Who knew?? Iterating Dorchester takes you to philosophy!

TIL what TIL means.

No, wait! I learned that last year. Let’s start again:

TIL that an extremely simple iterative process always takes you philosophy. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to any article in Wikipedia.
  2. Click on the first link you see that’s not in italics or inside parentheses or part of the inserted front matter.
  3. Repeat step #2 until you get to Philosophy.

I was highly skeptical. If the process terminates, it means that everything leads to philosophy!

Let’s try it out. My first attempt was the article on Dorchester, which seems rather non-philosophical. Here’s what I found:

Dorchester, Boston → Neighborhoods in Boston → Boston → Capital city → Municipality → Administrative division → sovereign state → polity → collective identity → social movement → social issue → personal life → personhood → person → reason → consciousness → sentience → emotion → mental state → mind → phenomenon → philosophy

Whew! A lot of steps, but we got there. Let’s try something completely different. Suppose we start with Organic Compound, to pick an article at random:

Organic Compound → chemistry → science → scientific method → empirical evidence → proposition → logic → reason → consciousness → sentience → emotion → mental state → mind → phenomenon → philosophy

You get the idea. See if you can find an article that doesn’t terminate at Philosophy (one, for instance, that enters an infinite loop). You probably won’t find one. But then the big question is… Why?

Of course that’s the big question! This is philosophy, after all. But still… what’s the explanation for always getting to philosophy?

Thanks to Kelly Lagor and Randall Monroe for this amazing use of iteration! Should have done this on Groundhog Day, right? So let’s lather, rinse, repeat:

Categories: Teaching & Learning, Technology