WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2022
Our discussion resumes tomorrow: Last week, a trip off-campus let us revisit a life-long favorite topic.
We revisited a favorite question. We pondered the various ways explanation can go (badly) wrong, even at the very highest academic levels.
During our trip, we revisited one of our favorite recent passages. We refer to the passage in which readers are told that, if you're driving your car on a highway, the trees along the side of the highway will "appear to be moving."
Historically, peculiar formulations of that type have led on to questions like these:
Is there such a thing as empty space?
Is there a difference between space and matter?
How many angels can dance...?
As the later Wittgenstein tried to explain, with little success, such peculiar formulations have dogged the history of high-end academic philosophy. Tomorrow, we'll return to our favorite formulation of the current century—Professor Goldstein's formulation concerning "The Liar's Paradox" and its connection to the work of "the greatest logician since Aristotle."
These peculiar formulations are part of the natural history of our species. Tomorrow, we'll continue our discussion—our discussion of the way explanations can go very bad, and have always gone very bad, at the very highest levels of academic discourse.
(Were college freshmen right all along? We'll let others decide.)
We're postponing that discussion for one day due to last night's revelations concerning Donald J. Trump. Later today, we'll post the new numbers which have emerged about the number of documents taken—and we'll comment again on the branch of twentieth-century science our journalists refuse to discuss.
Explanation has always gone bad, even at the very highest levels of discourse. Borrowing from Wittgenstein, bad explanation at the highest levels is "as much a part of our natural history as walking, eating, drinking, playing."
Wittgenstein was hopelessly jumbled too. Here on this leafy, student-free campus, we're working to straighten things out.
Later today: The number of documents taken
Tomorrow: Top paragraph of the current century
Friday: Where does the number 2 live?