Progressive Economics (part 2)
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1M ago
What if the foundations of economic policies aren’t as firm as we are led to believe? This was the question on my mind when I wrote part 1 of this blog. I’m returning to it again in part 2, this time with the help of the economist Mariana Mazzucato’s book ‘The Value of Everything’. Contrary to what economics textbooks might suggest, we did not always think about economics in the way we do now. Indeed, the entire discipline experienced a rebranding in the 20th century. Since its emergence 200 years earlier, the discipline had been referred to as ‘political economy’ and was steeped in politics a ..read more
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Progressive Economics (part 1)
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
5M ago
We are in the foothills of a new industrial revolution, caused by the development of new technologies such as A.I and the need to avoid climate catastrophe. It is driven by the market, and has picked up sufficient momentum that policy makers could not stop it even if they wanted to. The task of Governments is to accelerate the revolution, and to guide it in a way that benefits the maximum number of people. This is easier said than done in the Western world, because our current political and economic models (Neoliberalism and free market capitalism) ensure that governments minimise interference ..read more
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A War of Ideology
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1y ago
In 2022 the long running war of ideology between Liberal and Authoritarian systems of politics became a very real war, following Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine. Some saw it as a sign of something new, others as a resumption of the cold war between the West and the former USSR. This blog post is an attempt to set the war in Ukraine in a wider historical setting, and to provide a suggestion as to how that wider ideological war can be won. From Absolutism to Humanism One of the great questions in political philosophy is what makes political power legitimate. Prior to the modern era (typi ..read more
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From Policy to the Meaning of life
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1y ago
After finishing a blog post on the subject of the meaning of life, I assumed that would be my last blog post. After tackling such a big question where does one go from there? It then occurred to me that the meaning of life could be considered as a starting point. Could it be used to derive a political philosophy and a set of government policies? This blog post is an attempt to explore that idea. A Multi-stage Approach During my time as a design engineer working on large complex systems (in my case aeroplane engines) I have been taught that it is impossible to go from customer requirements to d ..read more
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Thoughts on the Meaning of Life
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1y ago
This is perhaps the biggest question in philosophy. I suspect we have all thought about it at one time or another, but it is a scary question, best kept hidden at the back of our minds. It is scary because to confront it means to admit that we may not have an answer. If we don’t know why we exist, what is the point of anything? Meanings of Life In the spirit of analytic philosophy, it is worth being clear on what is meant by ‘the meaning of life’, as it could be interpreted in several ways. In the most literal sense it could mean the definition of the word ‘life’. This is not the interpretatio ..read more
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Continental Philosophy: Phenomenology & Existentialism
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1y ago
Continental Philosophy is one of the two western philosophical schools of thought in the 20th century. According to Grayling its critics from the other school, Analytic Philosophy, are often impatient or even contemptuous of the alleged confusions or even deliberate abuses of language in the Continental school. The result, according to some at least, is thinking that is at best misleading or at worst complete nonsense. In contrast, Analytic Philosophers consider their ideas firmly grounded through an emphasis on logic and a natural respect for science. I would say that any reasonably impartial ..read more
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Chinese Philosophy
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1y ago
Before getting started on this post, the apology from my last blog post on Indian philosophy deserves to be repeated. It is not possible to summarise the history of Chinese philosophy in one blog post in a way that does any justice to its breadth or depth, any more than one could summarise European philosophy. That being said, it is difficult to really understand China without some understanding its philosophy, because of the great influence it has had on Chinese culture and politics. Confucianism Confucius (Kong Fuzi or ‘Master Kong’) lived in the 5th century B.C, making him a contemporary of ..read more
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Indian Philosophy
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
1y ago
It must be admitted from the outset that it is not possible to summarise the history of philosophy from the Indian sub-continent in one blog post in a way that does any justice to its breadth or depth. However, I hope that what follows gives at least an initial flavour of Indian Philosophy. While there are many similarities to Western Philosophy in terms of the questions being asked and the answers arrived at, in his overview of Indian Philosophy Grayling starts by explaining a key difference which unites Indian Philosophy. Each of the schools, known as darshanas, are doctrines of salvation ..read more
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A Post-Liberal Future (part 2)
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
3y ago
What is special about the human form of intelligence? An algorithm is a means of processing information in order to generate knowledge, and we now understand the brain to be simply an organic algorithm. In that respect, it is little different to the computer algorithms which form artificial intelligence. Every year that passes undermines the belief that there are aspects of human intelligence that can never be replicated more effectively by A.I. Machine learning means that even some computer algorithms themselves are evolved by A.I to the extent that humans no longer understand them. It is tru ..read more
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A Post-Liberal Future (part 1)
A Brief History of Politics & Philosophy
by Ian Sleeman
3y ago
In previous posts I said that since the beginning of the modern era we have been living through the age of Humanism, with Liberalism being its most prevalent form in the Western World. I also proposed a new form of Liberalism based on far greater devolution of power, in order to better tackle the problems in society today. However, what if advances in technology in the 21st Century undermine the premise of Humanism itself? If that happens, we could see a change in political philosophy on a scale not seen since Humanism replaced Absolutism during the centuries of the late medieval and early mod ..read more
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