Monday, June 29, 2009

Critchley, Simon. "BEING AND TIME, Part 4: Thrown into this World." GUARDIAN June 29, 2009.

As I already tried to show, Heidegger seeks to reawaken perplexity about the question of being, the basic issue of metaphysics. In Being and Time, he pursues this question through an analysis of the human being or what he calls Dasein. The being of Dasein is existence, understood as average everyday existence or our life in the world, discussed in the last entry. But how might we give some more content to this rather formal idea of existence? Heidegger gives us a strong clue in Division 1, Chapter 5 of Being and Time, which is a long, difficult, but immensely rewarding chapter and where things really begin to get interesting. The central claim of this chapter - which is deepened in the remainder of Being and Time - is that Dasein is thrown projection (Dasein ist geworfener Entwurf). Let me try and unravel this thought. . . . Read the rest here:

Fauconnier, Gilles, and Mark Turner. "Rethinking Metaphor." CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK OF METAPHOR AND THOUGHT. Ed. Ray Gibbs. Cambridge: CUP, 2009.

Abstract: The study of conceptual mappings, including metaphoric mappings, has produced great insights over the last several decades, not only for the study of language, but also for the study of such subjects as scientific discovery, design, mathematical thinking, and computer interfaces. This tradition of inquiry is fulfilling its promises, with new findings and new applications all the time. Looking for conceptual mappings and their properties proves to be a rich method for discovery. To the initial studies that focused on cross-domain mappings and their most visible products have now been added many additional dimensions. Detailed studies have been carried out on topics such as compression, integration networks, and the principles and constraints that govern them. This blooming field of research has as one consequence the rethinking of metaphor. We have a richer and deeper understanding of the processes underlying metaphor than we did previously. In this article, we will illustrate the central areas of theoretical advance by looking in some detail at the metaphor of TIME AS SPACE. Download the paper here:

Patrico, Ryan Sayre. "Not-So-Dark Ages." NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE June 26, 2009.

Brague, Rémi. The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Trans. Lydia Cochrane. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. The largest balloon pricked by Brague is the legend of the Dark Ages — that the medieval world was somehow unthinking, brutish, and unimportant: “The legend of the Middle Ages as a time of shadows and darkness is a legacy from the Renaissance, then the Enlightenment, and carried on by a certain variety of positivism.” In the 14th century, for example, Petrarch promoted a “new literary school that was supposed to have put an end to the obscure.” The word barbarian suddenly regained popularity, and the term was expanded to include “Germanic peoples and even monks and Turks.” According to the French humanist Rabelais, “The time was still dark and smacking of the infidelity of the Goths, who had brought all good literature to destruction.” This trope was picked up again during the Enlightenment by those radicals who were “set on stamping out superstition and crushing ‘fanaticism.’” Thus, Edward Gibbon ends his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by describing his themes as “the rise, establishment, and sects of Christianity” and “the triumph of barbarism and religion.” Brague reminds us that the legend still continues today, with the media always ready “to recall that ‘finally we are no longer in the Middle Ages!’ or to decry the resurgence, ‘well into the 21st century,’ of an utterly medieval barbarity.” Brague is humble about his ability to dispel these myths, and while he admits that “any fast-talking media star can do a thousand times more in one minute to perpetuate falsity than we library rats can do in ten lifetimes to unmask it,” he nonetheless does his “utmost to destroy” these legends — or, as he puts it, these “teeming vermin.” Brague’s weapon of choice in destroying these legends is his close examination of medieval philosophical discourse: He expertly illustrates that, contrary to popular belief, “medieval thought does not escape the phenomena typical of thought in general.” Brague’s main task, then, is to show that “people never stopped thinking, that in fact medieval people did a lot of thinking, and that many highly refined concepts were shaped during those years.” . . . Read the rest here:

Wilson, David Sloan. "Evolutionary Psychology and the Public Media: Rekindling the Romance." HUFFINGTON POST June 25, 2009.

Evolutionary psychology, once the darling of the public media, has been dumped in a recent Newsweek article by journalist Sharon Begley. Return accusations are beginning to fly from evolutionary psychologists, who accuse Begley of willful distortions and scientific incompetence. As usual for romantic quarrels, there are legitimate grievances on both sides that get lost in a hail of recriminations. I have always had a love-hate relationship with the school of thought that most people associate with the term "evolutionary psychology." When it appeared in the late 1980's, it made some great points but also got other things profoundly wrong. Begley's article made some cheap shots but it also made some fair shots about evolutionary psychology that need to be acknowledged. As for the public media, covering science must be one of the toughest journalistic assignments. First, one must understand the nature of the scientific process in general terms. Then, one must master the specific topic that is being reported. Finally, one must convey what is genuinely newsworthy to a general audience--the fair shots--while avoiding the cheap shots that get people's attention but become part of the problem in the long run. Judged by these standards, the Newsweek article scores rather low.Here are some issues that need to be resolved to get the romance between evolutionary psychology and the public media back on the right track. . . . Read the rest here:

Brooks, David. "Human Nature Today." NEW YORK TIMES June 25, 2009.

