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Philosophy, Rotten Meta-Theory, Bullshit


Skholiast (Speculum Criticum Traditionis) has an interesting post about bullshit and philosophy, prompted in part by Rogers Albritton’s remarks about rotten meta-theory (discussed here):

The bullshitter, as the one who is, not a liar, but indifferent to whether their utterances are true or false, is in some way the inverse of the poet (who “Nothing affirmeth and therefore never lieth”), because this indifference is not a sublimation in the service of something higher (and to which one must metaphorically extend the category truth), but a willful repression for the sake of something lower (reputation, career, getting the sex object into bed).

One of the greatest struggles I have, philosophically speaking, is wedding the seriousness of philosophy with the humility incumbent upon finitude. This constantly risks a kind of bullshit, as Albritton sees; one devotes a love to work one cannot ultimately believe in. (It is here that I’d locate the close kinship between philosophy and scientific method, which must also remain corrigible.

Or as Faulker so aptly put it, “”The measure of a writer isn’t success,  but how hard he tried to do what he knew he couldn’t do.”

Re-Branding Humanities?


An interesting article from the NY Times:

One idea that elite universities like Yale, sprawling public systems like Wisconsin and smaller private colleges like Lewis and Clark have shared for generations is that a traditional liberal arts education is, by definition, not intended to prepare students for a specific vocation. Rather, the critical thinking, civic and historical knowledge and ethical reasoning that the humanities develop have a different purpose: They are prerequisites for personal growth and participation in a free democracy, regardless of career choice. But in this new era of lengthening unemployment lines and shrinking university endowments, questions about the importance of the humanities in a complex and technologically demanding world have taken on new urgency. Previous economic downturns have often led to decreased enrollment in the disciplines loosely grouped under the term “humanities” — which generally include languages, literature, the arts, history, cultural studies, philosophy and religion. Many in the field worry that in this current crisis those areas will be hit hardest.

Already scholars point to troubling signs. A December survey of 200 higher education institutions by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Moody’s Investors Services found that 5 percent have imposed a total hiring freeze, and an additional 43 percent have imposed a partial freeze. In the last three months at least two dozen colleges have canceled or postponed faculty searches in religion and philosophy, according to a job postings page on Wikihost.org. The Modern Language Association’s end-of-the-year job listings in English, literature and foreign languages dropped 21 percent for 2008-09 from the previous year, the biggest decline in 34 years. Continue reading

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Correlationism.


While I was going about my insignificant little life here, Alexei – a designated correlationist of the blogosphere (congratulations, by the way) – was bravely taking another bullet for Kant over here.  I have to be honest, I like all things argumentative and philosophical, I enjoy being exposed to new ideas and I generally think that I am open-minded enough to at the very least allow for a different reading of books I have been reading for some time. I am your own friendly sophist sometimes, but mainly I enjoy a good argument – no, not like when you and your husband really get into it, but a good philosophical argument when two sides at least pretend to have a set of rules. Now in case of all these attacks on correlationism, whatever it is, I find it difficult to engage the parties involved (despite my earlier tries and sad consequences) because we are not speaking the same language. I think Alexei is a more patient, less bitter version of myself (not sure if it’s a complement, apologies in advance), and he is able to continue the conversation that is taking more and more bizarre forms at this point: Continue reading

One way of Celebrating Darwin’s Birthday


Given this poll, it’s not surprising to hear about this:

BATON ROUGE — A national organization of scientists has informed Gov. Bobby Jindal it will not hold its annual convention in Louisiana as long as the recently adopted Science Education Act remains on the books.

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology told Jindal in a recent letter that its executive committee chose Salt Lake City for its 2011 convention over New Orleans “in large part” because of the legislation. Satterlie’s letter is posted on the group’s Web site under the headline: “No Thanks, New Orleans.” Continue reading

The Secret lives of Philosophy Profs…


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An amusing article from The Philosophers Magazine, not having to do with those sexy shiny new toilets (unfortunately), but amusing nonetheless. Really, it’s a window into my ego driven, out of control RegisPhilbin-like-id, completely narcissistic soul:

Having read the repudiations of wealth in Plato, the Epicureans, and Augustine; having read about moderation and restraint in Cicero, Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein; and having accepted the low pay rates of the academy, philosophers ought to be, I concluded, the sort of people whose contempt for money and status would be matched only by the purity and passion of their engagement with reasoning, theorising, contemplation, and speculation. Alas.

Instead, I’ve found that the secret lives of philosophers are more often than not pre-occupied with status and acquisition. What one might call “positioning” conversations that, back in the day, had been largely confined to the dolorous waiting area for job candidates at American Philosophical Association meetings, now seem commonplace at conferences, receptions, lectures, and wherever philosophers gather. Like debutantes at the ball, philosophers now often spend much of their time dropping names, gossiping, promoting their connections, hawking their publications, passing out business cards and polishing their self-promotional web sites. Having rarely heard the phrase “Research Institution” during the first decade or so of my life in the profession, and then among only administrators, I now encounter it at nearly every professional meeting I attend. It seems to trip off the tongues of younger faculty, in particular, as easily as remarks about the football standings. Continue reading