Spending sunday at GoodKarma; bumped into the philosophy grad student and had a nice conversation about a book he's reading about the co-emergence of money and systems of debt, then about that Pinker book (which I'm really looking forward to reading). I sometimes wonder whether I'd like to make a living as some kind of public intellectual (like Dawkins or Hitchens); I might be too introverted to make that actually work, but I could otherwise be happy doing that, I think. Maybe if the neuroscience thing doesn't work out I'll give that a shot. I probably have less-controversial views than Hitchens, and I think I have a reasonable understanding of humanity and philosophy. It's certainly more likely than my becoming a dictator somewhere (which I'd be willing to try!). We also talked a bit about philosophy of mind; my intuition is that we'll find the most fruitful ground in understanding the human brain to be somewhere between connectionism and symbol-manipulation, and we worked a bit on fleshing out what that means.
Occasionally I've given out packages of a lot of my creative outputs over the years ; gigantic bundles of philosophy, stories, musings, and the like. If you have any of these, there are some pretty terrible videogame fanfics I did in high school that may have been part of those sets; if you come across those, please let me know as I seem to be missing those from any archives I can find.
I am amused at the idea of antidates - arrangements to meet people with the most highly negative match percentages on a dating site, just to see what they're like. I'm not sure whether it'd be more amusing to meet over a nice dinner somewhere or in some purposefully awful location.
- In response to the US setting up a floating naval base not far from Iran's shores to enforce an embargo, Iran has sent some of it's warships through the Suez canal to Syria (really, to threaten Israel). I'm pretty okay with this; Israeli warmongering merits a response, and the US economic sanctions are unconscionable. We should not prohibit Iran having nukes if Israel can have them.
- Trevor Phillips made some controversial statements recently, suggesting the special exemptions for religious institutions on antidiscrimination laws amount to private sharia law in Britain. I think he's right on the direction, but the magnitude is pretty different. Rule of law should be universal; groups should not gain privilege by claiming traditions of their community, and this is what the church is doing. Laws are not "things you have to obey unless you REALLY don't want to". The private Sharia law advocated by Anjem Choudary and that lot is basically the same; a return to medieval practices (primarily in the multicultural middle east, but also in some parts of Europe) which gave communities a legal right to manage nearly all disputes between their members. Of course, the scale is very different; the extralegal privilege the Church is trying to claim is limited to the right to discriminate against gays and presumably non-Christians primarily in the family-planning services they offer. I don't believe society should accomodate them. I'm not sure whether the angle or strength of the similarities is more important, and so it's hard to judge whether the comparison, as phrased, is warranted.
A number of recent conversations revolve around a maxim that I've been talking about for awhile (that others often have strong opinions against): 「You may claim whatever you like as your self-identity, but others don't have to recognise your claim to that identity」. This adequately explains my positions on "cultural appropriation", terms related to sexual identity, "true" forms of ethnic/religious/other identity, and many other areas. It ties strongly into both "Death of the Author" (ironically, a postmodernist idea) and the programming notion of namespaces. It also hooks into my general notion that making demands of someone else's namespace (except, generally, not being intentionally malicious) is very rude; you need a damned good reason to tell other people how to think or talk; the bar is intentionally set quite high because of how rude it is to restrict someone's philosophical growth; ability to construct their world-mindspace on their own terms. This is why a number of "rights and proprieties" that multiculturalist liberalism tends to hold don't sit well with me; they don't see the rudeness I see as a counterbalance to their (well-intentioned) efforts at societal engineering (not that I would spit on societal engineering; we all do it, we all must do it, it's part of life). This is why I will strive for justice and kindness and reasonability but doubt I will ever accept political correctness. I recognise there is a divide, and both branches of liberalism will look rude to each other, but when two foundational intuitions collide and synthesis seems to be impossible, that's unavoidable.
Looking forward to NYC, also kind of scared at the reinvention-of-self I'm going to need to do to make this really work. I need to move beyond not really having any peers or anyone else in my life. Every time I've moved (many times, unwillingly, as a child) it's been traumatic. This probably will be no exception, although at least the ties here are minimal at this point.