News from December 2001


Zack reclining, by the pool (Fremantle, November 2001)

Tomorrow, we pile into the car, and start the drive up to Brisbane to spend Christmas with family. We're looking forward to a relaxing and refreshing Christmas break, and I hope you have something similar to that too. See you sometime in 2002.


Thanks to Robert King, I'm listening to the first radio series of Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I first read the first book in 1981, and listened to the radio series soon after. It's been a long time since I've read or listened to them, and as you'd expect, it sounds pretty different, given the years of elapsed.

I now notice how repetitive the dramatic devices become. It would be nice if some of the dramatic tension did not involve Our Heroes facing certain (if only apparent) death, only to be rescued by a wildly improbable occurence. But then, the plot is not the most important or interesting thing about the series. It's merely a skeleton on which to hang the humour: both the jokes and the tone.

Douglas Adams' tone is fundamentally sympathetic. He really does appear to have genuine affection for his characters and their silly beliefs, customs or habits. There are no genuine evils in this universe: just different crazy people facing absurdity.

Adams' humour is rooted in his observation. The best jokes (the philosophers' union; the planet-builders who put themselves to sleep for millions of years to last out a galactic recession, etc, etc) all give you a new way of viewing our world, and not just Adams' imaginary world.


I'm enjoying Clive Robertson on Radio National's Breakfast program. He knows how to interview people, he has a brain, he has opinions, and he's self-deprecatingly funny. It's a pity he's only on for six weeks.


Very interesting reading for me. Wilfrid Hodges on What you might want from your (academic) publisher. I must read it carefully before I sign the contract on my desk.


In doing my first-year lecture preparation -- writing lectures on David Hume on God and the Self -- I've found the Hume Archives pretty useful. The David Hume entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a nice introduction to Hume too.


It transpires that in 2002 I will be the president of the Australasian Association for Logic. This does not mean that I wield an inordinate amount of spiritual or temporal power, but it does mean that I will give the presidential address at the 2002 conference in December.


Not only have some friends (both online and friends "in the flesh") appreciated last month's extravaganza, but so have people I've admired but never met. Delia Graff linked to the page and emailed me with nice words about it today. This is good, because I like her research too.


Updates here are going to be very sporadic, even though I've finished teaching for the year. I've got lots to do in the next few months, and not lots of time to do it. Here's a short list so that you can picture what I'm doing instead of providing you things to read.

  • Write drafts of my chapters of Logical Pluralism which I'm co-writing with JC.
  • Change nappies.
  • Write six lectures on Hume on God and the Self for a first-year philosophy class.
  • Steam and blend fruit and vegetable concoctions.
  • Write four book reviews.
  • Shop for groceries.
  • Finish reading two of the books I need to review.
  • Shop for Christmas presents.
  • Write up exercises for my upper level logic class.
  • Write our Christmas letter for 2001.
  • Write a class outline and reading list for my honours class on history of philosophy.
  • Drive to Brisbane for Christmas with the family.
  • Write a grant proposal.
  • Take Zachary for regular walks in the stroller.
  • Sort out my unfinished papers.
  • Spend time at the beach or the pool, helping Zachary learn to swim.
  • Figure out how to get my web-based material for first year logic to work with the system they use at the University of Melbourne.
  • Read some interesting books.
  • Finish the final final edits on my logic textbook.
  • Spend time with Christine.

There's more than this, but you get the idea. I sometimes cringe when students ask me if I've had a nice long holiday, when we return to classes. It's a lecture free period, not necessarily a holiday.

Everything on that list has a higher priority than regular updates here. You'll understand, I hope, why updates on this site might be sparse in the near future.


It's 9:36pm and I've just completed grading my large first year logic unit. It's draining, deciding grades and hence exerting a significant influence on the future directions of lives. Deciding exactly where in the list of students I'd cut between a pass and a conceded pass, and between a conceded pass and a fail, is never a simple or painless decision.

Especially this year, where no matter where I could sensibly cut it, at least 17% of my students would fail in one way or another.


Thanks for keeping up with November's Great Moments in Logic. It was fun to write, and I hope it was fun for you to read too. (Maybe I'll brush them up and make a little book, I'm not sure.) Anyway, here's a present for all of the Macintosh users out there. A Stuffit Archive of a Folder of Icons of each of the logicians. Yes, you too can grace your desktop with images of Boole, Peano, Russell, Cantor, Husserl and the gang!


I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.


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