Another conversational quirk I’ve noticed among philosohers is one that seems to be more prevalent among the ones that have done a fair amount of math. When confronted with a formulation of something that they don’t understand, they say, “What does that even mean?” It isn’t “what does that mean?” Rather it is with an “even” stuck in there. I’m not sure why, but it sounds stronger even though I’m not sure how it is asking for anything stronger than the “even”-less question. What does “even mean” even mean?

To change the topic, I was talking to some guys in the Pitt program earlier about great philosophical dialogues to be written. One guy suggested a dialogue between early and later Putnam in which the early Putnam wins. Another one might be a conversation between early and later Wittgenstein. What would they say? Maybe the early one would just recite the main propositions of the Tractatus while the later Wittgenstein would explain why they are nonsense.

Advertisements