You can find most of my published writings (and instantly get updated about new pieces) on the following web sites:
My first book, Consciousness and the Philosophy of Signs, which just came out in soft-cover, applies some of the semiotic ideas of C. S. Peirce to debates in philosophy of mind. Most philosophers know Peirce as the founder of American pragmatism, but few know that he also coined the term “qualia,” which is meant to capture the intrinsic feel of an experience. Since pragmatic verification and qualia are usually seen as conflicting commitments, I try to understand how Peirce could (or thought he could) have it both ways. At the biannual Toward a Science of Consciousness conference, my work was the object of a symposium titled “Against Mindless Pragmatism.” That slogan summarizes well my work.
My technical contributions to the philosophical LEMM fields (Language/Logic, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind) contribute at a remove to my overarching aim, which is to craft an enchanted atheist worldview. As current political trends and events attest, when a society tries to chase away the religious, it comes back galloping (often in even less healthy forms). Humans need a large-scale sense of purpose. That need will not go away. So, as I explain in my second book, Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism, achieving a tenable secular alternative “requires (among other things) a viable theory of values, a viable theory of consciousness, a viable theory of meaning, and a viable theory of aesthetic experience and ritual” (2020, p. 181; emphasis added). As I argued in a recent chapter, it is possible to make such a spiritually satisfying philosophy without religious superstition and dogma.
I am currently turning my attention to the loss of meaning that ensues when we rely too much on technology and lose sight of our ordinary surroundings and activities. You can sample the preface and introduction of that next book here.
People who discuss super-intelligent AGI sometimes refer to “Moloch” to capture the idea of a malevolent influence that, through game-theoretic incentives, pits us against each other and our best interests. Haven’t we already heard warnings about Moloch before, perhaps under a different name? I am not religious, but I distinctly recall some story about exploring a large space but not eating from one particular tree of knowledge. In any event, when Finnish engineers tried to figure out how to convey warnings about the dangers of spent nuclear fuel to humans living 100K years from now, they concluded that myths and stories might be the most resilient communicative vehicle. Applying a slight induction on this conclusion and coming off a book on Peterson, I think it might be wise for us to seriously (re)consider the message(s) contained in such lasting myths and legends, which survive precisely by replicating in all sorts of places like popular culture. AI experts aver that we are dealing with the total decoding of reality. But, the hero Indiana Jones survived his adventure precisely by not looking at the godly secrets kept in the lost Ark. Humility, not hubris, is what saved him (in all the movies). Suggestions on what to do — or not do — are thus all around us. We’re just not listening.