The Philosophical Lexicon


New Entries 2008



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æil weil, n. A peculiar spiritual hunger characteristically expressed by lamentations such as, "Man’s great affliction, which begins with infancy and accompanies him till death, is that looking and eating are two different operations." (Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace)

ajdukiewics, n. A term that is untranslatable, except in a language which is an exact copy of the language in which the term appears.

A. Priori, n. A species of undeniable truth first discovered in New Zealand.

aquinas, (from a-, not, and quine) Philosophers who refuse to deny the existence or importance of something real or significant.

arendt, n. The relationship between "thoughts" and "the apex of human achievement."

armstrong tactics, n. pl. In argument, using the mind as a physical weapon.


bachelard, n. A philosopher who has not attained master level.


benjamin, n. A philosopher who is not yet a bachelard (q.v.).

bernard, n. (1) (from St Bernard) A shaggy dog story. Hence bernard, v. to tell such stories in lieu of making general arguments. "The risk one takes in bernarding is that one may be outsmarted." Also baown. the punch line of a bernard. (2) A psychotic state in which one finds it impossible to visualise a bath without a naked woman in it.

Blackburn, n. A quasi-real town in England, in which one can have one’s cake and eat it too.

bloom, v. To attribute the existence of a major social, cultural, or intellectual trend to implausible causes. "He blooms Saturday morning television shows for the rise of communism in Western Europe."

boo, n. The length of a mathematical or logical proof; hence, booloss, n., the process of shortening such a proof. "Only after significant booloss could the compactness theorem be explained in fifteen minutes."

brink, v. To elaborate a position by spelling out all logically possible variations of it; also, n., with filled to, a maximally brinked position. "His discussion of moral realism was filled to the brink".


cast a ñeda, v. (Perhaps corruption of ‘cast a net’). To invert the basic principles of theory construction by seeking to explain a small and unproblematic set of data by means of a huge and opaque set of concepts, principles, and distinctions. "After casting a ñeda over a few ordinary moral arguments he spent several years blathering about practitions, noemata, ‘Legitimacy’ as a semantic value, etc."

churchland, n., (1) Two-ring traveling circus, a cross between a chautauqua and Disneyland, at which philosophers are given entertaining religious instruction in Science and nothing to eat but "phase space sandwiches". Hence churchlandish, adj. Doubly outlandish. (2) n. A theocracy whose official religion is eliminative materialism.

coplestones, n. pl. What the philosophical path to God is paved with.


deleuzion, n. A false, persistent philosophical belief, unsubstantiated by evidence or argument. "He suffered from the deleuzion that Spinoza could be used to clarify Lacanian psychoanalysis."

derrida. A sequence of signs that fails to signify anything beyond itself. From a old French nonsense refrain: "Hey nonny derrida, nonny nonny derrida falala."

duhemous, adj. Of an experiment which does not demonstrate anything in particular, but a lot of things in general. As opposed to "crucial".


fraassen, n. The incandescent that results when realism collides with experience. In the process electrons disappear and God is reborn.


half nelson, n. A wrestling hold by means of which intensions are partly reduced to extensions. As for a full nelson, it takes a goodman to make the reduction complete.

hanfle, v. To take great pains over solving a philosophical problem, despite one’s belief that the problem is non-existent. "Ludwig was often to be found in Bertrand’s rooms in Great Court, hanfling endlessly about the meaning of life."

heidegger, n. A ponderous device for boring through thick layers of substance. "It's buried so deep we'll have to use a heidegger." Also useful for burying one's own past.

hughmellorate, v. To humiliate at a seminar.

hull, n. An entity (often an individual) that is typically mistaken for a collection of its parts.

husserl, v. To surround a simple phenomenon with darkness to create the illusion of seeing it more clearly afterwards; if it fails, one probably has to use a Heidegger (q.v.).

immanuel, n. (from im-, not, + manual, guide or rulebook) A set of instructions for doing something that kant (q.v.) be done.


jacks, n. (plural only, often with 'Jills') The folk, as in “Putting the jacks on” - appealing to the authority of the folk. “I was arguing for the Axiom of Choice when they put the jacks on, discussing folk mathematics.”


kant, n. The modal status of knowing things an sich.


korsgaard, v.  To apply a patina of subtle distinctions so that troublesome objections no longer adhere.  "I always thought Hume was in trouble over that matter but then I korsgaarded his argument and the objections came right out." 


kyborg, n An intimidating fusion of natural with artificial language “I knew the thesis would be sprinkled with carnaps (q.v.) but I had not anticipated its turning into a kyborg.”

kybosh, n. Only used on the phrase “put the kybosh on”. Commonly supposed to derive from Gaelic for the cap worn by a judge giving the death sentence; more likely a contraction of kyborg (q.v.) and wash. “ Treating both probabilities and utilities as intervals really puts the kybosh on decision theory”.


