Mark C. Taylor: Provocations?

While  much of Taylor’s vision for the university in the NY Times last year rubbed me, and many others, the wrong way with its defense of free market ideology (see here and here), I do agree with this:

Peer review and specialization are the worst things for creativity. They completely militate against working outside very narrow parameters,” he says. “Somebody could do something very, very well, but what that something is might not be worth doing.”

It’s from a rather odd article about Taylor and his recently published memoir, Field Notes From Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living .

State Of The Blog: 200th Post (Emelianov Version)

I know, I know, it seems that it was only yesterday that a group of us decided it was time to enter the new world of blogging, but it’s been several months now and I think it’s going well – we’ve gained some readers, made fun of some things, settled into our areas of preference and even lost a valuable member (virtual r.i.p. to the founding member Lou Deeptrek – a pseudonym chosen by a close friend who did not have time or energy to continue posting and decided to commit virtual suicide – sad, sad, sad) – but Shahar and I are going strong, I think (Paco’s posting with some regularity as well)… I don’t have much to say about the ‘state of the blog’ but just that I find it to be an excellent outlet for my interests that have little or nothing to do with teaching philosophy or reading the types of articles and books that takes up most of my free time, so it is certainly cathartic and useful.

Some future goals: Continue reading

Meet Your Meat: How Much Is 143 Million Pounds of Cow?

From New York Times (by Andrew Martin):

The Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the largest recall of beef ever by far, calling for the return of 143 million pounds of ground beef from a California slaughterhouse that supplies school lunch programs.

The acknowledgment came after the Humane Society of the United States distributed an undercover video on Jan. 30 that showed workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts and electric shocks to force them to walk.

The video raised questions about the safety of the meat because cows that cannot walk, called downer cows, pose an added risk of mad cow disease. The federal government has banned downer cows from the food supply. Continue reading

Peter Gay, Modernism: The Lure of Heresy (2007)

Published: December 30, 2007
Thomas Mann was an archmodernist, and this was his favorite story: One day, Gustave Flaubert was out walking with his sister. Ferociously antibourgeois, Flaubert lived alone, unconsoled and unencumbered by marriage or family. His novels mocked and maligned the French middle class, ironizing it into oblivion. He was a great frequenter of brothels and had fornicated his way through Paris and Cairo. And yet here he was out for a stroll, suddenly stopping in his tracks before a small house surrounded by a white picket fence.In the yard, a solid middle-class father played with his typical middle-class children while wife and mother looked lovingly on. The enemy! Yet instead of holding his nose, Flaubert gestured toward the house and exclaimed, without irony: “Ils sont dans le vrai!” (“They are in the truth!”) For Mann, the delightful incident illustrated the tension between the outrage at conventional life and the yearning to be part of it that tore at modernist psyches. There is more to aesthetic rebellion than offends the eye. 
The rest of is here.

Choosing Order Before Freedom: Man of the Year.

Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007
Choosing Order Before Freedom

In a year when Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize and green became the new red, white and blue; when the combat in Iraq showed signs of cooling but Baghdad’s politicians showed no signs of statesmanship; when China, the rising superpower, juggled its pride in hosting next summer’s Olympic Games with its embarrassment at shipping toxic toys around the world; and when J.K. Rowling set millions of minds and hearts on fire with the final volume of her 17-year saga—one nation that had fallen off our mental map, led by one steely and determined man, emerged as a critical linchpin of the 21st century.

Continue reading

(not)Reading, Reviewing, Blogging

I received the latest issue of n+1 over the weekend. I haven’t looked at it too closely just yet, but this passage caught my attention in a longer section called “Book Review Nation:”

…nearly ten years after their advent, the Amazon reviews are still essentially anonymous, unfiltered glimpses into the habits of red-blooded American readers…With notable exceptions (and it’s not hard to spot them), the reviewers have no institutional affiliation; no investment of ego; no recompense; and, most important of all, no one goes on Amazon to write up a book he hasn’t read. That’s what blogs are for.


