Monday, September 29, 2008

McLemee, Scott. "Darkness Becomes Him." THE NATION September 23, 2008.

Levy, Bernard-Henri. Left in Dark Times: a Stand against the New Barbarism. New York: Random House, 2008. The interest of Lévy's latest book comes from watching him apply his version of phenomenology to something grander than our provincial struggle between being and nothingness. Published in France following the election of Nicolas Sarkozy last year, the book opens with BHL receiving a phone call from the candidate. We eavesdrop on Sarko angling for an endorsement and are given a quick tour of the grounds for abundant mutual admiration between philosopher and politician. But, hélas, Lévy must withhold his support, for, as he says, "the Left is my family"--a remark that surprises, not to say unhinges, Sarko. The naïve reader, too, and perhaps even an American one, may find this claim of leftist affiliation coming out of nowhere. Thirty years ago, Lévy was the coordinator and chief publicist for the New Philosophy--a school of thought, largely staffed by ex-Maoists, that argued that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had not been such a boon to humanity (in all, a reasonable thesis) and so any radical critique of capitalism would lead to the Gulag Archipelago (a judgment that does not seem beyond all argument). . . . Read the rest here:

Morrison, Anna. "Teaching THINGS FALL APART." MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE April 23, 2008.

The complaints began the moment I started passing out copies of the novel Things Fall Apart to the 17 and 18-year-olds of my English IV classroom. "What this book is?" moaned LaJohn, a big football player who always nabs a seat in the back of the room. J.T. was even more pointed when he turned to Tierra, shook his book in the air and said, "Man, she ain't gonna make us read this whole book!" As a public-school teacher in the Mississippi Delta, I have become accustomed to this sort of aversion towards literature. My students are not comfortable readers. They have been raised almost entirely on television and the Internet; very few have access to books at home. The majority of the teachers in our school system use the textbook exclusively, so many students will finish high school having read only one or two books in total. With this in mind, I try to teach plot-driven stories that operate on a fairly basic reading level, without denying depth of content. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe weaves his tale of Nigeria in the 1800s with beautifully simple language. He enriches his descriptions with poetic references to the Ibo culture, filling the pages with their proverbs and natural metaphors. My slower readers would be able to keep up, while the more advanced might find some of the nuance in the poetry. . . . Read the rest here:

Zizek, Slavoj. "What is the Question? Interview with Christopher Lydon." OPEN SOURCE September 23, 2008.

In New York on the last day of an American tour, absorbing the demise of Yankee Stadium and maybe of Wall Street as we thought we knew it, Zizek’s talk is a blast-furnace but not a blur. The theme through all Zizek’s gags is that the financial meltdown marks a seriously dangerous moment — dangerous not least because, as in the interpretation of 9.11, the right wing is ready to impose a narrative. And the left wing is caught without a narrative or a theory. “Today is the time for theory,” he says. “Time to withdraw and think.”. Read / listen to the rest here:

Lichfield, John. "Poisoned Penpals: Clash of the Literary Titans." INDEPENDENT September 23, 2008.

Levy, Bernard-Henri, and Michel Houellebecq. Ennemis Publics. Paris: Flammarion, 2008. Two of the most self-promoting, outspoken, and hated, men in France will go head-to-head next month in a literary "clash of the Titans." The re-make of Godzilla vs King Kong will pit Michel Houellebecq, dishevelled curmudgeon and best-selling novelist, against Bernard-Henri Levy, dandy philosopher and telegenic human rights activist. Their joint book, Ennemis Publics, has been the subject of a masterful "advertease" campaign for the past three months. The publishers, Flammarion, let slip in June that they were printing 150,000 copies of a hush-hush, two-handed book. Even before the identity of the writers was known, bookshops placed orders for 100,000 copies, guaranteeing the tome best-selling status in France. . . . Read the rest here:

Hitchens, Christopher. "Bons Mots and Betes Noires." NEW YORK TIMES September 19, 2008.

Levy, Bernard-Henri. Left in Dark Times: a Stand against the New Barbarism. New York: Random House, 2008. The election of Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency of the French Republic, on a ticket of the Gaullist and centrist right, was marked by two kinds of defection from the left. In advance of the vote, a number of former Marxist Parisian intellectuals like André Glucksmann announced their intention of voting for Sarkozy and against the rather vapid and temperamental quasi-spousal Socialist party team of Ségolène Royal and her significant other, François Hollande. And then, once the victory of Sarkozy had been assured — probably rather more by the votes of former rightists than former leftists — the new president offered some plum jobs to prominent Socialists like Bernard Kouchner, the ex-Communist and cofounder of the campaigning internationalist outfit Doctors Without Borders, who is now foreign minister, before himself proceeding to give new meaning to the term “husband and wife team” by marrying the former supermodel Carla Bruni in the Élysée Palace itself. You might say that this situation was superbly designed for an address from Bernard-Henri Lévy — universally known in France as BHL — who cuts a commanding figure both in the circles of the Left Bank intelligentsia and in the world of Parisian high fashion and salon society (and whose lovely wife, Arielle Dombasle, could look Carla Bruni in the eye any day). But the fact is that these developments make him feel extremely uncomfortable. He happens to have known Sarkozy since 1983, when Sarkozy was elected mayor of Neuilly; yet when he received a telephone call from Sarkozy last year, demanding to know when the BHL endorsement would be coming, he found himself unable to play ball. In fact, he found himself abandoning intellectual terrain for a moment and saying that he would cast his vote for the left candidate, as ever, because it was la gauche that was his “family.” . . . Read the rest here:

Turley, Richard Maggraf. "Second Only to Byron." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT September 3, 2008.

In July 1820, Keats’s career was in the doldrums. Having pinned all his hopes for “living by the pen” on the delayed Lamia, he was dismayed when the collection, despite containing tours de force such as “Ode to a Nightingale” and “The Eve of St Agnes”, appeared to mixed or hostile reviews. For most Romantic readers, Keats remained the jejune, justifiably sidelined author of the biggest flop of 1818, Endymion. In August, however, a beacon arrived in the form of an unattributed review in Constable’s Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, with a second instalment following in October. Written by an “outside contributor” with the “avowed purpose of gaining Keats a larger readership”, as Donald H. Reiman points out in his standard edition of Romantic reviews, the mysterious critique pronounced Keats a “poet of high and undoubted powers”. “If this be not poetry”, the reviewer declared, defiantly quoting excerpts from the vilified Endymion, while promising in the same breath a full-length review of Lamia, “we do not know what is”. The public relations exercise was effective, and marked the point at which the tide of negative reviews began to turn in Keats’s favour. . . .

Read the rest here:

Kaufer, Stephan. "Review of Michael Roubach's BEING AND NUMBER IN HEIDEGGER'S THOUGHT." NDPR (September 2008).

Roubach, Michael. Being and Number in Heidegger's Thought. London: Continuum, 2008. "Later investigations will reveal what I owe to my esteemed teachers of mathematics and physics; and I also will not let the influence of Professor Finke go to waste, who awakened the love and understanding for history in me, an unhistorical mathematician." So wrote Martin Heidegger in the preface to his 1914 doctoral dissertation, The Theory of Judgment in Psychologism. For all their breadth and depth the later investigations never do show much of an influence by the professors who taught Heidegger calculus and differential equations while he was enrolled in Freiburg University's Faculty for Mathematics and Natural Science. Rather it was the few courses Heidegger took during those years on neo-Kantian logic and epistemology that shaped his initial philosophical attempts. Nevertheless, Heidegger discusses topics of mathematics and the mathematical character of modern science in various guises in writings and lectures throughout his career. And since so much of his thought is devoted to ontology, it is an interesting question to what extent Heidegger's ontology is a mathematical ontology. Michael Roubach has asked this question and the merit of his study is that it obliges the reader to go back to and re-read some of Heidegger's passages on mathematics from his dissertations, Being and Time, and lectures from the 1930s (Roubach devotes one chapter to each of these three). . . . Read the rest here:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shields, Christopher. "Aristotle." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY September 25, 2008.

Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) numbers among the greatest philosophers of all time. Judged solely in terms of his philosophical influence, only Plato is his peer: Aristotle's works shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and even today continue to be studied with keen, non-antiquarian interest. A prodigious researcher and writer, Aristotle left a great body of work, perhaps numbering as many as two-hundred treatises, from which approximately thirty-one survive. His extant writings span a wide range of disciplines, from logic, metaphysics and philosophy of mind, through ethics, political theory, aesthetics and rhetoric, and into such primarily non-philosophical fields as empirical biology, where he excelled at detailed plant and animal observation and taxonomy. In all these areas, Aristotle's theories have provided illumination, met with resistance, sparked debate, and generally stimulated the sustained interest of an abiding readership. Because of its wide range and its remoteness in time, Aristotle's philosophy defies easy encapsulation. The long history of interpretation and appropriation of Aristotelian texts and themes—spanning over two millennia and comprising philosophers working within a variety religious and secular traditions—has rendered even basic points of interpretation controversial. The set of entries on Aristotle in this site addresses this situation by proceeding in three tiers. First, the present, general entry offers a brief account of Aristotle's life and characterizes his central philosophical commitments, highlighting his most distinctive methods and most influential achievements. Second are General Topics which offer detailed introductions to the main areas of Aristotle's philosophical activity. Finally, there follow Special Topics which investigate in greater detail more narrowly focused issues, especially those of central concern in recent of Aristotelian scholarship. . . . Read the rest here:

Nauert, Charles. "Desiderius Erasmus." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY September 22, 2008.

