Bertie answers your questions

If I write the word 'catastrophe',
the first three letters do not constitute
an instance of the word 'cat',
even if I am a cat

Since we got our NBN connection, I have been spending more and more time surfing the internet.

I have seen these youtube videos of Grumpy Cat, and don't think they are very funny.

People need to realise that some cats are very serious, and are having deep thoughts.

Now the philosophical dialogue has come back into fashion, this has inspired me to set up a website of my own.

G: So, Bertie, what are your thoughts about memory?

B: I wrote this some time ago, but still think it holds a great deal of truth:

When we see a cat, we know it is a cat because of previous cats we have seen, but we do not, as a rule, recollect at the moment any particular occasion when we have seen a cat. Well I don't, anyway. Recognition in this sense does not necessarily involve more than a habit of association: the kind of object we are seeing at the moment is associated with the word "cat", or with an auditory image of purring, or whatever other characteristic we may happen to recognize in the cat of the moment. I do purr from time to time, but not for strangers, and I don't associate it with other cats.

D: Are you disappointed about how logicism in the foundations of mathematics turned out?

B: Of course, but I keep abreast of the most recent findings in the area, especially in cat-egory theory (did you see that excellent joke! I am sometimes playful, this is an excellent example of my humour): Check this out!

D: Are you a panpsychist or a neutral monist?

B: I am a cat.

D: But as a cat, you must have opinions that will be different from someone like Descartes, Kant or Brandom regarding the nature of mind?

B: I always make the joke that I have heard humans are rational animals, but I have been searching all my life for evidence of this fact. Actually I am not that interested in minds other than my own, as long as the chicken keeps appearing in my bowl. I'll just go and check. Yes! I guess this just shows that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.

M: Do comments about your weight upset you?

B: A lot of this is humans projecting their concerns onto others. I am quite content with the status quo. I know I have heaped a bit of shit on Plato over the years, but his thought that the soul is spherical in nature, which leads to a clash with the shape of the physical body, really impresses me. If I can bring body and soul into complete accord, I think this will lead to great things. Look at the shape of the Buddha! I'm pretty close already.

G: So you are aspiring to the beach-ball bod, rather than the beach bod?

B: There will thus remain a certain sphere which will be outside physics.

I: Do you get embarrassed about being so lazy?

B: I think there is far too much work done in the world, and that immense harm is caused by the human belief that work is virtuous. I know you would not know how to fill your days if you only worked four hours of twenty-four, but we who sleep eighteen hours a day do not have this problem. You're not going to vacuum, are you?

Thinking further, if the word "cat" means anything, it means something which is not this or that cat, but some kind of universal cattiness. And that means lazy, and being impossible to embarrass.

M: Are you naturally a pragmatist? Surely all cats are pure pragmatists?

B: Huh! You're trying to mix up ordinary language with a crazy idea about reality! I made a good joke about William James and truth - that he introduces his tenets of pragmatism gradually and cunningly, like hot water running into a bath so slowly that you don't know when to scream. The joke is - I hate baths, and scream straightaway! And I also said that we know what "sweetness" is, just like we what "truth" is. I can't even taste sweet things, you know! Give me meat every time - solid, empirical, sink your teeth into it! And forget about vegan alternatives like Pragmatism.

M: How come you sound so wise, Bertie?

B: I just dish up the most ancient as the very latest thing.