What’s in a Name?

Founded by Daniel Dennett, the Philosophical Lexicon converts philosophers’ surnames into useful words (with often pointed definitions):

  • bergson, n. A mountain of sound, a “buzzing, blooming confusion.”
  • braithwaite, n. The interval of time between two books. “His second book followed his first after a long braithwaite.”
  • chomsky, adj. Said of a theory that draws extravagant metaphysical implications from scientifically established facts.
  • derrida, n. A sequence of signs that fails to signify anything beyond itself. From a old French nonsense refrain: “Hey nonny derrida, nonny nonny derrida falala.”
  • foucault, n. A howler, an insane mistake. “I’m afraid I’ve committed an egregious foucault.”
  • heidegger, n. A ponderous device for boring through thick layers of substance. “It’s buried so deep we’ll have to use a heidegger.”
  • hughmellorate, v. To humiliate at a seminar.
  • kripke, adj. Not understood, but considered brilliant. “I hate to admit it, but I found his remarks quite kripke.”
  • rand, n. An angry tirade occasioned by mistaking philosophical disagreement for a personal attack and/or evidence of unspeakable moral corruption.
  • turing, v. To travel from one point to another in simple, discrete steps, without actually knowing where one is going, or why.
  • voltaire, n. A unit of enlightenment.

And, inevitably, dennett: “To while away the hours defining surnames.”