Erasmus never wrote a work, or a major portion of a work, on skepticism or on any issue in epistemology, but since he was the most distinguished humanist of his time, an ardent promoter of what his century defined as the studia humanitatis (humane studies), he was an expert on grammar (the study of language, in his case embracing Greek and classical and patristic Latin) and rhetoric (the study of eloquence). As a grammarian, he translated many ancient texts from Greek into Latin, published critical editions and Latin translations of classical authors, ancient patristic writers, and (most famous of all) the Greek text of the New Testament, accompanied by his own Latin translation and extensive annotations But Erasmus was also a rhetorician, the other major linguistic art included among the five academic subjects that constituted the studia humanitatis (Nauert 2006:12–16). Only one of the five humanistic subjects, moral philosophy, was avowedly philosophical; but in the practice of Erasmus and many other humanists, rhetoric functioned as a sort of anti-philosophy, a rival to the dialectical philosophy that had ruled medieval scholastic thought. The term rhetoric did not mean the windy, verbose decoration of oratory and writing that the term often implies today—“mere rhetoric.” Humanists regarded it as a practical way to investigate questions on which dialectical argumentation based on logic had proved unable to produce certitude. As noted in the preceding section of this entry, rhetoric was the procedure to be used in pursuit of conclusions that could not be proved beyond doubt but were the most probable choice among the alternatives explored. Many humanists, Erasmus among them, thought that many (or perhaps all) conclusions about abstract issues, including theological questions, were beyond the reach of human reason. Nevertheless, they believed, careful consideration of the various alternative solutions of a question could determine which one was the most probable opinion. Thus for Erasmus, rhetoric was the art of probable argumentation, ending not in the certitude claimed by logicians but in a conclusion that one of the outcomes was more probable than the others and could tentatively be regarded as true. (Nauert 2006:215–216). . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "African Intellectuals and Decolonization," Perspectives on African Decolonization, Department of History, Ohio University, October 2, 2008.


Speakers include:

  • Oyeronke Oyewumi (Department of Sociology, SUNY, Stony Brook): "Decolonizing the Intellectual and the Quotidaian: African Intellectuals in the PostColonial Moment"
  • Elizabeth Schmidt (Department of History, Loyola College in Baltimore): "Pan-Africanism, People's Power, and Decolonization in Ghana and Guinea: the Uneven Legacy of Kwame Nkrumah and Sékou Touré"
  • Tsenay Serequeberhan (Department of Philosophy, Morgan State University): "Decolonization and the Practice of Philosophy"

Visit the conference homepage here:

Original Post (April 23, 2008): In 1958, Guinea, under Ahmed Sekou Toure, chose political independence over continued association with France. The All-African Peoples Convention hosted by Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana in the same year highlighted the links between and among Africans and peoples of African descent in the Diaspora. 2008 is also the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the seminal journal Presence Africaine by Alioune Diop. Focusing on African intellectuals and decolonization will allow for an interrogation of all three concepts as well as an opportunity to examine the roles intellectuals have played and continue to play in contemporary African efforts at liberation from economic neo-colonialism. Additionally, this conference will provide an opportunity to highlight the cutting edge work of contemporary African philosophers, the inheritors of the intellectual traditions established by the generations who fought for the liberation of Africa. The works of these scholars who are developing systems of thought rooted in African vernacular concepts will have significant implications for the Arts and Humanities and interpretations thereof as well as the (Westernized) Academy more broadly. Featured speakers include: Oyeronke Oyewumi, Department of Sociology, State University of New York at Stony Brook; Elizabeth Schmidt Department of History, Loyola College in Baltimore; Tsenay Serequeberhan, Department of Philosophy, Morgan State University. Conference planners invite the submission of abstracts for papers and panels from scholars and graduate students in any academic discipline. Presentations that are interdisciplinary and/or transnational in scope will be particularly welcome. Abstracts for individual papers should be 250-300 words and accompanied by a brief CV (no more than two pages). Panel proposals should include abstracts and CVs for each presenter as well as a 250-500 word overview of the panel. Topics for discussion include but by no means are limited to:
  • Who is African?
  • Who is an intellectual?
  • What do we mean by decolonization?
  • Colonialism and decolonization in Africa
  • Neocolonialism and (neo)decolonization in Africa
  • Women and decolonization in Africa
  • Decolonizing the (Westernized) Academy
  • African philosophies and decolonization
  • African indigenous knowledge systems and decolonization
  • The Arts and African decolonization
  • African literatures and decolonization
  • The Sciences and decolonization in Africa
  • Conservation of natural resources in Africa and decolonization.

As the conference will be held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Guinea?s independence on October 2, 2008, we will particularly welcome panels and papers concerning Ahmed Sekou Toure, Guinea, and decolonization. Selected papers will be published in an edited collection of essays to commemorate these significant moments in African history and to reflect upon the legacies of fifty years of 'independence' in Africa.

Please submit paper and panel proposals to: Acacia Nikoi, The deadline for submission of proposals is May 30, 2008. Limited travel funding is available for graduate students. Please apply for a travel stipend on the conference registration page by May 30.


Contents: Visit the journal homepage here:

Cesario, Marco. "The Primacy of Perception in the Era of Communication." RESET DOC September 8, 2008.

A transversal study of Merleau-Ponty’s concept of time and space does not mean only analyzing the relationship between those categories and objects and events perceived by the conscience, but also to open a constructive dialogue between pure phenomenology and others sciences such as psychology, psychoanalysis, literature, neurology, biology, physics and arts. The objective is to reconstruct and develop Merleau-Ponty’s idea of “this space and this time that we are” through the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Bergson, and Whitehead, but also through the work of Proust, Claudel and Simon. These were the conclusions of the international congress of philosophy “Merleau-Ponty. L’espace et le temps”, which took place at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris to celebrate the centenary of Merleau-Ponty’s birth. The congress gathered together many experts from France, the United States and Japan, who attempted to answer the questions posed by Merleau-Ponty’s main work, Phenomenology of Perception (1945). The event has today a special meaning, because we should not only discuss his philosophical positions, but also use his ‘phenomenological instruments’ to rethink the categories of space and time in the age of global communication. The new technological instruments and the media’s increasing power, provide us with free access to knowledge, as well as the possibility to become actors in spreading this knowledge. This is an advantage compared to period during which Merleau-Ponty debated ‘spatial consciousness’ because these new technologies have provoked an enlargement of cognitive structures and perceptive consciousness. . . . Read the rest here:

Salamon, Gayle. "Review of Dorothea Olkowski, et al., eds. FEMINIST INTERPRETATIONS OF MERLEAU-PONTY." NDPR (September 2008).

Olkowski, Dorothea, and Gail Weiss, eds. Feminist Interpretations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2006. There are few philosophers more deserving of a feminist reconsideration than Merleau-Ponty, as this excellent volume demonstrates. Nancy Tuana describes the motivation of the 'Re-Reading the Canon' series in a general preface:
Feminist philosophers have begun to look critically at the canonized texts of philosophy and have concluded that the discourses of philosophy are not gender-neutral. Philosophical narratives do not offer a universal perspective, but rather privilege some experiences and beliefs over others.
Phenomenology presents itself as an unusually suitable partner in this endeavor, for like feminism, phenomenology also understands its project to be an unsettling of the fantasy of a universal perspective, and the means by which it accomplishes this unsettling is careful and close attention to the perspectival nature of experience and of the world. Co-editor Dorothea Olkowski provides a concise and useful introduction of phenomenology's place in philosophy, Merleau-Ponty's place in phenomenology, and prior feminist engagements with Merleau-Ponty, beginning (as so many feminist origins stories do) with Beauvoir. This volume is not an introduction to Merleau-Ponty, or to feminist philosophy, and each of the essays assumes some familiarity with Merleau-Ponty and early feminist responses to him, though Olkowski's introduction and the first essay by Sonia Kruks provide helpful orientation through the history of these engagements for less-familiar readers. It is instead a guided tour through the current state of feminist Merleau-Ponty criticism, and the result is a strong and impressively expansive collection. Merleau-Ponty's insights about the centrality of embodiment to subjectivity make him a particularly apposite interlocutor for feminists, though he has been an underutilized resource for feminist philosophy, with a few notable exceptions. This dearth of feminist attention may be in part due to the arguably masculinist readings of his theories of body and perception offered by some of his more prominent readers. One might think, for instance, of Hubert Dreyfus's contention that the Phenomenology of Perception describes the relation between self and world as one of maximal grip, a description confuted by the rather more delicate and ambiguous metaphors -- a soap bubble, or an intertwining -- that Merleau-Ponty himself relied upon, particularly in his later work, to describe the intricate styles of being that we are. . . . Read the whole review here:

CFP: "Nietzsche's ECCE HOMO: a Centenary Conference," Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London, November 27-28, 2008.

