Monday, January 24, 2005

Plato at Stanford

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

I'm jazzed. I'm preparing my analytic philosophy course, cruising around the web looking for stuff and one thing leads to another. This is what it was like for me as an undergraduate when I spent days surfing the library but in excelsis because I can hit links to anything, get everything I want. It's like some fantasy pig heaven of instant gratification--think "macademia nuts," Haydn's Emperor Quartet," "red Mazda Miata convertable" or whatever you please and it instantly materializes for your pleasure.

I was preparing my lecture on the JTB account of knowledge and wanted something on blindsight. Does a reliably blindsighted individual know what he takes himself to be guessing at? This and other good stuff comes through David Chalmers' splendid website. For fun, especially good for pedagogical purposes, the link to disorders of consciousness (scroll down) including blindsight, face blindness, synesthesia and the like is a blast.

But as everyone knows the Empyrian Ninth Heaven of the Beatific Vision in philosophical cyberspace is the Stanford Encyclopedia at Philosophy at, everything with links to everything, omnipotent, omniscient and if not omnibenevolent as good as it gets in one place. In principle, any literate person with a computer and internet connection could get a complete philosophical education browsing and following links. So far it's free and I've contributed to keep it that way.

It's hard to express the wonder that hits me occasionally at living in this intellectual pig heaven, not just SEP but all the stuff out there that anyone can grab without sounding like a complete ass. Get a life--sex, parties, travel, whatever. But this is like preaching that drugs are an "escape" and that anyone who had a satisfactory real life wouldn't need to escape. Complete baloney--recreational drugs are just more. Intellectual activity is more too--not a replacement for sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, but more good stuff. And when I have a little time I'm going to explore this also. Music is more too--I'm listening to Pictures on Exhibition (orchestral version) now. There doesn't seem to be any point to not listening to music all the time.

Back to work--yum!


Brian Larry said...

Great post and links--particularly the MIT site. As an educational resource and up-to-the-minute source of news on the topic of your choice the internet has an almost addictive quality.

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