Evolutionary psychology has had a good run. But now there is growing pushback. Sharon Begley has a rollicking, if slightly overdrawn, takedown in the current Newsweek. And “Spent” is a sign that the theory is being used to try to explain more than it can bear. The first problem is that far from being preprogrammed with a series of hardwired mental modules, as the E.P. types assert, our brains are fluid and plastic. We’re learning that evolution can be a more rapid process than we thought. It doesn’t take hundreds of thousands of years to produce genetic alterations. Moreover, we’ve evolved to adapt to diverse environments. Different circumstances can selectively activate different genetic potentials. Individual behavior can vary wildly from one context to another. An arrogant bully on the playground may be meek in math class. People have kaleidoscopic thinking styles and use different cognitive strategies to solve the same sorts of problems. Evolutionary psychology leaves the impression that human nature was carved a hundred thousand years ago, and then history sort of stopped. But human nature adapts to the continual flow of information—adjusting to the ancient information contained in genes and the current information contained in today’s news in a continuous, idiosyncratic blend. The second problem is one evolutionary psychology shares with economics. It’s too individualistic: individuals are born with certain traits, which they seek to maximize in the struggle for survival. But individuals aren’t formed before they enter society. Individuals are created by social interaction. Our identities are formed by the particular rhythms of maternal attunement, by the shared webs of ideas, symbols and actions that vibrate through us second by second. Shopping isn’t merely a way to broadcast permanent, inborn traits. For some people, it’s also an activity of trying things on in the never-ending process of creating and discovering who they are. The allure of evolutionary psychology is that it organizes all behavior into one eternal theory, impervious to the serendipity of time and place. But there’s no escaping context. That’s worth remembering next time somebody tells you we are hardwired to do this or that. . . . Read the rest here:

Deranty, Jean-Philippe. "Existentialist Aesthetics." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY June 26, 2009.

Many of the philosophers commonly described as “existentialist” have made original and decisive contributions to aesthetic thinking. In most cases, a substantial involvement in artistic practice (as novelists, playwrights or musicians) nourished their thinking on aesthetic experience. This is true already of two of the major philosophers who inspired 20th century existentialism: Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. For reasons of space, however, this entry is restricted to 20th century thinkers who at one point or another accepted the tag “existentialist” as an accurate characterisation of their thinking, and who have made the most significant contributions to aesthetics: Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Gabriel Marcel, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism owes its name to its emphasis on “existence”. For all the thinkers mentioned above, regardless of their differences, existence indicates the special way in which human beings are in the world, in contrast with other beings. For the existentialists, the human being is “more” than what it is: not only does the human being know that it is but, on the basis of this fundamental knowledge, this being can choose how it will “use” its own being, and thus how it will relate to the world. “Existence” is thus closely related to freedom in the sense of an active engagement in the world. This metaphysical theory regarding human freedom leads into a distinct approach to ontology, i.e., the study of the different ways of being. This ontological aspect of existentialism ties it to aesthetic considerations. Existentialist thinkers believe that, under certain conditions, freedom grants the human being the capacity of revealing essential features of the world and of the beings in it. Since artistic practice is one of the prime examples of free human activity, it is therefore also one of the privileged modes of revealing what the world is about. However, since most of the existentialists followed Nietzsche in the conviction that “God is dead,” art's power of revelation is to a large extent devoted to expressing the absurdity of the human condition. For the existentialists, the world is no longer hospitable to our human desire for meaning and order. This ontological approach to art underpins some of the most distinctive features of existentialist aesthetics. Because it views art in terms of “revelation,” it favors representative art and is suspicious of formalist avant-gardes. And because it grounds expressive capacity on the notion of human freedom, it demands that artistic representation be strongly informed by ethical and political concerns. This is why at times existentialist aesthetics can appear out of touch with the aesthetic avant-gardes of the 20th century. Some of the existentialists wrote substantial analyses about different art forms and how they can be compared, elaborating something like a “system of the arts” similar to that of classical aesthetics. All the existentialist thinkers, with the exception of Merleau-Ponty, thought that the form that best enabled the revelatory potential of art was the theatre, followed by the novel. . . . Read the rest here:

Boroditsky, Lera. "How Does Language Shape the Way We Think?" EDGE June 12, 2009.

Humans communicate with one another using a dazzling array of languages, each differing from the next in innumerable ways. Do the languages we speak shape the way we see the world, the way we think, and the way we live our lives? Do people who speak different languages think differently simply because they speak different languages? Does learning new languages change the way you think? Do polyglots think differently when speaking different languages? These questions touch on nearly all of the major controversies in the study of mind. They have engaged scores of philosophers, anthropologists, linguists, and psychologists, and they have important implications for politics, law, and religion. Yet despite nearly constant attention and debate, very little empirical work was done on these questions until recently. For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question. We have collected data around the world: from China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal Australia. What we have learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity. . . . Read the rest here:

Pub: RHETORICAL REVIEW 7.2 (2009).