Update: For the full programme, visit the conference homepage at Original Post (January 31, 2008): Keynote speakers include: Keith Ansell Pearson, Steven Aschheim, Paul Bishop, Lesley Chamberlain, Daniel Conway, Carol Diethe, Rüdiger Görner Friedrich Nietzsche’s intellectual autobiography Ecce Homo has always been a controversial book. Nietzsche prepared it for publication just before he became incurably insane in early 1889, but his sister and literary executor, Elisabeth, held it back until after his death, and it finally appeared only in 1908. For much of the first century of its reception, Ecce Homo met with a sceptical response and was viewed as merely a testament to Nietzsche’s incipient madness. It occupied a tenuous position in the canon of his works, and a definitive scholarly edition was published as late as 1969. In recent decades, though, there has been increased interest in the work, especially in the English-speaking world, where R. J. Hollingdale’s 1979 translation gained it a substantial new readership. Two more English translations have appeared in recent years, and another is pending. Ecce Homo represents in many respects both a summation of Nietzsche’s philosophical outlook and a supreme example of his stylistic strengths and weaknesses. Almost half the book is devoted to a reappraisal of his earlier works, often from a highly partial perspective. He is deliberately outrageous with the ‘megalomaniacal’ self-advertisement of his chapter titles, and brazenly claims ‘I am not a man, I am dynamite’ as he attempts to explode one preconception after another in the Western philosophical tradition. This centenary conference will re-assess Ecce Homo from both philosophical and philological viewpoints. Papers (in English or German, max. 30 minutes) are invited on any aspect of the text and its contexts, for example its:
  • genesis, composition and complex publication history
  • key concepts and philosophical arguments
  • historical (in)accuracy and relation to Nietzsche’s earlier works
  • intertexts, from the Bible to Paul Bourget
  • rhetorical and narrative strategies
  • hybrid generic status as literary-philosophical autobiography
  • projected readership and reception by later writers
  • contemporary relevance and relation to more recent philosophical developments
  • theoretical interpretation (feminism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction …)

It is anticipated that selected papers from the conference will be published. Please submit proposals (max. 500 words) by 31 March 2008 to both of the organisers:

Professor Duncan Large (, School of Arts/German, Swansea University, Singleton Park, GB-Swansea SA2 8PP


Dr Nicholas Martin (, Department of German Studies, University of Birmingham, Ashley Building, GB-Birmingham B15 2TT

INSTITUTE OF GERMANIC & ROMANCE STUDIES School of Advanced Study University of London Room ST272, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU Telephone: +44 (0)20-7862 8966 Fax: +44 (0)20-7862 8672 Email: jane.lewin Website:

"Rousseau's Legacies / Fortunes de Rousseau," Sixteenth Biennial Colloquium, Rousseau Association, UCLA, June 25-28, 20090.

Rousseau's legacies are multiple and contested. In philosophy, he was described as the Newton of the moral sciences by Kant, and yet alongside those who champion an ethic of rights and duties, are others, equally influenced by Rousseau who take forward his concerns with virtue, community or moral psychology. In social anthropology, Rousseau was hailed as precursor, by none other than Levi-Strauss. Rousseau's concern with the natural world and the environment has echoes both in the romantic movement and in the environmental politics of our own day. Rousseau's autobiographical writings prefigure a concern with subjectivity that finds later expression in Freud and the psychoanalytic movement. His writing on education has been rediscovered, championed or excoriated by successive generations of advocates or opponents of "child centred education". His political legacy has been bitterly contested between advocates of deliberative democracy, liberals, nationalists of various stripes, and those who see him as the harbinger of totalitarianism. We invite papers reflecting critically on any aspect of Rousseau's various legacies in philosophy, literature, political theory, theatre, music, biography, etc. Proposals on the above topic (title and short summary), in English or French, for papers of 20 minutes duration should be sent to the President of the Rousseau Association, Christopher Bertram, by electronic mail at or by ordinary mail at thefollowing address: Department of Philosophy University of Bristol 9 Woodland Road Bristol United Kingdom (If using ordinary mail, please also give if possible an electronic address for acknowledgement. ) The deadline for receipt of proposals is December 31st, 2008. Proposals will be reviewed by the Scientific Committee (Professors Christopher Bertram, Patrick Coleman, Ourida Mostefai) and a decision communicated by January 31st 2009. A preliminary program for the conference will be available in February 2009.

"Natality, Embodiment and the Political: Feminist Conversations," University of Dundee, May 28-29, 2009.

Keynote Speakers: Christine Battersby and Adriana Cavarero The conference will explore the productive conjunction between natality, embodiment and the political in contemporary feminist philosophy. The starting point will be the influential work of our keynote speakers - Christine Battersby and Adriana Cavarero. In different ways their work shows how philosophy and politics are transformed when natality and the female body that births are placed at the centre of our thought. The aim of the conference is not solely to establish their work as a point of reference for feminist appropriations. The objective is rather to think with them: to explore feminist lines of thought that open up from or intersect with key aspects of their thinking. We welcome papers on the following themes: ● The conjunction between natality and politics ● Rethinking the political in feminist theory ● Transforming philosophy for a body that births ● Phenomenological approaches to the female body and birth ● Thinking feminist theory after Arendt ● The relationship between power, bodies and the political ● Feminist approaches to embodiment, self and identity Proposals for a 3000 word paper or a panel of up to three speakers should be sent to The proposal should be max. 500 words for a paper and 1000 words for a panel. The deadline of proposals is 14th November. A limited number of student bursaries will be available. The bursaries will cover the registration fee plus a contribution towards travel (UK students £100, Overseas students £200). Please indicate in your proposal if you are applying for a bursary. For further information, please contact: Dr. Johanna Oksala Senior Lecturer Philosophy, School of Humanities University of Dundee Dr. Rachel Jones Lecturer Philosophy, School of Humanities University of Dundee

Sommers, Christina Hoff. "Feminism and Freedom." AEI SHORT PUBLICATIONS August 1, 2008.

On February 10, 2001, eighteen thousand women filled Madison Square Garden for one of the more notable feminist gatherings of our time. The event--"Take Back the Garden"--centered on a performance of Eve Ensler's raunchy play, The Vagina Monologues. The "Vulva Choir" sang; self-described "Vagina Warriors"--including Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Donna Hanover (Rudolph Giuliani's ex-wife)--recited pet names for vaginas: Mimi, Gladys. Glenn Close led the crowd in spelling out an obscene word for women's intimate anatomy: "Give me a C. . . !!!" A huge banner declared the Garden to be a "RAPE FREE ZONE." The mood grew solemn when Oprah Winfrey came forward to read a new monologue called "Under the Burqa," which described the plight of Afghan women living under the Taliban. At its climax, an actual Afghan woman named Zoya, who represented the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), appeared on stage covered from head to toe in a burqa. Oprah approached her and, with a dramatic sweep of her arm, lifted and removed it. The crowd roared in delight. Later, an exposé in the progressive American Prospect would reveal that RAWA is a Maoist organization whose fanatical members are so feared by Afghan women that one human rights activist has dubbed them the "Talibabes." According to the Prospect, when Ms. magazine tried to distance itself from RAWA in 2002, a RAWA spokeswoman denounced Ms. as the "mouthpiece of hegemonic, U.S.-centric corporate feminism." But on that magical February night at the Garden, few knew or cared about Zoya's political views or affiliations. The evening was a near-perfect distillation of contemporary feminism. Pick up a women's studies textbook, visit a college women's center, or look at the websites of leading feminist organizations, and you will likely find the same fixation on intimate anatomy combined with left-wing politics and a poisonous antipathy to men. (Campus feminists were among the most vocal and zealous accusers of the young men on the Duke University lacrosse team who were falsely indicted for rape in 2006.) Contemporary feminism routinely depicts American society as a dangerous patriarchy in which women are under siege--that is the message of the "RAPE FREE ZONE" banner in the Garden. It therefore presents itself as a movement of "liberation," defying the patriarchal oppressor and offering women everywhere the opportunity to make contact with their "real selves.". . . Read the rest here:,pubID.28410/pub_detail.asp.

Monday, September 22, 2008

John, Eileen. "Review of David Davies' AESTHETICS AND LITERATURE." NDPR (September 2008).

Davies, David. Aesthetics and Literature. London: Continuum, 2007. David Davies here offers a succinct, intelligent account of the state of play in a range of philosophical debates concerning literature, focusing on the Anglo-American tradition. The book considers conceptual and ontological questions (what is literature, what is fiction, what is a literary work, what is a fictional character), questions about interpretation (how to construe discourse concerning fiction, how intentions and context constrain interpretation of literary works), issues arising from emotional engagement with fiction (whether it is genuine emotion, how we can enjoy works of tragedy and of horror), and questions concerning the cognitive and ethical roles and values of literature. If you do not know these debates, this book would be an excellent, efficient route to wide-ranging understanding of the field. If you are familiar with these debates, I think it is well worth following Davies in his forthright examination of the issues. The book is not aimed at promoting Davies' views on the issues, and chapters typically leave the reader with a summary of the possibilities considered -- where one might go from here -- but the possibilities have been well canvassed for plausibility, and a number of interesting approaches are advanced along the way. With a few exceptions, I felt persuaded by Davies' way of framing, and assessing the promise of, the various views and strategies under consideration. . . . Read the rest of the review here:

Welch, Mark. "Review of Noel Carroll's THE PHILOSOPHY OF MOTION PICTURES." MOR April 29, 2008.

