University of Leuven, Belgium, March 22-23, 2011 Submission deadline for abstracts: 31 December, 2010. Notification of acceptance: January 15, 2011. Keynote speakers Alison Wylie (University of Washington): "transformative criticism as a catalyst for discovery: Community Based Collaborative Practice in archaeology" Jack Vromen (Erasmus University Rotterdam) website: http://www.hiw.kuleuven.be/ned/workshop/index.html
By the newest version of the hidden quantifier account of vagueness (Grim, Patrick. 2005. The buried quantifier: an account of vagueness and the sorites. Analysis 65.2, 95-104) to say that some x is bald is to say that the vast majority (this a vague quantifier) of ys in some contextually selected domain are less bald than x.
While I was discussing this theory with some people last night Paul Hrycaj and James Rocha came up with an interesting objection. What if some magician changed the world such that 10% of people were as bald as Kojak, 90% minus one of the people have 150,000 hairs on their head, and one person has 149,999 hairs? By Grim’s account the one person would have to count as bald.
One clear way Grim could respond to this is to add another vague quantifier over the amount of hair. But I want to consider another response because of what I think it reveals about reference and fiction.
One of the highlights of the SPEP conference last week in Montreal was the session with Jami Weinstein and Myra Hird on the work of Elizabeth Grosz on sexual difference. It was an example of interdisciplinary work at its best, creating connections among philosophy, biology, and politics. There was great mutual respect, but enough differences of perspective that the room was charged with energy.
At stake was the status of sexual difference as generator of diversity. Weinstein and Hird felt that Grosz has a tendency toward making sexual difference an irreducible ontological category. In their view, sexual difference is an important factor, but one that is human-all-too human; they think human sexual difference needs to be at least put into the context of, or even surpassed toward, a biological and / or neo-materialist plane. Weinstein’s paper argued for a post-humanist feminism of “becoming-imperceptible”; that is, for her, feminism needs to adopt a politics based on Deleuzean multiplicity and inhuman affect beyond the struggle for female visibility and identity-recognition. Hird’s paper argued that taking Lynn Margulis’s work into account enables us to see the evolution of sexual difference and in particular, its contingent relation to reproduction; we are thus able to think and act on the basis of the “abstract sex” that Luciana Parisi develops in her book of that title.
Although she did not present a paper in the session (she gave one of the keynote plenary talks), Grosz did respond during the discussion period. She strongly disagreed that she had a “fundamental ontology” of sexual difference, saying that she fully appreciated its evolved status. However, she did insist that once it was up and running, sexual difference became a profound generator of biological diversity, and that, politically thinking, sexual difference is inescapable. In other words, she resisted the attempt to drive a wedge between two of the most important thinkers of difference for her, Deleuze and Irigaray.
This short note can’t do justice to the quality of the papers, the clarity of Grosz’s response, nor the passion, intelligence, and commitment felt in the room. But I hope it will encourage people to follow up on the recent work of the people involved, in particular, Weinstein’s “A requiem for sexual difference,” Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (supplement) (September 2010): 165-187; Hird’s The Origins of Sociable Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); and Grosz’s Chaos, Territory, Art (Columbia, 2008).
the strays keep arriving: now we have 5 cats and they are smart, spontaneous, self- absorbed, naturally poised and awesomely beautiful.
one of the finest things about cats is that when you're feeling down, very down, if you just look at the cat at rest, at the way they sit or lie and wait, it's a grand lesson in persevering and if you watch 5 cats at once that's 5 times better.
no matter the extra demands they make no matter the heavy sacks of food no matter the dozens of cans of tuna from the supermarket: it's all just fuel for their amazing dignity and their affirmation of a vital life we humans can only envy and admire from afar.
DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES is a broad-based campaign set up to counter attacks on Arts and Humanities academic subjects and, in particular, to fight against any proposed withdrawal of public funding for these subjects in the context of the current global financial crisis.
This Vonnegut quote on Armistice Day and Veteran's Day has been widely linked. I'm stealing it from here:
When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
Today is Veterans' Day int he US. Back in the 60s, it was in vogue in left circles to condemn soldiers. We now know that many of the stories told by the right were outright fabrications - hippies spitting on soldiers, etc - but the hostility was surely there.
The pendulum has swung far indeed. Now, no one has a bad word to say about "the troops". We support them - in the non-psychotic sense that implies wanting them to live rather than die in an imperial-capitalist adventure to be sure - and every major anti-war demonstration since 2000 has focused on that fact. No one makes demands of soldiers, but rather we compete for their affection.
