Articles on various topics – philosophy, sci-fi, technology, writing, history, politics, literature, culture, etc.

A Brief History of Hell

There is an interesting little connection between the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s account of the various reasons for immoral behaviour, and the Christian notion of Hell. Firstly, according to Aristotle, a moral action must be deliberately chosen, involving conscious knowledge of…

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Who Am I?

The other day I came across a book on Tibetan Buddhism and the topic of lucid dreaming. I’ve long been interested in Buddhism, primarily perhaps because it is a very philosophical religion, especially in relation to philosophy of mind, and…

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Are We Rational Beings?

One of my favourite novels is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It is a real doorstop of a tome – some 800 pages, though somehow it actually feels longer. If you don’t know it, it can perhaps best…

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Can a Machine Think?

Can a machine think? In his famous paper addressing this question, mathematician Alan Turing argued that if a machine could perform all the tasks that a human intellect could (and more), then why wouldn’t you consider this to be “thinking”?…

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Why You Are (Probably) Not Living in a Simulation

I recently watched Devs, a somewhat bleak but stylish, serious and well-researched TV drama written by Alex Garland, which explores a number of philosophical themes close to my heart. The following discussion of it contains some spoilers, so if you…

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Why Robots Will Never Be Conscious

It’s hard to fight tropes. They’re a bit like memes – and if you’ve ever tussled with one of those, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. In sci-fi, perhaps one of the most enduring tropes is that of the sentient…

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