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Adequate for what? Two of Plato’s most important vessels of epistemological theorizing are Meno and Theaetetus (Republic is more explanatory than exploratory).

Meno starts out with an argument for the primacy of definition, goes on to exemplify Socrates’ elenchus, dips into aporia, posits anamnesis as a solution to the paradox of inquiry, demonstrates anamnesis, proposes the use of a hypothesis in a theoretical examination, and seems to accept the Justified-True-Belief definition of knowledge in the end.

Theaeteus dramatizes an explicit search for a definition of knowledge, which presents an exquisitely detailed description and refutation of empiricism. …

That the President of the United States is a wheedling prevaricator of the crassest and grossest kind. In his latest perfect phone call: the one in which he puts the Georgia Secretary of State, Raffensperger, on notice that failure to find 11,780 votes could be very dangerous for him and his lawyer, the President apparently commits multiple federal crimes.

The House of Representatives must draw up new articles of impeachment now! Has the United States defeated the mightiest militaries and most illiberal ideological regimes in human history to now be brought low by this sordid mountebank and two-bit carnival barker?

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The first McCarthy novel I read was All the Pretty Horses. I loved it. I have gone through it many times with my first-year college English classes, and found that it never gets old.

I love the Faulknerian levels of rhetoric: the close attention to south Texas verbal mannerisms (sometimes invaded by expressions from McCarthy’s Tennessee youth) that suddenly give way to some omniscient voice bellowing biblical-style passages about ancient peoples and their plights and aspirations.

After reading Horses, I read the other books in the Border Trilogy, and each has many fine moments, but neither of the other two…

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About twenty years ago, I taught English at a small private school. I was, in fact the academic director of the school, or as Samuel Johnson might have had it, a harmless drudge.

But I did have an office with a Bay view, or view of the Bay. And in that office was a desk. And during one of the ten years I was there, there was a particular day calendar on that desk.

It was a four-inch-square block of 365 sheets stuck together Post-It style, and on each sheet “Win the Day!” was written across the top in half-inch…

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The title of Dave Eggers’s novel pretty much says it: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

American writers have all been caught somewhere in Jay Gatsby’s dream. Once they saw something fine and beautiful that they could pour their imaginations into. But that thing had a history, a context, and a spirit of its own, and when their imaginations displaced the thing itself, they got lost and panicked. They tried to relocate the fine and beautiful thing, but like Achilles’ tortoise opponent, it had moved just a little bit. And so they accelerated and reached out for it, but it…

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SOLIPSIST: Hey Platoboy, who’s the man?

PLATOBOY: That’s easy, Solly. You’re the man!

SOLIPSIST: No. I mean in philosophy. Aristotle, right?

PLATOBOY: Well, Solly, if Aristotle is the man, what does that make Plato? I mean Plato was his predecessor and teacher, wasn’t he?

SOLIPSIST: How come Aristotle is referred to in Arabic as “the first philosopher,” and some Western texts refer to him simply as “the Philosopher?”

PLATOBOY: I don’t know. What’s in a name? Didn’t somebody big ask that?

SOLIPSIST: Reason I ask is because Aristotle tells this whacky story about Achilles and the tortoise in Book 6.9…

Arguing against rationalism is a little like invading Russia; there is an awful lot of territory to occupy, and it probably should not be done.

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That said, there are some problems with rationalist thought that were noticed thousands of years ago, and still puzzle many serious people.

I won’t try, in this forum, to give a definition of rationalism; as I hinted above, it is a big philosophical country, and I would leave much out no matter how thorough I tried to be. But Let us agree that Plato, Descartes, and now Chomsky, among many others, are rationalist thinkers.


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An a priori argument is one in which the truth value of the premiss or premisses is known through reason only, and not through experience. The truth value of the conclusion is determined by the validity of the inference from the premiss or premisses to the conclusion.

An example of an a priori argument is the second ontological argument for the existence of God that Descartes gives in Meditation Five of Meditations on First Philosophy. It runs thus:

  1. God is that being that has all possible perfections.
  2. Existence is a perfection.
  3. (conclusion) God has existence (God exists.)

The first premiss…

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The idioms “based on” and “based upon” are both standard English and mean the same thing as far as I am concerned, but “based off” or “based off of” are horses of a completely different color.

I am an English instructor, and I fancy myself something of a linguist and a philosopher, so I should know better than to do what I am about to do, but I cannot help myself. This is the first time I have ever thought to expatiate on these terms, and I am throwing all caution and reasoned linguistic principles to the wind.

Most enlightened…

Charles Gray

“If it can be done, why do it?” Gertrude Stein

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