Saturday, 2 December 2017

Early Career Thread #1 - Job Tips

This was going to be cross-posted at Philosopher's Cocoon but I decided we should keep it to ourselfs here are the Pilos, so that we get a strategic advantage over Marcus, Amanda and Pendaran. Eat our dust! We will soon outrank you.

I wanted to take this thread to apply to all thinkers early in their university career who would like to get a better "feel" for how to behave in department meetings, job talks, interviews, and colloquia. As a way to begin broaching this topic, I thought I'd list a number of "dot points" which people have talked to me over the years. If you have any others please go in the comments, but no false statements (or Liar-like sentences!).

- Try to keep other hobbies. I was in a real "slump" recently and playing my bongos and screaming was the only thing that kept me out of it.

- If someone asks you a question, ask them if you can take some time to think about the answer. They have been surprisingly understanding when I say this, and usually I don't ever have to answe.

- Look at the seniors in your institution and think about what they say, sure, but also think about how things will look down the track when I am older.

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- Send your papers out to people as little presents with wrapping paper. I used to just email my colleagues my new work, and they all but ignored it. So my wife helped me come up with a better presentation, and now when I come down the corridor with my "parcels" of new knowledge, people know to smile and say thank you, and when you're early career, this can really be a game changer.

- Talk about your family and pets with your new colleagues. I directed my supervisor to a picture of Jocone, and our meetings went better after that.

Here's little Jocone brushing up on these tips! Now go forth and multiply!!

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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Jerry Fodor 1939 - 2017

A founding giant of the twentieth century neurological approach to consciousness, Dr. Jerry Fodor has sadly passed away. A great figure, this man mixed jokes in to his philosophical writings, and was a cantankerous figure at time arguing about this and that thesis with no punches pulled. He was a staunch critic of what he was a critic of, and was equally happy to be proven wrong. Then on the things he liked and think were right, he was correspondingly enthusiating. Many people have said interesting stories about knowing and loving Jerry Fodor. He was obviously someone that many people enjoyed their work. And his work may be genuinely helpful in understanding the topics with which it dealt. Here's to a great career for an excellent philosopher!

As a kid he showed a great interest in science and philosophy, and he came to study it ever since. After learning philosophy, he began a writing and teaching career that remains unequalled. I remember reading his mean comments about Wittgenstein in his paper about the lganguage of thought and thinking what a bugger, I think he's wrong. But I still enjoyed it.

Please leave any comments you like in the comments, but try to be accurate. Many people have recently made false statements in the comments, and this is especially not the place, as it might be disrespectful to Jerry Fodor. Thanks for all the good writing Jerry, and finally everyone, go and have a read of his wonderful article,

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Water's water everywhere



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Saturday, 25 November 2017

Teaching Logic to Kids and some Remarks

When I teach logic to my kids, their little faces fall. This is a disjunction! I drill it into them, and they hate it. I love logic so much, because it enables us to sort the sheep from the goats. Some of my students are interested in logic and I say Good! You can have all the bloody logic you want! But what I really like is teaching it to my kids, who absolutely hate it.

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I discovered logic and loved it. I am a philosopher for many years now, and I have met many leading lights of the field. These people are amazing. We have talked about amazing ideas and processes, and created new ideas that will clarify things. My dog Jocone once joked, "If you're going to do philosophy, then I suggest you take the whip!" And I said "What a horrible thing to reference, Jocone, go to bed!" He went, but he had a little treat waiting there for him. I love the little guy! But seriously, philosophy is a great boon.

By the way, if any of you have any issues with any of what I have been saying in this blog post, please do not hesitate to tell me exactly what you think in the comments. Please, I am not afraid of you, and if I am not mistaken, several commenters have made serious errors here in the past. So please only post ideas that you are absolutely sure are correct, otherwise I will have to wield my "sword" and delete all of them. You will regret even talking on this blog, or having come here, and frankly that's how I think you should feel. It's been fun having this chat, and I know you are "on the same page" with these compliance issues. Please respect them accordingly.

As a final thing, I would like to say some of my favourite philosophical sayings:

- To be is to be the value of a bound variable
- If a lion could not speak we could not understand him.
- There are infinitely many possible worlds
- Existence is not a predicate
- The unexamined life is not worth living
- Give unto others as you would have them give unto yourself
- Meanings just ain't in the head

Jocone certainly doesn't understand any of this! Seriously though, see you all soon.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Consciousness Moon poem

Here's the poem I wrote at a recent Consciousness conference

I look at the moon
And I see it cry
I look at the moon

We have a difficult phenomenon
And the moon howls back at me now
Is consciousness is in the night sky
My stars, I look at the moon
I look at the moon

Thanks so much to all the great philosophers at UC Urvine, Bilikent, Otago and Purdue. I have a chocolate bar for all of you with your name on it. I just have to hope little Jocone doesn't "access" it first!