Maslow’s Hammer (n)

A phrase coined by Abraham Maslow in his 1966 book The Psychology of Science where he described the phenomenon:

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

or, more popularly

“if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

This useful phrase (read as: tool) has many applications.  But for the purposes of graduate school, it relates to the remarkable ability of blinkered graduate students to inflict themselves on any given conversation, in order to demonstrate how the topic at hand indeed relates to his/her own dissertation.  Even if it doesn’t.  And it usually doesn’t.

Related: the propensity of early-stage graduate students to inflict a particular lens (i.e., whatever new theory, or old one they happen to be most familiar with) on any, and every situation, effectively smashing any productive conversation.

Thankfully, this is usually just a phase.

Related: Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism:

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

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haecceity (n)

Latin: “thisness”

From Wikipedia:

“Haecceity” (/hɛkˈsiːɪti, hiːk-/; from the Latin haecceitas, which translates as “thisness”) is a term from medieval scholastic philosophy, first coined by followers of Duns Scotus to denote a concept that he seems to have originated: the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing that make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person’s or object’s thisness, the individualising difference between the concept “a man” and the concept “Socrates” (i.e., a specific person).

Not to be confused with “quiddity,” which is a thing’s whatness.

amphiboly (n)

amphibolic (adj)

amphibolically (adv)

1635-45; < Latin amphibolus < Greek amphíbolos thrown on both sides, ambiguous, equivalent to amphi- amphi- + -bol- (verb of bállein to throw) + -os -ous

– Linguistically, an amphiboly is an ambiguity which results from ambiguous grammar, as opposed to one that results from the ambiguity of words or phrases—that is, Equivocation. The fallacy of Amphiboly occurs when a bad argument trades upon grammatical ambiguity to create an illusion of cogency.

From Through the Looking Glass:

“You couldn’t have it if you didn’t want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.”

“It must come to jam today,” Alice objected. “No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: today isn’t any other day, you know.”

hypostatize (v)

verb (used with object), hypostatized, hypostatizing.

1. to treat or regard (a concept, idea, etc.) as a distinct substance or reality.

A very useful word for New Materialism / Object Oriented Ontology / Speculative Realism.