Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cambridge 1944

From the UEA East Anglian Film Archive.  You can watch the whole thing here.

Some stills:

Here are some bright young chaps leaving (I think) one of Corpus' staircases in the morning:

And here is a chap off for a bath:

And here is Will Spens, Master of Corpus:

There are also some interesting scenes of the undergraduate ARP services practising out in Trinity's Great Court.  And of the Provost of King's, John Tressider Sheppard, lecturing on Homer, the poetry 'of friendship and freedom'.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The pundit's 'for me': a philosophical analysis

It is not clear what the precise force and implications are of the sports pundit’s qualifier ‘for me’ (hereafter: ‘FOR ME’).  It is extremely common in most forms of pundit-discourse but there is no agreed single account of its force.  This is a brief introduction to some of the principal philosophical options.

Consider the following examples:

1.             ‘Rio, for me, is a world class defender.’
2.             ‘For me, that’s a yellow card at worst.’
3.             ‘That was never a foul, for me.’

Note that in natural language the ‘for me’ qualifier can be placed within, before, or after the clause it governs.  We can nevertheless clarify the three examples as follows:

4.             (FOR ME) Rio is a world class defender.
5.             (FOR ME) That’s a yellow card at worst.
6.             (FOR ME) That was never a foul.

A popular line of analysis notes that in many—perhaps the majority of—cases FOR ME is used in evaluative claims.  This analysis then offers a deflationary reading such that FOR ME is either simply redundant or else simply marks what comes next as being an evaluative claim.  FOR ME in that case makes no independent contribution to the meaning of the clause.

Further, some interpreters take FOR ME to be a marker of the expressivist nature of such claims.  This is more plausible in some cases than others.  For example, it is at least prima facie plausible that there is no fact of the matter whether Rio Ferdinand is a world class defender.  In that case it is sensible to understand §6 above as having the force: ‘Hooray for Rio Ferdinand’s defensive skill and ability!’  FOR ME, in this case, is an explicit marker of the fact that the clause it governs is not truth-apt. [1]

Other interpreters find this unsatisfactory since it would render the many hours of TV punditry in reality no more than a group of men in bad suits shouting ‘Boo!’ and ‘Hooray!’ to one another.  (This is known as the ‘TalkSPORT’ objection.)  Attempts to modify the view, such that punditry expressions may nevertheless stand to one another in familiar logical relations, ‘Quasi-Punditry’, remain controversial. [2]

Alternatively, if FOR ME claims do have a truth value then there are further differences of opinion over how best to account for them.  For example, one view begins with the observation that FOR ME claims are almost always offered in contexts of dissent.  So, ‘§6 (FOR ME) That was never a foul’ is most likely to be uttered on the occasion of an official having decided that an offence has occurred.  Assuming something like FIFA-positivism, the official’s blowing his whistle and indicating a foul is just what it is for a foul to have been committed.  So §6 is false.  The view that all such FOR ME locutions are in fact false is sometimes called the ‘Error Theory’ of punditry or, alternatively, ‘Shearerism’.

A more extravagant line, associated with some rather extreme general accounts of punditry, begins from the premise of Pundit Infallibility [3].  Given Pundit Infallibility, if the pundit utters §1 then it must be true (despite appearances) that Rio Ferdinand is indeed a world-class defender.  But what if another pundit, sitting at the same time on the same sofa, should then utter §7 ‘No, for me, he has lost a yard of pace and won’t any more cut it at the highest level’?  We might initially think that §1 and §7 cannot both be true; but this is just what Pundit Infallibility requires.  In this situation, the FOR ME qualifier relativises the claim to the respective pundit.  So FOR LINEKER Rio is a world-class defender and FOR LAWRENSON Rio is not a world-class defender.  Some critics worry about the plausibility of this analysis since (1) it again threatens to make it impossible for there to be genuine agreement or disagreement between pundits; (2) in cases such as §3 above it seems odd to think in any sense that, granted a foul was in fact awarded, it can be true that there was no foul, FOR WHOMEVER.  In response to (1) some critics simply accept this consequence.  In response to (2) some less parsimonious critics posit that there is in fact some private world for each pundit such that they can remain infallible.  In this case FOR LAWRENSON… has roughly the force of IN LAWRENSON’S WORLD… 

[1]  This view is most commonly ascribed to a line of thought inspired by the Scottish Enlightenment pundit, Alan Hansen.

