Somewhere Atop the Ivory Tower 8

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“The Present King of France”

This is a nuanced dialogue that comes about in the Philosophy of Language. It concerns the predicate “The Present King of France is bald” as popularized by Bertrand Russell. Just like other entries in this series, this is meant to be a humorous take on the questions raised by philosophy. I apologize for any errors that are made to the actual arguments posed if there are any, as I do find their critiques to be important and fascinating to philosophy.

Scene: Lecture hall atop the Ivory Tower. Bertrand Russell has called a summit to solve the problems with modern logic. A crowd of philosophers and logicians have come across time and space to attend. Enter Bertrand RUSSELL, Gottlob FREGE, P.F. STRAWSON, Alfred TARSKI, H.P. GRICE, Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU, Rudolf CARNAP, W.O. QUINE, Saul KRIPKE, and others.

RUSSELL: Hello and welcome, everyone. Glad you can all be here today. Philosophers, Mathematicians, and Logicians alike, we have had our differences in the past. But now, we have a grave concern on our hands.

[The crowd of intellectuals murmur among each other, as Russell writes a predicate on the blackboard: “โˆƒx((Fx & โˆ€y(Fy โ†’ x = y)) & Gx).” The crowd roars.]

STRAWSON: Oh dear god.

GRICE: Why…

FREGE: You guys still write like that?

RUSSELL: Hear me out, all of you! (crowd falls silent) We all know what this is. This is a classic case of definite description. A means that there exists only one F, and it is G.

TARSKI: Okay. So what’s the problem?

STRAWSON: Yeah, it’s perfectly fine. Seriously, what’s gotten into you?

RUSSELL: What’s gotten into me? This sentence has posed a threat to classical logic. The law of excluded middle! What will this do to how we speak!

FREGE: Russell, stop. I’ve discussed this problem before. Sure, no one bothered to review it, but nothing is being threatened. The sentence remains true–

RUSSELL: No, it is not!

FREGE: (pause) Come again?

RUSSELL: Just think, the sentence presupposes something that exists, that is also something else. But what if that thing doesn’t exist at all?

GRICE: Like what?

RUSSELL: Like the present King of France! And more importantly, “The present King of France is bald!” That fits the predicate just fine.

KRIPKE: Okay, but why the King of France?

TARSKI: (to KRIPKE) It’s best not to ask.

STRAWSON: Well isn’t it obvious? Just like Frege said, that predicate would be indeterminate.

FREGE: (to STRAWSON) I never said that.

STRAWSON: (to FREGE) You inferred it.

RUSSELL: No! That sentence must be false because it implies that a present King of France exists, which last I checked, there isn’t one.

ROUSSEAU: Really? Because last time I checked there was one. What a bloody bastard.

RUSSELL: Yes, but was he bald?

ROUSSEAU: How the hell should I know? I didn’t bother to check!

RUSSELL: Ugh!

QUINE: Look, Rousseau makes a good point. Finding out which present King of France is being uttered depends on who is uttering it and when. It may not be true if someone in Rousseau’s time said it, but it might be true if the present King of France was from another time or place, and that one happens to be bald.

CARNAP: Yeah, like what if there was another universe, where the present King of France does still exist, and he happens to be bald? Wouldn’t the statement then be true?

QUINE: Don’t confuse things, Carnap.

TARSKI: Look guys, it’s simple. The sentence is true if and only if the present King of France is in the set of all persons that are bald. Just as the syntax dictates. At present, there is no present King of France. Therefore, Russell would be correct.

RUSSELL: Thank you.

TARSKI: Whatever.

GRICE: Look, maybe we’re all approaching this problem from the wrong position. Sure, we can agree on the syntax of a sentence like “The present King of France is bald,” but the semantics? Surely none of us agree on what exactly we’re talking about, when some of you think a real one doesn’t exist, while others believe that one exists as an idea.

TARSKI: And what are you trying to propose?

GRICE: Nothing. Just tell me what you mean by “present,” “king,” “France,” and “bald,” and then I’ll tell you whether or not it’s true. (pause)

STRAWSON: What?

TARSKI: Not a chance.

QUINE: That’s even more confusing.

KRIPKE: You guys are all missing the target. Why don’t we just go and check whether the rigid designator for the present King of France is bald?