Carroll, Noel. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Any art form needs a philosophy; something that can begin to articulate its nature and value in representing and understanding our world. Hopefully, through the publication of this scholarly, detailed and thoroughly-argued book Carroll will finally put to rest the debate about whether or not films (aka motion pictures or moving images) can be seen as works of art. He makes the case persuasively that they can, and in the process exposes the limitations and narrowness of view of the opposing argument. Although the eponymous term moving pictures is not Carroll's preferred label (he would rather talk about the moving image and therefore it is a bit of a puzzle why he titled the book as he did) he does not waste undue time in making arcane arguments about whether we should be talking about films or cinema or whatever. We all pretty much know what we mean and we know what we sitting down to watch. Film-makers create and present a point of view that while it may be recorded is nevertheless created and imbued with choice. So, Carroll begins a careful and scholarly examination of the history of the philosophy of film, beginning with Munsterberg's 1916 exposition of what he called photoplays, through the traditional theorists such as Arnheim, Eisenstein, Bazin and Kracauer among others, to the period cultural studies to his own preferred and simplified position in which a pluralistic approach is applied and a functional definition is more important than any specificity of medium (that is to say, videotape, podcasting, CGI and new media can all be considered under the rubric of the moving image). . . . Read the rest here:

Westmaas, Nigel. "Walter Rodney: ‘Groundings’ and the Jamaica Ban Forty Years On." STABROEK NEWS September 21, 2008.

It was forty years ago this October that Walter Rodney was banned from Jamaica and set off disturbances that came to be known as the “Walter Rodney riots.”When Rodney left to take up a scholarship in the University College of the West Indies in Jamaica in 1966 signs of his later scholarly activism or ‘groundings’ were already prevalent and were being recorded according to declassified intelligence. The Jamaican security reports gave priority to Rodney’s activities from as early as his student days at Mona campus, between 1961-63. A partial trigger of security interest was Rodney’s several visits to Cuba and the Soviet Union in the same period. . . . Read the rest here: (Thanks to Mark McWatt for the link.)

Summers, Christina Hoff. "Reconsiderations: Betty Friedan's THE FEMINIST MYSTIQUE." NEW YORK SUN September 17, 2008.

"Groundbreaking." "A landmark." "A classic." Those are the words now commonly used to describe Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, first published in 1963. Friedan "pulled the trigger on history," wrote futurist Alvin Toffler; feminist admirers refer to it as "The Book." The Feminine Mystique sold more than 2 million copies when it came out, and remains a staple in women's studies classes today. But after nearly half a century, does it live up to its reputation? Rereading it, I find it to be both better and much worse than I remembered. Striking, certainly, is the famed opening passage, where Friedan introduces the "problem that has no name": The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — Is this all? For the next 450 pages, Friedan, who died in 2006, answered that question: No, it is not all. "What happened to [women's] dreams?" she asked. What happened to their "share in the whole of human destiny?" What happened, according to Friedan, is that women's magazines, advertisers, and an army of Freudian social scientists conspired to persuade American women that the fulfillment of their femininity was their truest and highest calling. . . . Read the rest here:

3rd Annual Conference, Hannah Arendt Circle, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, March 27-29, 2009.

The conference is jointly hosted by the departments of Philosophy, Communications, & Foreign Languages. Individual submissions for papers are welcome on any aspect of Arendt's work, including critiques and applications of her thinking. Please send an abstract of the paper, by e-mail (750 word limit). Abstracts should be formatted for anonymous review and submitted to the program committee chair, Karin Fry at on or before November 14th, 2008. Please indicate "Arendt Circle submission" in the subject heading, and include the abstract as a ".doc" attachment to your message. Program decisions will be announced by the end of December. Program Committee: Karin Fry, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Tama Weisman, Quincy University Irene McMullin, University of Arkansas Further information is available here:

"Afterlives of Postcolonialism," Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, October 25-26, 2008.

In recent times some scholars have proclaimed that postcolonial theory has exhausted its critical energies- at the very time that it has been taken up by scholars and activists not located in English or Literature departments, the area where postcolonial theory made its early impact and sometimes found an institutional home. The Centre for Postcolonial Studies at Goldsmiths is organising a conference on the “Afterlives of Postcolonialism”- the ‘after’ referring both to its life/lives after the proclamation of its death, and also to its life after/outside the study of literature. In what ways can/has postcolonial theory been taken up by artists, architects and scholars of art and architecture, by those who study politics, anthropology and sociology, and area studies, and to what effects? Does it merely provide another way of ‘reading’ texts, to does it have the potential to destabilize and reconfigure practices and disciplines? And what happens to postcolonial theory when it moves into politics, art, sociology, and area studies; what mutations does it undergo, or need to undergo? Drawing upon speakers from a range of geographical (India, the U.S., South Africa, Palestine, the U.K.) and disciplinary locations (everything from architecture to art, film, music, politics. . .), involving practitioners as well as theorists, this conference asks whether postcolonial theory still has any life in it- and what sorts of lives it is leading once it travels outside of literature. Confirmed speakers include: Harry Harootunian, History and East Asian Studies, New York University Lindsay Waters, Harvard University Press (Executive Editor of Humanities) Ivor Chipkin, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Eyal Weizman, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths Robert Fine, Sociology, Warwick University Sandi Hilal, UNRWA, West Bank Rangan Chakravarty, film producer, KolkotaAlessandro Petti, International Art Academy, Palestine Gurminder Bhambra, Sociology, Warwick University Paramita Brahmachari, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkota Sonia Boyce, Artist, AHRC Research Fellow, Wimbledon College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London Andrew Cross, Artist Marko Daniel, Curator of Public Programmes, Tate Modern Leon Wainwright, Manchester Metropolitan University Visit the conference homepage here:

5th Annual California Roundtable on Philosophy and Race, University of California, Berkeley, October 3-4, 2008.

Update (September 22, 2008): The programme and related information may now be found put here: Original Post (April 5, 2008): The California Roundtable on Philosophy and Race announces a call for papers for its fifth annual roundtable, to be held October 3-4, 2008 at UC Berkeley. This roundtable brings together philosophers of race, and those working in related fields in a small and congenial setting to share their work and to help further this sub-discipline. Papers are invited on any philosophical issue regarding race, ethnicity, or racism, and including those that take up race in the context of another topic, such as feminism, political philosophy, ethics, justice, culture, identity, biology, phenomenology, existentialism, psychoanalysis, metaphysics, or epistemology. Submissions are especially encouraged from junior scholars and philosophers of color. We seek to foster a productive and intellectually stimulating environment for those working in philosophy and race. The Roundtable also aspires to bring together junior and senior scholars to develop and enhance constructive mentoring relationships. Registration is free but please register by email by April 30, 2008. Papers should be no more than 30 minutes in length. Please submit full paper or detailed abstract (2-3 pages), as MS word .doc or .pdf document to Further information is here:

Wellmer, Albrecht. "Rereading Rorty." KRISIS 28.2 (2008).

When as a young philosopher, equally fascinated by Critical Theory and analytical philosophy, I first encountered Richard Rorty and began to read some of his writings, I was mostly struck by what I perceived as a certain frivolity of his manner of speaking and writing, that is, by what appeared to me then as a certain lack of seriousness concerning deep phi-losophical problems. When I think about Rorty today what comes first to my mind is that through his interventions in almost all important philosophical debates of the recent past – from the various spectres of ana-lytical philosophy to the most recent developments of continental philosophy – he has changed the parameters of contemporary philosophical discourse in a highly significant way. He has done this by reshuffling most of the important philosophical posi-tions of the past and the present in an ingenious way and thereby redrawing whatever has been one of the established current ‘maps’ of philosophical positions – in a way which most likely has irritated the occupants of each one of them. To put it differently: Rorty has exploited philosophical schools and traditions which before seemed incompatible and inimical to each other by playing them off against each other and using them to recontextualize them in a new way: Hegel, Dewey, Habermas, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Quine, Davidson, Derrida, Foucault, to name only some of the most important ones, not to speak of Plato or of early European rationalist and empiricist philosophers. The result is an entirely new way to conceive of the philosophical tradition as well as of the liberal culture of the North Atlantic tradition, concerning not least the possible role which philosophy could play within this culture. . . . Read the rest here:

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Philosophical Ibsen," Department of Philosophy, Temple University, September 26, 2008.

Speakers include:
  • Toril Moi (Duke University)
  • Frode Helland (The University of Oslo)
  • Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore College)
  • Simon Critchley (The New School)
For more information, visit the conference homepage at

Garver, Eugene. "Review of Marina McCoy's PLATO ON THE RHETORIC OF PHILOSOPHERS AND SOPHISTS." NDPR (September 2008).

