Sunday, February 03, 2013

It has been a busy, happy weekend. On Thursday evening there was a pre-weekend party. I went intending to stay until midnight (I had seminars all day on Friday) but didn't get home until 3am. Despite the resulting lack of sleep, I enjoyed catching up with all the philosophers. I'm taking more classics courses this semester, so I'm not around the philosophy department as much.

Yesterday morning one of the philosophers invited me to brunch. We went to an area of New Haven I'd never seen before, one that lies outside my regular, triangular walk from home to Old Campus, to the co-op and back. It's very easy to forget that there are people besides Yalies in this city, regrettably easy, so it was good to get properly off-campus and among real people. It was also nice to be driven somewhere instead of having to make my way through the cold on foot. I don't mind walking, but I hate being cold.

In the evening, I had friends over for board games. We drank tea from the china I brought from home after Christmas and tried out the new molasses cookie recipe I found online (verdict: delicious while warm, too hard afterwards). At some point we graduated to red wine.

This morning I bought a vacuum cleaner off Craigslist. We've been using our landlord's industrial one sporadically, but I'm tired of having to put in requests for it. The fellow I bought the vacuum cleaner from is selling everything and moving to Central America to learn Spanish. He knows some of my current and former Spanish-speaking housemates and very obligingly drove me home so that I didn't have to drag my new vacuum cleaner through the snow.

Now I'm settling in to work: translations of the Odyssey and a paper on the goals and program of the Thirty Tyrants of Ancient Athens.

3 comments:

Lori said...

Such a nice newsy update from my far away girl. Thank you! Love you lots, Mama.

chris said...

nice to get back to and catch up with your blog after a period of trying to make some progress on the book i'm writing!

to start with a comment about an older post, i'm very glad you're finding counterexampling,and, more generally, doing first-order philosophy less daunting. it's true that there isn't really a method for finding counterexamples; for the most part, the counterexamples of mine that have ended up getting published are, as it were, ones that have found me, rather than the other way round. i tend to think, tho', that counterexamples don't find us because we are victims of selective blindness. example: someone suggests to you that an object moves only if it is first in one place, and then in another. you might be tempted to agree (at least, a good many of my undergraduate students are): how could something which remains in the same place (throughout an interval of time) be moving (in that interval)? but upon reflection, we can see that it couldn't be right that objects move only if they don't remain in the same place: after all, the wheel of an exercise bicycle can be moving just as much as the wheel of an ordinary bicycle, even tho' the wheel of an exercise bicycle (as opposed to, say, the spokes of the wheel of an exercise bicycle) stays just where it is while it moves.
when things "translate", they occupy different places at different times, but when things rotate, they occupy the same place at different times (tho' they have parts that occupy different places at different times). so how do you avoid missing the (in hindsight, straightforward) counterexample to the claim that things move only if they occupy different places at different times? well,you do enough physics so that when people talk about motion, rotation as well as translation is 'salient' to you.
doing (even a bit of) physics boosts salience and thus prevents selective blindness. similarly, doing lots of philosophy, of lots of different kinds, will make lots of things you in some sense already know salient, so that you can draw on that knowledge to counterexample a claim. this process is already underway in you, but the longer you do philosophy, and the more kinds of philosophy you do, the more things will be salient to you, and the more counterexamples will find you. the good thing about doing ancient philosophy (or mediaeval philosophy, or indian philosophy, or anything sufficiently 'remote') is that it will make things salient to you that are not at all salient to people who just do contemporary metaphysics or epistemology; in that sense, a thorough grounding in something 'exotic' is quite advantageous in doing garden variety contemporary philosophy...

on a completely different note: perhaps you're self-confident enough that you don't ever worry about whether quotidiana involving molasses cookies and vacuum-cleaner-purchasing are of interest to any of your readers. but if perchance you do ever worry, stop worrying! i, and i would wager some of your other readers, thoroughly enjoy reading about that homely stuff, in much the way that we enjoy reading the bits of Tolkien where Bilbo Baggins eats seed cake, and not just the battle of the five armies...

anyway,hope your semester goes really well--



The Autumn Rain said...

Love you too, Mama! I figure that even if my brain is too tired to write anything really illuminating here, I can at least report.

Chris: Coincidentally, the first thing I thought of as I was reading the motion example was rotation. Not because I know much about physics, but because it's listed as one of several kinds of motion in Plato's Timaeus and in the Laws. I guess this exactly proves your point.

I'm glad you're enjoying the prosaic updates. It's a nice way to keep in touch with my far-away family. I do miss having the time to write more here. But once or twice a week keeps me sane!

Good luck with your book!