While it is right to recognize the extent to which soldiers are duped by a massive propaganda machine, kept ignorant by corporatized education, in some cases forced into the military by poverty or lack of jobs, I think the pendulum has swung too far. Every single US soldier - and of course every person who works in the war industry, and to a lesser extent all of us - is complicit in massive evil. The US military does not defend the US - it makes us less safe - it does not bring rights and democracy to the world - it brings empire and colonial control.
And it is possible to see this and to take a moral stand, as evidenced by the refuseniks in this and previous wars, brave soldiers who have refused to be a part of state crimes. A major factor in the failure of the US, ultimately, to conquer SE Asia was the refusal and often violent resistance of soldiers. Over the world, we have seen empires dissolve when the military ceases to play it's assigned role.
Ultimately it is infantilizing to treat soldiers as incapable of making decisions, as unable to embrace a moral stance. So while we might well endorse caring for them, while we might think their crimes mitigated by all the factors above, and while we might think that denunciation is not helpful, let's also face reality. They are carrying out the orders of empire, and if they did not, there would be no empire. The government is nothing without the cooperation of those who kill because it tells them to.
On this Veterans' Day, let's not thank people for their service, but challenge them to resist.
I used to think that existence was an attribute of God. But I know think it is an essence of God, not an attribute. Consider:
E1p20: "Dei existentia [existence], ejusque essentia unum et idem sunt."
E1p34: "Dei potentia [power/capacity] est ipsius essentia"
E5p30: "Aeternitas [eterntity] est ipsa Dei essentia"
So, existence, power, and eternity are all (expressable) essence(s) of God. [But does this commit Spinoza to the claim that existence is a predicate? Not necessarily, because essences are not properties of substances but [by E2D2] the very source [by analogy of a formal cause] of substance's conceivability]
Btw. I am inclined to think that E2D2 allows more than one essence
The two known attributes are perceived by the [finite/infinite?] intellect as (these???) essences (E1D4)
Each attribute [which are predicates] expresses (at least) one essence (E1D6)
One of our (Ghent's) terrific PhD students in history of science, Nienke Roelants, presented an update on her work on the 16th century reception of Copernicus yesterday. She focused on Rheticus and Peucer (who is a fascinating character). A quote from Peucer about Tycho is quite tantalizing: “I hope that I will live long enough to know in what way the consensus in experiences would confirm and stabilize the new construction that you have established by means of your hypotheses with reference to the giant and wonderful works of God, how much we will have understood of the highest knowledge of God, we will only understand when we as eyewitnesses will personally behold the works” [Peucer, Ad Dominum Tychonem Brahe (Tycho Brahe, Opera Omnia, VII, 190)]
Le séminaire se propose de prolonger le parcours de recherche commencé l’année dernière, axé sur les perspectives de l’écologie politique et sur la nécessité d’un vaste renouvellement conceptuel qui soit en mesure de faire face aux dimensions multiples de l’urgence écologique. Il s’agira ainsi d’étudier les auteurs et les propositions théoriques et pratiques (d’ordre éthique, esthétique, philosophique et politique) qui s’efforcent de ne plus dissocier la sphère du vivant et de l’environnement naturel, la sphère technologique et industrielle et la sphère de l’esprit, de l’information, de la connaissance et des savoirs. Nous partirons plus particulièrement cette année de l’analyse des travaux de Peter Sloterdijk, Deleuze et Guattari, Bruno Latour. Nous essaierons également de réfléchir sur l’émergence d’une « imagination environnementale » ou d’une nouvelle sensibilité esthétique et écologique, qui s’exprime depuis quelques années dans l’art, mais aussi dans le renouvellement des figures du paysage (Gilles Clément), de la Terre et de l’analyse des rapports entre la biodiversité et la diversité culturelle.
After breakfast I happily start each intellectual day by reading the NDPR review. Today it´s a review of Post-Structuralist engagement with Marx. Given my interest in the history of political economy I read it with some attention. But it's the last paragraph of the review that caught my attention: "As such Choat offers a remarkable revision of the established history, demonstrating [A] how much more productive an encounter between Marxism and post-structuralism would have been to the old debates and divisions. However, [B] the separation of intellectual history from the history of forces and conflicts not only betrays this new materialism, but [C] it also closes off some important ways of understanding this encounter, situating the turn to language and subjectivity within the larger transformations of capital. Choat, however, has cleared the dust of the old debates, letting "the dead bury the dead," producing an intellectual history of the present that [D] will hopefully make it possible to move beyond intellectual history, [D*] to grasp the present in terms of its forces and conflicts." [Capital letters added for ease of exposition.]
This story at Inside Higher Education is notable for several reasons.
1. It may help force administrations to declare financial exigency before firing tenured professors. The argument here is to provide a high barrier for administrators to clear before they can act in so serious a manner, rather than using budget crises as pretexts for micro-managing and even indulging personal grievances.