McCoy, Marina. Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. Marina McCoy's book has a simple thesis: "Plato distinguishes Socrates from the sophists by differences in character and moral intention" (p. 1). She immediately notes two complications. First, there is no simple way of separating Socrates from the sophists, and the drama of several of the dialogues consists in exploring that complexity, as characters, not excluding Socrates, find the difference between Socrates and the sophists difficult to make out. So saying that Plato distinguishes Socrates from the sophists by their respective characters doesn't solve the problem; it instead tells us how to look at it. Second, McCoy's thesis has a polemical edge; it denies the claims of many commentators who think there is a difference between Socratic and sophistic method. Instead of distinguishing philosophy from sophistic, Plato, she thinks, is at pains to distinguish the philosopher from the sophist. The payoff from her thesis is in insightful readings of several of the dialogues. . . . Read the rest here:

"Re-Imagining Identity: New Directions in Postcolonial Studies," Postcolonial Studies Association, Waterford Institute of Technology, May 6-8, 2009.

This inaugural conference of the Postcolonial Studies Association will focus on a broad re-consideration of the cultural, political, theoretical and practical re-imaginings of the concept of 'identity' as it relates to the field of Postcolonialism and the wider Humanities and the Social Sciences. The conference aims both to explore current understandings of 'identity' in a multicultural, globalised and conflicted world, and to encourage disciplinary self-reflexivity. We welcome papers that interrogate the conceptual category of identity itself, as well as those that relate to the ways specific identities are constructed, assigned or imagined. Questions to be asked will include: 'What is the future of Postcolonialism as a discipline?' and: 'What is the relationship between received understandings of "identity", specific formulations of key contemporary identities, and our understanding of "the postcolonial"?' The PSA invites papers from academics working in the disciplines of Literature, History, Cultural Studies, Film, Human Geography, Linguistics, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Art, Music, Media & Communication and related fields. Our aim is to bring together a wide variety of scholarly interests and methodological approaches. Paper or panel topics may focus on the following conceptual intersections: § Identity, Religion and Spirituality (the secular & sacred, New Age & alternative spiritualities, the Enlightenment, sectarianism, religious symbolism, fundamentalism) § Identity and Time (history, memory, policy, repetition, development, modernity, eternity, death) § Identity and Language (language policy, seizing the pen, language as mission and calling; propaganda) § Identity and Politics (resistance, war, terror) § Identity and Space (regions, blocs, global flows, the EU and the wider world, the environment) § Identity, Theory and Disciplinary Boundaries (postcolonialism as a discipline, theoretical approaches, the policing of knowledge, multidisciplinarity, comparative postcolonialisms) Panels will normally comprise three 20-minute papers. Proposal acceptance is subject to organising committee approval. To submit a paper or panel proposal please contact: Dr Christine ODowd-Smyth - or Closing date for abstract submissions: 1 December 2008 For more information please contact: Dr Gerri Kimber - or Dr Marta Vizcaya Echano - Visit the conference homepage here:

"Imagined Communities, Real Conflicts, and National Identities," Association for the Study of Nationalities, Columbia University, April 23-25, 2009.

The ASN Convention, the most attended international and inter-disciplinary scholarly gathering of its kind, welcomes proposals on a wide range of topics related to national identity, nationalism, ethnic conflict, state-building and the study of empires in Central/Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Eurasia, and adjacent areas. Disciplines represented include political science, history, anthropology, sociology, international studies, security studies, economics, geography and geopolitics, sociolinguistics, psychology, and related fields. The Convention also features a section devoted to theoretical approaches to nationalism, from any of the disciplines listed above. The papers in this section need not be grounded in an area of the former Communist bloc usually covered by ASN, provided that the issues examined are relevant to a truly comparative understanding of nation-alism-related issues. In this vein, we are welcoming theory-focused and comparative proposals, rather than specific case studies from outside Central/Eastern Europe and Eurasia. A dozen panels are normally featured in the Nationalism section. Visit the conference homepage here:

Geuss, Raymond. Introduction to PHILOSOPHY AND REAL POLITICS.

Geuss, Raymond. Philosophy and Real Politics. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2008. When I object to the claim that politics is applied ethics, I . . . intend a . . . specific view about the nature and structure of ethical judgment and its relation to politics, and in particular a theory about where one should start in studying politics, what the final framework for studying politics is, what it is reasonable to focus on, and what it is possible to abstract from. “Politics is applied ethics” in the sense I find objectionable means that we start thinking about the human social world by trying to get what is sometimes called an “ideal theory” of ethics. This approach assumes that there is, or could be, such a thing as a separate discipline called Ethics which has its own distinctive subject-matter and forms of argument, and which prescribes how humans should act toward one another. It further assumes that one can study this subject-matter without constantly locating it within the rest of human life, and without unceasingly refl ecting on the relations one’s claims have with history, sociology, ethnology, psychology, and economics. Finally, this approach proposes that the way to proceed in “ethics” is to focus on a very few general principles such as that humans are rational, or that they generally seek pleasure and try to avoid pain, or that they always pursue their own “interests”; these principles are taken to be historically invariant, and studying ethics consists essentially in formulating them clearly, investigating the relations that exist between them, perhaps trying to give some kind of “justification” of at least some of them, and drawing conclusions from them about how people ought to act or live. Usually, some kind of individualism is also presupposed, in that the precepts of ethics are thought to apply directly and in the first instance to human individuals. Often, although not invariably, views of this type also give special weight to “ethical intuitions” that people in our society purportedly share, and they hold that an important part of ethics is the attempt to render these intuitions consistent. . . . In this essay I would like to expound and advocate a kind of political philosophy based on assumptions that are the opposite of the “ethics-first” view, and so it might be useful to the reader to make the acquaintance, in a preliminary and sketchy way, of the four interrelated theses that, I will claim, ought to structure a more fruitful approach to politics than “ethics-fi rst.” . . . Read the rest here:

Orasimcha. "Žižek For Jews." JEWCY.COM August 26, 2008.

Zizek, Slavoj. In Defense of Lost Causes. London: Verso, 2007. Slavoj Žižek declares in his latest opus, In Defense of Lost Causes (Verso), that while postmodernism has caused (or allowed) every other kind of racial, social, and cultural identity to be in flux, Jewish identity appears to have become fixed in a simple equation in which Jews=Zionists=racists (thank you, UN) Jews are expected, he says (in his usual difficult prose) to “yield with regard to their name”—that is, “in the liberal multiculturalist perspective, all groups can assert their identity – except Jews, whose very self-assertion equals Zionist racism.” Žižek, an internationally reknowned intellectual, has been at the cutting edge of social and political theory for almost two decades, and apparently strives to be an outsider. It is therefore no surprise that he has developed an interest in Jews, as such. Žižek cares so much about Jewish identity because he identifies as Jewish. Not literally. He is no more a Jew than Joe Lieberman is a liberal. Rather, Žižek, a product of Slovenia, a country torn by the last century’s wars, sees in the Jewish experience a representation of contemporary experience that is far more subtle than a chaotic and relativistic mash-up of identity politics. Was it not, as Žižek says, that “in the history of modern Europe, those who stood for the striving for universality were precisely atheist Jews from Spinoza to Marx and Freud?" The irony is that throughout the history of anti-Semitism, Jews stand for both of these poles. They're either too insistent on being 'Jewish,' so much so that they never integrate fully in the societies in which they live; or, conversely, reveling in a stereotypically homeless cosmopolitanism indifferent, if not hostile, to religion and ethnicity. The first thing to recall is thus that this struggle is (also) inherent to Jewish identity. And, perhaps, this Jewish struggle is our central struggle today: the struggle between fidelity to the Messianic impulse and the reactive (…) “politics of fear” which focuses on preserving one’s particular identity. . . . Read the rest here:

Two Recent Conferences on Narrative Theory, at the Center for the Study of the Novel, Stanford University.

Visit the pages below for further information on the following conferences which, although completed, may be of interest to readers. (PDFs of presentations are available in some cases.)

PUB: Issue on Jacques Ranciere. ART AND RESEARCH 2.1 (2008).