RUSSELL: Impossible!

GRICE: Who?

TARSKI: Where?

KRIPKE: Yeah. It just so happens that he’s right here in this ivory tower, as we speak.

RUSSELL: No way.

KRIPKE: Behold! The current placeholder for the Present King of France! (Enter PLATO, holding a sign that says he’s the present King of France, wearing a hat to cover his head)

STRAWSON: (whispers) Isn’t that Master Plato?

FREGE: Shh!

KRIPKE: Present King of France, please remove your hat.

PLATO: (mumbles to himself, as he bows before the audience and removes his hat, thus revealing his bald spots).

STRAWSON: Yep.

GRICE: Agreed.

TARSKI: Definitely true.

CARNAP: Of course.

FREGE: Works for me.

ROUSSEAU: (rolls eyes) Here we go again.

QUINE: I’m convinced.

RUSSELL: Oh, Come on!! (Exeunt)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Anime Review: Recovery of an MMO Junkie

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(No excuses for the abruptness of this post. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to do anime reviews lately like I promised a couple months ago. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Moving on.)

You probably know me here as Lystria. There is a lot of history to that name. It’s the name that I use on just about every MMORPG that I have ever played. That is, when I used to play, as much as I did. To most of my real life friends whom I have kept close over the years know the truth: I am a game addict.

So when an anime series like this one came along, it’s understandable that I wouldn’t get the same kind of joy from it as I would your average gamer, anime fan, or gamer anime fan. And while it did not make it even close to my favorites of 2017, I did still wind up liking this series for all that it’s worth, but with that enjoyment comes a lot of long forgotten memories that are bittersweet.

As you read this, I hope that you will laugh, you will cry, and perhaps smile too. But I also hope you understand that there are many layers to the conversation about gaming, particularly for individuals like me who do find trouble when it comes to managing how much I play when I do. And believe me, despite knowing my own limitations, I still do! That’s why it’s called an addiction!

So without further ado, open a session window, strap on your headset, and consider donating to my Patreon, because I’m a grad student teacher-in-training, and I don’t get paid to do any of this! It’s high time this MMO guy got his groove back!

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My Earliest Memory — A Critique of Dialectics (Part 2)

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This is my second part of my critique on my earliest memory. To see the first part, click here.

So if you’re reading this and you’re scratching your head, “Where’s the dialectical part? You didn’t explain it very well!” Well that would be a problem, if the term “dialectics” was the main focus of these essays. Now if I were here to talk about dialectics, I may as well have just copied Phenomenology of Spirit verbatim. If you read my account and still scratch your head, it’s fine. Dialectics are a dense subject that’s usually boiled down to a basic dynamic of competing structures or theories talking about the same thing. They yell, they clash, they fight over which one is the dominant account of the thing that is being observed, when in truth they are just picking apart specific things that are but partially true about the same thing.

And that is the crux of why everyone hates Hegel!

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My Earliest Memory — A Critique of Dialectics

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Please excuse my absence from this blog for the past couple of weeks. Been doing some other stuff lately like volunteering as a reading tutor and critiquing Confucius or something. Who knows?

Between anime reviews and Ivory Tower dialogues, it seems that I haven’t written any philosophical editorials inbetween, so I think it’s time to resurface that before I move on to other writing projects.

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5th Year Anniversary: My Favorite Anime Reviews!

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Hello my readers!

Please excuse my absence. Between getting sick, working on obligatory family things around the holidays, and still looking for work, I completely ignored my own 5-year anniversary on the 31st of December! Sorry I’m late!

Of all the side projects that I have done, I never would have thought that anime reviews would be the one thing that I would like to do most on this site. Well it’s the one thing that gets the most traffic on this site anyway, never mind my fan fictions and philosophical musings that I also do!

If there is anything that I have learned from being a largely ignored WordPress user who hypocritically doesn’t do anything to get people to notice him, it’s that you will only get attention on the Internet if you talk about stuff that everyone else is talking about, or you space out your content with pictures that grabs users’ attentions. And yes, while that is definitely a skill that I don’t have as a writer, I am just about as stubborn as every other critic out there who believes that my opinion needs to be heard, rather than appease the audience!

But enough ranting.

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