A Field-Guide To ψ-ing

As a friend of mine aptly put it, our university requires (as probably most universities do) that you take a certain number of classes on topics you’re not the least bit interested in. This was a requirement I hadn’t previously been aware of. So to finish my master’s degree – my master’s thesis has already been finished – I had to take such a subject this semester, and I ended up taking the class Scientific Theory Reduction & Theories Of Causality, which was way off my comfort zone; whenever arrows and logical symbols are introduced to state one’s case I tend to fall off. There was also a lot of unfamiliar jargon used, and many scientific theories referred to I’d no idea what were about. When I managed to get past all that and get through to the actual arguments, it was actually halfway understandable, but unfortunately I didn’t always manage to get past this wall.

But now, I’m free! So I’m taking the liberty of showing off one of the pages from one of the least understandable texts from my curriculum, a chapter from Carl Craver’s book Explaining The Brain: Mechanisms And The Mosaic Unity Of Neuroscience.

A Field-Guide To Levels

A modern day Kama Sutra in disguise?

I’ve encountered the symbols ψ and Ф before, used in a similar fashion, with -ing added to them. What do they mean? I’m not sure, but I always get a giggle ought of translating both Ф-ing and ψ-ing into fucking. Perhaps childish, but you do end up with fun sentences such as this:

X’s fucking is at a lower mechanistic level than S’s fucking if and only if X’s fucking is a component in the mechanism for S’s fucking.

As we say in Norway, you only have as much as you make for yourself, and having fun with academic texts and theories seem as good as way as any to survive the occasional tedium and frustration of higher eduction.

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