The Contents include: Visit the issue homepage at

Monday, September 15, 2008

Johnson, Violet. "'What Then is the African American?' African and Afro-Caribbean Identities in Black America." JOURNAL OF ETHNIC HISTORY 28.1 (2008)

In his examination of status ascriptions in American society, sociologist Everett Hughes illustrated the rigidity and power of blackness as a designation for all peoples of African descent in the United States: "membership in the Negro race, as defined in American mores and/or law, may be called a master status–determining trait. It tends to overpower, in most crucial situations, any other characteristics which might run counter to it." This 1945 study provides the pivot—the master status—around which the present discussion revolves. From the beginning of voluntary black immigration in the late nineteenth century to the present, this master status has been at the center of the history of black foreigners in the United States. Much of this history is shaped by a complex set of ambivalent processes marked by the immigrants' understanding of, acquiescence to, and outright challenge of the master status. The determination not to let this phenomenon overpower their nonracial distinctiveness has led immigrants of African descent to embark on, in Erving Goffman's term, "presentation of self," through which, individually and collectively, they have presented themselves as "the other" in black America. The diverse and complex outcomes of this presentation of the self have, in turn, contributed to the ethnicization of black America—in short, the creation of ethnic groups within a racialized American ethnicity, thus shattering the erroneous, even if enduring, notion of a monolithic black America. The "othering" of black immigrants and their children, self-consciously and by others, questions the master status in important ways that get to the core of who is African American. This interrogation has been crucial since the early twentieth century, when, for example, W. E. B. Du Bois and other American-born black leaders challenged the legitimacy of Jamaican Marcus Garvey as a black American activist. It gained significant momentum with the phenomenal increase of the foreign black population at the close of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries. The emergence of Barack Obama, a biracial American with a white mother and a Kenyan immigrant father, has provided the single most glaring illustration of the sharper attention to the black immigrant factor. During the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Illinois, black Republican Alan Keyes remarked about his Democratic opponent: "Barack Obama and I have the same race—that is, physical characteristics. We are not from the same heritage. My ancestors toiled in slavery in this country. My consciousness, who I am as a person, has been shaped by my struggle, deeply emotional and deeply painful, with the reality of that heritage." The "Obama heritage" debate gained new life with the senator's announcement of his candidacy for the 2008 presidential race. Immediately, some people began to ponder the implications of the first black American president tracing his blackness not to ancestors who experienced American slavery but directly to ancestors in Kenya, instructively, an African country that was not even a source of supply for the Atlantic slave trade, which laid the foundations for the native-born black community. From soul food restaurants to hairdressing and barber salons, Obama's authenticity as a "real African American" was put under scrutiny. The outcomes of developments around Obama's candidacy, which are bound to provide useful insights for future analysis, are unfolding: the endorsement by Oprah Winfrey, arguably the most influential black icon of contemporary America; Obama's surprisingly sound victory in predominantly white Iowa; and his postracial politics. . . . Read the rest here:


In black American life and culture a race man or race woman is one who dedicates his or her life and work to countering the lies, ideological evasions, and pretensions to “innocence” and “equal justice for all” that prop up America’s deeply embedded, systemic, and institutionalized racism. Race men and race women (which I consolidate, and at the same time, I think, usefully expand to the term “race people”) seek remedy for harms to the black body caused by the gospel and practice of white supremacy. Race people contest an ideologically inspired and profit-hungry white power structure that still maintains and reaps scandalous billions of dollars from a traffic in and enslavement of black bodies in the Americas. (Today’s slavery is disguised as criminal justice in the form of a vast American private prison-industrial complex.) Race people model themselves as sharers of a culture, cause, and community held to be of African descent and labeled variously “African,” “colored,” “Negro,” “black,” “Afro-American,” “African American.” These are the selfsame people the precociously brilliant poet-essayist Amiri Baraka hailed as “blues people.” Often patterning their labors after biblical prophets, race people commit themselves to a mobile, resounding, fierce redefinition of the state of race and the race in a troubled American nation. They do this in the very face of race’s most brutal exclusions. When they are granted or when they secure public voice, they use their forum to advocate the interests of what they define as “their race” at its majority level. Select black individuals may achieve fame—and a growing black middle class may work profitably at race-oriented and affirmative action–induced jobs. Elite blacks may even find themselves subjects for glossy, high-end magazines such as Ebony, Sports Illustrated, and Essence. But to state the unequivocal once again, the race reaps virtually no benefit from the bling of a black celebrity “elite” that is often more damning in its condemnation of the black American majority than white America at large. Where the majority is concerned, any real (consumable) public gains or advancement in America must provide nourishment for all; there must be a collective harvest. The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are rich in acknowledged commitment to the advance of the race as a whole, as well as to race as a valued and valuable category for the analysis of American life and history. . . . Read the whole extract here:

Miller, Laura. "The Heretic." SALON August 25, 2008.

Rowland, Ingrid. Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008. But who was Giordano Bruno, and why was he executed in the Campo de' Fiori in 1600? A common misperception mixes him up with Galileo, who ran into trouble with the church 16 years later for embracing the Copernican model of the solar system instead of endorsing the Aristotelian belief that the sun revolves around the Earth. (In fact, the two men shared an Inquisitor, the implacable Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, canonized by the Catholic Church in 1930.) Bruno, too, thought that the Earth circled the sun, and subscribed to many other than heterodox ideas as well: that the universe is infinite and that everything in it is made up of tiny particles (i.e., atoms), and that it is immeasurably old. But as Ingrid Rowland demonstrates in her new biography of the renegade thinker, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic, Bruno was no martyr for science. What got him killed was a murky mixture of spiritual transgression and personal foibles, combined with a large dose of bad luck. . . . Read the rest here:

Scull, Andrew. "The Fictions of Foucault's Scholarship." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT March 21, 2007.

Foucault, Michel. History of Madness. Foreword by Ian Hacking. Ed. Jean Khalfa. Trans. Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa. London: Routledge, 2006. [The recent and full translation of Focault's Folie et deraison.] The back cover of History of Madness contains a series of hyperbolic hymns of praise to its virtues. Paul Rabinow calls the book “one of the major works of the twentieth century”; Ronnie Laing hails it as “intellectually rigorous”; and Nikolas Rose rejoices that “Now, at last, English-speaking readers can have access to the depth of scholarship that underpins Foucault’s analysis”. Indeed they can, and one hopes that they will read the text attentively and intelligently, and will learn some salutary lessons. One of those lessons might be amusing, if it had no effect on people’s lives: the ease with which history can be distorted, facts ignored, the claims of human reason disparaged and dismissed, by someone sufficiently cynical and shameless, and willing to trust in the ignorance and the credulity of his customers. . . (,,25347-2626687,00.html) Colin Gordon's response "Extreme Prejudice": Scull was . . . engaged in the 1980s . . . in blackening Foucault’s reputation by manipulative misquotation, and this review unfortunately shows that his methods have not changed. Scull tries to present Foucault as saying, implausibly, that English psychiatric asylums were established in former monasteries. A reader who tracks down this citation (page 56 in the translation) will find that Foucault is in fact referring to foundations of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century houses of correction in England and Germany. Foucault nowhere asserts, as Scull implies, that all or most insane people in early modern Europe were incarcerated in such institutions. The primary targets of the seventeenth-century “Great Internment” which Foucault’s book famously describes were, as it makes clear, the idle poor. . . . (,,25390-2633037,00.html and, in greater detail,

Grayling, A. C. "Origin of the Specious." NEW HUMANIST 123.5 (2008).

Fuller, Steve. Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism. Cambridge: Icon, 2008. It is sometimes hard to know whether books that strike one as silly and irresponsible, like Dissent over Descent, the latest book from Steve Fuller, are the product of a desire to strike a pose and appear outrageous (the John Gray syndrome), or really do represent that cancer of the contemporary intellect, post-modernism. I suppose putatively sincere extrusions of the post-modern sensibility might henceforth deserve to be known as “the Steve Fuller syndrome”. For this offering by the American-born sociologist is a classic case of the absurdity to which that sensibility leads. . . . ( Fuller's reply "Against the Faith": I wish I could repay AC Grayling’s compliment by naming an exotic mental pathology after him, but regrettably his review of Dissent over Descent displays disorders of a much more mundane kind: he has merely failed to read the book properly and does not know what he is talking about. Other than a sense of the chapter titles, the reader of his review will learn nothing about the contents of the book. My only difficulty in responding to Grayling is that he connects so little with what I actually say – for example, his longest quote from me is eight words. However, based on what Grayling himself says in the review, my guess is that he cooked it up using this five-part recipe: 1. Flip book’s pages to find names of philosophers. (Hint: index may prove helpful.) 2. Note that author positions these philosophers in unfamiliar ways that seem to make Intelligent Design (ID) look good. 3. Condemn immediately by applying A-level intellectual history boilerplate. 4. Appease readers whose own knowledge is also at this level and whose prejudices are like those of the reviewer. 5. Repeat as necessary. In light of this modus operandi, I conclude that either Grayling simply did not “read” the book as ordinarily understood, or he was afraid to admit he was not up to the job of reviewing it, and so he figured he could bluff his way by saying philosophy-looking things that effectively preached to the converted (i.e. “new humanists”). . . . ( Academics can be so vicious. I wonder why we can't simply agree to disagree?

Ralston, Laurel. "A Derridean Approach to Musical Identity." POSTGRADUATE JOURNAL OF AESTHETICS 5.2 (2008).

