Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ancient and modern

Aristotle hell continues, but I have to say I'm learning, or re-learning, quite a bit about our friend the Stagirite. I may even have to gird my noetic loins and check out Metaphysics Zeta sometime. Some time in the future, that is. When I return to the land of the living, among those not concerned with how, if the unmoved mover is immaterial it can move physical objects (answer: by being an ideal object of desire for the outer heavenly bodies, which are, as you know, ensouled), I hope to respond, or at least react, in some way to this post (hat tip: Leiter, or his recent guest blogger - I forget) about the "fogbank" of Postmodernism by Keith DeRose at the epistemology blog, Certain Doubts. (Spoiler: he's agin it.) It's pretty long, so start now. (On the other hand, you've got time.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Excess and defect

Again I must apologize for the lack of postage. I am in the midst of Aristotle hell (in a good way though!). I hope to return to the virtuous mean soon. In the meantime, here's a veritable excess of philosophical revelry (i.e., another Philosophers' Carnival) -- thanks Gillian!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Stitch in time

Lest anyone get the silly idea that the only movies reviewed here (if that's what's happening) are artistically respectable ones, I should reveal that one recent viewing was of Stitch: The Movie, a straight-to-video number not to be confused with the forthcoming Lilo & Stitch 2, also s-t-v, I believe, which depicts events occurring after the first L&S, obviously, but before this earlier film. Not content simply to extend the franchise to video sequels, S:TM stoops to setting up the premise to the Lilo & Stitch TV show. (I know this, alas, because I have actually seen an episode of said TV show, which was, not surprisingly, not worth the time.) I liked the original movie a lot – Stitch (a.k.a. Experiment 626) is the most entertaining Disney character since, well, I don't really know Disney that well so never mind. Anyway, he's great. (I love it when he tries to speak English – and when he doesn't even try.)

The premise of this one, if you care, is that a previously unknown Evil Genius (Dr. Hämsterviel, who seems to be channeling John Cleese's abusive French knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which makes sense given the latter's taunt that "your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries," or was it the other way around) is determined to capture all 626 experiments for himself, and sends the put-upon Captain Gantu to Hawaii to track them down, with predictable and not particularly well-drawn results. Although Stitch's antics never really take off this time, there are a few laughs to be found among the film's 64 minutes: the clueless but game Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall fame) attempts to locate the kidnapped Jumba by whipping out a galactic phone directory and calling each planet, in alphabetical order ("Planet Aaaaaaa? Is Jumba there?" "Do you know what time it is??" "Sorry!" ... "Planet Aaaaaab? Is Jumba there?"), and it's still funny to hear the galactics regularly refer to our planet as "Eeyarth." Anyway, the other 625 (actually, 623) experiments get loose, and in the TV show each episode is concerned with recapturing a particular one of them, with even more predictable and even less well-drawn results. I'll probably watch L&S 2 too (sigh).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A first

Nicholas White's Plato on Knowledge and Reality is a barn-burner, even if it is 30 years old. In a chapter on the Phaedo, he relates Plato's use of an odd example in his argument for the reality of transcendent Forms. At 74a9ff, Socrates contrasts the equality (in size, presumably) of pieces of wood or stone with "the idea of abstract equality, which is different from them" (F. J. Church translation). Pieces of wood are only qualifiedly equal (e.g. to this but not to that), but the Equal is equal without qualification and therefore metaphysically prior. As White remarks (p. 69), Plato "does not see ... that it makes dubious sense to say that any object is equal unqualifiedly (i.e., without being equal to anything)." A little later, he adds (p. 70):
Some will be inclined to think that the view just now described is too clearly mistaken, and even bizarre, to be rightly ascribed to Plato. Such an impression, I think, is the result of an overexposure to contemporary philosophical discussions, in which such logical and quasi-logical matters as relational predication are so thoroughly and unremittingly scrutinized. Even Aristotle, who criticized this aspect of Plato's doctrine, himself had no very clear understanding of relations (as a glance at Categories 7 and Metaphysics V. 15 will show), and perhaps nobody did until late in the last century.
At first I didn't understand; but then I realized: he means the nineteenth century. This is the first, for me, of what will surely be a long series of such double-takes in coming years.