There seems to be a strong societal push for "metrics" which means, as best as I can tell, limiting our reasons to ones that can be uncontroversially translated into something numerical, ignoring other facotrs, and then drawing conclusions. OK. That is probably a caricature, but I suspect not much.
In any event, here, by GS, is another metric-driven ranking of philosophy journals. It has some rankings that strike me, at least, as rather different from how an expert in the field would rank on the basis of quality, prestige, significance, etc. So, for example, Synthese and Phil Studies are 1 and 2 (certainly both good journals, but I suspect few philosophers would rank them 1 and 2.) Or consider that Journal of Consciousness Studies is 7 and Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences is 10. By contrast, we have Ethics 14, Phil Review 17, and Journal of Philosophical Logic 20.
It's that time again: Undergrads finishing up will soon be sending
out applications to Ph.D. programs and grads finishing up are about to
head out on the job market. Though choices might be limited owing to
financial restraints, there likely will be some who will have the
opportunity to choose among several departments.As I advice students about this on a daily basis, and reputation plays a crucial factor in the desirability of a department, I thought it would be worth mulling over what makes a department reputable.
Carolyn Dicey Jennings (homepage) writes this guest post for us today:
The Lasker Award in Medical Science was announced in Cell Press this month under the title, "Pure Genes, Pure Genius." To me, there is little worse praise than "genius." The root of the word, shared with "genie," signifies a magical, impossible to understand element, brushing aside the hard work under the miraculous rug of some innate talent, some God-given gift.
This Odd Measure was inspired by a quote from Mariah Carey:
I had my team with me but the pups had a mini entourage of their own, of course! And why wouldn’t they? It was a big shoot and even my entourage had an entourage—my stylist had an assistant, my security had extra security [for another version, see this].
Merely having an entourage, of course, is already indicative of fame. I’ve never had even the smallest entourage, and I would guess that most philosophers are below the threshold. Susan Sontag, who I sat next to on a panel once, had a small entourage to sweep her away to the next event. But intellectuals by and large just don’t seem to need them.
Divas, on the other hand, do. Likewise Presidents—the Secret Service is an entourage all by itself. Or Roger Ailes, head of Fox news, who in public is constantly “buffered” by an “elaborate private security detail” paid for by News Corp. I’ll bet that like Mariah Carey’s, his security too has security of its own.
A better measure of your fame and (self-)importance will take account not merely of the size of your entourage, but of its depth. On this basis we would expect the little people—those who have no entourage—to be assigned an index of 0. If you’re like Paula Abdul and all you can muster is a first-order entourage, your index ought to be 1. Mariah Carey’s index, on the occasion mentioned above, will have been in the neighborhood of 2.
One complication emerges as we consider the elaborate arrangements around Presidents, Queens, Miss America, Dr. Evil and the like. The collection of entourages surrounding a celebrity, ordered by the “belongs to the immediate entourage of” relation, will be, in favorable cases, a directed rooted tree, that is a directed graph with a designated node such that between that node and any other node there is exactly one path (loops would indicate problems with the command stucture). In the tree of entourages all paths lead to the Star at its root (which in the drawing below is at the top, not the bottom, in keeping with the power relations being represented).
In the tree above (all edges are understood to be directed upwards), the longest paths contain three entourages, but there are also paths containing only two. How, then, should the ENTOURAGE DEPTH INDEX be defined?
An important person has a large entourage, of course, but also, one would think, a deep one. Largeness corresponds to breadth, to the average number of nodes at each level (a “level” is the collection of nodes at a given distance from the root); overall depth to some measure where we give greater weight to nodes that are farther away from the top. (If you set the EDI simply to the length of the longest path, then you’re ignoring breadth altogether.) I’m not sure there is a universal measure: after all, in some contexts, breadth would indicate importance better than depth, and in others vice versa. Criminal organizations tend toward flatness, armies and administrations toward depth.
The examples of Mariah Carey and Roger Ailes suggest another index, the SDI or Security Depth Index. But I suspect that, as the story about Roger Ailes implies, the SDI would not be a measure of importance so much as of paranoia.
The late George Carlin has observed that some of our stuff has stuff of its own. So in addition to the EDI and the SDI, there may also be occasion to use, in an advanced civilization like our own, an SSI or Stuff’s Stuff Index. My computer has accessories, some of which, like the printer, have accessories of their own. If you count bare stuff as 1, that would yield an SSI of 3. Has anyone got an example of fourth-order stuff?
You can never be too thin or too rich, they say. But perhaps you can have too many books. How many is too many?
Several factors are relevant. First of all, of course, how many books you have. But whether you have too many depends also on how much space you have. Some people have enough space for all their books; each one sits neatly on its shelf with selected others, and nothing hinders the eager reader from contemplating the titles on an orderly row of spines, and plucking from amongst them the desired tome.
Unfortunately, unless you are fabulously wealthy or else a “man of one book”, your books are probably not in this edenic condition. Not only may some books be shelfless, or placed ad-hockily on surfaces other than shelves, but quite possibly those that are shelved may not be entirely accessible. Some may be encumbered by others.
It is not my purpose to prescribe limits on the possession of books. Instead I aim only to provide a handy measure by which readers may decide for themselves whether their acquisitive instincts have exceeded the bounds of prudence.