Old folk at lunch

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Secret men's business and philosophy

Tonight was one of the occasional "educational" nights I put on for Paul and Joe. The topic was analytical philosophy but while Anne and Sue were away picking up the curry, I also went through some secret men's business with Paul and Joe. I took them through my old house and gave them the names for all the fittings in it. I identified for them:

A nightlatch plus its tongue and keeper
A batten holder and a surface switch
A padbolt and a barrel bolt
A breadloaf handrail, stringer, treads and a Newell post
A bargeboard, guttering and a hosecock
A bibcock, Fiddian hosecock and a pillar cock
A mortice lock, an Edwardian rimlock and a Victorian rimlock
An architrave, a picture rail, a casement sash
A cabin hook, a telescopic casement stay and a Whitspur
French windows

And if you don't know what all those things are, neither did they. They both made a great effort to remember it all though. It was a revelation to them how many everday things they did not know the names for.

Then we went on to philosophy. I trotted them very quickly through the major questions: What is mind, cause, knowledge etc.

I spent a bit of time on moral philosophy as that is an issue of some general interest. I pointed out that the idea of an objective or discoverable right and wrong has big problems but went on to trace the idea to the fact that we are all born with certain moral instincts and that those instincts have evolved to enable us to function as part of a group. It is those moral instincts that are the location for some ideas of non-arbitrary rights and wrongs. More on that here.

We had a very lively discussion and both Paul and Joe were thoroughly involved with the questions concerned.

Sue provided an excellent Schwarzwalderkirschentorte for dessert and everyone ended up full of curry, cake and complicated thoughts.

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