[2]  Quasi-punditry is often associated with pundits connected with Blackburn Rovers, a club where, it is sometimes said, it is possible to ‘have one’s half-time pie and eat it’.

[3] Historically, this view can probably be traced back to the ancient pundit Jimmy Hill and his claim that ‘The pundit is the measure of all things: of fouls that are that they are fouls, of offsides that are not that they are not offsides’.  The interpretation of this claim is, of course, also rather controversial.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You could buy a lot of other things for £150

I'm very much looking forward to the publication of Dorandi's new edition of Diogenes Laertius in the CUP 'Orange' series.  It should be out some time in the next couple of months.  (I use DL quite a lot and right now I am working on something on part of DL book 9.)  But look at the price.  Look at it.  Yes: £150!  It's a hardback, for sure, and it will be sturdy and pleasant to use.  But £150!  One.  Hundred. And. Fifty. Pounds.  Crikey.

If you're quick, are doing a cracking deal on it.  You can save a whopping 5%, which comes out at £7.50.  Which you can then donate to help your local postman with the chiropractor bills brought on by lugging the thing to your door.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Football tactics genius

Richard Money (aka 'Dicky Dosh'), manager of the mighty Cambridge United, gives a concise summary of the essentials of successful football.  This is where 'Pep' got all his ideas.  Here's hoping for a techno/dub-step/whatever-it-is-the-yoot-listen-to-now remix very soon.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

One fewer lost work by Epicurus

I’ve been looking through Cicero’s De Divinatione today.  Here’s a nice bit of Ciceronian sarcasm that might tell us something about the contents of his library and also its state of repair.  He is countering Quintus’ defence of prophecy and divination and poo-pooing various purported portents.
Ante vero Marsicum bellum quod clipeos Lanuvii, ut a te dictum est, mures rosissent, maxumum id portentum haruspices esse dixerunt; quasi vero quicquam intersit, mures diem noctem aliquid rodentes scuta an cribra corroserint! Nam si ista sequimur, quod Platonis Politian nuper apud me mures corroserunt, de re publica debui pertimescere, aut, si Epicuri de voluptate liber rosus esset, putarem annonam in macello cariorem fore.

Cicero De Divinatione 2.59

 Here is W. A. Falconer’s translation:
‘But’, you say, ‘the fact that just before the Marsian War mice gnawed the shields at Lanuvium was pronounced by the soothsayers to be a very direful portent.’  As if it mattered a whit whether mice, which are gnawing something day and night, gnawed shields or sieves!  Hence, by the same token, the fact that, at my house, mice recently gnawed my Plato’s Republic should fill me with alarm for the Roman republic; of if they had gnawed at my Epicurus On Pleasure I should have expected a rise in the market price of food.
It’s no surprise that Cicero had a copy of Plato’s Republic (although it is perhaps a surprise that it was not kept out of harm’s way).  But it is perhaps not so obvious that he would have had a copy of Epicurus’ On Pleasure.  There’s no mention of a Peri Hēdonēs in the list of Epicurus’ works at Diog. Laert. 10.27ff., although Diogenes makes clear that his catalogue is not exhaustive.  And this mention in De Div. is the only reference given for Usener’s inclusion in his section of Perditorum librorum reliquiae of a work On Pleasure (p. 101).  I wonder if Cicero is not here referring to a work by the title Peri Hēdonēs but rather to the work On the Telos which doubtless included a lot of material ‘about pleasure’.  Peri Telous is mentioned in Diogenes’ catalogue.  And there are various references and quotations from this work under the title Peri Telous (Us. pp. 119–23), some of them from Cicero himself.  Cicero refers to Epicurus’ ‘liber de summo bono’ (Tusc. 3.41-4, Fin. 2.21) and more than once gives a Latin version of the notorious passage cited by Athenaeus (546e) where Epicurus says he cannot conceive of the good without the pleasures of sex and the senses (see Us. 67).  He also gives a Latin translation of another passage of this same work at Tusc. 3.42 (Us. 69), noting that it comes a little later than the one translated at Tusc. 3.41.  So there is every reason to think that Cicero had a copy of Epicurus Peri Telous.  There is no strong evidence that there was a separate work by Epicurus Peri Hēdonēs and therefore we might suppose that in Div. 2.59 Cicero is referring also to the Peri Telous.  In that case ‘Epicurus On Pleasure’ in Falconer’s translation should instead be: ‘Epicurus’ work on pleasure’. That would make one fewer lost work by Epicurus.