A ____________ of Philosophers (Friday Fun)


A pride of lions, a murmuration of starlings, a dazzle of zebras, an eloquence of lawyers, a pack of lies — the English language has some unusual names for collectives. Sometimes the collective names apply only when the members of the groups are engaged in certain actions, for example, a group of ducks swimming is a raft of ducks, while a group of ducks flying is a string of ducks. And sometimes different names apply depending on the size of the group. For instance, a group of wildfowl (that’s right, wildfowl; I use that word all the time) may be known as a plump, but if that group has fewer than thirty members you should call it a knob.

Clearly there are a number of questions here, starting with whether there was something better I could have used as the fifth word in this sentence. Also, what should we call a collection of philosophers? Should there be different names for different specializations? For different styles of philosophy? For different stages of career or different demographic qualities? For philosophers engaged in different kinds of actions?

The Philosophical Lexicon offers up “cohen” as a its name for a collection of philosophers, but it has never really gained currency. This is your chance to make your mark on history. Give us our names. (If we have a number of good options, maybe I’ll run a poll so we can select the best ones.)

Relatedly, I offer:

quicksand. n. pl. a collection of blog comments. Example: “Alice made the mistake of stepping into that quicksand of comments and now no matter what she says things just keep getting worse.”

I look forward to seeing a quicksand of comments answering the questions in this post.

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David Lewis
David Lewis
10 years ago

A ‘critical mass’.

Amazing_Norris
Amazing_Norris
10 years ago

A dissent of philosophers.

David Morrow
10 years ago

A confusion of philosophers.

Credit goes to either Josh May or Matt King. We had this discussion here at UAB the other week, but as there was a confusion of philosophers involved, I don’t remember exactly who suggested the term.

ayt.
ayt.
10 years ago

skeleton. branching. plot. scape. constellation.

…i like metaphors suggesting charting of the logical space of arguments.

Dani
Dani
10 years ago

Digression.

Martin Pickup
Martin Pickup
10 years ago

An argument of philosophers?

Jonathan Weisberg
10 years ago

A morass, quibble, or distinction of philosophers.

Eric Jonas
Eric Jonas
10 years ago

Perhaps we could expand this to specific subfields, e.g. a set of logicians, a dilemma of ethicists, a composition of metaphysicians, a doubtfulness of epistemologists, and so on.

unfilosofo
10 years ago

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the results of a contest about this a few years ago on the now-defunct “Flickers of Freedom” blog. (The winner was a fog of philosophers.) See here for details, links to other entries, and so on:

http://gfp.typepad.com/the_garden_of_forking_pat/2008/03/contest-winner.html

Roberta Millstein
10 years ago

A cat-herd of philosophers. (as can be observed when trying to take them out to dinner).

Chris Stephens
Chris Stephens
10 years ago

A fog of philosophers – It has alliteration and captures the state we’re in most of the time.
I seem to recall hearing this suggestion first from David Chalmers.

Jimbob
Jimbob
10 years ago

A crock.

David Boonin
David Boonin
10 years ago

In honor of Harry Frankfurt, a bullshitload of philosophers.

HK Andersen
HK Andersen
10 years ago

With a hat tip to Sider, a Roomful of metaphysicians. Also can be used as a verb, e.g. “there sure are a lot of metaphysicians rooming around here.”

David Boonin
David Boonin
10 years ago

A vat-full of brains.

Ted Shear
Ted Shear
10 years ago

Given that the collective noun for cobblers is “drunkenship”, I propose that given the (perhaps problematic) assumption that all philosophers are drunks, the collective noun for philosophers should be “cobblership”.

Not only is the symmetry nice, but I also like the idea that we are often in the business of fixing the things that others stand on.

Alan White
10 years ago

I’m the “fog” guy. At least I’m in good company with Chalmers!

Gracias unfilosofo!

Kev Stevo
Kev Stevo
10 years ago

A ‘vagarity of philosophers’

Jonathan Weisberg
10 years ago

A contingent—coz let’s face it, when is a group of philosophers ever necessary?

Joshua A. Miller
10 years ago

I prefer my collective nouns alliterative, so it should be either a “filibuster” or a “finicking” of philosophers.

Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras
10 years ago

A muddle of philosophers. Conjures images of a huddle and describes what philosophers do to issues and people.

g
g
10 years ago

A thought-experiment.

You can use it on its own, “of philosophers” becomes redundant.

Luke Ford (@lukejf01)
10 years ago

A phalanx of philosophers, to keep alliteration alive. I also think a cabal of philosophers would work as well, on a more practical note.

Kyle Ferguson
Kyle Ferguson
10 years ago

1. Following Ford: A festoon of philosophers.

2. Or, we congregate in the wombats’ way: A wisdom of philosophers.

3. Or, we bundle as buffalo bunch: An obstinacy of philosophers.

Michelle
10 years ago

There are a whole lot of suggestions at All Sorts (http://all-sorts.org) – the top-rated being ‘a refutation of philosophers’.

All Sorts is an experiment in harvesting charismatic collective nouns from Twitter. Lots of fun to browse!

qualia
qualia
10 years ago

a regress of philosophers

KateNorlock
KateNorlock
10 years ago

Husband got it: A Smoker Of Philosophers.

His others:
A priori of philosophers.
A proof of philosophers.

But I really like a Smoker best.

Alan Richardson
8 years ago

The word has to be derived from German. A Beziehung of philosophers? A Sachverhalt of philosophers? A Verstaendlichkeitsverbindung of philosophers!

Matt LoPresti
2 years ago

A nexus of Process Philosophers.