  • Berkenkotter, Carol. Patient Tales. Case Histories and the Uses of Narrative in Psychiatry. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 2008. Reviewed by SARA NEWMAN. pp. 1-7
  • Carawan, Edwin, ed. The Attic Orators. Oxford: OUP, 2007. Reviewed by BRENDA GRIFFITH-WILLIAMS. pp. 8-13
  • Skouen, Tina. Passion and Persuasion: John Dryden’s The Hind and the Panther. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2009. Reviewed by CHRISTOPHER K. COFFMAN. pp. 14-18
  • de Jonge, Casper C. Between Grammar and Rhetoric. Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Language, Linguistics and Literature. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008. Reviewed by RICHARD HUNTER. pp. 19-22
Visit the journal homepage here:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Outlaw, Lucius T. Review of Ronald Sundstrom's THE BROWNING OF AMERICA AND THE EVASION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE. NDPR (June 2009).

Sundstrom, Ronald R. The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice. Albany: SUNY Press, 2008. The United States is undergoing the most profound demographic changes in the country's history so that in a few decades, if not sooner, persons identified (and identifying themselves) as white and tracing their ancestry to Europe will have become part of the nation's racial and ethnic plurality, no longer its numerically dominant racial group. This historic development portends others equally historic and transformative, among these the gradual -- possibly even dramatic -- displacement of white people as the dominating group politically, economically, socially, even culturally. This is not what this nation-state's founders envisioned or intended. Formed out of colonies of settlers from Western Europe, the United States was a quite historic political enterprise, an experiment in representative federated democratic governance at the national level that preserved increasingly more participatory democratic self-government down the levels of state, county, town and country. However, equally foundational to this new experiment was a hierarchical social ontology ordered by philosophical anthropologies of valorized racial distinctions, confirmed and articulated by the very best of prevailing scientific understandings and legitimated by the very best of prevailing philosophical and theological speculations. In these very confident polity-ordering anthropologies and ontologies, the white race ranked highest, as the superior race that had the God-given burden of responsibility of serving as the vanguard of civilization and progressive, Christian history-making. The United States was thus deemed a sacred venture in state-craft; so, too, the predominance of the superior white race and the subordination or elimination of the weaker, inferior, colored races, whether through enslavement or annihilation. There was enslavement and genocide, and more. Two hundred plus years later, however, the Coloreds are on the threshold of predominating demographically. The United States, a nation-state by and for the white race, is going brown! . . . Read the rest here:

Scruton, Roger. "Beauty and Desecration." CITY JOURNAL (Spring 2009).

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art. At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress moral certainties, and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes. Indeed, there arose a widespread suspicion of beauty as next in line to kitsch—something too sweet and inoffensive for the serious modern artist to pursue. In a seminal essay—“Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” published in Partisan Review in 1939—critic Clement Greenberg starkly contrasted the avant-garde of his day with the figurative painting that competed with it, dismissing the latter (not just Norman Rockwell, but greats like Edward Hopper) as derivative and without lasting significance. The avant-garde, for Greenberg, promoted the disturbing and the provocative over the soothing and the decorative, and that was why we should admire it. . . . Read the rest here:

"Women in Philosophy: a Reflective Symposium," Department of Philosophy, Australian National University, August 10, 2009.

Keynote Speakers Moira Gatens, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney Eva Feder Kittay, Professor of Philosophy, SUNY, Stony Brook In 2008 the Australasian Association for Philosophy (AAP) tabled a report to the AGM - Improving the Participation of Women in the Philosophy Profession. The full report can be found at The report notes that the proportion of women employed in Fractional and Full Time work contracts in philosophy programs in Australia is lower at all levels than the participation rates of women across the university sector (in 2006 women held 23% of continuing Teaching & Research positions in philosophy compared to 36% across all disciplines). Most significantly, the proportion of women in philosophy above level B is much lower than the rate across the sector. Further, although women typically represent 58% of 1st year enrolments, they represent only 36% of Higher Degree by Research students in philosophy (2000-2006). This event responds to these findings and seeks to explore through philosophical reflection and feminist analysis the experiences and issues facing women in philosophy. Papers are invited from post-graduate and honours level women studying or researching in philosophy. The AAP is supporting the travel and accommodation costs for the 2 best proposals from post-graduate or honours level students, in line with the recognition that this is a level at which women in philosophy particularly need support and have ideas to contribute on entry to the profession. We also welcome paper proposals from women at all levels in philosophy. We are not seeking feminist philosophy on all topics but particularly discussions that address women’s situation in philosophy today. A good example of this kind of reflection is Sally Haslanger, “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)”, Hypatia, 23:2, Spring 2008. Please send abstracts of 500 words in a Word attachment for a 25 minute paper to, by June 30th, 2009. Selection will be notified by July 6th. We strongly encourage other women in philosophy to attend the event, which will give time for discussion and a participative round-table. There is no registration charge but please advise your interest in attending to

Cfp: "Time, Temporality, History," 31st Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum, Plymouth State University, April 16-17, 2010.

