09 November 2007

An Energetic Group

At Yale University, next week:

"Aristotle on Simultaneously Perceiving More Things than One"
Hendrik Lorenz (Princeton University)
Monday, November 12, 5:45 p.m.
Connecticut Hall, Rm. 104

Food and drinks will be served.

This talk was advertised as part of the "Yale Working Group in Ancient Philosophy", which (perhaps because I was in a slightly peevish mood) got me to thinking ...

... does this mean that "things are working over there" (that is, the group, as opposed to its being dysfunctional); or that the group is admirably hard at work (and they want to let us know); or that they are doing "intellectual work" (instead of enjoying leisure?) and really getting around to something constructive; or that they're working, at least, and maybe some other groups aren't; or that there are lots of working groups over there at Yale, and this is the one in ancient philosophy (in case you were confused); or that the group is sometimes at rest, but when it's sponsoring talks, then it's working?

Dunno -- couldn't figure it out. Not that it isn't an excellent enterprise; but this time the label puzzled me.

2 comments:

Matt Walker said...

I wish I had a wittier answer, but alas, it's an institutional designation:

http://www.yale.edu/whc/working.html

Now get back to work!

Cheers,
Matt Walker
(Yale Working Group in Ancient Philosophy)

Adam Beresford said...

But it isn't just an institutional designation, is it? It must have been designated with some fairly definite sense in mind.

I gave a talk for the 'working group' a few weeks ago, so I have some idea of what the group does, and I think that the phrase has to be understood not through any of the senses of 'work' itself, but through phrasal verbs that launch from it. The group is working out answers to particular questions, working through difficult texts, presenting papers that people are working on, and in general dealing with work in progress, rather than finished, polished, published work.

This raises a question. Can you think of any other examples of phrasal verbs that lose their prepositions when they are embedded in noun phrases? Is it a general rule? I can think of a few: a looking-glass ( a glass you can only look at, or into); a talking-point (a point you can only talk about).