Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Tao that can be expressed

[This is an essay I wrote in 2008, on an old blog.] The following is the first part of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — it’s my favourite piece of eastern philosophy. I’ve quoted it many times, ever since I … Continue reading

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What do we mean by “Nature”? And what do we mean by “Human Nature”?

Here’s the intro to my latest 3QD essay: I’ve always had a problem with the word ‘nature’. It seems to serve as a label for multiple, mutually inconsistent notions. This in itself is not a reason to dislike a word … Continue reading

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Me and My Brain: What the “Double-Subject Fallacy” reveals about contemporary conceptions of the Self

My latest essay for 3 Quarks Daily is up: Me and My Brain: What the “Double-Subject Fallacy” reveals about contemporary conceptions of the Self Here’s an excerpt: What is a person? Does each of us have some fundamental essence? Is … Continue reading

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The Mysterious Power of Naming in Human Cognition

I’ve written a long-form essay for the blog/aggregator site 3 Quarks Daily:  Boundaries and Subtleties: the Mysterious Power of Naming in Human Cognition Here’s a taster: I’ve divided up the essay into four parts. Here’s the plan: We’ll introduce two key … Continue reading

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The neural shadow-play: A metaphor for how we infer how the brain works from a variety of methods

Can we say that a particular brain area mediates some function? My answer to a good Quora question: “Understanding the brain is like understanding the shape of a very complex, dynamic and multifaceted object by looking at the shadows projected … Continue reading

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Metaphor: the Alchemy of Thought

In the murky centuries before the dawn of the scientific age, alchemists used the phrase “As above, so below” to convey their belief that the neat order observed in the heavens could also be discerned amidst the chaos on earth. … Continue reading

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Science Fiction – The Shadows cast by Modernity

This piece was written at the behest of a friend who works for Down to Earth magazine. It appeared there a few months ago in slightly edited form.  * There was a time, not too long ago, when the human … Continue reading

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