It occurred to me today in class that Bernard Reginster's interpretation of the moral psychology of the priestly nobility precisely exemplifies the Beeblebrox Maneuver, except Beeblebrox got it right.
Told variously by various tellers, as is the custom with anecdotes; here is (whose else but?) GC Lichtenberg's formulation:
Diogenes, filthily attired, paced across the splendid carpets in Plato's dwelling. Thus, said he, do I trample on the pride of Plato. Yes, Plato replied, but only with another kind of pride.
Here's an earlier, totally unrelated, entry from the same notebook (C):
Lady Hill, the abbess of the English convent in Lisbon, traveled in her twenty-third year to Ireland, took possession of an inheritance, and then returned to her convent. Baretti believes that such virtue in the heart of a woman deserves to be rescued from oblivion. I believe that such acts ought to be branded as hotly as imagination guided by contempt, mockery and revulsion can possibly brand them.
Presumably his contempt, &c, derives from his high opinion not just of intellectual but of bodily life:
That is as natural to man as thinking or throwing snowballs, for instance.
In these words, their meanings, and their origins is manifest the scheme of a botanical spy thriller.
I think I've mentioned here before that I once met one of the employees of the Dalkey Archive press at an ABA convention (though I failed to score any free books), and that my mom occasionally converses with him in her capacity as buyer for a few choiceworthy independent bookstores. Well, today she told me that he had told her that some interesting trivia regarding their perhaps best-known author, Flann O'Brien, had been unearthed, and, she having conveyed same to me, I hereby convey same to you.
It seems that At Swim-Two-Birds underwent stark revisions, and the published version is almost impossible to find in the original text, of which only the title remains to indicate its zoophilic scheme—all the characters are animals, and, as is common in such works, bear names indicating their species. The novel only acquired its Hibernian bent, Chad said the people who've read over the early drafts speculate, when O'Brien was working over one of the novel's most memorable set-pieces, which survives in modified form into the final version—the one featuring the poem of many authors, "A Pint of Plain is Your Only Man". Except originally, the creatures gathered 'round and sang a quite different verse (what exactly it is is rather uninteresting), while, in the background, a germanic bovine of the female persuasion, against whose broadside five fifties of fosterlings could play handball, munched her cud in somnolent sleep, the clicking of her teeth providing a regular metrical backdrop. However, their recitation reached such a volume that she was awoken, indeed was wroth, to such an extent that third-personal self-reference was indicated, and she loudly demanded of the assembly: WHO DARES DISTURB KUH CHEWIN?
I still think her own albums are a waste of Bill Frisell and, IIRC, Marc Ribot, but news (old, but I just found out) that she appeared on a Mike Patton album certainly helps. (And she's also gigged with Scott Amendola's band, with Nels Cline, at Tonic of all places, so, yeah.) On the other hand Patton's album with Kaada, Romances, was kind of Jonesily soporific, or so I thought when last I heard it, which may also have been when first I heard it, when I was reviewing it for WHPK—I think I claimed that Patton was finally overstretching himself. All cinematic noiry croons, but not a lot of interest.
The magic of completely legal file sharing: Peeping Tom - Sucker, feat. Norah Jones.
A comprehensive and completely nondescriptive list of all the joke-like things, mostly awful puns, published on these pages, in composing which I was often confronted with not really knowing if something should really count as a "joke" or even "joke-like" thing, with the result that some of the below, though not formally jokes, are included because their interestingness or amusingness is primarily linguistic (eg nine), though I have excluded many things, including mock paper titles (eg), which, by the previous criterion, I ought to have included. In fact, I ended up being mostly formal anyway, probably because one the one hand I want to be able to demonstrate that I used to be clever, dammit! so I want to include many instances of cleverness (because I'm aware that producing retrospective posts is lame), but on the other hand I don't want to strain the definition of "joke" any more than is already necessary to include something whose punchline is "in the end, the barque was worse than the bight" (I see that I never disclosed that one on the web, or at least not here).
I'm not sure anyone even noticed that this was twenty-seven. (Admittedly, it's not much of a joke.)
Twenty-eight, and bonus fake etymologies. Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one, if you're generous. Certainly thirty-two, and if you're generous in a different way (I didn't make this up, but I did give it new clothing) thirty-three.
All through grade school, high school, college, and even last year, I hardly ever passed a note in class. Now I do it constantly. Granted, the notes tend to say things like "Are you thinking of the Myth of Jones or something like that?", but still.
The treatment of the Frankfurtian agent in terms of the Zhuangzhi in Velleman's "The Way of the Wanton" is susceptible to Hegelian analogy: the agent has an aus dem Geist geborene und wiedergeborene wantonness. (This is also similar to the passage that Danto got from D. T. Suzuki and put in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace about mountains and waters, which figures; he likes Hegel too.)
