Sunday, April 04, 2010


Quotable: Natural

Student: Professor Wittgenstein, (slaps self hard on face) you can't know this pain. Only I can.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Are you sure you know it? You don't doubt you had a pain just then?

Student: How could I?

Ludwig Wittgenstein
: If we can't speak of doubt ... we can't speak of knowledge, either ... It makes no sense to speak of knowing something in a context where we could not possibly doubt it therefore to say I know I am in pain is entirely senseless ...

Student: I just can't see it, professor. It somehow just seems natural to me to say I know I'm in pain.

Wittgenstein: Oh, natural. Tell me, why does it seem more natural for people to believe that the sun goes around the earth rather than the other way around?

Student: Well, obviously, because it looks that way.

Wittgenstein: I see, and how would it look if the earth went around the sun?

Student: Um, well I suppose ... yes, I see what you mean.

Source: Derek Jarman's film Wittgenstein, beginning at 34:12, 45:35.

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Snyder v. Phelps Goes to the Supreme Court

I've been following the lawsuit of Albert Snyder against Fred Phelps et al. since 2007. Most of the online coverage following the US Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari to hear Snyder's appeal has been crap but I have found one thoughtful article. Although tainted by her tedious pro forma denunciations of the Westboro Baptist Church as "obnoxious," Harriet Robbins Ost's article, "U.S. Supreme Court: Will distress trump the First Amendment right to free speech?" is the most thorough treatment I've seen so far of the important constitutional issues in the case.

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Quotable: Aristocrats & the Common Folk

All aristocrats idealize the common folk, as long as they keep stoking the boilers.

Source: Character of Bertrand Russell in Derek Jarman's film Wittgenstein at 52:30.

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