Source: Featured Philosopher: Manuel Vargas

Math with Bad Drawings

Or, the Many Uses of Uselessness

One of the joys of being married to a pure mathematician—other than finding coffee-stained notebooks full of integrals lying around the flat—is hearing her try to explain her job to other people.

“Are there…uh… a lot of computers involved?”

“Do you write equations? I mean, you know, long ones?”

“Do you work with really big numbers?”

No, sometimes, and no. She rarely uses a computer, traffics more with inequalities than equations, and—like most researchers in her subfield—considers any number larger than 5 to be monstrously big.

Still, she doesn’t begrudge the questions. Pure math research is a weird job, and hard to explain. (The irreplaceable Jordy Greenblatt wrote a great piece poking fun at the many misconceptions.)

So, here’s this teacher’s feeble attempt to explain the profession, on behalf of all the pure mathematicians out there.

Q: So, what is pure math?

A: Picture…

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In his blog post Computational Theology (4 September 2014), Samuel Arbesman notes that Oppenheimer and Zalta have used computational methods to discover a very simple argument in philosophy, whereas computational methods are more frequently used to discover complex arguments.

Feminist Philosophers

Inclusive Philosophy Pedagogy: What Is It and How Do We Achieve It?

The American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT) and the American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on Inclusiveness in the Profession seek proposals for twenty-five minute presentations to be included in two complementary joint panels to be held at the 2015 APA Central Division meeting, which will occur Feb. 18-21 at the Hilton St. Louis At The Ballpark in St. Louis, Missouri.

The sessions, “Inclusive Philosophy Pedagogy: What Is It and How Do We Achieve It?,” are intended both to theorize (and perhaps problematize) the very notion of inclusive Philosophy pedagogy and to provide audience members with tools and resources to help them make their own Philosophy pedagogy more inclusive. Thus, both theoretical and practical approaches to the theme are warmly welcomed.

Please send a 300 word abstract of your proposed presentation in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf to Shannon…

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See on Scoop.itComputational Philosophy News

Michelle Sowey: Studying philosophy cultivates doubt without helplessness, and confidence without hubris. I’ve watched children evolve to be more rational and open-minded because of it

See on

See on Scoop.itComputational Philosophy News

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Paul Oppenheimer‘s insight:

Life is not that interesting without breakdowns.

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Czesław Miłosz

A valley and above it forests in autumn colors.
A voyager arrives, a map led him here.
Or perhaps memory. Once, long ago, in the sun,
When the first snow fell, riding this way
He felt joy, strong, without reason,
Joy of the eyes. Everything was the rhythm
Of shifting trees, of a bird in flight,
Of a train on the viaduct, a feast of motion.
He returns years later, has no demands.
He wants only one, most precious thing:
To see, purely and simply, without name,
Without expectations, fears, or hopes,
At the edge where there is no I or not-I.

South Hadley, 1985

I’ve updated my Publications and Current Research page.

Open Sans, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways..

This is a poem I wrote when I was, maybe, eleven or twelve, when I first heard of the second law of thermodynamics:

 s        a                        r
    a                               n
     w            l      e
       c    t
            y               l
                 r         o ;
                  b                  l
             e      g
                       u  a
                 u           ,
                 t              f
                                 i     h
 s           f               u    l
         e                          y
                      t               n

I was reminded of it by reading this from Norbert Wiener:

We are swimming upstream against a great torrent of disorganization, which tends to reduce everything to the heat death of equilibrium and sameness. … This heat death in physics has a counterpart in the ethics of Kierkegaard, who pointed out that we live in a chaotic moral universe. In this, our main obligation is to establish arbitrary enclaves of order and system. … Like the Red Queen, we cannot stay where we are without running as fast as we can (Norbert Wiener, I Am a Mathematician: The Later Life of a Prodigy (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1964), 324; quoted by James Gleick in The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (New York: Pantheon Books, 2011), 237).

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