Blogs I like
Not philosophy blogs, but what I read when (believe it or not) I’d rather read something else.
- Hôtel de la plage: Well-written, nice design. One entry per page. Infra, “Ce que la chouette me dit”. See the screenshot on the right.—In French. Roughly once a week, with gaps. Addendum 8 Apr 2005: Now very infrequent.
- Language Hat and Language Log: Two blogs on language. Language fascinates me in all sorts of ways—formal languages, natural languages, poetics, rhetoric. My BA is in linguistics; within linguistics, I favored phonology. But by the time I finished I realized that what I liked most were the swampy contentious regions bordering on Philosophy. I think a little bird told me, too, that I was utterly unfitted for fieldwork. Except on dead languages. So now I can read these weblogs for fun, unlike philosophy blogs, the reading of which bears always the faint odor of Duty.
—Mostly in English. Daily.
- Parisian Smile: une femme de presque trente à Paris. Des photos aussi: cuisine, Moyen-Orient, musique. Une échantillon:
Les fêtes de fin d’années approchent à grand pas, les boulevards s’illuminent des milles et un feux, les magasins parisiens se parent de leur plus beaux atours pour attirer à eux carte bleue et gros billet, and last but not least les familles commencent à élaborer les plans de tables pour leurs diners de réveillons. Cette époque, bénie pour le commun des mortels, est une épreuve pour la SFF (Sans Famille Fixe) que je suis. Des années durant nous allions naturellement passer les congés de Noël chez nos tantes mais ces habitudes là deviennent de plus en plus obsolètes.—In French. Daily, with gaps.
- Les pensées de Zénon: Literature and art, mostly. Amply illustrated.
—In French. Almost daily.
- Plep: commented links, mostly to sites on literature, art, and history. Well worth checking every few days.
—In English. Daily.
- Ramage: commented links again, this time mostly to sites containing pictures, typically of things past. Also well worth checking.
—In English. Almost daily.
Sunday cat pix: members only Sneak Preview!
In which extremes meet begetting a new perspective.
Sunday cat pix: Bonus Pak
Some people think one cat pic is too much. I think two is not enough.
More blogs etc.
Mostly physics this time.
- arXiv Math: The principal site for mathematics preprints. Physics is here too, even a little history of science.
Daily. Almost all the papers are in English.
- Luboš Motl’s Reference Frame: Luboš Motl. Branes and cosmology; politics (US & Czech).
Frequent. In English.
- Musings: Jacques Distler. A physicist’s notes on current events, mostly physics with a bit of politics. String theory, supergravity, cosmology.
Frequency varies—on average, twice a week. In English. Some entries require MathML.
- The Panda’s Thumb: Various authors. Notes on and in defense of evolutionary theory. Fighting the good fight against Creationism, Intelligent Design, and other pious frauds. They won’t run out of material soon. The next four years will certainly see more attempts to introduce pseudoscience into the schools, and to intimidate those who attempt to teach theories that have stood the test of time, & are now as firmly a part of science as Copernicanism. (Or is that next? Better to let sleeping dogs lie.) The bright side is that a US that reverted to the science of 1840 would be much less dangerous to the rest of the world. See also Evolving Thoughts (John Wilkins), Pharyngula (P. Z. Myers), and the EvoWiki.
Daily. In English.
- Science Blog: One of a number of sites that gather together press releases from researchers and science organizations. Others include Science Daily, Eurekalert, and Infoscience (in French). Actu’Nature (in French) covers ecological and environmental issues. Physics News Update, from the American Institute of Physics, offers two or three items in physics about once a week; there is also an archive of graphics.Daily (except Physics News Update).
Woody Eadie. Amateur science and science news; some politics.
- The String Coffee Table: Physicists at the University of Texas (and some guests) on the latest in string theory and brane theory. Not for the faint of heart.
Daily. In Engish.
- This Week’s Finds: John Baez. Long before blogs, there were newsgroups. This Week’s Finds began as a regular contribution to sci.research.physics. It is now up to #208. Baez is one of the best explainers I know of. Whether the topic is Lie groups, octonions, n-categories, or quantum gravity, when I read him I at least have a feeling of understanding—and the hope that it would not take superhuman effort to understand the stuff. The accumulated collection of TWF is also a nice topical guide to arXiv in those areas that Baez works in. The title of this weblog alludes to Baez’s.
Irregular. In English.
(This is a question that arose out of a talk given by Tad Schmaltz here at Wash U on the 11th.) Could it be said, given Cartesian conceptions of time, etc., of a substance that it existed just for an instant?
NB (20 Nov). Tad Schmaltz has commented on this entry in email. See the addendum.
One reason to say no is this: An instant is the analogue for time of a point in space. A point is usually said to be the terminus of an interval, and ontologically speaking a mode, meaning that if the interval did not exist its termini would not exist either.
The duration of a substance is an interval (of time). Call that interval AB. Descartes says the duration of a thing is just the existence of a thing; and the existence of a thing is just the thing itself considered as actual (or something like that) -- in any case not distinct (not even modally) from the thing itself. If we take an interval CD contained in AB then the existence of the thing in or at the instant C is the left-hand terminus of its existence (i.e. the existing thing itself) in the interval CD. It is a “mode of a mode” (i.e. a mode of the duration of the substance, which is itself a mode of the substance). On this account it doesn’t make sense to speak of existence at an instant except for a thing that exists through some interval.
But perhaps we can make sense of existence at an instant as a limiting case. We want to show how it is possible for God to create a substance, call it Adam, such that for some instant, which we designate by ‘A’, Adam exists at A, and for no other instant distinct from A does Adam exist at that instant -- or rather such that if Adam exists at an instant B then B is identical to A.
Sunday cat pix
It’s the boys’ turn this week.
See the update…
It’s not mistaken claims generally that bother me—a historian of philosophy needs a high tolerance for error—but those that, being put forward with every appearance of confidence, and yet in my view visibly false, put me in a situation of doubt. Why would someone who seems to know their stuff say that?
With respect to some matters I can live with, even thrive on, doubt; in others, I want the itch scratched soon. Here’s a case in point. Writing on progress in philosophy(↓), Timothy Williamson says at one point that
The principle that every truth is possibly necessary can now be shown to entail that every truth is necessary by a chain of elementary inferences in a perspicuous notation unavailable to Hegel.
Sunday cat pix
HS & traces of LG; Musa en toilette.
All philosophy, all the time
In keeping with the early blogworld ideal according to which a weblog should consist entirely of links to other weblogs—preferably only those that link back—, here is another set of links. This time it’s blogs on philosophy or by philosophers, plus a few on language. I wish I knew why so many philosophical weblogs are run by epistemologists. See the Addenda, 1 and 2.