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Philosophical lexicon

The new edition of the Philosophical Lexicon is out. Compiled by Daniel Dennett and Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen, the PL compiles witty definitions of philosophers’ names. It focuses on recent philosophers, and it’s full of in jokes, almost all of which I don’t get.

Here are some samples:

rand, n. An angry tirade occasioned by mistaking philosophical disagreement for a personal attack and/or evidence of unspeakable moral corruption. “When I questioned his second premise, he flew into a rand.” Also, to attack or stigmatise through a rand. “When I defended socialised medicine, I was randed as a communist.”

turing, v. To travel from one point to another in simple, discrete steps, without actually knowing where one is going, or why. Hence, turing machine, n. A form of transportation that became popular with adventurous but aimless souls without motorcycles in the 1960s. Also tur, n. Such a travel; used especially metaphorically, “Searle’s lecture comprised a grand tur of every inconceivable position in the literature, and ironically “The latest book on connectionism is a real tur de feys”.

Isn’t this the sort of thing we’d do as a wiki these days? (BTW, I am listed as one of the many contributors, but it had to be 25 years ago and I don’t remember which is mine. Buber, maybe?)

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