Word Processors

I’ve just read an interesting item over at Bill Vallicella’s website, The Maverick Philosopher. It was a guest post (actually a “promoted” comment) by philosopher Peter Lupu, who has joined us over here on occasion as well.

The post by Peter was about Objectivism; it was a fairly technical examination of the Objectivist position that everything that is, necessarily is. Peter’s post is excellent, and if you are interested in these things you should read it. But what I want to comment on here is not the content of the post, but something I noticed while reading it.

In section 3.3 of Peter’s post, he examines the distinction between what Objectivists call “metaphysical facts” and “man-made or volitional facts”. Having given examples of the former — “There are three trees in my backyard”; “The earth is round and orbits the sun”, etc. — Peter then prepares to present some examples of the other sort, the “man-made or volitional” kind.

But at this point I had reached the bottom of the page, and would have to scroll down to read them. All that was fully visible at the bottom of the browser window was the paragraph in which Peter proposed to offer some examples:

Now, these metaphysical facts that are necessary in the sense that they could not have been otherwise are contrasted with another class of facts, namely, those facts that are “man-made” or the product of “volition”. And what sort of facts are these? Well, I suppose that examples of man-made or volitional facts can be easily given (or so it would seem):

Below this was a line of cut-off text, with only the top few pixels showing. It looked like this:

What startled me was that before I even moved to scroll the page I had already read the text. I imagine you can too. (If you can’t, which I doubt, go to the post and see for yourself.)

That our brains can perform such feats of contextual interpretation of sensory data is simply astounding. What fantastic works of engineering we are.

One Comment

  1. There is a term for how the brain does that, but I can’t remember it so I can’t even google it. The brain is indeed miraculous, and even more so as one approaches senility! For example, I’ve discovered that my brain stores words alphabetically AND by syllable count. (I heated up a tortilla for my kid, and called it a torpedo, by mistake…)

    Posted February 9, 2009 at 2:24 am | Permalink

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