Category Archives: Philosophy

Consciousness and Downward Causation

For many people, the phenomenon of consciousness is the best evidence we have that there must be something important missing in our basic physical description of the world. According to this worry, a bunch of atoms and particles, mindlessly obeying … Continue reading

Posted in Big Picture, Philosophy, Science | 384 Comments

Maybe We Do Not Live in a Simulation: The Resolution Conundrum

Greetings from bucolic Banff, Canada, where we’re finishing up the biennial Foundational Questions Institute conference. To a large extent, this event fulfills the maxim that physicists like to fly to beautiful, exotic locations, and once there they sit in hotel … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 102 Comments

The Big Picture: Table of Contents

Greetings, surface-dwellers! I have finally emerged from the secret underground laboratory where I have been polishing the manuscript for The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. We pushed up the publication date to May … Continue reading

Posted in Big Picture, Philosophy, Science, Words | 40 Comments

The Big Picture

Once again I have not really been the world’s most conscientious blogger, have I? Sometimes other responsibilities have to take precedence — such as looming book deadlines. And I’m working on a new book, and that deadline is definitely looming! … Continue reading

Posted in Big Picture, Personal, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Words | 59 Comments

Hypnotized by Quantum Mechanics

It remains embarrassing that physicists haven’t settled on the best way of formulating quantum mechanics (or some improved successor to it). I’m partial to Many-Worlds, but there are other smart people out there who go in for alternative formulations: hidden … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 102 Comments

Quantum Field Theory and the Limits of Knowledge

Last week I had the pleasure of giving a seminar to the philosophy department at the University of North Carolina. Ordinarily I would have talked about the only really philosophical work I’ve done recently (or arguably ever), deriving the Born … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 59 Comments

The Reality of Time

The idea that time isn’t “real” is an ancient one — if we’re allowed to refer to things as “ancient” under the supposition that time isn’t real. You will recall the humorous debate we had at our Setting Time Aright … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science, Time | 84 Comments

Life Is the Flame of a Candle

Last October I was privileged to be awarded the Emperor Has No Clothes award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The physical trophy consists of the dashing statuette here on the right, presumably the titular Emperor. It’s made by the … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Religion, Science | 79 Comments

Guest Post: Chip Sebens on the Many-Interacting-Worlds Approach to Quantum Mechanics

I got to know Charles “Chip” Sebens back in 2012, when he emailed to ask if he could spend the summer at Caltech. Chip is a graduate student in the philosophy department at the University of Michigan, and like many … Continue reading

Posted in Guest Post, Philosophy, Science | 55 Comments

Does Santa Exist?

There’s a claim out there — one that is about 95% true, as it turns out — that if you pick a Wikipedia article at random, then click on the first (non-trivial) link, and keep clicking on the first link … Continue reading

Posted in Humor, Philosophy, Words | 15 Comments