The Story of Discourse

The Story of Discourse 13: Danto’s Gallery of Indiscernibles

Posted in The Story of Discourse on March 30th, 2020 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

In Dantos Gallery there are many red squares. Some are framed hanging proudly on the wall. Some are being prepped for artists, Giorgione for example, to further adorn. Another is by the stairs simply waiting to have ‘exit’ stenciled on it. Being spun through room after room thick with the presence of red squares of every sort… oh look, there’s one on the shoulder of a security guard…the question one is intended to ask is this: is art camouflaged in the banal or is the banal camouflaged in art? How does one find art when it is so cleverly hidden? Or stranger, how does one find art when it is so clearly abundant?

The Story of Discourse 12: Newcomb’s Boxes

Posted in The Story of Discourse on November 11th, 2019 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Newcomb is probably the most charming bachelor you have ever met. As a boyfriend one couldn’t ask for much more, he is courteous, good looking, and seems to always know what you want when you want it. It is this last skill that really sets him apart. His ability to intuit what you want, need, or will do is uncanny. The only thing that explains his very long bachelorhood are two boxes. Newcomb wants to get married, but he has a rather strange way of asking. For each of his girlfriends, when the time is right, and Newcomb always knows when the time is right, he gets down on his knee and asks her to marry him. Instead of producing a single ring box, he produces two. One is red, the other purple. He tells his girlfriend that the red one contains a ring worth $1,000. On the other hand, the purple box contains a ring worth $100,000 or nothing. He explains to his girlfriend that she can either decide to take both boxes or just the purple one. The contents of the purple box is decided by whether he thinks she will take both boxes or just the purple box. Earlier that day if Newcomb believed that his girlfriend would just take the purple box, he fills it with the $100,000 ring. However if he thought she would take both ring boxes, he left the purple box empty without a ring. This kind of proposal has come to be known as the Newcomb proposal. Newcomb tells people that he sincerely wants to get married, but must propose in this very odd way. Some have accused him of bad faith on this, claiming that secretly he desires to avoid marriage and this is his way of doing it.

The Story of Discourse 11: Ulysses Mast

Posted in The Story of Discourse on September 2nd, 2019 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

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The Story of Discourse 10: Pia’s Leaves

Posted in The Story of Discourse on September 28th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Far down the list of women you have known is a girl named Pia. She was strange, beautiful, artistic. She was the one who on a whim painted all the leaves of a lovely red Maple green. The fight that ended your relationship started with that tree. At the time, you imagined yourself thoughtful. She was only ‘artistic’. Both of you had a little to drink and were careless with words. You told her it didn’t matter what she had done to the tree. The leaves were still red. She said the color depended. “On what?” I said. “If you love me, the leaves are green. If you don’t, they are red,” she said with tears starting in her eyes. I blew up. I don’t remember what I said after that. Some kind of horrible lecture about propositional logic? I might have even used the words “mutually exclusive”? What I do remember was at the end of the night, after we had yelled, cried, and eventually broken up, her telling me that language is flexible like an artist, not uptight like a philosopher. Twenty years later in the doldrums of a long marriage with a degree or two in uptightness behind me, she might be right. Pia!

The Story of Discourse 9: Maxwell’s Demon

Posted in The Story of Discourse on August 17th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

The hottest club in the metropolitan area is called Entropy Lost. The club is downtown and is rather unusual in its setup. Instead of people waiting out on the street to get in, Entropy Lost actually has a waiting area. Even stranger is that the waiting area is as big as the club itself. The two huge rooms are adjacent with only a door between them. The door is guarded by a man named Maxwell’s Demon. Some say the success of the club is attributable to this bouncer. The demon’s discernment is what makes the club. He has a great eye for hot, high energy people. These are the ones that he lets into Entropy Lost. Furthermore, the demon will periodically shut the door, go into the club, find plain, low energy people to toss from the club. They aren’t doing anything wrong, but the demon claims they are dragging the club’s vibe down. This of course is controversial. People definitely aren’t happy when they get tossed. They keep coming back though, because one hour in Entropy Lost is worth a whole night in the next best club in the city.

The Story of Discourse 8: The Bridges of Königsberg

Posted in The Story of Discourse on July 6th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

The bridges in the city of Königsberg have a magical property. When you wander through the moonlit evenings of summer and stop to ask yourself a question, these bridges have the power of launching you and that question on a journey. You have no idea where the asking of the question will take you only that the answer will be much larger than the question itself. There is a strange nuance to the bridges’ power. The sillier, the more innocent, the more idle the question the stronger the bridges’ powers are. Don’t make the mistake of asking something like “Does God exist?” A question of that magnitude renders the bridges’ power totally impotent. Instead, think along the lines of, “Why are portholes round?” or “How many people would it take to blow a cloud through the sky?” You will get much better results from questions of this nature.