While the union and arbitrator did not contest the idea that Florida State faced deep budget cuts, the 83-page ruling repeatedly notes patterns of the university failing to meet obligations to which it had committed itself. University officials used the layoff process to "manipulate" decisions "to arbitrarily select who got laid off," at times due to "personal judgment and relationships," and not established criteria, Sergent writes.
Economists (and most scientists) generally assume (unreflectively) that the market for ideas is pretty efficient. One consequence of this attitude is that the serious study of history of economics has been systematically erased from the graduate curriculum. Philosophical ideas are partly to blame for this because talk of Kuhnian paradigms has, perversely, encouraged the idea that *science* can do and does fine with mythic history (or no history) in its curriculum. The MIT economist (and Nobel laureate), Paul Samuelson, and the Chicago economist, (Nobel Laureate), George Stigler, who both maintained a life-long fascination for the history of their own discipline and helped shape the professionalization of post wwII economics, have played a significant, active role in encouraging this outlook. Stigler developed Kuhnian views before Kuhn published *Structure* (as he proudly told Kuhn in their unpublished correspondence), and probably helped (in a small way) to get *Structure* published at the UofC Press (Stigler was on the publisher's board).(I return to this below.)
The Analytic group built by Bruce Aune but (really) around Fred Feldman at Amherst, has received considerable criticism from Robert Wolff in his very amusing memoirs. As an outsider it is hard to tell if the animosity between the Analytic and Continental types was primarily intellectual or personal. Be that as it may, there is (was?) a distinct Amherst school of analytic philosophy; we should judge it by its products. What makes it important sociologically is that it (together with Rochester and Syracuse) was, as far as I can tell, completely outside the nihilistic spell of Burton Dreben and kept analytic philosophy alive when it easily could have become a degenerate research program. (The story is more complicated, of course!)
"There is a tendency in universities today to think of teachers as, like sales people and politicians, interested in outcomes. And so there is a tendency for teachers to treat their students in the way sales people treat their clients and politicians treat the voters: without respect."
Yet, I do have a nagging question: can't we think of some disciplines in which teaching outcomes does matter greatly? Parts of medicine and engineering seem like that. In so far, as some of the sciences treat a body of knowledge (physics, chemistry, biology etc) and not a way of handling problems, maybe them, too?
About six years ago I saw that I (and with my a whole scholarly community) was trapped in a false dillema, either Hume is a brilliant follower of Newton (the majority view) or Hume is ignorant of mathematics and mathematical science (a not insignificant position). I realized that there was an alternative, what if (tacit) deviation from Newton is philosophically motivated? I then spent many years trying to show in painstaking detail that the centerpiece of Hume's treatment of causation is, in fact, anti-Newtonian. My argument is mostly built of circumstantial textual and historical evidence. While I drew in a lot of other aspects of Hume's philosophy (especially the rules of reasoning), I did not develop any of these arguments very fully. As Yoram Hazony has taught me (by sharing chapters of his book in progress with me), I could have developed a far more convincing case if I had first focused on Part II of Book I of the Treatise, where (once one is alerted) the anti-Newtonian passages are plainly numerous. Even if the exact details of Hume's engagement with Newton still need to be worked out, I expect that once Yoram's book appears the scholarly literature will debate these issues in far more sophisticated fashion.
I think even more important is that Obama's economic team (and Democratic party financing?) was too beholden to Wall Street. In particular, the Democrats failed to tap into legitimate mainstream anger over the financial bail out. They let themselves be associated with elite finance, rather than articulate main street anger (which then got redirected toward nefarious ends). The system was propped up with cosmetic changes rather than reformed radicallly, and the folks that got the US (and the World) into a mess kept (much) of their ill gotten rewards; and with historically low interest rates financial institutions can make easy (risk free) money on the spread between the Fed rates and normal people's rates. Meanwhile, there is no reason to think that we won't experience more financial meltdowns in the not-so-distant future bank accounting standards have not been improved, financial tax arbitrage is still easy, and all over the world bankers' rewards are still private while the risks & costs are still shifted to the public.
I can't quite figure out what's going on. One key quote:
Jindal’s chief budget architect, Paul Rainwater, said Wednesday that universities must focus more resources on the classroom and make better use of taxpayer funds.
“We need to make sure the course load is maxed out and people aren’t taking sabbaticals,” said Rainwater, the state’s commissioner of administration, adding that LSU’s flagship campus has 19 faculty on sabbaticals. “That happens nowhere else in the real world.”
. . .Rainwater also criticized tenured professors, the most senior faculty, for often having smaller teaching loads than lesser-paid instructors.
