Article courtesy of National Review, written by Jonah Goldberg.
Dear Reader (including residents of the Vulcan Republic of Rationalia), I’ve been thinking about Buridan’s ass.
While that might be a phrase you’d expect to hear passing Bill Clinton’s lips — if he had an intern whose last name was Buridan — I have something else in mind.
In philosophy, Buridan’s ass is a paradox about determinism, named after 14th-century philosopher Jean Buridan (but was probably first proposed by Aristotle). Via Professor Wikipedia:
It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein an ass that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it will die of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other.