Site Overview

2018/12/30

About Me

Having a personal website in 2018 is an exercise in vanity. Accordingly, I have decided not to put my actual name on the site. Instead I have dedicated this page to the actual purpose of the Internet: pseudo-academic shitposting. My handle “slphil” expands to “shitlord philosopher”, which you may interpret however you wish.

I do not have a college degree; dumb 18-year-olds make dumb decisions, and it’s hard to go back once you’re in your late 20s. I try to read 1-2 books each week, sometimes a re-read of a book I’ve already read, in order to remain stimulated. Besides, university education (as useful as it is in the job market) is overrated for autodidacts. A good line from Arthur Schopenhauer:

Generally speaking, university philosophy is mere fencing in front of a mirror. In the last analysis, its goal is to give students opinions which are to the liking of the minister who hands out the Chairs… As a result, this state-financed philosophy makes a joke of philosophy. And yet, if there is one thing desirable in this world, it is to see a ray of light fall onto the darkness of our lives, shedding some kind of light on the mysterious enigma of our existence.

I do consider myself a philosopher: “all men by nature desire to know” (Aristotle, Metaphysics). I dislike the pretentious tone that this word can bring about, familiar to anyone who knows college-age Philosophy students. I do not hold to any particular definition of “philosopher”: each methodology comes with its own cost-benefit analysis, and most(!) of them are meaningfully valid in at least some context. Particularly dear to me are the branches of philosophy of science, since my “native tongue” as a teenager was the same kind of fedora-tier STEM-elitist materialism that I mock nowadays. An enjoyable exercise is to update existing influential philosophy in scientific terms: for example to update Kant’s thought on the Understanding through the lens of neuroscience, as can be seen here: Neuroscientists are Kantian Anti-realists.

I also adopt the term hacker: relevant definitions from the Jargon File are “1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users’ Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.” and “7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.” I am a free software nerd and a Linux power user. Although I have some baseline competence and knowledge with regards to computer programming, I write code neither as a hobby nor an occupation so my actual ability to program is limited.

Because of the complex interplay between the hacker and philosopher mindsets, I have come to prefer the hyphenated hacker-philosopher. My broad (but not expert!) understanding of philosophy, literature, history, etc allows me to apply the hacker mindset to non-technical discussions.

My ultimate goal is to achieve the status of a polymath, but I have another 10-15 years of dedicated study before I can use the word without cringing.

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