Thursday, May 03, 2007

Post-conference post

As I mentioned previously, the UT Austin conference was delightful. All the talks were heavily attended by both grads and profs. I got some good comments on my paper from Achille Varzi and Nick Ascher. Varzi was fantastic. I'm going to have to look into his work in the philosophy of logic and language. I got to meet Sam and Aidan. One thing that surprised me was the concentration of metaphysics papers. I did not realize they liked metaphysics so much down in Austin. As Sam said, if you are interested in going to a conference next year, Austin is a great one to submit to. The conference gave me a few ideas that I'm going to try to write up in posts. A combination of tiredness, seeing friends, and working on my outstanding Wittgenstein paper has kept me from writing. [The rest of this paragraph added after the rest of the post.] The only things I would have changed about the conference were both on my end. I was getting over a bad cold, which made the socializing somewhat difficult and did no good for my presentation. The other thing would be to get my presentation down to within the time constraints. A combination of the end of the term and procrastination led me to read my paper (bad idea) which was already a little long (another bad idea). This culminated in cutting chunks and rushing through other bits. Alas. Next time I hope to be a bit better on the presentation.

Complete aside: I read Peter Galison's Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps last week. As a narrative in the history of science it was good. There were several points in the book where Galison abandoned philosophical and historical reserve to write something over the top. Ignoring those, it did a fairly convincing job of giving some historical context to the problem of simultaneity, how the technological background naturally supported the idea of operationalizing it, and how this fed into Einstein's theory of relativity and Poincare's writings on time. I had read about the problem of standardizing time in Meiji and post-Meiji Japan, but I had never read about it in a European/American setting. It turns out that colonial and shipping concerns put much more pressure on standardizing time for Europeans and Americans than in Japan where it, from what I remember, was pushed along mainly by the rail industry and its commercial interests.

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