What's In a Name: Buridan (Fr)

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Buridan | Scoop Dyga

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There is a lot of learning and incredible subtlety in the name of 2-16-2021 Chantilly winner Buridan (Fr) (g, 6, Choisir {Aus}–Lady McKell {Ire}, by Raven's Pass). The sire's name is French for “to choose” and not for nothing, the great Australian sprinter was out of Great Selection (Aus) (Lunchtime {GB}), who was out of Pensive Mood (Aus) (Biscay {Aus}). The namesake of our horse is none other than a 14th century French philosopher, who explored the problems of choice and indecision with the help of a not-so-noble but endearing animal.

“'Buridan's Ass' is an illustration of a paradox (unexpected statement, for the man in the street) in philosophy in the conception of free will,” as Wikipedia puts it. “It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein a donkey 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 dies of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision between the hay and water. A common variant of the paradox substitutes two identical piles of hay for the hay and water; the ass, unable to choose between the two, dies of hunger.”

The best minds in the history of philosophy–Spinoza, Leibniz, Voltaire, and many others–have crossed swords on the story of Buridan's Ass and it is simply wonderful to see that name now associated with a noble and remarkable animal.

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