Thursday, March 18, 2010


I was just Sartorialisted on the streets of Palermo. It was fairly clear that it wasn't my linen outfit, or my excessively exposed chest hair, that was the object of interest. It was my Japanese Nikes, the ones with "Nike" written in katakana on the back of them. Does this justify wearing them at a wedding in San Antonio tomorrow? I think so. Fuck wearing a suit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Concepts & Interests

Here are four possible ways in which you might think concepts and our interests are related:

1. They are completely unrelated. This is the view many modern philosophers have had about concepts of primary properties, that unbiased inquirers are bound to converge on a use of them, which just shows how they are completely independent of our interests. I think the main problem with this view is just that it seems naive to think that history is irrelevant to the process of identifying properties, as this view presupposes.

2. Our interests completely determine the extension of our concepts. Call it nominalism, idealism, or, as I prefer, relativism. The main problem with this view is that it can't explain how we could be wrong about anything.

3. The extension of our concepts is "shaped" but not determined by our concepts. On this view, our use of concepts depends upon our interests but our interests do not wholly determine their extensions. The main problem with this view is that it is unstable. On the one hand, if it makes sense to draw a distinction between the extension of the concepts themselves and the shaping of that extension done by our interests, then it collapses into the first view, since that distinction ends up lining up precisely with the primary/second property distinction as it is traditionally drawn. On the other hand, if it become impossible to draw a distinction between the extension of the concepts themselves and the shaping of that extension done by our interests, this view collapses into the second view, since it become impossible to identify the role played by the world itself in determining the extensions of our concepts.

4. The extension of our concepts is determined by the world, but which concepts we use is determined by our interests. On this view, the traditional distinction between primary (that is, interest-independent) and secondary (interest-dependent) properties is denied, and it is granted that the process of identifying any sort of properties depends upon one's interests in those properties, which is historically determined. But whether something has those properties or not is completely independent of history. This is the view I prefer.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Worst People to Interview

From Joseph Mitchell's "My Ears Are Bent"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Party in the USA

I am officially a big fan of Miley's Party in the USA, though moreso a fan of variants on it, but WTF is up with her saying that the Hollywood sign is on her right as she leaves LAX (or, more accurately, LAWA)? The only points at which you can see the Hollywood sign as you leave LAX are on the 10 (and then only on a clear day). This is a much worse deception than her claims about Jay-Z songs. It's on par with the geographical fantasies of "Collateral" (or, dare I say it, "Ferris Bueller").