A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Something new for the blog: Deep Philosophical Questions

I've long followed a few online comics at a time. At the moment, I mostly check big players in the Pantheon of geek comics, such as XKCD and SMBC. Good, smart stuff, by ridiculously creative people. I also long followed Sinfest, PhD Comics, and still mourn the decade-old passing of (the original?) online shock-comic The Parking Lot is Full. More recently, I have really started enjoying ExistentialComics, enough that I even signed up to support the guy doing it. I would say 8 out of 10 are very good, which is an absurdly high hit rate for a comic that hasn't even had 60 strips yet (they are published once a week). Even more impressive given that it is written by a guy without formal philosophy training. Check out the Philosophy Tech Support, for example. I'm not sure I am capably of doing smart short-from highly-visual jokes common to xkcd or smbc, but the longer-form intellectual absurdity I got a shot at... so long as I don't pretend I can draw. (Well... I can illuminate medieval manuscripts decently well, but I don't think that lends itself to the web comic genera.)

At any rate, I am inspired. So, coming soon:
There will be a series of posts on Deep Philosophical Questions. Stay tuned for such classics as the Stomach in a Vat problem and the many mysteries of Twin-Earth, including the Zombie Sofas problem.

Other suggestions more than welcome. What classic philosophical debates do you think are absurd? Or, what do suspect might be absurd, but you have been waiting for the right analogy to make up your mind? 


  1. Not sure if my previous comment was submitted. Here's a summary:

    I majored in philosophy, so I used to have an appreciation for some of the problems in philosophy of mind. Grad school and pschology research has reduced my threshold for un-empirical nonsense though (I shouldn't use such loaded words, but that's how I feel), chief among them:

    1) Zombies (philosophical)
    2) Qualia
    3) Brain in a vat

    Most of the deep issues I find interesting now revolve around the appropriate physics for understanding life, the information detected by organisms that supports perception/action, and problems with reductionism and Bayesian inference hypothesis of perception and cognition. These things are more directly relevant to my research interests and eco psych in general.

    1. Well... philosophical zombies are coming for sure, if I keep going I'll try to tackle qualia. I might be able to whip something up about Bayesian inference, because I am suspicious of it (as a relic of being overly influenced by early statisticians who disliked the Bayes Theorem).

    2. Over here at the ecological psychology division of the UConn Psychology department, Bayes theorem is one of those things rarely spoken about (along with consciousness and mental representations), so admittedly, I'm not an expert. But I'm always interested to learn more.

  2. Existential Comics is fantastic, by the way. Thanks for sharing :-)

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