Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss the function of super-hero films and how this new one fits in. Do we need “realism” in such stories? When does a premise like this get too old to keep recycling?
On Soren Kierkegaard’s essay “The Present Age” (1846) and Hubert Dreyfus’s “Nihilism on the Information Highway: Anonymity vs. Commitment in the Present Age” (2004).
What’s wrong with our society? Kierkegaard saw the advent of the press and gossip culture as engendering a systematic passivity and shallowness in his fellows, and Dreyfus thinks this is an even more apt description of the Internet Age. With guest John Ganz.
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Jonathan built his career playing 19th century Indians on horseback, was John Redcorn III in King of the Hill, Chief Ken Hotate in Parks and Recreation, was featured in The Magnificent Seven and True Grit, and is currently playing Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun (also featuring Erica) in Sag Harbor.
He talks about Hollywood’s record portraying indigenous Americans, his own struggles to get native views reflected in the works he’s participated in and the differences between acting on stage vs. film and TV.
As it turns out, if our purpose is to test the simulator hypothesis against religious belief, it is only in the specifics that we can easily distinguish between the two. The Deist God, who creates the universe, and then leaves it to run entirely on its own, is not easily disambiguated from the hands-off simulator. One might well call them one and the same. Similarly, the Platonic ideal of good, which remains removed and remote in eternal perfection while the demiurge creates the world in imitation of it, needs not change at all if we choose to think of the demiurge as working with pixels and electrons rather than with primal matter. Such abstract, philosophical conceptions of God are general enough that even a shift as dramatic as reconceptualizing reality itself as a simulation can be integrated relatively easily. It is more of a challenge, however, to reconfigure the simulation hypothesis in order to yield the specificity of Christ.
We talk with Ned about a second Blockheads (2019) article, Michael Tyle’s “Homunculi Heads and Silicon Chips: The Importance of History to Phenomenology,” which provides a variation off of the David Chalmers fading qualia argument, and then Mark, Seth, Dylan, and Wes continue exploring the details uncovered by our interview after Ned leaves.
End song: “Your So Dark Sleep/Goodbye” by The Black Watch, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #102.
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The Residents were formed in 1969 and have released around 50 albums of theatrical, experimental music with humor and humanity. They’re great to freak people out with. The band is anonymous; Homer is the head of their management arm, The Cryptic Corporation.
We discuss “Good Vibes” from Intruders (2019), “Blue Rosebuds,” from Duck Stab (1978) and the live Shadowland (2014), “Kiss of Flesh” from God in Three Persons (1988), and we listen to “If Only” from the Hardy Fox tribute album The Godfather of Odd (2019). Intro: “Fire (Santa Dog)” (1972) and outro: “The Simple Song” from Commercial Album (1980). For more, visit residents.com.
Ian Maio (who’s worked in e-sports marketing) joins Erica, Brian and Mark to talk about why adults play video games, types of gamers, gaming disorders, gamer shaming, inclusivity, and more.
This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com. Please go check out Modern Day Philosophers at moderndayphilosophers.net and See You on the Other Side at othersidepodcast.com.
The climax and denouement of our summer philosophy of mind series: Ned Block visits to fill in the gaps about functionalism and attributing consciousness to machines and discuss essays from Blockheads (2019), focusing here on Brian McLaughlin’s “Could an Android be Sentient?”
Lucy Lawless (Xena the Warrior Princess, currently starring in My Life Is Murder) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to think about the true crime genre, of both the documentary and dramatized variety. What’s the appeal? Why do women in particular gravitate to it?
Cezary Baraniecki, Laura Davis, Nathaniel Hanks, Daniel Johnson, and Jennifer Tejada. In this episode, we discuss the classic Latin American novel by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Continuing on Ned Block’s “Troubles with Functionalism” (1978) and David Chalmers’s “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia” (1995).
What would it be like to be halfway between person and machine? If you think the machine can’t have consciousness, then Chalmers thinks that there’s no sensible way to describe such an experience, ergo the machine (if functionally equivalent to the person) must have consciousness after all.
End song: “Machine” by Helen Money as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #101.
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Mark, Erica, and Brian consider the HBO mini-series, plus “based on a true story” and why do we enjoy witnessing suffering?
As we sink deeper and deeper into the realm of religion, we find ourselves forced to face up to a core religious dilemma of the modern, globalized world, the same dilemma glossed over by Pascal in his wager: In a world filled with so many different and often contradictory religions, how would we choose one as more plausible than the others?
On Ned Block’s “Troubles with Functionalism” (1978) and David Chalmers’s “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia” (1995).
If mental states are functional states, there couldn’t be zombies. Yet Block claims that there could be zombies: for example, a functional duplicate of you whose components are actually citizens of China obeying algorithmic rules. Even if the resulting system acts like you, it obviously isn’t conscious. Chalmers argues that you’d then need to explain the experiences of a creature half way between you and the zombie, but you can’t, so Block’s argument doesn’t work and functionalism is left standing. What do you think? Do you hate weird thought experiments like these?
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Is media trying to brainwash us into being ALL THE SAME? Are the excesses of the mob scaring us into conformity? Mark, Erica, and Brian muse on cultural homogenization and are joined by comedian Dr. Yakov Smirnoff to talk about growing up in a repressive society and the shadow of political correctness over comedy.
Alison was studying classical music when she joined Jason Narducy in 1994 in a duet that grew into two Verbow albums. She’s since recorded four solo cello albums and been a guest musician on over 100 albums, playing with Bob Mould, Superchunk, Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, etc.
We discuss “Become Zero” and “Vanished Star” from Become Zero (2016), then “Beautiful Friends” from Arriving Angels (2013), and listen to “For My Father” by Jarboe/Helen Money (2015). Intro: “New History” by Verbow from White Out (2000); closing music from “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing” from In Tune (2009). For more, see helenmoney.com.
From a Neoplatonic point of view, what goodness there is our world must come from the world deeper than ours, the one doing the simulating. The evil and chaos and disorder could all be nothing more than random numbers firing, but the beauty and the nobility and the truth in the world demand some source. And if the next world deeper is somehow a dirtier, nastier, less good place than ours, then our world must be reflecting some yet higher-still world toward which the artisans who created our simulation are striving.
What counts as binge watching? Why do we do it? Is it bad for us? Mark, Erica, and Brian think about what we get out of binge watching, whether it’s bad for us, what kind of shows taste better in bulk than others, and much more.
Continuing on functionalism with David M. Armstrong’s “The Causal Theory of the Mind” (1981).
We delve into this version of functionalism that is supposed to clear the way for the scientific identification of mental states with brain states. Mental states are defined by their causal relations with other states and with behavior, and the content of a mental state is exhausted by its intentional object, e.g., the content of a perception is the thing you’re perceiving that (normally) causes the perception. So what about things like colors and sounds that aren’t really out in the world? Can functionalism explain how these seem to us?
End song: “Pain Makes You Beautiful” by Jeff Heiskell’s JudyBats, as featured on Nakedly Examined Music #5.
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