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A Definition of Philosophy

Colin McGinn, via his blog, recently offered an intriguing definition of philosophy.

He said it is "the study of logical reality."

What did he mean by that? Well ... the idea was to put the question "what is philosophy" within a family of other such questions, which have known answers, and then to locate philosophy as a member of that family.

So: what is physics? the study of physical reality.

What is psychology? the study of mental reality.

What is history? The study of historical reality.

And so forth. If philosophy belongs in this family, then philosophy is the study of some [aspect of?] reality. If we say that it is the study of logical reality we say that it is at core about (McGinn's words here), "All the relations of entailment, consistency, and inconsistency that exist." Entailment in particular has to be understood in a capacious sense to make this work as a definition.

One of McGinn's examples of how his definition may shed light on act…
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Artificial Intelligence: A Turing Test?

Somebody very clever fed 1,000 hours of Trump rallies into a computer and had it algorithmically generate an artificial Trump rally.

This is part of the result.

PRESIDENT: Foreign powers cheat us! Canada steals our milk! China steals our milk! We only had one glass of milk left: Obama drank it. Not fair.

Crowd boos. They wanted that milk. 

PRESIDENT:  But like President Ronald Rogaine: I will bring back the milk!

Crowd roars. They still want that milk.

PRESIDENT: A wall of milk. No criminals get through. Democrats want criminals to have the milk. No way. Milk comes from coal. We'll dig it up.

Insulin and Dunedin

I saw a movie recently that was a semi-fictionalized telling of Dr. Colin Bouwer's murder of his wife in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1999-2000.

The real life events are compelling, (he killed her slowly over a period of months, with insulin in her tea mostly, and through an injection only for the coup de grace, in what must have been for her an excruciating and inexplicable decline from good health) but the movie makers didn't manage to do much with it. They would probably have been better off abandoning the trappings of fiction altogether and doing a straightforward documentary.

For those who don't know, Bouwer was the head of the psychiatric department at the University of Otago -- see the photo above -- and the head of psychological medicine at Dunedin Hospital. He was, if anyone would be, 'above suspicion' among the people of both town and gown.

A doctor can of course write prescriptions and obtain as much insulin as he may need for such crime. But Bouwer was appa…

Famous Last Words

"I still live."

Those were the last words of Daniel Webster. They were later quoted as inspirational, as meaning, "Yet though I am dying, my legacy will go on and on."

In fact, he was engaging in a final bit of braggadocio -- one of his bedside doctors had apparently said he would probably be dead by midnight. He woke from his penultimate slumber and asked the time. Someone told him it was 1 AM. He said brightly, "I still live," then sank into his ultimate slumber.

I've heard that NOAH Webster's last words were somewhat more enigmatic. "Zoology, Zoroaster ... Zygote!"

They Had to Call it a TARDIS

Of course they did.

Of course in Dr Who, TARDIS stands for "Time and Relative Dimensions in Space."

Some serious minded scientists working on time travel, at least as a mathematical possibility, have now given their proposed model the name "Traversable Acausal Retrograde Dimensions in Spacetime."
Which of course gets you to the same acronym.

Glad they came up with some different words, because simply using the TV show's words would have been ... silly.