Academic Philosophy as a Speculative Market

The state of academic philosophy seems to resemble the state of the arts market (and also the stock exchange in a time when the resources of the planet are being depleted and – as a result – more and more it is turning into a speculation market). In the art market, most artists don’t sell much, irrespective of the aesthetic quality or message of their art. Prices fluctuate more or less randomly. If, accidentally (or sometimes, by manipulation) prices of an artist go up, people start buying and, at the same time, hyping. A speculation bubble is getting off, quite independently of the aesthetic quality or content of the art.

In the sciences, there are some criteria for what constitutes acceptable science (at least for some time). In “softer” fields, such as philosophy, on the other hand, it is more or less a matter of power of the established people. However, from time to time, new directions will come up. This might be a process that is to some extent akin to a speculation-driven market. The retirement of some established old people or some power struggles and intrigues might lead to the rise of instability in the market and to the fading of some old bubbles. People might then start betting small amounts of reputation on certain new (or old) ideas and sometimes, these might start rising up, becoming acceptable as fields of publication. People then start betting their careers on the new trend.

The really interesting philosophical stuff, however, is likely to be taking place outside of academic philosophy, were people don’t have to consider their chances in the market. This does not mean that academic philosophy cannot, sometimes, produce interesting stuff as well, but it will tend to be bland and less fertile (and producing interesting, original stuff might be the end of the academic career of the respective author).


The Perfect Fire


In, I have defined civilizations as creative dissipative systems. It looks like not many people have understood what I meant by that and how terrible a thing it is.

A dissipative system is keeping its structure (or is growing) by using up some resource. It is producing entropy and it is getting rid of this entropy by using a low entropy resource and sheding high entropy waste. For example, a plant is taking up low entropy solar radiation and is radiating high entropy termal radiation. Another example is a flame. A fire turns a low entropy fuel into high entropy end products and heat radiation.

A creative system is a system that can change the way it works. It can reprogram itself. It can find new resources and new ways of using them. It can find new technologies.

Think of a fire that, when it has used up its fuel, does not burn down but changes its chemistry or its technology and starts burning something else. An intelligent fire that will find every available resource (including those unavailable at first).

Within the process of that fire burning, there will be some selection: the faster burning parts of it that have learnt more tricks will outcompete the slower parts.

Think of putting such a fire on the surface of a planet. Come back some time later and you will only find a desert.

We are such a fire. A creative dissipative system. The perfect fire. Thats us.

(The picture is from

Who is a Customer?

Many people using Facebook seem to believe they are FBs customers, but they are not.

The customers of FB are the businesses that pay money to FB (for advertizing, putting games or other stuff under people’s noses, etc.). The people who are using facebook are not the customers, they are the raw material that FB uses to make money. They and their private lives.

As non-customers, they have no right to complain about the way FB is treating their content. FB is not servicing them, but the custumoers of FB.

I think one better keeps out of FB (and similar systems). Personally, I don’t want my life to be used as a raw material mined by such a company. I am on FB to remain contactable for a couple of people who seem to do most of their communication over that platform, but I am no longer posting stuff there.

WP might also put advertizing on my page, but here, at least, I have an option to become their customer. FB is not doing that because then many people would opt out and that would reduce the value of their raw material that they can sell to their customers.

Becoming Dependent

People seem to become more and more dependent. Instead of thinking for themselves, they reley on all kinds of services to tell them what to do. This development is to be expected in a growth-dependent economy. Any kind of informational demand is a market niche. So now there are services that take some of the thinking work away from you. As somebody from an older generation who is used to think for himself, I can sometimes only shake my head.

Soon people will become dependent on machines even in their emotions, see I don’t know if I should laugh or cry about this but I guess I have to figure that out for myself. 🙂