This is a podcast primarily about the work of philosopher and physicist David Deutsch and related matters (such as Popperian epistemology). I read from and comment upon the books ”The Beginning of Infinity” & ”The Fabric of Reality” (both by Deutsch), ”The Science of Can & Can’t” (by Deutsch’s collegue Marletto) and ”Rationality” by Pinker (so far). In addition I make stand alone episodes about topics like resources, environmentalism, economics, science, philosophy, epistemology (especially explanations) and reason broadly.
Ep 173: Brett Talks Twitter 2
Some random thoughts about random tweets. Ok, so not entirely random. Actually on physical law: not random at all). Better: some thoughts on some interesting tweets.
Ep 172: Talents and Testing
A personal recollection about how even the better schools can, with all the best intentions, undo some of the value they do provide in spite of themselves, over the course of years...in less than a day.
Ep 171: Knowledge and Ignorance 6
This is the conclusion of Popper's grand lecture "On the sources of knowledge and of ignorance". We reach part 13 and move all the way through to part 17 - the conclusion. This is a celebration of Popper's epistemology. He summarises his outlook on how other views are mistaken and what it really takes to generate knowledge. He speaks of his vision as a critical rationalism and a critical empiricism - a form of knowledge creation that corrects the errors in advances made nearer to the beginning of the Enlightenment but also in the mould of some of the ancients like Xenophanes. Popper explains how truth is real and objective and why the idea that anyone can possess the truth causes knowledge to become subjective, rather than objective (in short because anyone claiming to possess the truth is themselves a subject claiming authority over truth). Popper explains in this part of the lecture how we are all equal in our infinite ignorance - and so his philosophy reaches into humanism - a celebration of fallibility and of our capacity to come to understand reality.
Ep 170: Are creativity and consciousness the same thing?
I refer to three other articles I have written related to this piece:
1. "Free Will, Consciousness, Creativity, Explanations, Knowledge and Choice" - https://www.bretthall.org/free-will-consciousness-creativity-explanations-knowledge-and-choice.html
2. Humans and Other Animals: https://www.bretthall.org/humans-and-other-animals.html
3. The idea we have thoughts but are not identical to any particular thought or even set of thoughts: https://www.bretthall.org/critically-creative-3.html
The article/script related to this piece can be found here: https://www.bretthall.org/creativity-and-consciousness.html
Ep 169: Livestream & Happy New Year
This is a podcast in 2 parts. I begin with a 10 minute introduction with some very broad remarks on the year and response to a question from a Patreon. Then the audio from my most recent livestream which went for around 2 hours and covered a wide variety of topics. Enjoy!
Ep 168: David Deutsch’s ”The Fabric of Reality” Chapter 9 ”Quantum Computers” Part 1
Here we set the scene for an explanation of the functioning of quantum computers and their significance. What are the problems that quantum computation might solve? What is the fundamental advantage of computation and hence quantum computation for humanity and for an understanding of "the fabric of reality". We connect quantum computation to the technologies that preceded it - indeed back to the use of hammer, chisel and water wheels. Understanding reality and the laws that govern it enable technology which enables automation and increased time to work on the next problems allowing solutions that continue this ratcheting up of objective progress in the world. This chapter could very well be a book on its own as we mount the argument that not only is computation, life and thought significant in this world but that the laws of physics mandate the existence of all three in a deep way. How can we explain this apparent providence? Answers in this episode :)
Useful and engaging
Brett takes physicist concepts and breaks them down in a clear and engaging way, a must listen!
I’m a non-physicist (a busy physician, with only very basic knowledge of physics) who is very much interested in understanding the reality of our universe. I have found David Deutsch to be one of the most fascinating writers I have ever come across, and his ideas have inspired me and changed some of my most basic conceptions of objective reality. His theories (and books), however, are so dense with revolutionary thoughts that they require time and commitment to understand and digest. That’s where Brett Hall’s podcast comes in. To me, it has been an indispensable companion to the chapters in DD’s books. My strategy has been to listen to Brett’s corresponding episode before and after reading each book chapter. Brett is himself an amazing intellect who really excels at explaining and putting into context the various concepts in DD’s work. Very helpful, I’m a big fan of both of you.
I’m only a few chapters in, but so far this has been an incredible companion to reading Beginning of Infinity.