Monthly Archives: April 2014


“I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden. He says again and again, “I know that that is a tree”, pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him, “This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.”

Wittgenstein, On Certainty, (467)

Malabou on Plato’s Return to the Cave

Catherine MalabouJust saw Catherine Malabou on Berkeley campus give a lecture in which she surprisingly argued that while most translators and scholars of Plato say that the philosopher should not go back down into the cave, as they will be killed by the common people like Socrates, Plato hints through using myth at the very end of the Republic that the philosopher should go back into the cave and dwell among the people, but avoid being recognized as sovereign by remaining fluid, sovereign and common in an unrecognizable state.  I have never heard of such a reading.  Everyone always assumes that Plato was an outspoken authoritarian.

Ziff’s Glass is Half Full & Half Empty

In Paul Ziff’s Semantic Analysis, he argues that the meaning of an utterance is not simply the physical situation to which it refers.  Meaning includes connotation.

“The glass is half full” refers to the exact same situation as “The glass is half empty”, because a glass that is half full is by necessity a glass that is half empty, but they do not mean the same thing, as the connotation is different for each.  The first is optimistic, indicating that one still has more, while the second is pessimistic, indicating that now one has less.

One would say, “Fill the glass half full”, but not, “Fill the glass half empty”.