Archive for June, 2010

You all know what day it is today…

June 17, 2010

And here’s some Joycean fun!
http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/ulysses/riddles.html
Incidentally, I was flipping through my copy of Ulysses and one thing that came to mind and which struck me is how much of the novel’s detail comes from other Joyce works. Of course, Stephen Deadalus was the protagonist of Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man and I think some of the other secondary characters are from that novel as well, but there are also quite a few references to Dubliners. Off the top of my head, Lenehan is a character in both books(he shows up in the Cyclops episode, I think) and somewhere along the line Bloom is asked if he recalls Emily Sincio’s death(the subject of the story A Painful Case). One wonders if Joyce saw Bloom in the background of the stories of Dubliners, or even if there’s an undetected cameo by Bloom or Daedalus in that book.

Er NSC post apology and Bentham

June 10, 2010

So yeah, sorry about that. I kinda forgot and figured “well, anyone who’d be interested is probably reading the liveblog anyways”. So yeah, NSC was good. If you want, I can post a link to the liveblog.
For today, I’ll do a little writeup on a guy named Jeremy Bentham. Bentham was a utilitarian philosopher-that is-somone who based his ethical system on the utility of an action(i.e., the pleasure or pain derived from it). But how to determine the utility of a action? Bentham answered this problem with his “felicfic calculus”, which works as follows: Take the action to be performed. Consider the first the sum of pleasure, measured by the following criteria:
1 The intensity of pleasure or pain
2 Its duration
3 Its certainty or uncertainty
4 Its propinquity or remoteness
5 Its fecundity, or the chance it has of being followed by sensations of the same kind (i.e., pleasure followed by more pleasure, or pain followed by more pain)
6 Its purity, or the chance it has of not being followed by sensations of the opposite kind (e.g., childbirth has a low index of purity because it represents a mixture of pain and pleasure)
7 Its extent, that is, the number of people who are affected by it
2. Do the same for the pain.
3. See whichever comes out higher.
Bentham even provided units for our tables of pleasure and pain(hedons and dolors, respectively), and proposed that we could use the Felicific calculus to find out precisely what we ought to do. Its’ attractive enough, except there’s one problem. Try actually appying it. As it turns out, various aspects either are highly variable from person to person or even plain impossible to predict. So it’s actually a useless algorithm.
Bentham was also known for various actual reforms and proposals therof(inculding such then-farfetched notions as universal sufferage and the decriminalization of homosexuality), as well as somewhat amusingly calling the idea of natural rights “nonsense on stilts”, but his best known achievment may be his auto-icon. For reasons no-one is entirely sure of, Bentham willed that his body be preserved and it was. In 1850, the auto-icon(Bentham’s body) was aquired by University College London. It is displayed there in one of the cloisters in a spiffy wooden box with a glass front. The head, however is wax-the orignal was badly damaged so they kept it at his feet with the wax head up top until it had to be locked away due to student pranks. And here he is on display:

Bentham's Auto-Icon, a photo of which must by law be included in every blog post ever on Jeremy Bentham


Whatever your sensibilites, one must admit that University College London has good taste in “dead philospher display methods”. Rumor has it that he is wheeled out at least on occasion to UCL council meetings and either votes present or only votes when the council is tied(presumably automatically one-way, much the way in Classical Athens criminal juries had an even number of jurors and Athena was held to always vote for aquittal whenever the jury was tied.

other thing

June 5, 2010

Also, I will update on NSC news today and tomorrow for interested persons.

quickie post

June 5, 2010

Sorry I forgot to post anything Wensday. Alas, I don’t have time tonight do any detailed writeups but in the meantime enjoy Frans Lizt’s delightful Mephisto Waltz(well there are three but this one gets all the glory)