The whole public relations initiative is reinforcing the populist pretense that LSU faculty are somehow sneakily getting away with something with our 2-2 loads and sabbaticals.
I came out of my post-tenure sabbatical with a co-written book in press at Routledge, three new articles, and thousands of dollars of debt my family incurred covering the cost of moving to and from another institution for a year. I wasn't getting away with anything, just doing my job the best I could. . .
I don't know. Maybe Louisiana should have a conversation about whether the citizens are willing to support a research intensive university. But I don't think it's too much to ask that this be done without demonizing faculty or misleading the citizens about what is normal in other states.
Oklahoma courts must “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and forbids them from “considering or using international law” and “from considering or using Sharia Law.”
I've seen quite a bit about the second part of this, the banning of Sharia Law, which has been rightly and widely mocked all around the internet. (One blogger friend of wondered whether in the next election they would ban military aid to Pandora so that the Navi can't use weapons against us.) But I have so far seen no comment on the amazingly serious first rejection.
Leave aside that any international law based in ratified and confirmed treaties is, by the US constitution, the "supreme law of the land," clearly binding on the states. (Thus, this amendment seems to be federally unconstitutional on its face, not that this implies much in the practical realm with the current Supreme Court in power.) But beyond this, over 70% of the electorate of South Dakota just endorsed the view that no SD court may take into account the Geneva Conventions.
I trust the symbolism of this, in the context of our current imperialist and globally destructive system, is too obvious to even go into.
"If you care about justice–if you care about whether people are being treated the way they ought to be treated–you care about this.
But you should also care about this if you care about philosophy in itself; if you care about discovering philosophical truth; if you care about reading insightful philosophy papers; if you care about being made aware of novel philosophical ideas; if you care about solving philosophical puzzles. We should want as many smart people as possible working in philosophy. But a prominent group of people are being systematically edged out. This is bad for the people who are being edged out–it’s a serious injustice that I don’t mean to minimize–but it’s also bad for us men. It is as bad for us as the Negro-League era was for Major League Baseball. Think of it: in 1945, Jackie Robinson tried out for the Boston Red Sox, and the Red Sox did not sign him. So in 1946, when the Red Sox were losing the World Series in 7 games to the Cardinals, Jackie Robinson was playing for the Montreal Royals. This situation was, obviously, extraordinarily bad for black people who wanted to be professional baseball players. It was bad for Cool Papa Bell; it was bad for Josh Gibson; it was bad for Buck O’Neil. These players were victims of a profound injustice. But it was also bad for Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, who were, to a lesser extent, also victims of this injustice. Women and minorities have actual philosophical contributions to make. Many of these contributions are going unmade because the people who would make them are being edged out of the profession before they have a chance to do it. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not good for us. It’s bad for everyone."
So rather than writing about elections, I want to demur from the wide praise Collini's essay has received. The piece has one virtue and that is that it does not deny the funding crisis in the UK's higher education. It might also have noted the administrative burden and relatively low salaries of UK academics. I also fully agree with Collini that it is a mistake to think of universities as mere businesses or feeders of human capital to business. But...universities have not defended their corporate (in the medieval sense) independence when it mattered and have been very eagerly holding their hand up on the public graivy train. Some other time I will write about this. Let me list seven problematic features of Collini's, while skipping over its misplaced snobbery. (What's wrong with Ryan-air, by the way?)
Yesterday, I received the following announcement: "We are pleased to announce that Analytic Philosophy is now accepting submissions for review. Starting in 2011, the new journal Analytic Philosophy replaces Philosophical Books. Focusing on peer-reviewed research articles, the journal will publish outstanding philosophical work in all areas of philosophy. The primary criterion for acceptance will be philosophical excellence, in the many forms that it may be manifest. The most successful submissions will be pieces that significantly increase our philosophical understanding. There are no restrictions with respect to area, historical focus, length, or methodology. The review process will be blind, expeditious, and external. Analytic Philosophy seeks quickly to become one of the best venues for publication of outstanding philosophical work."
Let's wish this new journal success. I am particularly pleased by the fact that there are no constraints on length and that history is not ruled out in advance. Nevertheless, I offer two critical reflections on this marketing text: 1. How can a journal that is called "Analytic Philosophy" also claim "there are no restrictions with respect to area, historical focus, length, or methodology"? Surely, analytic philosophy understands itself (however lightly and hetergeneously) as rejecting certain methodologies and approaches (primarily Idealist and what is now known as 'Continental' philosophy)?
I'll try to file a conference report when I'm back, but that will depend on how much I'm behind in my work. *That* I'll be behind is assured; how much I'm behind depends on how much I can read on the plane(s)!