We invite abstracts in medieval and Early Modern studies that consider questions of periodization, historicity, and temporality. Papers may consider: • how people conceived of, constructed, interacted with, measured, or produced “time” in medieval and Early Modern cultures • how we currently construct or deconstruct history • how studying temporality illuminates other subjects. Papers need not be confined to the theme, but may cover many aspects of medieval and Renaissance life, literature, languages, art, philosophy, theology, history and music. Student sessions welcome. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Carolyn Dinshaw, Professor of English/Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Dr. Dinshaw, the author of Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern and Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics, researches and publishes widely on medieval literature and culture, feminist studies, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender studies, history of sexuality, theories of history and historiography, and mysticism. Her most recent work focuses on theories and experiences of temporality.Students, faculty, and independent scholars are welcome. For more information, visit:

Two Reviews of Isaiah Berlin's ENLIGHTENING: LETTERS 1946-1960.

Berlin, Isaiah. Enlightening: Letters 1946-1960. Ed. Henry Hardy, Jennifer Holmes and Serena Moore. London: Chatto & Windus, 2009. Gray, John. "The Cosy Philosopher." Literary Review (June 2009):

Isaiah Berlin used to say that people were his landscape. In the first volume of his letters, Flourishing, edited by Henry Hardy and covering the years 1928 to 1946, he went so far as to declare a positive dislike of nature, suggesting that love of sublime landscapes was linked with reactionary romanticism. It is true that his focus was always on human beings, and this second volume shows him finding fulfilment among them as never before. Returning from war work in the British embassy in Washington, becoming once again and then ceasing to be a bachelor don, taking up the history of ideas and achieving, through a series of radio talks, a degree of celebrity about which he was highly ambivalent, immersing himself in the internecine struggles of All Souls and Oxford, giving advice to heads of state and officials running government agencies - these and other aspects of Berlin's life are vividly captured in this absorbingly readable second selection. There could hardly be a more intimate portrait of Berlin than that which emerges from these letters. But the man himself is not so easily captured, and sometimes appears quite different from the one who seemed always to feel at home in the world. (

Carey John. Times June 7, 2009:
Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) was a distinguished Oxford historian of ideas who memorably classified the world’s thinkers (borrowing his terms from an ancient Greek poet) as either “hedgehogs” who “know one big thing” (like Plato or Nietzsche) or “foxes” who “know many things” (like Shakespeare or Montaigne). He seems himself to have been a fox who would have quite liked to be a hedgehog, but was too afflicted by self-doubt, and too fond of dinner parties and country-house weekends, to muster the requisite single-mindedness. Colleagues felt he did not publish enough, but since 1978 Henry Hardy, with occasional co-editors, has devoted himself to gathering up and ­printing, as far as possible, every word Berlin wrote. So far 15 volumes have appeared, including one of early letters. The whole project is clearly an act of homage, even of worship, but the present volume will not, I think, enhance Berlin’s reputation as much as the editors might wish, mainly because it comes close to being unreadable. (

Isaiah Berlin Centenary Conference, Department of Government, September 25-26, 2009.

In cooperation with Safra Center for Ethics, Center for Judaic Studies, and Department of Philosophy. Speakers will include: Malachi Hacohen, Janos Kis, Pratap Mehta, MarthaNussbaum, Alan Ryan, Amartya Sen, Michael Walzer, Bernard Yack; Discussants include: Peter Eli Gordon, Erin Kelly, T. M. Scanlon. The conference is free and open to the public and will be held in the Tsai Auditorium, Harvard Center for Government and International Studies, 1730 Cambridge Street.

Berendzen, J. C. "Max Horkheimer." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY June 24, 2009.

Max Horkheimer (1895–1973) was a leader of the so-called “Frankfurt School,” a group of philosophers and social scientists associated with the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute of Social Research) in Frankfurt am Main. Horkheimer was the director of the Institute and Professor of Social Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt from 1930–1933, and again from 1949–1958. In between those periods he would lead the Institute in exile, primarily in America. As a philosopher he is best known (especially in the Anglophone world), for his work during the 1940s, including Dialectic of Enlightenment, which was co-authored with Theodor Adorno. While deservedly influential, Dialectic of Enlightenment (and other works from that period) should not be separated from the context of Horkheimer's work as a whole. Especially important in this regard are the writings from the 1930s, which were largely responsible for developing the epistemological and methodological orientation of Frankfurt School critical theory. This work both influenced his contemporaries (including Adorno and Herbert Marcuse) and has had an enduring influence on critical theory's later practitioners (including Jürgen Habermas, and the Institute's current director Axel Honneth). . . . Read the rest here:

Crawford, Matthew B. "The Case for Working With Your Hands." NEW YORK TIMES May 21, 2009.

