I’ve arrived in Amsterdam. Getting here was touch-and-go. My decent wait between my Melbourne → Singapore flight and my Singapore → Amsterdam leg whittled down to around 45 minutes. That involved a trek through the terminal, a tense wait at Transfer Desk C (where people in the queue in front of me were arguing with the staff about visas, and people behind me were concerned that they wouldn’t get on the flight – and were expressing this concern, rather vocally). I got there in the end, but it was a rush.
Highlight of the trip? Reading 100 pages of Anil Gupta’s Empricism and Experience. This is very good. It’s (1) logically sharp, (2) applied to philosophical issues of deep concern and most interestingly (3) original and creative, and enlightening. He cuts at deep issues with classical empiricism, at a level of abstraction that – I’m convinced – gets to the heart of the matter in a new and illuminating way. Characterising classical empiricism as the result of a number of theses concerning what is given in experience (that it’s propositional, veridical, and multiply factorisable), and that this combination – rather than the argument from Illusion and the debate surrounding this – that dooms classical empiricism to never explain the epistemic success we have. It’s rigourous, illuminating and spot on. (Oh, and the comments on Quine – to the effect that accepts exactly the wrong parts of classical empiricism, to betray naturalism for a kind of idealism – alone are worth the price of admission.)
I’ve decided now that when I grow up I want to be able to think and write like Anil.
Lowlight of the trip? Having my order for an Asian Vegetarian meal ignored by KLM at one meal. When I mentioned to the steward that this salad didn’t look very vegetarian (with the chicken and all), – and that I had ordered a vegetarian meal when I booked my flight – she apologised, and got me a replacement salad. It looked like a very odd potato salad. I couldn’t place where I’d seen potato sliced so thinly in a potato salad, but there was so much mayonnaise that I couldn’t really tell. What I couldn’t really tell, of course, was that it was a salad whose principle ingredient (well, competing with the mayonnaise) was ham. That’s a salad that vegetarians, Muslims and Jews can all get behind! Oh well.
The rest of the flight was fine. I use flights to sleep, read, and while having meals, catch up on my trashy movie viewing. This time, Iron Man and The Bank Job. Both were enjoyable in a throwaway sort of way.
And today I’ve waited at Schiphol for longer than I’d hoped to, waiting for my bag to catch up, strolled around the city, and pored over Dutch Masters at the Rijksmuseum. I’ve got some more exploration to do this evening, and then tomorrow too.