Tag Archives: language

How Do You Know? Factive Verbs in Relation to Political, Religious, and Scientific Discourse

I’m thinking about factive verbs this morning in relation to such things as global warming, God’s existence, evolution, the future of the stock market, etc. ESTABLISH, for example, is a very strong, emphatic verb, as in, “I’ve established the truth … Continue reading

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Glasses, Not Mirrors: Richard Rorty’s Whole Philosophy In 900 Words

I’m going to try to sum up the whole of Richard Rorty’s philosophy in just 900 words. Do you suppose I can do it? Here goes. The religionist, the scientist, and the ironist. There are three types of people in … Continue reading

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Apostrophe History Lesson That Won’t Put You to Sleep

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Definition and Origin of the Phrase “The Whole Nine Yards”

Blaise Pascal once wrote someone the following: “I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” Today we might say that Pascal gave his reader, not the short version of his thought, … Continue reading

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Richard Dawkins and Memes

For being an early and vigorous defender of the theory of evolution by natural selection against its critics, 19th century biologist Julian Huxley became known as “Darwin’s bulldog.” In the late 20th and early 21st century, the sinewy and quick-witted … Continue reading

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Atheism and Free Will: The End of Praise and Shame?

If you’re an atheist and have concluded that free will doesn’t exist, where does that leave praise and shame? Atheist Jerry Coyne, who does not believe humans have free will, suggests that it leaves praise and shame in the dust: … Continue reading

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In the Beginning Wasn’t the Word?

If you’re inclined to believe that your dog or cat has thoughts, but lacks a sophisticated vocal language for communicating them, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker agrees with you. He argues that language isn’t, strictly speaking, necessary for thought. Interesting. ___

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How to Change The Way You See Things: Conceptualization, Reconceptualization, And Thomas Aquinas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             . Thomas Aquinas thought that vegetables and animals have souls. According to him, the soul of the vegetable—its matter and essential form—is to take in nutrients, and the soul of the animal is to enjoy access to the senses and to move. But … Continue reading

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Three Ohio Bucks Locked in Life—and Death. Why Is This Poetic?

A distressing scene to contemplate was recently recounted (with photos) in Field & Stream: [T]hree Ohio bucks somehow locked antlers while battling near a small creek. When one deer slid into a shallow pool, it sealed the fate for all three, … Continue reading

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Thinking about Metaphor with Jan Zwicky

At the Huffington Post yesterday, Jason Derr referred to a book that sounds interesting: In her book Wisdom and Metaphor poet and philosopher Jan Zwicky argues for a poetic form of doing philosophy, one rooted in an understanding of metaphor. … Continue reading

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A Great Double Entendre

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             . A color engraving, from 1814, with this exchange: ‘My sweet honey, I hope you are to be let with the Lodgins!’ ‘No, sir, I am to be let alone.’

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David Hart v. Kevin Drum: Is God Completely Full of It?

A plenitude is something or someone completely full of it (whatever it happens to be). And so the question arises: is God best defined as a plenitude, as when David Hart calls God “an absolute plenitude of actuality”? In other words, is … Continue reading

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Of Cookie Crumbs and Religion’s True Nature

I have two questions. Here’s my first: if a crumb from a cookie falls to the kitchen table and breaks into four pieces, do you now have one cookie crumb divided by four, or four cookie crumbs? Here’s my second … Continue reading

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Lost in the Cosmos: Language and Irony

Once you acknowledge (as I do) that the universe appears, paradoxically, as either self-created or always existent, and that it consists of atoms and the void and nothing else, then there is nothing in that universe that can tell you, as … Continue reading

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“I Wonder if I Know What You Mean”

“I wonder if you wonder.” Great layers of inuendo and connotation in an exchange of wits between Barbara Stanwyck and Jimmy Stewart in the film noir classic, Double Indemnity (1944): And here’s another great example of insinuation in a different genre:

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Daniel Dennett: the Vanquisher of “Deepity” Religion—and Poetry?

The Daniel Dennett deepity slide that Jerry Coyne took a picture of here is one that I wrote into my notebook (I was at the same conference). A deepity, according to Dennett, “is a proposition that seems to be profound … Continue reading

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Two Interesting Links for the Day

How language shapes the way we think. How the Internet is impacting our writing.

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An Appeal to What the Book Says: Webster’s Dictionary, Pat Boone, and the Fight over Gay Marriage

Pat Boone has given us yet another compelling reason to oppose gay marriage: Webster’s Dictionary! I noticed this powerful use of logic by Pat Boone today in a World Net Daily editorial that he penned (or, at least, word processed): Not just the … Continue reading

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Not Out of Mesopotamia: The New York Times Today Reports that Scientists Contradict the Bible, and Locate the “Garden of Eden” in Either West or East Africa

The Bible’s book of Genesis puts the first man and the first woman (Adam and Eve) in a garden called Eden, and claims that this garden was located along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). But the New York Times … Continue reading

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Mexican Flu, Swine Flu, or H1N1? A Pandemic Gets Rebranded

Whether or not the source for H1N1 was a Mexican pig farm (and this is by no means certain), the implication that this virus is somehow a “Mexican flu” and should be called Mexican flu borders on the racist, and carries … Continue reading

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