The issue of musical identity—of what defines works of music, gives each its unique character and distinguishes them from one another—is one of the central issues in the philosophy of music. Too often in the philosophical literature it is approached as a purely theoretical question, one that can be answered adequately through careful intellectual consideration of scores and performances. The typical philosophical approach to the performance of Western art music, particularly that composed between the Baroque and Romantic eras, is to offer descriptions of how musical works come into being, what their origins may be, which of their structural and aesthetic elements must be observed and conserved in their representations, and so on. It takes the written notation of a musical work, the score, to be a kind of blueprint created by a composer, defining and describing an autonomous musical entity, the musical work, such that another person might perform it. The work is recognized paradoxically as something existing independently of, yet deriving its identity from, its origins with the composer. In this essay I propose that an alternative to this approach can be constructed by analogy with the ‘textual strategies’ characteristic of Jacques Derrida’s approach to literary theory, criticism and the philosophy of language. Philosophical accounts of literary identity have upheld the supposed immutability of the ‘original version’ of the text and allowed it to remain the ‘ultimate reference’ for its identity. Derrida, however, has pointed out the problematic nature of traditional thought regarding literary texts: that there is a certain tension between the recognition of the enigmatic nature of the identity conditions of a literary work and the continued belief that it is possible to articulate such conditions. The structure of writing, of all writing, precludes any notion of the written text as fixed and eternal, because signification, representation, and the substitution of one meaning or context for another all occur indefinitely within it and without closure. Writing works in such a way that it engages signified meaning “in its own economy so that it always signifies again and differs. . . . [That] which is written is never identical to itself.” The centre that would enclose this economy, that could cause the chain of signification to close itself by linking the origin and the end and boiling all substitutions down to a single, cohesive interpretation, would transgress this structure of writing. Substitution as it occurs in writing does not simply happen once and for all; it is structurally bound to occur ad infinitum. In music this encompasses the substitution of notation for sound—a dual structure set in motion by différance, the playing movement that emerges within musical practice not only as the theoretical interaction of possible interpretations, but also as the concrete exercise of creating sound, time and again: of playing music. This is the case with all written texts—they do not possess a simple origin, because they are originally iterable. . . . Read the rest here:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Walter Rodney Conference," Institute of Caribbean Studies & Centre for Caribbean Thought, University of the West Indies, Mona, October 16-18, 2008.

The Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Centre for Caribbean Thought, in association with the Guild of Students, UWI, Mona and the Africana Studies Department, Brown University, invite abstracts for a conference, to be convened from October 16-18, 2008 at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, to mark the 40th anniversary of the October 16, 1968 student protests resulting from the expulsion of Walter Rodney. The Mona campus was cordoned off by the police and military for two weeks and staff and students engaged in self-searching discussions about the political situation and the character of the University itself and its mission. Revisiting this historic moment is particularly appropriate as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the University of the West Indies. The impact of the Rodney protests was felt throughout the Caribbean region and especially at the UWI campuses in Trinidad and Barbados and at the University of Guyana. There were protests in London, the United States and elsewhere. These protests internationalised the local events and contributed to the emergence of newspapers such as Abeng in Jamaica, Moko in Trinidad and Ratoon in Guyana. The October 1968 events helped to stimulate the radicalisation of Caribbean politics and culture in the 1970s and challenged the Caribbean to consider alternative ways of thinking about and building egalitarian societies in the early years after political independence. Walter Rodney's intellectual and political work reinvigorated and refined the radical Pan-African tradition in the 1960's and 70's. His reflections on 1968 and some of his articles and speeches were published in 1969 in The Groundings With My Brothers. His return to the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 1969 saw him continue his scholarly work on African history as well as his collaboration with liberation movements based in the Tanzanian capital. In 1972 his classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa appeared. Walter Rodney returned to Guyana in 1974 and was denied employment at the University of Guyana by the administration of Forbes Burnham. Rodney, one of the leaders of the Working People's Alliance, was killed on June 13, 1980 when an explosive he thought was a walkie-talkie, given to him by a soldier in the Guyana Defence Force, detonated. His book, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905, was published posthumously in 1981. CONFERENCE THEMES: § Walter Rodney's Academic and Political Legacy § Pan-Africanism Revisited § Marxism in the Caribbean § Student Activism in the Contemporary Caribbean § Anti-colonial movements in the Caribbean § Black Power in the Caribbean § Gendering Black Power § Rastafari and Political Activism in Jamaica § Grassroots Journalism in the Caribbean § Oral Histories of the Rodney Protests § Literary Representations of Revolutionary Politics in the Caribbean § Rodney, Revolution and Popular Music The themes outlined above are not exhaustive or mutually exclusive and are intended as a guide/focus for panels and papers. We invite submission of research paper abstracts by September 8, 2008. Submissions should include: 1)an abstract of not more than 300 words 2)a cover page with name, affiliation, contact information and short bio (75 words or less) Email your submission to: Leon Burrell Conference Co-ordinator Email: <> Tel: (876) 977-1951 Fax: (876) 977-3430

"Cognitive Disability: a Challenge to Moral Philosophy," Department of Philosophy, SUNY, Stony Brook, Manhattan Campus, September 18-20, 2008.

"Cognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy" will explore philosophical questions about three specific populations — people with autism, Alzheimer's disease, and those labeled "mentally retarded." We will raise ethical and foundational questions regarding both theoretical and practical matters.

The areas to be explored include:

  • Personhood: Should individuals with cognitive disabilities be excluded from the protections and responsibilities we assign to "persons"? Do the implications of such exclusion force a reconsideration of the concept of personhood?
  • Justice: Should individuals with cognitive disabilities be excluded from the claims and protections granted to members of a political community? If not, how might their interests be represented and given a political voice?
  • Care: How should we define, and how can we recognize, relationships and obligations to people lacking the ability to fully care for themselves? How should we understand the obligations of and to their caregivers? What significant aspects of the nature of all human interaction are revealed in these relationships?
  • History and Conceptual Bases of Classifications: How have various categories of cognitive disability emerged? What historical, social and political contingencies have played a part in our classifications?
  • Metaphilosophical Concerns: How has the "benign neglect" philosophers have exercised with respect to this subject shaped the substance of wider philosophical theory and practice?
Visit the conference homepage here:

Showalter, Elaine. "'Changing Places' in Changed Times." CHRONICLE REVIEW September 12, 2008.

Thirty years ago, every American academic going on a research trip or a sabbatical to England carried a copy of David Lodge's comic classic, Changing Places (1975), which told a tale of two 40-year-old professors of English literature and two embattled campuses in the eventful spring of 1969. An ineffectual British academic, Philip Swallow, from the University of Rummidge (think Birmingham), and a hotshot American star, Morris Zapp, from the State University of Euphoria (a fictional state between Northern and Southern California), in Plotinus (Berkeley), switch places for a six-month exchange of offices, courses, and even wives. Both are transformed by the experience, and since the women's-liberation movement is just beginning (the Plotinus Gazette announces its first demonstration, for free child-care centers), the wives are changing, too, in ways none of the characters can foresee or control. . . . Read the rest here: See also Showalter's Faculty Towers: the Academic Novel and its Discontents (Pennsylvania: U of Pennsylvania P, 2005).

McLemee, Scott. "Prospero's Island." INSIDE HIGHER ED September 10, 2008.

We reached the island on the morning of Labor Day, as the last of the vacationers were closing up their summer rentals; they caught the afternoon ferry back to New Bedford. At peak times, there may be 300 people on Cuttyhunk. It is a tiny island with a peculiar shape, located about two hours from Boston — one hour each by land and by sea. A retired academic couple, Marvin and Betty Mandell, had lent my wife and me use of their place for a few days. (Marvin is professor emeritus of English at Curry College, while Betty holds the same position in social work at Bridgewater State College.) By the evening of our first day, the island’s population had shrunk to a few dozen people – none of whom, it turned out, was a restaurateur. We sank into the quiet. Cell phones didn’t always work, and we were wireless-less. It was a good place to let your imagination to take over. We began speculating about the puzzling sets of rocks arranged in odd patters, the occasional symbol painted here and there, the graffiti laboriously scratched into the stones of a bridge. We worked out our own myth about the sacrificial traditions of the island – two parts Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and one part H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” (It seemed obvious that worship of sinister fish gods would be involved, given all the yachts). What made the private joke work, of course, was the absolute lack of menace or stress on the island otherwise – unless you counted the occasional need to get out of the way of golf carts putting down the road. Exploring the local history books on Marvin and Betty’s shelves and in the Cuttyhunk Public Library, I became intrigued by the area’s most ambitious claim to fame. This was the theory that it served as the inspiration for Prospero’s island in The Tempest. Since getting back home, to a city with good research collections, it has been possible to explore the matter a little further. By now, it is not so much a case of scholarly fascination as reluctance to surrender all of the vacation mood. . . . Read the rest here:

Butterworth, Trevor. "Prevarication Nation." BOOKFORUM (September-November 2008).

Rabaté, Jean-Michel. The Ethics of the Lie. New York: Other, 2008. Jean-Michel Rabaté, Vartan Gregorian Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, bookends The Ethics of the Lie with Jacques Lacan, the French psychiatrist who connected the anxieties of poststructuralism to those of psychoanalysis. At the beginning, we have the proposition, apropos Monica Lewinsky, that Bill Clinton may have been “the world’s first Lacanian president” because, as Lacan saw it, “there is no such thing as a sexual relationship” (and as Clinton tried to explain to a mortified nation, oral sex should be thought of as an aperitif rather than an entrée). At the end, and apropos Pinocchio’s nose, we are told that from a Lacanian point of view, “the lie always keeps something of the structure of the phallus, because the phallus is always like a joke, partakes [sic] of its mythical origins with the ludicrously inflated prosthesis carried on the stage in Aristophanes’ theater.” . . . Read the rest here: See also for the author's perspective on his book:

Kleinberg, Ethan. "Review of Francois Cusset's FRENCH THEORY." NDPR (September 2008).