The television show Deadliest Catch depicts commercial crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. Another, Dirty Jobs, shows all kinds of grueling work; one episode featured a guy who inseminates turkeys for a living. The weird fascination of these shows must lie partly in the fact that such confrontations with material reality have become exotically unfamiliar. Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive. Dilbert, The Office and similar portrayals of cubicle life attest to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar jobs. High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses. . . . Read the rest here:

Fukuyama, Francis. "Making Things Work." NEW YORK TIMES June 5, 2009.

Shop Class as Soulcraft is a beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is undervalued in contemporary America. Matthew B. Crawford, who owns and operates a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Va., and serves as a fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, notes that all across the United States, high school shop classes teaching mechanical arts like welding, woodworking or carpentry are closing down, to free up funds for computer labs. There is a legion of experts denigrating manual trades like plumber, carpenter and electrician, warning that the United States labor force needs to be “upskilled” and retrained to face the challenges of a high-tech, global economy. Under this new ideology, everyone must attend college and prepare for life as a “symbolic analyst” or “knowledge worker,” ready to add value through mental rather than physical labor. There are two things wrong with this notion, according to Crawford. . . . Find out what these are here:

Mooney, Carolyn. "A Hands-On Philosopher Argues for a Fresh Vision of Manual Work." CHRONICLE June 15, 2009.

The faculty job market was as bleak as the Chicago winter when Matthew B. Crawford sent out his first applications. He had just earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, and was serving as a postdoctoral fellow there. But it was while rebuilding his 1975 Honda CB360 motorcycle in a Hyde Park basement during that winter of 2000-1 that Crawford realized just how closely the hands and mind are intertwined. Stumped by a starter motor that wouldn't work, he eventually met a mechanic named Fred Cousins, who ran a few tests before quickly diagnosing the problem. "Then Fred gave me a succinct dissertation on the peculiar metallurgy of these Honda starter-motor bushings of the mid-70s," Crawford writes in his newly published book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (Penguin Press, 2009). Crawford never did get a faculty job, but he is flourishing as a hands-on philosopher and motorcycle mechanic. Now 43, he owns a repair shop in Richmond, Va. Shop Class, his first book, has struck a nerve in a status-crazed society where the divide between blue- and white-collar jobs has been growing since the advent of the assembly line early in the 20th century. In his book Crawford argues for a fresh view of skilled labor, especially that of the traditional trades. Go ahead, he's saying: Get your hands dirty. Own your work. His book mixes descriptions of the pleasures and challenges of diagnosing faulty oil seals and rebuilding engines with philosophical views of work — he draws upon Aristotle, Martin Heidegger, and Hannah Arendt, among others — and economic analyses for the decline of skilled labor. He laments in particular the recent demise of high-school shop classes, which gave many young men their first manual skills. (Crawford points out that his arguments apply equally to women and says he hopes one day to work on a 1960 Volkswagen bug with his two young daughters.) Skilled manual labor is far more cognitive than people realize, Crawford argues, and deserves more respect. That is especially true during tough economic times, when an independent tradesperson can make a decent and dignified living, and — this is important — can't be outsourced. (You can't get your car fixed in China.) "The question of what a good job looks like — of what sort of work is both secure and worthy of being honored — is more open now than it has been for a long time," he writes. Crawford believes that Americans, in their frenzy to send every kid to college in pursuit of information-age job skills, have lost something valuable. "My sense is that some kids are getting hustled off to college when they'd rather be learning to build things or fix things, and that includes kids who are very smart," he says in an interview. . . . Read the rest here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Critchley, Simon. "BEING AND TIME, Part 3: Being-in-the-World." GUARDIAN June 22, 2009.

I talked in my first blog entry about Heidegger's attempt to destroy our standard, traditional philosophical vocabulary and replace it with something new. What Heidegger seeks to destroy in particular is a certain picture of the relation between human beings and the world that is widespread in modern philosophy and whose source is Descartes (indeed Descartes is the philosopher who stands most accused in Being and Time). Roughly and readily, this is the idea that there are two sorts of substances in the world: thinking things like us and extended things, like tables, chairs and indeed the entire fabric of space and time. The relation between thinking things and extended things is one of knowledge and the philosophical and indeed scientific task consists in ensuring that what a later tradition called "subject" might have access to a world of objects. This is what we might call the epistemological construal of the relation between human beings and the world, where epistemology means "theory of knowledge". Heidegger does not deny the importance of knowledge, he simply denies its primacy. Prior to this dualistic picture of the relation between human beings and the world lies a deeper unity that he tries to capture in the formula "Dasein is being-in-the-world". What might that mean? . . . Get the answer here:

Power, Nina. "The Unrepentant Radical." THE PHILOSOPHERS' MAGAZINE June 15, 2009.