The Annapolis Conference–Contextualized (Now with Updates)

For those that are interested in such matters, I’ve been following the Annapolis conference (and its aftermath) with a healthy and robust amount of skepticism, but remain secretly–if not naively–optimistic. Anyway, if you are interested in reading some excellent material about the Annapolis conference, Emory University’s Institute for the Study of Modern Israel have assembled on their home page an array of analyses (there are more to be sure), think tank pieces, and speeches that pertain. Now, for a little history and silliness (a winning combination to be sure):

November and the “7s” in modern Israeli history:

November 1897 – Three months after first Zionist Congress
November 1917 – The Balfour Declaration – HMG sanctions Jewish home
November 1947 – The UN Partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states
November 1967 – UN Resolution 242 – framework for future A-I negotiations
November 1977 – Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem
November 2007 – Annapolis – a two state solution is the common ‘horizon’

UPDATES:  See also this, this from the BBC today and Jewcy’s coverage of the whole thing here,  Perhaps it would have been better to have Alan Partridge mediate the whole thing.

Philosophy, and, Talmud, Best Session Ever?

Shamefully, I must admit that for various reasons, I found myself (for the third time in my life) at the American Academy of Religion in San Diego last week. Overall, I haven’t much liked the AAR over the years. Nothing personal, I just find that the Association for Jewish Studies and SPEP to hit closer to my own particular interests. However, on the upside, all of the “Study of Judaism” sessions I attended were quite good. Of particular interest was a panel on The Talmud and Philosophy that dealt with Solomon Maimon’s rather negative views of the Talmud, Levinas, the Talmud and translation and a fascinating paper by Serguei Dolgopolskii‘ entitled “Talmud, And, Philosophy.” Here’s the abstract (although the paper was quite different, as per usual):

This paper addresses the Talmud not only, nor even primarily, as a book or a historical object that for other disciplines to appropriate, but as an intellectual project coextensive in scope to those of philosophy and its significant other, rhetoric. By comparing the theory of Talmudic learning in the work of R. Yitzhak Canpanton (d. 1463) with R. Moses Chaim Luzzatto’s (d. 1746) view of the Talmud as an organon of a perfect rational thinking, this paper asks how the project of the Talmud and that of Enlightenment relate to each other. More specifically, the paper addresses the place of the Talmudic notion of disagreement (machloket) in these two thinkers, proposing to re-read Canpanton’s notion of disagreement in the broader context of the value of agreement that has hitherto been tacitly dominant in philosophy.

The paper was part of a larger project (most papers are) that deals with Rhetoric and Talmud. The presentation began with a rather Derridan problematization of “and” as either conjoining or severing the two terms/disciplines/lines of thought “philosophy” and “Talmud.” More broadly, the argument explored sophistics, which in the tradition of Western metaphysics is either wholly excluded from philosophy or minimally, allowed into it as a second-order discipline of philosophy. Dolgopolski suggested that in post-structuralism rhetoric/sophistics is at times considered the very “ground” for any philosophical approach. He then tied this instabilty to the instabilty of the reception of the Talmud–explored in the panel vis a vis Solomon Maimon and Emmanuel Levinas– explored in his presentation vis a vis the traditional Western dialogue between dialectics and rhetoric. At any rate, I will look forward to the complete forthcoming project: What Is Talmud? The Art of Disagreement (Fordham University Press). Continue reading

Leibniz Translations: Lloyd Strickland’s Website

Just a quick reference for those who, like me, are interested in Leibniz – I am teaching Theodicy in the Spring and I wanted to mention a website run by Lloyd Strickland – – not much of Leibniz’s writings are available in English, so this is a great resource, I hope you will find it useful.  Here’s, for example, Leibniz’s The Philosopher’s Confession which can be found on the above-mentioned website (here in .pdf) – and there is more!

New Titles from Stanford UP

A couple of interesting new titles from Stanford University Press:

Exemplarity and Chosenness
Rosenzweig and Derrida on the Nation of Philosophy

Dana Hollander

Forthcoming: Available in January
Buy this book

The Shape of Revelation
Aesthetics and Modern Jewish Thought

Zachary Braiterman

Buy this book
Table of Contents