2017 on Grand Unified Crazy

Since I’ve been blogging pretty consistently again for about a year now, a “year in review” post seems like the thing to do. 2017 has been by far the most active year for my blog in terms of traffic: over 1100 page views on over 700 visitors. This is substantially more than even 2014 when I was posting full-steam-ahead on my core philosophical roadmap.

Unsurprisingly, the largest single chunk of that readership comes from Facebook links (hi friends) but that still accounts for less than a third of total page views. Search engines are next (~150 views) and then we’re down into the weeds.

Perhaps also unsurprisingly, far and away my most popular post this year was that one on Donald Trump. It got more than three times the views as anything else I wrote, and it certainly has had the longest shelf life; it’s regularly getting 5-10 random hits a month nearly a year after I posted it.

From a geographical perspective most of my readers are from Canada (surprise) but still barely half. The U.S. counts for another third or so, and the remainder come from a smattering of places. Germany, U.K., and India all show up semi-regularly; at the bottom of the pack are places like Romania (3 views), Columbia (2 views), and South Africa (1 view) among others.

In terms of what I’ve actually written about this year, it was rather scattershot. The first third or so of the year was anchored by my series on atheism but included a bunch of random stuff too (notably that Trump post). The second third (starting with Pessimism and Emotional Hedging and running through Charging the Self-Trust Battery) was an collection of essays which I am rather proud of. In hindsight they collect around two distinct themes: feminism, and our search for fulfillment.

The final two months of posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) have been an exploration of anxiety and love, somewhat more poorly structured and poorly written than my earlier essays, but also a little more personal.

As for my favourite post from the year? Our Need for Need. Something about it still rings true.

I have no specific plans for 2018 right now, so we’ll see what starts showing up in my brain in January. Onwards.

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Roadmap #4: Philosophical Problem-Solving

Wow, onto our fourth major section. I didn’t think I’d still be writing these after this many months 🙂

Having started with some really foundational philosophy, covering systems theory, and then touching on practical human behaviour, our fourth section is a return to philosophy in a much more practical way. We’ve finally built enough of a foundation that we can actually put it to use, so we’re going to do just that in order to knock down well-known philosophy problems one after another.

I’ve included one level of sub-topics in this roadmap because I’m not sure at this point how much I’ll fit into each post, whether I’ll end up doing one post per approach (potentially dealing with several problems at once) or one post per problem, spreading the same approach across multiple posts.

    • Problems of Abstraction

      • Material Constitution

      • Problem of Many

    • Problems of Social Negotiation

      • Linguistics

      • Identity

    • Problems of Speculation

      • Classic Metaphysics

      • Free Will

    • The Existence of God

      • The Many Faces of God

      • Axiom vs Derivation

      • Occam’s Razor Redux

      • The Religious Meme

      • Absence of Evidence, Russel’s Teapot

    • Right and Wrong

      • Absolute vs Relative, Axiom vs Derivation

      • Occam’s Razor, Again

      • Cultural Differences

      • Social Negotiation, Memetics and Moral Evolution

    • The Meaning of Life

      • Absolute vs Relative, Axiom vs Derivation

      • Despair and Wonder

      • Truth and Beauty

      • The Unimportance of Truth

      • Tilting at Windmills

      • Enjoying the Salad

    • Aesthetics

I’m going to love this section. Allons-y!

Roadmap #3: Practical Worldbuilding

Alright, well we’ve now got a solid philosophical base to build on. We’ve also covered the basics of systems theory, which you should expect to basically keep popping up in unexpected places as we continue.

Our next series of topics will be a grab bag of different ideas; some scientific, some mathematical. This is where we can start applying our base to examine actual interesting questions (like the nature of consciousness) and come to some fascinating conclusions. I’ve called this section “Practical Worldbuilding” because it constructs the world at a more practical level than we’ve looked at before, but really a lot of the topics involve human behaviour in one way or another. The topics I plan to touch on include:

  • Genes, Reproduction, and Mendelian Inheritance
  • Random Variation and Natural Selection
  • Stable Strategies, Lethal Genes, and Time Bombs
  • Diversity, Competition, and Change
  • The Selfish Gene
  • The Nature of the Brain
  • The Nature of the Mind
  • Matching Patterns
  • Layers of Abstractions
  • Culture, Memetics, and Lamarkian Inheritance
  • Speedy Variation and Double Pressure
  • Reapplications of Genetic Principles
  • Social Negotiation
  • Game Theory
  • Statistics and Decision-Making
  • Homo Economicus
  • Conflict and Cooperation

As you can see, lots to cover. Allons-y!

Roadmap #2: Systems Theory

We have now reached the last topic I want to touch on in what I consider the foundation-laying section of this project: systems theory. Systems theory is an approximate term I use for a single, particularly useful abstraction which seems to show up basically everywhere. It is entirely independent of this systems theory, although on a quick skim they might share certain characteristics.

Systems theory was the very last element of my first roadmap, but having made it this far and looking at the material I want to cover on it, it deserves a roadmap of its own. So, over the next couple of weeks I will talk about:

  • Systems, Properties, Elements & Rules
  • Determinism and Randomness
  • Closure and Subsystems
  • Patterns, Abstractions, and Emergence
  • Information Theory and Representation
  • Modelling and Compression
  • Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem
  • Reality as a System

Allons-y!

Welcome and First Roadmap

Hello, and welcome to Grand Unified Crazy! After taking a few philosophy courses, I started developing a grand unified theory of everything, like any serious crazy person would do. It got kinda complicated. If you’re not into philosophy don’t worry; it’s a theory of *everything*, so you’ll find some biology, history, anthropology, linguistics and all sorts of other random stuff in here too.

The first few posts (or few-dozen posts, I have no idea how long it will take) are going to be philosophy-related  though. You gotta start somewhere. Everything is subject to change, of course, but my roadmap for the first few posts currently looks something like this:

  • Doubt and Nihlism
  • Circularity and Axioms
  • Occam’s Razor
  • Existence, Self, Causality, Senses, Memory, Rationality
  • Empiricism
  • Rationalism
  • The Scientific Method
  • Absolute and Relative Truth
  • Systems Theory

This should lay a decent philosophical foundation to build everything else on top of. Allons-y!