Badiou is in many ways closer to an older model of the French intellectual (think Sartre) than the Nouveaux Philosophes (think Bernard-Henri Lévy) who came to dominate Gallic thought in the 70s and continue to hold sway over much of the media. Although many still associate French philosophy with the smoking of Gitanes, the drinking of black coffee and long existential discussions at cafés, the truth is that this stereotype has long fallen out of fashion in France, if not yet on the other side of the channel. Whilst Badiou doesn’t smoke, nor indeed drink alcohol (unusual for a Frenchman, let alone a philosopher), he fits in with certain aspects of an older model of the French intellectual: left-wing, charismatic, keen to pronounce on contemporary events, engagé, institutionalised – Badiou was the chair of philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure – yet fiercely critical. Unlike another set of clichés about French philosophy, Badiou is also strongly anti-relativist and against the postmodern malaise. His work, as systematic as it is wide-ranging, is concerned with classical, even ancient, philosophical concerns: truth, being and, much like his master, Sartre, subjectivity. Badiou’s main theoretical work is also concerned with debates in contemporary mathematics in set and category theory, but as austere and abstract as this sounds, even his most conceptual work is political through and through. And indeed, the opportunities thrown up by the current political situation are currently preoccupying Badiou to a large degree. The recent financial crisis, alongside continued and brutal military campaigns, has generated a sense of disappointment and anger; recent months have seen a return to student radicalism in Europe unknown this side of the 60s, with occupations and dramatic clashes between students and university administrations. But is there anything new about the form of these protests? Badiou was himself radicalised by the events of May ’68, and is well placed to compare the two periods. “This revolt is between a sort of repetition of some aspects of ’68, certainly, occupations and so on, and something which is not completely clear. This is the search for political determination which is not the return to old ideas of forty years ago, but which is not resignation.” The main question for Badiou is the kind of thinking that accompanies this desire for action, what he describes as “new forms of subjectivity”. . . . Read the rest here:

Mai, Joseph. Review of John Mullarkey's REFRACTIONS OF REALITY. NDPR (June 2009).

Mullarkey, John. Refractions of Reality: Philosophy and the Moving Image. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Since the invention of the cinématographe at the end of the 19th century, a striking number of thinkers have taken a serious philosophical interest (sometimes exhibited as anxiety) in the ability to create and project moving photographic images. Over the years important authors such as Henri Bergson, Siegfried Kracauer, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, André Bazin, Gilles Deleuze, Stanley Cavell and others have returned to film over and over in their writings. Their investigations implicitly posed a curious set of questions that have come up more explicitly and insistently in recent film philosophy: Can films think? If so, how does film think? What are the implications of a film "mind" for philosophy? In his very original book, Refractions of Reality, John Mullarkey tackles these questions, but first approaches them through a diagnosis of the source of philosophical interest in them. For Mullarkey the persistence of such questions is symptomatic of a certain anxiety among philosophers. What he calls "film-envy" follows from the fact that both philosophy and film are concerned to describe reality (ix). The idea that film might think about reality, and in a different way than philosophy does, resounds with all the potential benefits and possible fears of the democratization of thought. A philosopher and editor of Film-Philosophy, Mullarkey brings an informed, critical view to a number of theories from both the Continental tradition (his specialization) and the Anglo-American tradition (slightly less represented here). To make his critique, he develops a Bergson-inflected theory of film viewing as an event. He alludes to this position throughout the book, but does not explicitly hash it out until the second part. It first appears within a general discussion of the relation between what we know and what exists, and Mullarkey twice quotes a substantial passage from Ian Jarvies on the seemingly insurmountable difficulties involved in making a clear demarcation between the two. To extract himself from this problem, Mullarkey asserts that film has an élan cinématique (not the most beautiful expression in the book) on the model of Bergson's élan vital. Film should be thought of as a multiplicity of social, mental, and biological processes through which viewer and film are co-created. Film for Mullarkey involves qualitative change and becoming rather than definable essences. Since Mullarkey saves much of his position for the end, my review will first provide a roadmap of how that position leads to a critique of other theories. . . . Read the whole review here:

Begley, Sharon. "Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?" NEWSWEEK June 20, 2009.

