Mind-Body Problems

by John Holbo on April 16, 2004

I linked to this at John & Belle, but let me share it here – and advertise it a bit more strenuously: philosophy action figures!

I like Plato (with divided line® accessory). “Enemies progress from imagining to believing to knowing they’re in trouble!” And Gottlob “Ain’t afraid a-ya” Frege “with both Morning Star® and Evening Star® accessories (only one accessory included).” Spinoza’s good too. “The order and connection of his fists is the same as the order and connection of his enemies’ pain!” Ouch! That’ll take the everlasting joy out of life!

Reminds me of my own good old Philosophical Abecedarium. Please feel free to leave your poetical contributions in the comments box. (I’ve got two K’s – Kant and Kierkegaard – so I could use more.)

And speaking of all sorts of mind-body problems, here’s your philosophical puzzle for the day: can ‘carnal knowledge’ be adequately defined as ‘justified, true carnal belief’? Answer either as Dan Savage or Edmund Gettier.



des 04.16.04 at 2:36 pm

Dude, you’ve slashdotted them!


Chris Bertram 04.16.04 at 2:46 pm

Lego figures, action figures and trading cards are all at the “theory.org.uk”:http://www.theory.org.uk/ site (though I can’t seem to find the Michel Foucault S&M dungeon “for older boys and girls” this time.)


Chris Brooke 04.16.04 at 3:08 pm

It’s mentioned on this page.

But the only picture you get is of the Lego Tony Giddens in his study…


kevin quinn 04.16.04 at 4:14 pm

R is for Russell

Not a monarchist could he be called,
In some things he’d be Left of Pol
Pot. Still he worried
and worried and worried:
Was the present King of France really bald?


PF 04.16.04 at 5:00 pm


Brian Weatherson 04.16.04 at 5:21 pm

I can’t really do Dan Savage, but it shouldn’t be too hard to adopt the following story to his style, if one has the knack for that kind of thing.

Believe it or not, this is how Ben and Jennifer first met.

Jennifer saw some guy she didn’t recognise in the corner. It was really Ben Affleck wearing a very good Matt Damon wearing a bad Ben Affleck disguise disguise.

She asked me who it was and I said, “Ben Affleck”. Coincidentally, the only reason I said that is that I have a mental tick that makes me say “Ben Affleck” at precisely half-way through my fourth martini every night, and I was, at just that point, precisely half way through my fourth martini of the night.

So she thought to herself, “Ben Affleck, he seems like a likely sort,” and went over and started with the Jennifer charms.

Ben had been broadcasting a Red Sox game that evening, so naturally he was trashed. So trashed that he thought Jennifer was Lou Merloni, so he readily agreed to whatever she said.

Since a Gettier-style example (Jennifer) does not defeat the claim that justified true carnal belief entails carnal knowledge, this claim is true. However, since Ben’s beliefs were not justified, not true, and by most standards not even beliefs, it does suggest the entailment from carnal knowledge to justified true carnal belief is defeated.

Some philosophers object to using fantastic examples in our papers, but as I said this is a true story. Really.


neil 04.16.04 at 5:26 pm

For shame.. you should’ve known better than to link to a Geocities site from such a popular blog. Well, it’ll be fun to read the rest of it in a few days when the traffic dies down.


Anatoly 04.16.04 at 5:44 pm

Some Geocities sites don’t have whimpy bandwidth quotas (the ones whose owners decided to pay Geocities). AFAIK you can’t tell in advance.


jacob 04.16.04 at 6:49 pm

See also the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, makers of the Nietzche Will to Power Guild, dolls, finger puppets, and the like. http://www.philosophersguild.com/


David 04.16.04 at 7:04 pm

Recipe for answering John’s question:

First, go to this page:


Second, for every “knowledge” at that page, substitute “carnal knowledge” and for every “belief” at that page, substitute “carnal belief”.

Third, read the amended paper.

The answer should come in a flash of blinding light. ;)


Dr. Weevil 04.16.04 at 7:47 pm

“The answer should come in a flash of blinding light.” Sounds like Zeus’ answer to Semele’s question.


John Isbell 04.16.04 at 8:55 pm

What would carnal faith be? My feelings about my wife?


Jeffrey Kramer 04.17.04 at 1:34 pm

I don’t recall the author, but another philosophical abecedarium entry alluded thusly to Descartes’ use of the Ontological Proof of God’s Existence:

D for Descartes, who said “God couldn’t be
So complete if He weren’t. So He is. QED.”


Adam Kotsko 04.17.04 at 3:48 pm

John, I like your abecedarium, and I also like Kid A in Alphabet Land: An Abecedarian Roller Coaster Ride Through The Phallocentric Obscurantism Of Jacques Lacan. Did Radiohead name their album after this set of cards? The world may never know.

Also, as any theologian will tell you, carnal “knowledge” is a concept from the Hebrew Bible, which is incompatible with the epistemological categories the philosophical tradition has inhereted from the Greeks.

Comments on this entry are closed.