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.”
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
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
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
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
I’ve been too busy to weigh in seriously on the recent debates over speculative realism, weird realism, who’s reading Kant fairly, and object-oriented philosophy this week, but I think that I’m going to make a “Kant police” badge for Mikhail. Regardless, I did want to call attention a post written by the always delightful Carl Dyke over at Dead Voles: “Shhhhhh….it’s just me, the Prof Whisperer!” Carl’s title is “Tell me I’m beautiful,” but I like mine better.
By the way, am I the only one who hates those toilets that have sensors and automatically flush at the most inappropriate moments? Annoying.
Via Eurozine. An interesting article, “The society of the query and the Googlization of our lives,” suggests we suffer from information overload and paints a rather dismal picture:
Ordinary people have hijacked strategic resources and are clogging up once carefully policed media channels. Before the Internet, the mandarin classes rested on the idea that they could separate “idle talk” from “knowledge”. With the rise of Internet search engines it is no longer possible to distinguish between patrician insights and plebeian gossip. The distinction between high and low, and their co-mingling on occasions of carnival, belong to a bygone era and should no longer concern us. Nowadays an altogether new phenomenon is causing alarm: search engines rank according to popularity, not truth. Continue reading
Why is it every time I peruse the NY Times op-ed pages Stanely Fish is defending himself? This time he’s been associated with the Sokal hoax, accused of not separating teaching and political advocacy, and is forced to clear up his objection to the Chair of Conservative Thought at CU-Boulder. One of the things I found amusing was the idea that teachers give students lousy grades when the students write papers that oppose our political views. Isn’t this the same as a student claiming that I don’t like him and that’s the only reason he earned a “D”? True story. In my logic and critical thinking course I do a little unit on evolution/ID and always receive a bunch of wildly reactionary papers about evolution, but I look for the structure of the argument when I’m grading it, of course. I would assume most who teach are able to compartmentalize just fine. Anyway, here’s Fish:
Teachers come to their task burdened by religious and political commitments, moral philosophies and world views, and they can’t simply unburden themselves when they walk into the classroom. “It is a fallacy to think that the ‘academic’ world is or can be isolated from the political world.” But isolation from the political world is not required. All that is required is the quite ordinary ability to distinguish between contexts and the decorums appropriate to them. When you enter an institutional setting — an office, a corporate boardroom, a cruise ship, a square dance, an athletic event — the concerns to which you are responsive belong to the setting, and you comport yourself accordingly. Rather then asking, “What do my political and religious views tell me to do?”, you ask, “What do the protocols of this particular endeavor or occasion tell me to do?” The setting of the classroom is no different, even though the materials you encounter are often fraught with moral and political questions to which you would give very definite answers were you confronted by them in your life outside the academy. As long as you are in the classroom, and as long as you recognize the classroom as a place with its own constituitive demands, those questions will be seen as items in an intellectual landscape and not as challenges to which you directly and personally respond. Of course, somewhere behind what you are doing will be the larger commitments and world views that make you what you are, but for the duration of your professional performance, those commitments will be on the back burner, exerting some influence to be sure (I am not insisting on purity), but not enough to blur the distinction, basic to the very rationale for higher education, between what you would do were you in the ballot box and what you are pledged to do by virtue of the contract you have signed and the salary you are paid. Continue reading