Cusset, François. French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008. There is a central question that provides a guiding thread through François Cusset's far ranging and intellectually challenging investigation into the reception of "French Theory" in the United States: how is it that "around the beginning of the 1980s, right when the works of Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, and Derrida were being put to work on American campuses and in some alternative communities as the theoretical foundation for a new type of politics, those very names were being demonized in France as the epitome of an outdated 'libidinal' and leftist type of politics"? (XVIII) His study unfolds, examining the chronological periods before and after this crucial decade, casting back to roughly 1966 and then moving forward up until 2004, in an attempt to answer this question and explain the American phenomenon he terms French Theory. Cusset is fascinated by the simultaneous American invention and French erasure of French Theory and his investigation into the social, political, and theoretical causes of this transatlantic divergence takes the reader on a journey from the "public birth" of post-structuralism at the 1966 Johns Hopkins University conference that brought Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and others to the United States (and together) for the first time, through the mutations and revisions of French Theory in the American academic, cultural, and political landscape up to our current moment. To be sure the wide range and loose chronology of the book makes it difficult to discern a clear American trajectory. But what makes the book an exciting and informative read is the details gleaned as we move from the world of advanced academics to the world of cyberpunk comics, temporary autonomous zones (an early incarnation of the internet), and post-modern architecture. In Cusset's account, French Theory was never the sole property of advanced academics but a site of shared interest for those academics and countercultural figures. It is actually the symbolic capital, the star power, of the countercultural figures that led to the rising popularity of the French theorists; this light then reflected back onto the American academics who, in turn, basked in the glow. Thus Cusset's narrative unfolds in two ways. It tells the story of the academics who were instrumental in cultivating French Theory in American higher education and it also attempts to discern and explicate the points of contact with American counter-cultural forces. . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sorman, Guy. "Economics Does Not Lie." CITY JOURNAL 18.3 (2008).

The dismal science is at last a science—and the world is the beneficiary. Though economics as a discipline arose in Great Britain and France at the end of the eighteenth century, it has taken two centuries to reach the threshold of scientific rationality. Previously, intuition, opinion, and conviction enjoyed equal status in economic thought; theories were vague, often unverifiable. Not so long ago, one could teach economics at prestigious universities without using equations and certainly without the complex algorithms, precise (though not infallible) mathematical models, and computers integral to the field today. . . . Read the rest here:

Lunn, Peter. "Behavioural Economics: is it Such a Big Deal?" PROSPECT MAGAZINE 150 (September 2008).

Orthodox economic models are not wrong as such, but rather sloppy, biased approximations of how our economy works. They present a cartoon characterisation of economic life, greatly exaggerating one side of our nature at the expense of others. Behavioural economics has started to paint a more realistic picture. Its progress is following the pattern of a scientific revolution. At first the findings seem to be anomalies and oddities, but on closer inspection they yield new principles and regularities. Economists trained in the conventional approach were initially resistant—many still are—but over time the more open-minded and, interestingly, younger economists are being enticed towards the new field; testing explanations, deriving implications. . . . Read the rest here:

Derakhshani, Tirdad. "The Peril of Racial Paranoia." PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER August 21, 2008.

Jackson, John L. Racial Paranoia: the Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness. New York: Basic Civitas, 2008. Update: See Jackson, John L. How Not to Read Racial Paranoia. CHRONICLE BRAINSTORM September 8, 2009. Extract: I just read a short review of my book in the magazine Color Lines. The reviewer, Julianne Ong Hing, tries to argue that I mistakenly privilege a psychological reading of racism over a structural one. However, she then goes on to claim that “by keeping it light” (a euphemism, I think, for not writing the book more polemically), I ignore “the deeper psychological impacts of a lifetime of racial micro-aggressions.” She claims that I emphasize “personal interactions as the crux of the racial impasse plaguing U.S. society in the 21st century.” This is the heart of her critique: “The realm of personal relationships may be the most accessible for folks to begin to discuss race, but too often the conversation stops at the personal, as it does in this book. Jackson misses the point by equating the frustrations of people of color with those of whites. There are sharp differences between a group that’s imprisoned at disproportionately high rates and one that is not, between a group whose members own the vast majority of the country’s wealth and the groups with the highest poverty rates. Jackson does a disservice to his readers by limiting his analysis to the “he said-she said” between people of color and whites without delving into the structural roots of racism that permeate our daily interactions and our social, political and economic institutions. Even though Jackson acknowledges larger, structural racisms and recognizes the danger of his argument, he nevertheless persists.” This is a reading of the book’s argument that Hing brought with her to its pages. Of course, that’s part of why race and racism are such thorny issues. We are all already tangled up in some ideologically sticky webs of our own (and others’) spinning when it comes to this topic. We are on the defensive, overly sensitive to the potential of Trojan-horsed attacks — or of the other side’s cold-blooded disinterest. . . . Original Post (September 5, 2008): Jackson, an associate professor of anthropology and communications at the University of Pennsylvania, says African Americans live with the suspicion that they encounter racism constantly in their daily lives - though they can't always prove it. They see subtle signs of contempt in a simple look, a gesture, a remark, a nod of the head by white men and women who otherwise seem very friendly. . . . Jackson insists that racial paranoia is more than a feeling or psychological state: It shapes the way people relate to each other across the racial divide. "People aren't just being hypersensitive," he says. "Paranoia defines the organizing principle . . . of how racism functions in American culture today." Nor is racial paranoia limited to one race, Jackson adds. "White folks also are constantly paranoid," Jackson says. In their case, the paranoia is "about the accusation of being called racist." . . . Read the rest here:

CFP: "Consciousness, Theatre, Literature, and the Arts 3," Lincoln School of Performing Arts, University of Lincoln, May 16-18, 2009.

Abstracts (up to 1 page) are invited for papers relating any aspect of consciousness (as defined in a range of disciplines involved with consciousness studies, but not therefore restricted or limited to the academic university context) to any aspect of theatre, performance, literature, music, fine arts, media arts and any sub-genre of those. Creative work is also expressly invited.

Please send the abstract to Professor Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe, Deadline for receipt of abstracts is 1 March 2009.

(Thanks to

Lapidos, Juliet. "The Hottest Rhetorical Device of Campaign '08." SLATE September 5, 2008.

Politicians eager to keep up with the latest fad need more than a flag pin this election season; the hottest accessory of the 2008 campaign is the reversible raincoat. That's the nickname speechwriters have given to the rhetorical device in which words are repeated in transposed order, as with Churchill's famous line: "Let us preach what we practice—let us practice what we preach." The fancy Greek name for the trick is antimetabole, and it's been cropping up in speeches by Democrats and Republicans alike. John McCain, in his Thursday convention address, deployed the technique in this admirably honest line: "We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us." The audience roared. McCain's antimetabole echoed one used by his running mate, Sarah Palin, the night before: "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change." The inversion of change and career, forming a crisscross structure, gives the line a powerful one-two-punch feel. During his speech last week, Bill Clinton recycled an antimetabole he'd first used in the 1990s: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." The turn of phrase pleased the delegates—they clapped and hooted . . . Read the rest here:

Kneller, Jane. "Review of Novalis' NOTES FOR A ROMANTIC ENCYCLOPEDIA." NDPR (September 2008).

Novalis. Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia. Trans. and ed. David W. Wood. Albany: SUNY Press, 2007. David Wood's translation of the unfinished collection of notes that Novalis (pseudonym of Friederich von Hardenberg) intended as "material for an encyclopedics" is a welcome contribution to the growing literature in English on the philosophy of the early German romantics. The fact that these are "unfinished" notes should by no means deter the reader. This is an important set of short essays, aphorisms, fragments and musings on the sciences and the nature of systematic knowledge. In true early romantic fashion it is wide-ranging in content and style, touching on topics from art to experimental method in the sciences, from philosophy and religion to butter softening, colic, gout, fever and the symbolism of human dress. Taken as a whole, the notes represent the beginnings of a philosophical experiment that, if successful, would support the hypothesis that a unified methodology is possible for the arts and sciences. Novalis' vision was that this could only be carried out successfully by philosophers who were both scientists and poets, and who could "treat the sciences both scientifically and poetically." The Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia, or the Allgemeine Brouillon as the editor of the 1929 German edition called it (literally, "general rough draft"), is a preliminary gathering of materials that Hardenberg hoped to pull together into a book that would embody the ideal practices of any science: "All good researchers -- physicians, observers and thinkers, proceed like Copernicus -- They turn the data and methods around, to see whether or not they fit better this way" (92, #517). It was to be a book that would model the artistry, or at least the aesthetic dimension, of scientific practice. What Novalis called the "magic wand of analogy" is at work throughout these notes. Musical terminology is used to illuminate physiological claims, chemical terms describe religion, etc. This book deserves to be read not simply for its many poetic moments ("Philosophy is really homesickness -- the desire to be everywhere at home" (155, #857)) but for the overall vision that gives the poetry its theoretical punch. That lovely characterization of philosophy, for instance, when read in the context of the surrounding material (it follows a comment on the nature of pain and pleasure, motion and interruption, and the feeling of powerlessness), is presented as a medical diagnosis: Philosophy is a symptom of human vulnerability. . . . Read the rest here: