I’ve formulated and not written several blog posts about life in the time of Covid-19.
Last week was Spring Break, which meant that events didn’t quite register the way they would have done any other week. Being at home and not seeing students would have happened anyway. Now classes have resumed, such as they are.
In my discussion of Dewey last week, I commented offhand that there might be more explicit engagement with the Peircean conception of reality elsewhere in the Dewey corpus. This week I’m teaching “Context and Thought”, where such engagement occurs.
In response to my post last week about the tension between Peircean and Jamesian pragmatism, Jay Odenbaugh and Dave Smith suggested that the tensions are resolved with Dewey. I’ve been rereading Dewey’s review of James for this week’s class, so let me take up their suggestion and tally the score.
Back in the 90s, when I wanted to move my website off university servers, I brainstormed possible domain names. I settled on fecundity partly just because it sounds good, but also because I learned the word from reading Jeremy Bentham. A webcam pointed at Bentham’s dressed-up remains was a highlight of the internet back then, and the association amused me.
The Introductory Philosophy Quiz has been on my website pretty much since the beginning, and it was a transcription of a quiz that Ryan and I had on the office wall. The following question occurred to me while I was proctoring an exam today, and I couldn’t resist adding it.
Select the best answer.
A. B is the best answer.
B. A is the best answer.
C. There is an instability between A and B; although it is not entirely satisfactory, the best answer is to select one of them randomly or arbitrarily.
I’m teaching a seminar on pragmatism again this semester, so I’ve updated some of the texts in my pragmatism and American philosophy repository. My habits for using git are terrible, so lots of small changes got swept together in one giant update.
The big addition is LaTeX and PDF files for William Clifford’s “The Ethics of Belief.” Although it’s in the public domain, I was unable to find an unabridged version anywhere on the net.1 So I spent some time today making one.2 Starting from OCR on a scan of the 19th-century original, I fixed the formatting, cleaned up the transcription, and whatnot. There may still be some errors, but it’s better than anything else I could find.
The update also adds the third lecture to James’ Pragmatism.
I mean, say what you want about the Uniqueness Thesis, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.
Walter Sobchak (paraphrased)
Last Spring, in one post and another, I hit upon Nihilism as a third way in the opposition between Evidential Uniqueness and Permissivism. That grew into a paper, Evidential Nihilism, which is forthcoming in Analysis.
In a recent blog post, Les Green draws a distinction between research and scholarship. The former he characterizes as “[finding] out something [you] didn’t know, but which was there to be known”; the latter involves keeping up with the literature and making novel arguments. He distinguishes both of those from another thing philosophers do which he calls curating. He characterizes it this way:
A curator attempts to care for knowledge and culture we already have. Not by freezing it or ensuring no others can touch it, but by conserving it while placing it in a new context, or displaying it from a new angle, or in the company of new ideas, so as to make it intelligible and perhaps useful to those who follow us.
This captures an important feature of philosophy which is absent from (e.g) physics.1