23 February 2008

I like memes (the internet kind, not the Dennett kind)

Alexei at Now-Times has tagged me with the following meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence on that page
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag five people

By less than a hands-breadth, Quine's "Theories and Things" won. Runners-up were Priest's "Introduction to Non-Classical Logic" and "Death Note 13: How To Read". (Page 123 of "How To Read" contains Major Spoilers, so it's just as well I wasn't closer to it. Death Note is absolutely fantastic, incidentally. If you do not mind reading comics from right to left, pick up Death Note. If you don't like it then I don't know what you want from a comic book.)

So: Theories and Things, which I had out because I realized I'd never read "On The Very Idea of a Third Dogma"; this has since been remedied. Page 123, fifth sentence, from the close of the article "Intensions Revisited":

For my problem is not one of reconciling mind and matter, but only a quest for general criteria suitable for unprefabricated cases.
And that's the last sentence on the page, and of the article. I suppose I'm supposed to wrap to the next page in this event. Page 124, new article, "Worlds Away":
Identifying an object from world to possible world is analogous, it has been suggested, to identifying an object from moment to moment in our world. I agree, and I want now to develop this analogy.
Consider my broad conception of a physical object: the material content of any portion of space-time, however scattered and discontinuous.

Quine then goes on to argue that our way of establishing that some physical object, some collection of time-slices, is a single body can't work for transworld bodies -- in the actual world a body's identity is determined by "continuity of displacement, distortion, and chemical change" but gradual distortions across worlds can change any body into anything else, so all bodies collapse into each other. (There, now you are not left hanging in suspense. I won't be summarizing "Intensions Revisited" though, because it's longer than five pages and that seems like effort.)

And might as well tag people: Duck, N.N., the Self and World guy, Currence, and the guy at Bosphorous Reflections makes five. Obviously, ignore this if you don't feel like playing along, or if you're sick of this meme, or if you never read this paragraph.


Duck said...

OMG, I just got Theories and Things in the mail today! Looks good (I like short articles; we get to the point much more quickly).

I did this meme the last time around, but maybe I'll give it another go.

BTW I thought you might tag Clark, but he's already got sort of a global tag on him, doesn't he (I see you put him back in the Hall of Shame).

N. N. said...

Here goes. The nearest book is Susan Haack's Philosophy of Logics (a book I've just started reading). The fifth sentence on the page is the opening sentence of the section "Indexicals" in the chapter on "Theories of truth":

"Tarski's theory needs to be relativised to speakers and times, Davidson suggests, because natural languages contain indexicals. The revised (T) schema will call for the theory to entail sentences like:

'I am tired' (s, t) is true iff s is tired at t

Truth, Davidson says, is a predicate rather of utterances than sentences. (This suggestion is relevant to the claim, canvassed by Strawson and, before him, by Schiller, that formal methods are inherently inadequate to deal with the context-dependence of statements in natural languages.)"