Saturday, May 5, 2012

Philosopher on Holiday

On this splendid day in spring, irises blooming in the flowerplot, aetatis suae sixty-two, I propose to spend the weekend in high Quine style:  hunting lions and wanting a sloop.
As the crafty philosopher has famously noted, lion-hunting, as opposed to lion-catching or lion-delousing or the like, has the advantage for the hunter, that it requires no actual lions:  the complements of verbs of propositional attitude like hunt (strive-to-find) and want (strive-to-have) being referentially opaque, shielding their fragile noun-phrases from the possible lamentable lionlessness of the cruel external world.   In the same sense, I can hunt unicorns, and (passing the time at the bus-stop) frequently do.
The particular style of big-game hunting I favor, might be called armchair Artemesia:  every so often, when the coffee-cup must be refilled, I shall swivel in my padded seat through an angle of π/2 radians, and peer out between the blinds.  Should I happen to spot a maned beast ravishing the irises, I shall dial the police.

As for sloop-wanting -- ah, that is altogether a darker passion, extensively covered here.

[Update -- afternoon]   Progress report.
Our lion-hunting project has been going  extremely well.  I mean, I ask you -- the King of Beasts!!   Haven’t caught any;  but then, that’s not the point.  Half the people who fish down at our lake  either never catch anything  or throw back what they catch:  It’s not as though they’d go to the trouble to bag the wriggling critter, haul it back home, bring it odoriferously into their dwelling, gut it (ugh), chop its innocent head off, and cook it --- not when they can simply pick up something at KFC on the way home.


Peter Strawson, “On Referring”.
Mabel Strawson, “On Referring”.
Casey Stengel, “On Referring”.

[Update 19 Aug 2013]
To my colleagues, in valedictory mode, I sometimes sigh for retirement,
to leave this chivvied, life, and go off and raise hamsters.
Yet --Though my conception of that activity is fairly lax,
consisting of no more than letting loose a pair of those furballs in the back yard,
and periodically tossing thither  our table-scraps,
yet even so, it might become time-consuming,  should the lovebirds [love-rodents] abscond before multiplying ...

Accordingly, I have a new goal,  ontologically less demanding:
     Dr. David Justice
    Gentleman & Hamster-fancier

For:  One can fancy hamsters  at a distance, wherever they may be.

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