Suppose that you, like Michael Bratman, are prepared to identify intentions (and plans, but then you might even be Bratman) with the functional roles they play in the psychic economy, and to derive various strictures to which they're subject on the basis of their being the sort of thing to play those roles. It seems to me that you are then obligated, when confronted with a question about whether it is possible to intend some A, to ask whether it is possible that something could successfully carry out the roles characteristic of an intention to A, and not to ask whether the intention to A meets the strictures one has already developed. The roles are primary, and the strictures are developed out of the analysis of the clear-cut cases of intending with which one started; there is therefore the risk that, because those cases are clear-cut, the formulation of those strictures may have been overly broad. I think something like this is the case with the purported pressure on intentions that they agglomerate (that is, that the intention to A and the intention to B be combinable into a jointly realizable intention to A and B), on pain of irrationality in the agent.
The case I'm thinking of is this: suppose you're applying to two law schools, Stanford's and Yale's, that coordinate admissions. No one will be admitted to both. (As far as I know they don't actually do this.) It seems, given the formulation of agglomeration above, that it's impossible to intend to be admitted to both, since it's impossible in fact to be admitted to both.
But this ignores an important aspect of the case, namely, that the impossibility of being admitted to both has absolutely nothing to do with me or my actions at all. Suppose I were only interested in Yale, and applied only there; my intention to be admitted to Yale lead me to do things like round up recommenders, write essays, keep track of whether I've sent in my information, etc. If Yale's mailing address changed, for whatever reason, I would track that and change where I mailed my application materials. Whatever roles it's characteristic of intentions to play, there seems to be no problem in their being played out successfully in the Yale-alone case. By parity of reasoning, the same applies in the Stanford-alone case. So what changes when I apply to both schools? Nothing at all, as far as I can see. I write different essays and send them off to different addresses; I provide my recommenders with multiple envelopes (actually IIRC you do this nowadays entirely through LSAC so that wouldn't be an issue, but whatever), and so on. All your fancy cross-temporal and social coordination problems that intentions are meant to solve seem to get solved just fine, and intentions are just the things that solve those problems (& do other things, perhaps, I'm not actually looking at any relevant material at the moment, but whatever other things they do, I'm not sure that the case changes much). I think that if you don't approach the case ready to rule it out on the basis of agglomerativity, there's no real reason not to allow that one can intend to be admitted to both schools, when intentions are defined by their functional roles.
So what's agglomerativity really about? I think something like this is happening: if you look at intentions individually, then you get the requirement that they be means-end coherent; you've got to fill in the intention (or plan) such that it actually gets executed, and that means settling on, sticking to, and actually executing sub-plans as means. I've got no quarrel with that aspect of Bratman's account. If you look at intentions together, then you might think that there's some different requirement, agglomerativity, forcing them to be jointly executable, just as a question of whether the ends are compossible. But I think it makes just as much sense to take agglomerativity as a statement about means-ends coherence among intentions. If I plan to be in Atlanta at 3pm next Friday, and in Boston at 3pm next Friday, I'm obviously in trouble, but it's not obvious that the reason for that is that the ends are not compossible, full stop. (Examples relying on the same person being in multiple locations at the same time probably lend credibility to the independence of a requirement of agglomerativity, I think, because they can seem to be judged not compossible on metaphysical grounds, though that probably depends on your commitments regarding personal identity. I'm going to ignore that, though.) The real problem is that there's just no means I can choose that will put me in Atlanta at the relevant time that also leaves me free to choose a means that will put me in Boston at the relevant time. In fact, modulo supposed metaphysical impossibilities, there doesn't seem to be much more to the claim that two intentions aren't agglomerable than the claim that there's no selection of means such that each intention can be carried out (for what are likely contingent reasons; I can't buy X and Y because I've only got enough cash for one (and can only use cash), say—in the case of impossible agglomerations, of course, it's quite plain that there will be no correct selection of means).
Now, for just about any plan an agent might want to execute, its being successfully carried off will depend not just on actions of the agent h/hself, but on scads of other agents' actions as well. So it's probably better to talk, not of selections of means to the end, but of selections of means to the end that I can carry out. After all, it's the role of my intentions in settling my actions and enabling coordination with others and my future self that's characteristic of them. Two intentions will be agglomerable if there's a selection of means to each, available to me, such that I can carry out those means jointly [insert some hand-waving here about how this isn't just pushing the agglomerativity requirement down into the means, because the necessity of being able to jointly execute the means is already required by means-end coherence, of which I'm arguing agglomerativity is a fallout anyway]. But then agglomerability has been separated from the joint realizability of the ends themselves. We can still say that I can't rationally intend to be in two places at once, or to give one person $5 and another $10, when I've only got $12, but can allow that when the thing that makes two intentions not jointly realizable was never something over which I had any power anyway, I can still intend to do both things.
If the above goes through, then the argument for treating "intend to A" and "intend to try to A" on pp 121–22 of Intentions, Plans, and Practical Reason seems to fall by the wayside, since it depended on the original conception of agglomerativity (there called strong consistency). All to the better, says I; there is much wisdom in Bart Simpson's saying "I can't promise I'll try. But I'll try to try.".