Fotos de Abril

Photos from a walk around Lambertville and Geocaching on Baldpate Mountain. Read the rest of this page »

Some thoughts on Reference and Natural Kinds

I wrote the following after my metaphysics class in which we are reading and discussing Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity:

Everything collapses under scrutiny. When we theorize about something we are attempting to locate a boundary that separates one thing from what it is not. The harder you push though, the more fuzzy the boundaries become. You see things you didn’t notice before, get more detail, or see things where you thought there were none. At the end of this perhaps the only claim you can make is “it is what it is.” This claim can mean different things at different levels of scrutiny. On one level, to pick out one thing, gold for instance, it may be enough to say “it’s shiny.” This will allow you to pick some gold out of a pile of dirt so long as that’s all you’re concerned with for the moment. Obviously this level of specificity is below that of most of our vernacular speech, because we can think of other shiny things, or gold that isn’t shiny, etc. Fools gold is an obvious counterexample. So we add more detail to allow us to deal with gold on a deeper level. A certain degree of malleability. Now we can tell the difference between gold and pyrite. At some point we get atomic number 79. That’s where science is now, but maybe we will discover that there is another thing with that atomic number, some division between different types of gold, or something. Which one does “gold” refer to? One? Both? It doesn’t matter, because in the end “gold” is just a word. It is functionally attached to a concept that has evolved over the course of history and will continue to evolve, but the designator itself is not connected to the actuality of the thing. We can always know, gold is gold, but, be we have to remember that “gold” is not that thing. Our usage of the word has to change according to what we know about the thing, and at a certain level of scrutiny, we will always be able to find a case in which the designation doesn’t quite hold. The best we can do is attempt to describe new situations accurately, and our language will adapt to accommodate the new information. That’s what has happened, and it will continue to happen. Metaphysics as a form of inquiry is really just the process of elucidating the epistemology behind our conscious interpretation of what is. What is has always been what it is, but our knowledge of it has morphed and changed, as has our knowledge about that knowledge. We can’t get too attached to words and concepts, but at the same time, we can’t really move about in the world without them. Theories about the relationships between words, concepts, and things, are themselves subject to the same concerns. Their value lies in their functionality, not their truth, and they are necessarily distinct from the world they describe. That they break down if pushed to their limits is to be expected.

Sea|Mester Part 2: Nevis

Charlston, Nevis was our first stop after leaving the BVIs, and an extremely welcome port after a brutal 30 hour passage through gnarly squalls and 8-9 foot swells from Peter Island. Read the rest of this page »

The Happiest Dream Ever

Last night I had a very interesting and frustrating dream. I can’t remember any of the specifics of what happened; No setting, no characters, no events. All I can remember is the overall feeling of the dream, and one thought that came into my head at some point during it: “This is the happiest dream I’ve ever had. I need to remember this.” I felt sublimely happy and very content, but I knew that I was experiencing something very important. It seemed like I had come to some great realization or something, and I wanted to remember what it was.

Of course, when I woke up I barely remembered the dream at all. But gradually, as I was getting ready I recalled thinking that thought, and remembered the feeling that went with it. Now that though has been bubbling up every now and then all day, and it’s very frustrating not to be able to put together any more of the dream, but at the same time it is comforting to recall the experience, however incompletely.

My First Tarot Reading

Today I had a Tarot reading done at work by my friend and co-worker, Angie. She just got a deck as a gift and we had a snowy day with nothing to do, so she read my cards. I’d never had one done before but it was a pretty cool experience, and the reading I got seemed pretty relevant to my life right now. I had to shuffle the deck with a clear head and break it into four piles. The photo shows the cards that came up on top of each pile: Justice, The Sun, the 4 of wands, and the 9 of swords. The first card I think was supposed to represent the main subject/problem of the reading, the second and third food for thought about the problem, and the fourth the solution. The first card, Justice apparently represents objective and rational thinking, and as a problem can be interpreted as bureaucratic struggle or intellectual conflict. Based on this card, Angie advised me to seek the council of elders and to do healthy things, both physically and spiritually. The Sun card linked personal growth to self expression, enthusiasm, and self-assurance, and the the 4 of wands advised against getting stuck in old patterns of behavior. The 9 of swords suggested that the answer involves depression and self doubt, meaning perhaps that I should be aware of these obstacles and not lose focus.

I found these cards very interesting. I immediately connected the first to my ongoing struggle to finish college and the difficulties I have with concentration and time management. I have a great desire to express myself (both academically at school, and otherwise – through music, photography, and other projects) but often find myself very unproductive, and have difficulty getting things done at all without approaching deadlines, and even then don’t always finish them on time. At school, this often results in me feeling quite overwhelmed and sometimes depressed.

The cards interestingly seem to reiterate the things that I know I need to change in my life. I need to avoid my habit of procrastinating, and be more assertive and self-assured. I’ve been meaning to take on new projects – like yoga, bass lessons, building a coffee table, etc. – and I need to just suck it up and go for it. The bit I found especially intriguing was the fact that the depression card was “the answer.” This, combined with the advice to seek the advice of elders also plays into a thought I have had about a possible action I could take. My grandmother is a Jungian analyst, and I have thought of asking her to refer me to another analyst for counseling. I have heard that counseling (and Jungian analysis in particular) can be a very fulfilling and illuminating experience, and I think it might be of great help to me, both pragmatically and spiritually. So, I think I am going to try and get rolling on some of the things I’ve been meaning to do, try to stay optimistic and productive, and I’ll shoot my grandma an email about an analyst.

Sea|Mester Part 7: Return to the BVIs

After an awesome time in Saba, our trip was finally coming to a close, and it was time to return home to the BVIs. We arrived at about 8:00 am after a starry overnight passage from Saba.

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Sea|Mester Part 6: Saba

Saba was the Fifth stop on our Leeward Islands tour. It was easily the most bad-ass place we visited. Surrounded by a sheer rock face hundreds of feet high, covered in dense jungle, and with roads so steep you could barely stand up straight, it is an imposing place to say the least. It’s also the home of the Saba Triathlon, one of the most intense races I’ve ever heard of. Even so, Saba still has plenty of good Caribbean chill, and everybody there is super nice. It also has a very diverse local ecology, with lots of fruit trees and a wide variety of plants, birds and animals. All around, it was one of my favorite stops.

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Sea|Mester Part 5: Surf Day & Ile Fourche

After a long night of partying in Gustavia, the next day was “Surf Day!” I’d never surfed before and was very excited to try it out. I couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more beautiful beach, and I had a lot of fun paddling around and trying to catch waves, although I only managed to ride a few. Read the rest of this page »

Music Monday

I stole this idea from a friend’s blog… Anyway this is what I’ve been listening to recently. Read the rest of this page »

Sea|Mester Part 4: St. Barthélemy

The fourth stop we made on our voyage was the French island of St. Barthélemy, or St. Barth’s. The island is an “overseas collectivity,” making it basically a part of France. As such it really felt like a little piece of Europe in the middle of the Carribean. It was easily the most expensive island we visited, due in part to a not-so-favorable dollar-euro exchange rate, but it was well worth it, as we all had a great time feasting on crêpes, going to bars, trying to speak french to drunk locals, surfing, and shopping for souvenirs.

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