The Story of Discourse 7: Zeno’s Turtle

Posted in The Story of Discourse on May 25th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

If you ever meet Zeno’s turtle on the road, know that he is prone to half measures. For if the two of you are on the way to town, he will only go half as far as he needs to and stop regardless of how much daylight is left. He is rather rule-bound about it. Don’t try to prod him or convince him of the futility of always only going halfway. Worse still, don’t try to pick him up. No matter how much you have enjoyed his company, and he is pleasant for a turtle, if you try to carry him the remaining distance, he will bite. And if you whine to him that he’ll never actually get to town, he stoically replies, maybe so but I can always be as near as you need me to be.

The Story of Discourse 6: The Ring of Gyges

Posted in The Story of Discourse on April 13th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

The Ring of Gyges is one of those great underdog stories. The thing looks like it could come out of a crackerjack box. As an ornament it is a failure. It is so ugly in fact that humility forces it to become invisible when anyone wears it. Furthermore, the humility is contagious. It makes the bearer invisible as well. This effacement becomes the source of the ring’s power. Anyone that wears the ring, can go anywhere undetected. Imagine the possibilities. The violent can kill and maim; the venal, steal; the lusty, peep; and do-gooders can dispense with silly masks and capes. Of course, what many people wonder is does the ring further or change one’s ends?

The Story of Discourse 5: Kant’s Madman

Posted in The Story of Discourse on March 12th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Kant’s Madman knocks on doors. He never visits the person he is looking for, but only the friends of that person. He is not very direct in this way. When you open the door, the madman must present himself as homicidal in manner and tone. He also, and this is the hardest part, must conceal an ax so that it is visible to you on the one hand, but makes you believe he is trying to hide it on the other. This takes a lot of practice. His lines are easy. There is only one question to utter. He asks where your friend is. Scary, right? But not really if you have heard about him before. Because even if you give up your friend’s location, the madman won’t go find him. He simply walks from your front step to another house, knocking on a different door, asking the same question to another friend of your friend.

The Story of Discourse 4: Gavagai

Posted in The Story of Discourse on January 19th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Unlike other creatures that are born and then named, Gavagai was born name first. While we wait patiently to be named, then nicknamed, and possibly renamed. Gavagai is a name and is waiting for its thingness to come. Preliminary analyses suggest that Gavagai has been thing-ed with something related to a rabbit. It could be the rabbit itself, part of the rabbit. It could be some aspect, perhaps the color, or an action the rabbit is performing. Some have conjectured that it’s simply an idea suggested by the bunny. Only time will tell. As our names and nicknames are proposed and retired, leaving our one singular name, we too will have to wait and see what substance remains around Gavagai. I am patient. We will make progress on the matter. I do doubt sometimes that we will ever be quite sure what thing-ed Gavagai though.

The Story of Discourse 3: Descriptor

Posted in The Story of Discourse on December 8th, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Sometimes the examples, details, and monikers of philosophy have a narrative power independent of their power to clarify. The Story of Discourse makes use of these story-charged bits to embellish and create.

The Story of Discourse 2: Descartes’ Demon

Posted in The Story of Discourse on October 27th, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Descartes’ Demon is a maker of dreams and illusions. He has made your world, keeping you from his world. He must at times be sad that he cannot join his beautiful, sad, dramatic creation; or at least wonder why he has no monster to relieve him of the monotony of pure being. You have different problems though. You are stuck with his illusion, but you can choose to live it as life or as a lie. Do not anguish too much over your choice. Skepticism being what it is there might not be much difference.

The Story of Discourse 1: Wittgenstein’s Ladder

Posted in The Story of Discourse on September 15th, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Wittgenstein’s ladder is a one-way ladder. Climbing it is difficult but descent is impossible. Once you have reached the top, there is a popular misconception that the ladder blocks your regress by casting itself down on the ground. However, ladder cognoscenti know that the ladder is much too subtle and elegant for that. The way it works is you can mount the ladder to return to the ground, but as you start to lower yourself, the ladder moves up at the same rate. The cumulative effect is null. The ladder has borne you up, and will now bear you exactly where you are for eternity.