Die Französischspeckfragen 
2010 is forever ago in internet time, but Daily Nous recently linked to an old item on reddit:
When I was young my father said to me:

"Knowledge is Power....Francis Bacon"

I understood it as "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon".

For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two? If I said the quote to someone, "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon" they nodded knowingly. Or someone might say, "Knowledge is power" and I'd finish the quote "France is Bacon" and they wouldn't look at me like I'd said something very odd but thoughtfully agree. I did ask a teacher what did "Knowledge is power, France is bacon" mean and got a full 10 minute explanation of the Knowledge is power bit but nothing on "France is bacon". When I prompted further explanation by saying "France is Bacon?" in a questioning tone I just got a "yes". at 12 I didn't have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I'd never understand.

It wasn't until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped.

It is too cute to be real, especially given that it was posted by someone whose user name is Lard_Baron. But it's nice even as an apocryphum.

Most of the comments at Daily Nous recount misheard song lyrics, which is a shame. Misheard songs lyrics are ubiquitous, but of no consequence. Nobody expects song lyrics to make sense. Misheard wisdom is a more crucial thing. As Descartes writes:
But now that I begin to know myself better, and to discover more clearly the author of my breakfast, I do not in truth think that I'll eat rashers amidst all the matters which the senses seem to teach us...


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A singular comedic formula 
The crypotnymous blogger at Slate Star Codex has posted a long list of a philosopher walks into a coffee shop jokes. It's a slight twist on the an X walks into a bar formula, for X = 'philosopher' and 'a bar' exchanged for a coffee shop. He includes a hoary Descartes joke which is usually told as Descartes walking into a bar, but he also includes lots of original material.

Several of the best form a series and rely on appearing in a long list of jokes which follow the same formula, and this excuses the lame jokes. What they lack in intrinsic hilarity they make up for in constituting part of the long list. His Sartre joke, however, is pretty weak.

Since Sartre's philosophy is indigenous to Parisian cafes, my thoughts developed along these lines:
Jean-Paul Sartre walks into a coffee shop and walks up to the counter. The barista asks him what we wants. Sartre was supposed to meet a friend but is running late, and so he ignores the barista. Looking around the cafe, he sees nothing. What a great philosophical example, he thinks to himself.

There is also a hoary Sartre joke which already fits the pattern, mentioned by one of the commenters:
Jean-Paul Sartre walks into a coffee shop, walks up to the counter, and asks for a coffee without cream. The barista replies "Alas, we are out of cream. Can I offer you a coffee without milk instead?”


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2014 in the rearview mirrow 
Years ago, I was blog-tagged to summarize the year's blogging by taking the first sentence from the first post of every month. It's become a tradition; cf. 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and
2013.

Although the sampling procedure is rather arbitrary, this year strikes me as being more narrowly about my academic work than recent years: more about writing, publishing, and teaching and less in the way of philosophical rumination on current events that were stuck in my craw. I'm not sure whether I think that difference is for better or worse.

I. One of the papers I was working on when I looked for places to send short papers has been accepted at Phil. Quarterly.

II. Are digital images allographic?, a paper I cowrote with my colleague Jason D'Cruz, has been accepted at the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

III. I made a comment in class yesterday that was a passing reference to Pulp Fiction.

IV. In a just-published article, Manolo Martínez tries to modify the Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC) account so as to accommodate polymorphic species.

V. Although I haven't been following it closely, last year President Obama proposed rating universities using factors like affordability and graduation rates.

VI. Ergo, a new open access philosophy journal, recently posted its first issue.

VII. In discussions of peer review, somebody always mentions referees searching the internet to suss out who the author is.

VIII. When my first paper about distributed cognition was under review, one of the referees objected to my account on the grounds that it would count transactive memory as d-cog.

IX. In the waning days of summer, before the semester started, I finished up two draft papers.

X. Imagine an angel comes to you in the night, when you are feverish and in the midst of metaphysical reveries.

XI. Yesterday I learned about recent work by jazz combo Mostly Other People Do the Killing.

XII. I just posted version 1.30 of forall x.

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truth 1, falsity 0 
I just posted version 1.30 of forall x. As usual, the update corrects a number of typos. It also makes some changes. I taught logic this Fall for the first time in several years, and the time away from the book made me realize that some things weren't working as well as they should.

Truth tables


It is standard in philosophy to do truth tables with Ts and Fs, but this makes the shift from sentential logic to quantified logic awkward. The sentential connectives operate in pretty much the same way in a quantified formula as they do in a sentential formula, except that the operators are truth functions in SL and satisfaction functions in QL. I want students to understand the difference between truth and satisfaction, but I also want them to apply what they know about the truth-functional connectives. So I end up saying things like, "Both conjuncts are satisfied, so the conjunction is satisfied. This part's just like in a truth table. Both parts are true, sort of... true-ish... something that works a lot like truth."

In the previous edition of the book, I tried to smooth this over in the chapter on formal semantics by giving the function which defines 'truth in SL' in terms of 1 and 0 rather than in terms of T and F. The definition of 'satisfaction in QL' is also in terms of 1 and 0, and the clauses which define satisfaction for sentential connectives look exactly the same as they do in the definition of truth. So I can say instead, "Both conjuncts are 1, so the conjunction is 1."

The problem is that, by that point, students have acquired habits in terms of T and F from doing truth tables. So I decided to start with 1 and 0 earlier, doing truth tables entirely using 1s and 0s.

This is common in computer science and electronics, even though it's not common in philosophy. My motivation is philosophical, though. Doing truth tables in terms of 1 and 0 underscores the step of abstraction, that these are formal, mathematical values rather than metaphysical truth and falsity. And because they are formal values rather than rich concepts, they can be interpreted differently (as satisfied/not, rather than as true/false).

I think I made this change consistently everywhere, but there are probably still some lingering mention of T and F. New content means new typos.

Proofs in QL


The chapter on proofs is the barest part of the book. It would be the hardest part to learn from directly, if someone were just reading the book rather than taking a course.

In this update, I just made some changes to the presentation of the quantifier rules.

I changed the typographic mark for a substitution instance, and I think it's clearer now. (I won't try to produce it here on the blog.)

I rewrote the Existential Elimination rule so that the proxy constant cannot occur anywhere else in the proof. You have 'Exists x Px' and assume 'Pc' for some entirely new constant c. This is stronger than what's strictly required, but it underscores the conceptual point that c is only functioning as a placeholder name for whatever thing it is that's P. The subproof is the only place where c occurs, because the subproof is the moment in the argument when you say "Something is P. We don't know what, but let's call it c."

I am considering splitting the chapter on proofs into two chapters: One on proofs in SL and another on proofs in QL. This would allow me to add material to both discussions. It would also allow instructors who want to do proofs in SL immediately after doing truth tables to do so more easily. That's not a change I made in this revision, though, and I'm still mulling it over.

Archiving


I archived earlier versions of the book at a SUNY digital repository. Recently, the library here at UAlbany has set up a local digital repository which should offer more features and more visibility. I think that the submission needs to be approved by a librarian, but version 1.30 will appear there soon enough. Until then, it's available directly from my website.

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Ninth blogiversary, belated 
I had meant to annuate the end of my ninth year of blogging here, which fell on October 4. The total contents of the blog at that point were 367 entries comprised of 160,392 words; of those, 48 entries and 17,182 words had been written in the preceding year. So the ninth year was slightly more productive, blogwise, than the eighth.

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