarksDaily. The first essay is now up, alongside the fascinating essays, poems, and insights from the other contributors. How To Be Kind “There’s only one rule … Continue reading

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The 3QD experience

I’ve contributed essays to the aggregator site 3quarksdaily.com for two years, and have just decided to bring that relationship to a close. Nothing went wrong – no falling out, no throwing of lamps, no screaming fits of “I just don’t love you … Continue reading

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Experiencing the moment

David Hume, that most sly student of human experience, declared he couldn’t find himself anywhere. As he gazed inward, he came across sensations, feelings, passions, and moods, but he had never come across aself in the way one might come … Continue reading

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The Cyborg of Practical Wisdom

The biggest struggle my fellow modern-day cyborgs and I face is to create a virtual reality that connects more wholesomely with the human part of our nature. The artificial reality we currently plug into is a Terry Gilliam nightmare. Too … Continue reading

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Hypatia of Alexandria: or, a primer on platonic love

Plato, as we know, told tales of an abstract realm beyond the senses, a realm beyond the dim and dark cave we call “the world.” It was a realm of forms, first glimpsed through the discipline of mathematics, and more … Continue reading

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Everything is meaningless – but that’s okay

What would it be for life to have a “meaning”? What does it mean when people say life is meaningful? I’m not sure, so let’s start with smaller, more obviously meaningful things. Better yet, let’s start with some meaningless things. When … Continue reading

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“A Stranger to One’s Own Country”

Descartes was not a bookish man. There’s a well-known anecdote that reveals what he thought of libraries: One of his friends went to visit Descartes at Egmond. This gentleman asked him about physics books: which ones did he most value, … Continue reading

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The Magical Dimensions of the Globe

There’s a particularly good episode of Doctor Who (“The Shakespeare Code”) wherein the Doctor and Martha visit Shakespeare and save the world from a conspiracy of witches. The witches’ plan is to take possession of Shakespeare and force him to write … Continue reading

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Learning from Hume; or, Hume and Particle Physics

Philosophy students are typically taught the wrong lesson from the great Scottish skeptic David Hume. The standard story goes something like this. British empiricists like Locke and Berkeley wanted to connect everything we know to what we experience through the … Continue reading

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