Prequel to Genesis

Satan said unto the Lord, “Hey, God. I was wondering…”

God’s attention turned, and Satan continued: “I know that you’re omnipotent, but I was wondering if you could create a world that had some good things in it, but also an overwhelming amount of toil, suffering, and evil.”

The Lord replied, “Yes, I could do that.”

“But could you, really?” asked Satan, stretching out the final word.

“Look, Satan,” said God, “you’ve agreed that I am omnipotent. That word just means all powerful. An omnipotent god can do anything.”

The Lord added, with the clarity and force of proof, “You’ve mentioned a thing to do. I am omnipotent. So I could do it. QED.”

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What to call the fact that science traffics in assumptions?

I regularly teach a course called Understanding Science, an introduction to some issues in philosophy of science and science studies. One topic is the nature of inference: deduction, the fact that scientific inference is (largely) non-deductive, and the problem of induction.1

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The heart of a lion and the wings of a bat

Limozeen’s so-called cover of “We Don’t Really Even Care About You” takes disaffected, lo-fi ‘90s indie rock and belts it out in the style of an ‘80s hair metal band—as if Poison were to cover Pavement.

at Aesthetics for Birds
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Why I love my publisher

My book, A Philosophy of Cover Songs, was published by Open Book Publishers. They are, as their website says, “a not-for-profit Social Enterprise run by academics who are committed to making high-quality and prize-winning research available to all, and… the hub of choice for a rapidly increasing international network of scholars who believe that it is time for academic publishing to become fairer, faster and more accessible.” They were my first-choice publisher for the book, and my experience with them has been great.

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Robot overlords win blue ribbon (not really)

I’m teaching Philosophy of Art this semester, and a student pointed me to an Ars Technica story with the headline AI wins state fair art contest, annoys humans. Jason Allen used Midjourney (the same AI that I was playing with recently) to make some images and enter them in the Colorado State Fair art contest. One of those images won first place in the Digital Arts/Digitally Manipulated Photography category.

There’s lots of discussion about whether this is the end for human artists (it’s not), whether this shows that AI are now making real art (no), and whether the submission of AI-generated images to the State Fair was dishonest (maybe).

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Icons and symbols

Two unrelated things.

One of my longest-running things on the internet is The God-Man Fan Page. I updated it today with a recent adventure— by my count, the 74th appearance of the character.

In preparing for tomorrow’s class, I discovered Raphaël Julliard’s 2005 work 1000 Chinese Paintings. She commissioned a Chinese factory to make square canvases painted a uniform shade of red and reserved a booth at a Paris art fair to sell them. All of the canvasses were sold by the end of the pre-show, so the result was an empty booth during the fair.

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I for one welcome our new robot watercolorists

Today I discovered Midjourney, an AI image generator that’s rather more high-powered than other free ones which I’ve tried. Riffing on prompts by other users, I had it generate a Frank frazetta painting of a wombat newscaster. The result was pleasant enough that I’ve adopted it— for now— as the blog header.

ai image of a wombat newscaster

Presumptuous invitation

It feels a bit cringe to think in terms of professional networking, but a few recent posts have me thinking about the personal and professional connections that maintain philosophical life.

TL;DR: 1. I should be better about keeping in touch and attending on-line events. 2. If you feel like you’d benefit from being in touch with me, feel free to reach out.

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