Eliminativism and Scott Bakker’s Blind Brain Theory

Image for post
Image for post
Image by David Matos, from Unsplash

There’s a fraternity of devotees to science that looks forward to the day when science and technology will make religion obsolete not just academically but practically. The posthuman systems will rain down progress on the intellectual elites who will think of theology as archaic, while Everyman will be swept up in technology’s re-enchantment of nature.

The new prophets are science fiction authors who dramatize the consequences of the falsehood not just of religious creeds but of folk psychology, of the naïve but eminently useful self-image we have of ourselves as conscious, free, rational minds with meaningful beliefs and desires. …


The tragedy of science-centered progress

Image for post
Image for post
Image by René DeAnda, from Unsplash

How grotesque was “President” Donald Trump’s era of transactionalism, his lack of ideology or moral compass, his nihilistic willingness to make deals with anyone as long as they served his narcissistic craving to be worshipped by the cultists he’d conned?

The Democrats and the liberal American mass media loved to condescend to Trump and to denounce his hollowness. “What good is a politician with no principles?” they asked. “Negotiating with Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” said Senator Chuck Schumer.

These Democrats practically rent their garments and tore out their head in exasperation that such an inhuman, unfeeling creature could have been elected to the White House. …


David Attenborough against Promethean faith in our transhuman destiny.

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Simon Migaj, from Pexels

In the Netflix documentary, “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,” Attenborough lays out how we’re all far along in the process of destroying the world’s biodiversity. Having filmed all the world’s habitats since the 1950s, he’s personally observed the devastation wrought by what we think of as the progress of civilization.

Attenborough’s Case Against Hubristic Civilization

We spare no part of nature that’s in our grasp. We overfish the oceans and dam and pollute rivers, killing most freshwater populations. We cut down rainforests and replace the healthy diversity of plants with a monoculture of oil palm trees. We melt the polar ice caps, so that the oceans can no longer absorb the excess heat produced by our civilizations, which has raised the global temperature. …


The existential conflict between liberals and conservatives

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Aaron Kittredge, from Pexels

In his first two speeches as the presumptive president-elect, Joe Biden laid out what he thinks government should do.

“The purpose of our politics isn’t total, unrelenting, unending warfare,” he said in the first, short address. The purpose isn’t “to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everyone a fair shot, to improve the lives of our people.

“We may be opponents but we’re not enemies,” he added. “We’re Americans.”

And in the second speech, Biden built on these themes, saying, “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end — here and now. The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. …


The upside and downside of popularity for writers

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Andrea Piacquadio, from Pexels

If you’re an average writer on Medium, chances are you’d love to become wildly popular on that platform, for some of your pieces to go viral until you find yourself with tens of thousands of readers and you’re making serious money.

Elsewhere, in “How to be Popular and Fake on Medium,” I considered what it likely takes to turn that dream into reality. Now let’s reflect on whether we should want that outcome, whether becoming a highly popular, well-read author would be worth the effort.

How Popularity Benefits an Author

The upside to becoming a sensation on Medium is perhaps more obvious than the downside. Of course, you’d earn more money and potentially a lot more, maybe even enough to live on — and all of that just for writing down your opinions or stories! …


From entertainments to the stories we live.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

If birds fly and spiders spin webs, people tell stories.

We line up outside the movie theater to watch tales light up the big screen or we binge countless sagas on Netflix. We read reviews of these stories which spin narratives about how the film or show fits into the larger cultural narrative. And we tell ourselves stories about why we like or dislike this or that drama.

Stories are as vital to us as the air we breathe. Indeed, according to Jonathan Gottschall’s book, The Storytelling Animal, we spend more time in fictional worlds than in the real one. Popular culture is full of entertaining stories, of course, from novels to movies, operas, video games, songs, and comic books. …


The reality of brains and minds, and the shame of Buddhist contentment.

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Suraphat Nuea-on, from Pexels

The holy trinity of Buddhism, as it were, is a trio of perceptions of certain marks of existence, namely that everything is impermanent (anicca), that mundane life is unsatisfactory (dukkha), and that there’s no permanent or essential self or soul (anatman).

If the third observation is meant to oppose Hinduism’s grandiose claims about the self, Buddhists have a valid point. But in so far as Buddhism is consistent with David Hume’s bundle theory of the mind, with the observation that there’s no mental unity at all, Buddhism leads us astray despite this atheistic religion’s grandeur.

Hume pointed out that, based on rigorous empiricism, we can’t find the self we take for granted. All we find through introspection is a series of mental states. We can infer there’s some substance underlying these impressions, just as we infer with respect to the separate external objects such as tables, rocks, and puddles, which we posit to account for the flurry of stimuli received by our five senses. But those inferences are arbitrary on strictly empiricist grounds. …


Republican radicalism, the cult of Trump, and Democratic femininity

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Markus Spiske, from Unsplash

As unheroically as possible, Democrats have managed to defeat and humiliate the odious anti-president, Donald Trump, whose record will now forever bear the ignominies of his impeachment and of his failure to win a second term in office. Assuming the courts don’t interfere with the results of the election and there’s no Trumpian coup, a majority of Americans essentially did the right thing in booting Trump from the White House.

Nevertheless, a cottage industry has grown up to explain why the race between Joe Biden and Trump was so close, considering the fullness of Trump’s malignance.

The 2020 pre-election polls were wrong since there was no “blue wave” or landslide for Biden. Democrats didn’t win the Senate, they lost seats in the House, and they didn’t pick up state legislatures. Moreover, more people voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016, and Biden won certain battleground states only by razor-thin margins. …


Some timely advice

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Andrea Piacquadio, from Pexels

Do you want to be a very popular writer on Medium? If so, the best way is to be fake AF.

Here, I’ll take you through it:

Be the World’s Biggest Know-It-All

Pretend you have the keys to success and that you know everything worth knowing (while ignoring all the fundamental, philosophical problems).

Write listicles that cater to unrealistic expectations. Spoon-feed the young, lazy, or busy readers who just want easy answers fast, as though life had a Coles Notes cheat sheet.

Flood Medium with trash to help lower the audience’s expectations. …


The trifecta of neoliberalism, hyperfemininity, and infantilization

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Tim Gouw, from Pexels

Can you envision President Joe Biden pardoning Donald Trump to heal and unite the nation? Should Biden do so if he were elected?

Of course, pardoning Trump wouldn’t save the former “president” from being prosecuted at the state level, unless President Biden were to coordinate with the district attorneys and call them off.

Moreover, even if Trump were prosecuted, the result would be as if he had been pardoned, because the American judicial system tends to make exceptions for the superrich. …

About

Benjamin Cain

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store