When I started “Learning All The Things”, the original name of this blog, I thought it would be a place where I took notes in public about things I was reading.
That happened sometimes, but in the end, I decided that almost anything I was going to summarize would have a better summary somewhere else. Take the cognitive science of happiness: I read a few books on this and was excited to make my notes public, but then found that other people had read even more books and taken better notes.
The Internet has enough redundant content, so I decided to write more things that, as far as I knew, no one else had ever written. This meant that “Learning All The Things” was no longer the right name.
So why “Alpha Gamma”?
Well, it’s my initials in Greek letters.
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What’s that? You want another reason?
Fine. I made a list of a few dozen names and didn’t like any of them. Then, in the introduction to Derek Parfit’s On What Matters, I found this:
Oxford University once had a useful marking grade: Alpha Gamma. As everyone should agree, Kant’s books are pure Alpha Gamma, containing nothing that is Beta, or mediocre. Our disagreement should be only about how much of what Kant wrote is Alpha, and how much is Gamma. And if we have found what is Alpha, we can ignore what is Gamma.
In other words, Kant’s work was always original. And while some of this originality was nonsense, some was genius.
I’m no Immanuel Kant, and there’s been plenty of Beta in this blog. But I’ll try to avoid it in the future, mostly by writing about new ideas and new spins on old ideas. I expect to strike Gamma more often than not, but I’ll always be seeking the Alpha.
(Sadly, that name is already taken.)