Rationality as a Coping Mechanism

I think a lot about “complexity”, in an abstract sense, and the mechanisms we have for coping with complex situations. In the physical sciences, there is a concept called “coarse-graining” which essentially means simplifying a system in a way that captures its most relevant properties. So, for instance, if we…

Qualified to Speak?

Under what conditions is a person qualified to hold an opinion? This is a question that to me feels especially relevant in the modern day where it’s possible to quickly learn about a new topic, to feign expertise, and to get opinions out into the world. On one end…

Hard Work as a Form of Courage

We are told that hard work is to be respected, admired even – a good work-ethic is considered a good character trait and one that should be instilled in children. But why is this the case? Evolutionarily, it seems to make sense that hard work led to survival and laziness led…

Our New Relationship to Mechanical Force

In their book “The Second Machine Age”, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson claim that the Industrial Revolution brought on perhaps the biggest technological shift in the history of human existence. As the story goes, James Watt perfected the steam engine to give rise to steam trains, mills, factories and a…