Important Considerations Regarding Lions, Men, Lion Men

  1. Austrian sage Ludwig Wittgenstein opined once that “if a lion could speak we could not understand him.”

  2. American thinker John Searle replied to (1) that that is not necessarily true “Maybe he could say “I like this roast goat better than this raw goat.”  I would understand that.

  3. Attican pundit Aristotle defined man as a living thing with logos.  Logos has been translated variously as the ability to talk and the ability to reason.  In example (2) above, a creature with a big mouth, and four huge paws and a mouth full of teeth but that could talk would not be a lion for Aristotle: it would be a human with the body of a great cat.

  4. Indian sci-fi novelist Vyasa tells the story of a demon-king slain by an incarnation of Lord Vsnu.  The demon-king achieves the boon that he will never be killed by man or beast, on land, sea or sky, at night or during the day.  Vsnu assumes the form of Narasimha, the man-lion and decapitates the demon king at twilight while he is standing on one foot.

  5. The lion is not actually the King of Beasts as beasts have no king.  There is no order of political governance among animals.

  6. American maitre penseur Donald Davidson once argued that if we do not understand what something else is saying we do not have reason for believing that it is saying anything.  He therefore considers the notion of radically alien modes of thought is nonsense, as if something can be called a mode of thought, it is not alien.

  7. Despite (2), (3), and (6) I find myself agreeing with (1) for the simple reason that I can not even understand what I am saying right now, and I would not want to deny that I am a human, much less a lion, much less a zoo in which lions and humasn run free, contending for the glorious title


16 thoughts on “Important Considerations Regarding Lions, Men, Lion Men

  1. N.S. Palmer says:

    That reminds me of an urban legend about Australian sage Wittgenstein. At a meeting of the Moral Sciences Club, Karl Popper wanted to stir the embers of the fire and he was about to use an umbrella. “That’s not a poker,” said Wittgenstein. He picked up a poker and waved it in front of Popper. “*This* is a poker.” And everyone blew the incident out of proportion. The embers never got stirred.

  2. N.S. Palmer says:

    I was just making a Crocodile Dundee joke. I thought the incident occurred in 1947, but it turns out it was 1946. As for what actually happened, your guess is as good as mine. But exaggeration makes stories more interesting, and it’s not impossible it happened with that story.

  3. “is it a legend? who was there? we should be able to speak to people who are actually there or to people who knew such people.”

    There is an extremely interesting book (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wittgensteins-Poker-David-Edmonds/dp/057122735X; this one, in fact) in which many of the people there were interviewed about the meeting. If memory serves, only the first chapter and final chapter discuss what occurred during the meet, which, whilst very interesting,

    • N.S. Palmer says:

      That looks like the same book as the one I checked to verify the date: “Wie Ludwig Wittgenstein Karl Popper mit dem Feuerhaken drohte.” Silly me: it never occurred to me (as obvious as it is) that it was available in English.

      • I don’t understand why they couldn’t figure out what happened if there were so many surviving eye witnesses. Did the dons all forget? Were they unwilling to go on the record? If Woodward and Bernstein had done such a poor job Milhouse Nixon would still be President.

      • Yes, that’s what the book’s opening concerns, if I remember correctly– they don’t understand why there are so many differing accounts. There are (thankfully!) some consistencies of course. More interesting again are the differing opinion of the two subjects. Popper, in his autobiography, gives it as an example of one of his great academic accomplishments; for L.W., the only reference I have ever seen is in a letter he wrote to someone saying, very briefly, that he mentioned having met ‘a pompous ass from London’, who, date-wise, I’m pretty sure must have been Popper.

  4. (sorry, not sure what happened there)

    … is probably not quite as interesting as the rest of the content– a side by side comparison of their lives in Austria. Wittgenstein effortlessly brilliant, Popper struggling tooth and nail to have people accept his brilliance, the resulting bitterness towards L.W., etc.

    It’s a good read.

    • that sounds interesting. Is Kraus worth a read? Everybody who struggles to get stupid people to accept his brilliance is involved in a profoundly self-defeating project, cause if you are so much more brilliant than they are, why would you a)expect or b)value their opinion of your brilliance?

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