Useful for me now

[It is a mistake to give] an absolute meaning to the epithet useful, which, in truth, has no more meaning if taken by itself than the words high, low, right, and left. It simply designates a relationship and requires a complement: useful for this or that.

I am teaching Simone de Beauvoir’s Ethics of Ambiguity in my Existentialism class, and I’m struck again by what a great book it is. She elaborates the notion of Bad Faith with much greater clarity than Sartre. There are parts of the book that make me rethink myself and my present situation.

This is striking partly because of context: We spent weeks on Heidegger, who does phenomenology is the most abstract way and only has eyes for metaphysics. Then we spent weeks on Sartre, who dabbles in ethics and has some rich examples but never finds his way around to the ethical question. Sartre writes in Being&Nothingness (in a footnote!) that “the description of [authentic existence] has no place here.”

And now we’re discussing de Beauvoir, whose task is “to consider human life as a game that can be won or lost and to teach… the means of winning.”

Philosophy of emoji 😎

Over at Aesthetics for Birds, there’s a post about the philosophy of emoji. It’s mostly provocation, posing some issues, but it doesn’t make a direct connection to art. So, in the comments, I casually mention my work-in-progress paper on emoji art.

It’s a sufficiently cutting-edge topic that a number of the sources that the AfB article links to were not available when I finished my paper and sent it out scouting for rejection notices.

Philosophy of science under pluralism

First day of the Philosophy of science under pluralism conference at the Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science. Saw lots of old friends, met lots of new ones, gave a talk on natural kinds.

Perhaps the winning quote of the day, from Stuart Glennan: “A lot of pluralism is just [that] you’re talking about different things.”

The picture was taken by Michela Massimi.