Among scientists at the University of New Mexico that spring, rape was in the air. One of the professors, biologist Randy Thornhill, had just coauthored A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, which argued that rape is (in the vernacular of evolutionary biology) an adaptation, a trait encoded by genes that confers an advantage on anyone who possesses them. Back in the late Pleistocene epoch 100,000 years ago, the 2000 book contended, men who carried rape genes had a reproductive and evolutionary edge over men who did not: they sired children not only with willing mates, but also with unwilling ones, allowing them to leave more offspring (also carrying rape genes) who were similarly more likely to survive and reproduce, unto the nth generation. That would be us. And that is why we carry rape genes today. The family trees of prehistoric men lacking rape genes petered out. The argument was well within the bounds of evolutionary psychology. Founded in the late 1980s in the ashes of sociobiology, this field asserts that behaviors that conferred a fitness advantage during the era when modern humans were evolving are the result of hundreds of genetically based cognitive "modules" preprogrammed in the brain. Since they are genetic, these modules and the behaviors they encode are heritable—passed down to future generations—and, together, constitute a universal human nature that describes how people think, feel and act, from the nightclubs of Manhattan to the farms of the Amish, from the huts of New Guinea aborigines to the madrassas of Karachi. Evolutionary psychologists do not have a time machine, of course. So to figure out which traits were adaptive during the Stone Age, and therefore bequeathed to us like a questionable family heirloom, they make logical guesses. Men who were promiscuous back then were more evolutionarily fit, the researchers reasoned, since men who spread their seed widely left more descendants. By similar logic, evolutionary psychologists argued, women who were monogamous were fitter; by being choosy about their mates and picking only those with good genes, they could have healthier children. Men attracted to young, curvaceous babes were fitter because such women were the most fertile; mating with dumpy, barren hags is not a good way to grow a big family tree. Women attracted to high-status, wealthy males were fitter; such men could best provide for the kids, who, spared starvation, would grow up to have many children of their own. Men who neglected or even murdered their stepchildren (and killed their unfaithful wives) were fitter because they did not waste their resources on nonrelatives. And so on, to the fitness-enhancing value of rape. We in the 21st century, asserts evo psych, are operating with Stone Age minds. Over the years these arguments have attracted legions of critics who thought the science was weak and the message (what philosopher David Buller of Northern Illinois University called "a get-out-of-jail-free card" for heinous behavior) pernicious. . . . Read the rest here:

"Spinoza and Bodies," Spinoza Research Network, Department of Philosophy, University of Dundee, September 10-11, 2009.

Speakers: Daniel Selcer (Duquesne), “Singular Things and Spanish Poets: Spinoza on Corporeal Individuation” Caroline Williams (Queen Mary University of London), “Reconfiguring Body and Mind: Thinking Beyond the Subject with/through Spinoza” Michael Mack (Nottingham), “Spinoza and Freud, or How to be Mindful of the Mind” Eric Schliesser (Leiden), “Spinoza’s Criticism of Mathematical Science” Anthony Paul Smith (Nottingham/DePaul), "The Ethical Relation of Bodies: Thinking with Spinoza Towards an Affective Ecology" Mateusz Janik (Polish Academy of Sciences), "Thinking the Future -Spinoza's Political Ontology Today" Visit the conference homepage:

Cfp: Fourth National Conference, Society for Renaissance Studies, University of York, July 16-18, 2010.

We now invite proposals for panels (max. 90 minutes) on any aspect of Renaissance history, art, literature or culture, and for individual papers (max. 25 minutes) on one of the following themes: * Rethinking the Medieval/Renaissance Divide * At the Boundaries of Science * Soundscapes and Landscapes, Environments and Ecologies * Possessions and Collections * Between Spirituality and Materiality * Cultural Encounters The conference will also feature workshops on publishing and research funding (including a presentation by Shearer West, Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council). Confirmed plenary speakers include Iain Fenlon (Cambridge) and Penelope Gouk (Manchester). Proposals (max. 400 words) are welcome from both established scholars and postgraduates and they should be sent by Friday 25 September 2009 to the conference organizer: Prof William Sherman Centre for Renaissance & Early Modern Studies University of York Heslington YO10 5DD United Kingdom E-mail: For further details, cisit the conference homepage here:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seaford, Richard. "The Greeks and Money." TLS June 17, 2009.

