Tuesday, January 26, 2010

“Tried to Feser. Didn’t faze her!”

Our old pal Brian Leiter relays the following Philosophical Lexicon-style definition, suggested to him by a reader:

Feser (v) – to be in possession of the unique interpretation of a classic argument that makes it not only work (pace everyone else's views) but makes it decisive.

Example: "Listen, dude, you can keep talking about how the ontological argument ‘doesn't work’ – but I've Fesered it."

Not really fair, and certainly not meant to be flattering. But, let’s face it, pretty funny.


  1. I was about to give Leiter some credit there -- a sense of humor is a plus, after all -- but it appears that "a reader" came up with the amusing (though, as you said, patently unfair: the people you criticize for not understanding certain arguments demonstrably do not understand them) definition, not Leiter himself.

  2. Thanks Eric, I've clarified my original post. Still, let's give the old boy some credit for showing a little style for once, even if it was borrowed.

  3. ahh it seems that the species leiterus badargumentatus has come out of hibernation and has began to stalk the pray he cannot catch :)

  4. It's not so bad; one would expect that, if there are decisive arguments, they would be decisive under a unique interpretation. It's setting the bar rather too high to demand that arguments be decisive under many different interpretations....

  5. Feser beckwithed his original post.

  6. This headline summarizes briefly the corruption of academic philosophy:

    "Multi-Million Dollar Grant for Work on Free Will"


  7. Here's a chance for me to say thank you Dr Feser for your book The Last Superstition. Martin Clothran's review puts the book into perspective so well I think.

    For my part: I went through three years of university philosophy and got barely a whiff of what is clearly a philosophy of nature that is reasonable all the way down. What I received reading your book was my rich inheritance - kept from me for so long. I'm deeply grateful. As a high school teacher of science especially, I have my wits about me now. Oh and it should be said I'm a Dominican postulant as of very recently, you played a part in that.

    Anonymous from Australia.

  8. That definition is not only funny, it is pitch perfect for a _philosophical lexicon_ entry. Those entries are supposed to be slightly unfair yet "truthy" enough to warrant a good chuckle.

    The Beckwith entry, however, is a complete dud. I mean, posting an unflattering picture of someone makes you "morally depraved"? Isn't that rich, especially knowing that the "victim" of such "depravity" likes to go around smearing powerless undergrads, grad students and other faculty in childishly vindictive fashion.

  9. Anon from Australia,

    Very kind -- indeed, humbling. Thank you!

    Anon @ 7:51,

    Right on all counts.

  10. Let's be honest here, Brian Leiter is a loser. His targeting of Feser and Beckwith has nothing to do with philosophy or intellectual honesty. I can't even appreciate his humor because he sucks so much. I know it doesn't follow that being a loser necessitates being non-funny, but whatever! That's my two cents anyway.

  11. Very good, Codgitator -- I may use that (giving you credit, of course)!