lehr, n. Den, especially containing a stockpile, stash, or hoard, usually of acceptances or preferences.  Hence, lehrer, n. one who maintains that these acceptances or preferences are justified based their relationship to other items in the lehr. Also to lehr, v. - to proceed in a fashion exhibiting great confidence or trust in the contents of one's lehr.


mcdowell, n. An invisible, immaterial pin used to hold two objects together (or more ambitiously two logical realms). “He tried tethering the balloon to the ground with a mcdowell, but could gain no purchase and off it flew, frictionless, spinning into the void”

mellor, v. To give up a position held in extreme youth; to become less radical with the passing years. "His philosophy is showing definite signs of melloring recently."


neander, v. To create by destruction. Occurs in the laws of certain special sciences. "Ceteris paribus, a neandering river erodes, and so creates, its own course."


Papineau, v. (pap-in-eau) To water down a fashionable philosophical doctrine until easily digestible. Hence Papineau n. the watered-down version. "I couldn’t swallow Millikan’s teleological semantics until Dretske papineaued it."

peirce, n. A type of small bag in which the cash value of a philosophical position may be carried. "The contest among the Hegelians was spirited, though the peirce was small."

pettitio philipi, n. Arguing from moral platitudes. "I think we should stick with the counterfactual social contract so as to avoid pettitio philipi."


ramsey sentence, n. The sack. Hence, To receive a ramsey sentence: to be made redundant.

rand, n. An angry tirade occasioned by mistaking philosophical disagreement for a personal attack and/or evidence of unspeakable moral corruption. "When I questioned his second premise, he flew into a rand." Also, to attack or stigmatise through a rand. "When I defended socialised medicine, I was randed as a communist."

Roar T, n. Loud conversational alternative to Convention T; also known as "the disputational theory of truth."


sart, adj. Smart, but with something important missing.  Generally, smart only inasmuch as not-smart, and apparently smart to those with severe vision problems.  Hence the comparative "sartre" (Brit. sp.) meaning "more sart," i.e. more intelligible to exactly the extent that a thing is less intelligible.

schell, n. An impermeable protective covering made entirely of German technical jargon, on the premise that what cannot be understood cannot be refuted; a useful hiding place for Ideas (though it may hold only one).  Hence schell, v. to hide within a schell, e.g. "In the Phenomenology you can really see Hegel schelling his theory from any possible empiricist criticisms."

stew shapiro, n. Culinary term. A dish made of microwaved chips wrapped in semantic netting, designed for consumption by intelligent non-human agents.

stove, v. (1) Taking the preposition ‘into’. To introduce some reasonable suggestion only to have it treated as dangerously reactionary. n. (2) An incineration device for huming.

swin, v. To construct convoluted theories about the rationality of belief, with the aim of ultimately seducing one’s audience into theism. Hence swinburne, n. The condition of one who has been subjected to swinning. "If you expose yourself to the swin, you may get a bad swinburne."


tarsk, v. To quote, in particular to quote meterological trivialities, e.g., "Snow is white." Hence tarskation, n. "He has filled his paper with thousands of boring tarskations."

tooley, adv. Used to imply that a modifier is both true-at-a-time and true simpliciter. ‘The thesis that infanticide was justified tooley outsmarted the opponent of abortion.’

turing, v. To travel from one point to another in simple, discrete steps, without actually knowing where one is going, or why. Hence, turing machine, n. A form of transportation that became popular with adventurous but aimless souls without motorcycles in the 1960s. Also tur, n. Such a travel; used especially metaphorically, “Searle’s lecture comprised a grand tur of every inconceivable position in the literature”, and ironically “The latest book on connectionism is a real tur de feys”.


unamuno, v.  To become pathologically transfixed on one's own death from puberty until its realization. 


van inwagen, n. A small, well-built imported car whose direction of travel is unpredictable in principle.

voltaire, n. A unit of enlightenment. Hence voltairage, as in the warning to would-be purveyors of superstition and tyranny: "Danger: high voltairage in this vicinity."


whitehead, adj. (follows the noun) The absence of carnaps (q.v.). Useful in pronouncing mathematical statements. "Therefore, x double overbar prime equals x whitehead."

wittgenstein, v. To enumerate. "Don't bother to wittgenstein all these pages; the fax machine will do it automatically."

wittgenstone (from Old High Anglo-Austrian, witty and Stein) (1) v. To deny resolutely the existence or importance of something real or significant, on the ground that the grammatical pre-conditions for such a denial do not obtain. “Some think qualia should be quined or fostered – but I think they should be wittgenstoned.” (2) n. Clever but utterly unrelated metaphor used as an argumentative move to silence the opponent. “He argued that on my view I don’t know that I’m in pain; but since he’s not a good kripkographer, I managed to outsmart him with a wittgenstone.”