November 17, 2010
About that lion
Ask this guy.
I've always loved philosophy, but there are certain schools of it that do nothing for me. Among these are logical positivism, analytical philosophy and schools that focus on things like grammar and language. Life's too short.
One person who has connections to those schools enjoys a huge international following: Ludwig Wittgenstein. I don't get the attraction.
A while back, someone loaned me a copy of what many people consider to be his masterpiece, Philosophical Investigations. I dutifully waded through it in hopes of changing my mind. It didn't happen, although there were a few good lines here and there.
I'm about to take issue with one of the most famous of those. In that book, Wittgenstein said, "If a lion could talk, we could not understand him." That might be true of things like sea cucumbers, but lions are mammals and we share a lot of similarities in the brain with them, especially in those regions of the brain that have to do with emotions.
I don't think that lions particularly need to talk, although one could argue that they already do non-verbally. But if they did, I think it would be pretty clear. I also have a feeling that most of what they would say would take the form of commands and declarative statements.
They probably wouldn't ask a lot of questions. Or need to.
CUTTING ALONE WON'T DO IT. People concerned about deficits would do well to think less about across the board cuts than about promoting economic growth, according to this analysis in the NY Times.
UPPER BIG BRANCH. Here's an interesting twist in the Massey mine disaster investigation.
PREJUDICE. Scientific research suggests it may be more ingrained than we like to think, but there are ways of countering it.
WANT TO BE HAPPIER? Try focusing. Wandering minds apparently gather negative thoughts.
MORE ON THOSE NEANDERTHALS. Maybe the human edge over our Neanderthal cousins had something to do with our slow growth to maturity.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED