I believe I now have a final schedule for this semester. Since I’m not teaching I take four courses, and the theme of those courses is “careening back into theoretical philosophy.” Three of the four courses are mathematical or logical in nature. I’m perhaps most excited about Mark Wilson’s course on the philosophy of mathematics. It’s primarily historical in nature, and aims to look at Frege in the context of 19th century mathematical developments. Mark’s spin in the first course was that philosophers have lost track of the wider context of Frege’s work and failed to appreciate the ways in which Frege’s response was a conservative response to those developments. Recontextualizing Frege could be a neat trick to pull off. While Mark apparently knows everything there is to know about the history of math in that period, especially the applied math that philosophers largely don’t care for, but I don’t know that the students do. Even in the cases where I know the math, I know it entirely divorced from its historical development.
I’m doing a proof theory class. I’ve never studied proof theory before, so I don’t know what to expect–it’s primarily a way to improve my logical chops. Also, did I mention that it’s with Nuel frickin Belnap? I’m secretly in this course just to improve my count of teachers with wikipedia entries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7–Nuel’s entry is unreasonably short). Lastly, I’m doing a seminar on truth and paradoxes with Anil Gupta. I’ve never previously thought about the paradoxes, but I suspect it will be relevant to my general grumbles with the field of semantics.
The fourth course is with Steve Engstrom on Kantian ethics. I’m rather excited about this course, if for no other reason than that yesterday, Steve laid out a categorization of historical figures that was completely novel to me. In it, the good guys included all of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Kant. What’s more, there was actually a theme that connected all of them.
Side Note: This is as good a time as any to mention that I’ve been doing little status updates in the upper right hand corner of the blog. They’re for content that’s too short to merit it’s own post (i.e. “I won’t be posting this weekend”). So if you’re that obsessed with my actions, there’s more for you. It strikes me that this is one weird thing about the architecture of most blogs: almost any information gets conveyed via posts, but there’s all this cruft that comes with a post: a title, a permalink, comments, possible categories, etc. So I’ve shunted links that I want to share to a feed in the right hand side of the blog, and status updates to a corner. If you want to see a genuinely elegant way of structuring information, check out John Gruber’s blog. Short comments are treated entirely differently from essay length analytical posts. Sadly, I’m not sure wordpress will let me easily do anything quite like that.