Paradox & Resolution (and Others)

[1 source]

Here is the organized index of my series of philosophical articles, Paradox & Refutations, and other miscellanea on the central questions of life and logic. Each shapes the strange philosophy of what makes us us.

On the Central Questions

  1. Ultimate Meaning: Its nonexistence, and good riddance
[source 2]

(Portions of) The Abstract

Some philosophers have been shifting the discussion from meaning of life to meaning in life. Not so fast. There are things to learn about the former … Without the epistemic freight of Ultimate Meaning … realize and express the inherent lack of meaninglessness in experience. Thus, lingering on the meaning of life can engender more meaning in life, and nonmeaninglessness therein.

2. Knowledge: Limits And Potential

… Axioms are guesses. They are hypothesized explanations to solve problems. Among countless failed hypotheses, Einstein conjectured a curved spacetime to reconcile the tension between Newtonian mechanics and Faraday’s field theory. That conjecture is regarded with confidence nowadays because it withstood subsequent criticism. But its origins were as higgledy-piggledy as all the other failed hypotheses or any other failed idea.

Paradox & Resolution

  1. Theseus’ New Planks: How to unfurl the Ship of Theseus, and what we can learn from doing so
[Source 3]

Does a ship remain the same ship if all its planks are replaced with new planks gradually? Yes. How about if the renovation was sudden? No. The stance may be puzzling, but it is consistent… we change the question from “Is the ship the same in reality?” to “Do we use the same mental model to represent the ship?”. The new question will prove to have teeth.

2. The Teletransporter: Duplication, Vaporization and Identity’s Disintegration

[source 1]

In front of me is a teletransporter… On Earth, the machinery reads my complete physical and mental condition, down to the cell. It then vaporizes me and relays my exhaustive information at the speed of light to a universal constructor on Mars. That constructor builds a person with my exact information, such that it shares my exact psychological life and physical makeup. So is this Martian copy me, or did I die? … Answer: I might have died, but this situation is just as good as surviving.

3. Dual Consciousness and the Split-brain: Plumbing into the philosophy of mind with the real — yet oh so strange — corpus callosotomy

[source 2]

… Being inherited by two coexisting entities, P’s identity breaks down. To restore it, each hemisphere is incented to destroy the other. Or, if they don’t take a fancy in destruction, each hemisphere should have preferred a different person on the other side of the P’s skull. Don’t you think this is absurd? I think this is absurd.

We have two options. We can either accept that absurdity or reach for the opposite horn of the dilemma…

Notes

[1] An image created by a neural net optimized for trees. See Gabriel Goh et al. “Multimodal Neurons in Artificial Neural Networks.” (Distill Pub, 2021.)

[2] The image was generated by DALL-E, OpenAI’s text-to-image model of 12 billion parameters. OpenAI 2021 (“DALL·E: Creating Images from Text.”)

[3] Musk, Elon, @elonmusk. (June 12, 2021). Esoteric meme of the day. Twitter.

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Creative in science & tech. Thinking about AI & epistemology. Published assistant researcher. CS major at Columbia Engineering.

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Adam Mehdi

Adam Mehdi

Creative in science & tech. Thinking about AI & epistemology. Published assistant researcher. CS major at Columbia Engineering.

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