As I argued some years ago in Money and the Early Greek Mind (2004), the pivotal position of the Greeks in world culture stems largely from the fact that the sixth-century polis was the first society in history (with the conceivable exception of China) to be pervaded by money. Coinage was invented towards the end of the seventh century BC, and spread rapidly in the Greek city-states from the beginning of the sixth. Did not the Babylonians, for instance, use silver as money well before that? On any sensibly narrow definition of money, no they did not. This new and revolutionary phenomenon of money itself underpinned and stimulated two great inventions in the Greek polis of the sixth century, “philosophy” and tragedy. “Philosophy” (or rather idea of the cosmos as an impersonal system) was first produced in the very first monetized society, early sixth-century Ionia, and – even more specifically – in its commercial centre Miletos. The tendency of pre-modern society to project social power onto cosmology (for example, “king Zeus rules the world”) applies to the new social power of money. And the following description applies equally to money and to much of the cosmology of the early philosophers: universal power resides not in a person but in an impersonal, all-underlying, semi-abstract substance. But the relationship of money and tragedy is no less striking. Tragedy was created shortly after the introduction into Athens of coinage. This – though it has no place in the voluminous literature on the subject – seems to me one of the most important facts about tragedy. Greek myth is, of course, largely pre-monetary, but in tragedy it is shaped by the new all-pervasive power of money. It is not only the obsession with money of some tragic tyrants (Oedipus, for example) that I have in mind. An entirely new feature of money is that its possession renders unnecessary in principle all pre-monetary forms of social relationship: reciprocity, redistribution, kinship, ritual, and so on. Money allows you to fulfil all your needs. It provides the power to increase itself. And it tends to promote predatory isolation. Hence the focus of much Athenian tragedy on the extreme isolation of the individual – from the gods and even (through killing) from his closest kin. I know of no precedent for this in literature, certainly not in the pre-monetary society depicted in Homer. This horrifying possibility is embodied in the figure of the tyrant (turannos), who in historiographic, philosophical and tragic texts characteristically kills his own kin, violates the sacred, and is much concerned with money as a means of power. The word “hero”, the preoccupation of so much critical literature on the subject, barely occurs in Athenian tragedy, but turannos (or some form of that word) occurs over 170 times. . . . Read the rest here:

Two Posts by David Bordwell on the Cognitive Approach to Film Criticism.

"Minding Movies." Observations on Film Art. March 5, 2008: There are, roughly, two ways to think about doing film theory. One way is to look at a body of research or reflection in some established area (history, philosophy, psychology, etc.) and ask: What can it tell me about movies? So you might look at Freudian psychoanalysis or Gestalt perceptual psychology as a whole and then home in on ideas that seem to have relevance to cinema. The other way to do film theory is to look closely at some filmic phenomenon and ask: What’s the best way to understand this aspect of movies? Your reading and thinking might then lead you to adjacent fields of inquiry for help. In the first instance, you start broad and move to particular cases. In the second, you start with particular cases and explore what broader ideas or information can shed light on them. On the whole, academic film studies of the 1970s and 1980s started from the big-picture end. Several scholars decided, on various grounds, that psychoanalysis (a mixture of Freudian and Lacanian versions), provided a powerful explanatory system for virtually all human activity. The ideas of that system were then mapped onto many humanities disciplines, and then applied to particular instances of literature, the visual arts, and cinema. Many times, the big system became a doctrinal whole, a Theory of Everything, that was unquestioningly accepted. In a 1989 essay called “A Case for Cognitivism” (available online here), I suggested that Freud did not intend his theories to become this sort of all-encompassing doctrine. And whatever Freud thought, in that essay and a later one for Post-Theory I argued that it’s more fruitful to develop film theories in a middle-level fashion, shifting from concrete problems to broader explanatory frameworks. My collaborator Noël Carroll called this focus on particular problems “piecemeal” theorizing. It was through middle-level, piecemeal thinking that I first became interested in the cognitive sciences. . . . (the rest is here: "Who Will Watch the Movie Watchers?" Observations on Film Art. June 16, 2009: Cognitive film studies emphasizes explanations over interpretations. Explanations can be causal (what made this happen) or functional (pointing out the purposes that something fulfills). When human action is part of what we’re studying, the explanations tend to involve goals and motives, means and ends. By contrast, a lot of humanistic media study emphasizes interpreting films but leaves causal and functional processes unexamined. This research tradition is mentalistic. In explaining viewers’ responses, it looks first to features of the human mind. This doesn’t mean that researchers study minds cut off from society; rather, the emphasis is on the mental activities tied to all sorts of experience, including social action and interaction. This tradition is naturalistic. The explanations it mounts try to fit in with current understanding of human capacities as analyzed by the social sciences. That entails that psychoanalysis, another mentalistic theory of human action, has not on the whole proven a source of reliable explanations. Some cognitively inclined researchers would add that psychoanalytic inquiry has been fruitful for pointing to areas of behavior that answer to naturalistic investigation. The line of argument, accordingly, is that of rational inquiry, induction and deduction. It stands in contrast to much current film theory, which consists of more or less free association and the rote citation of major thinkers. Cognitive film theory tries to formulate clear-cut questions and to seek answers that have empirical grounding and conceptual coherence. The tradition has a strong tendency to look for cross-cultural regularities among artworks and viewer experiences. The sources of these regularities need not be innate in any strong sense. Critics sometimes claim that cognitivists believe that everything is “hard-wired,” but virtually no cognitivists say or believe that. For one thing, our “wiring” changes at certain critical periods, especially two months of age. Moreover, the regularities in behavior we notice occurring across cultures or social milieus, they may have come into existence for many contingent reasons. That doesn’t make them any less interesting as explanatory factors. . . . (the rest is here: Visit David Bordwell's homepage here:

7th International Conference, Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, University of Copenhagen, June 24-27, 2009.

Hosted by Department of Media, Cognition and Communication. The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image is an interdisciplinary organization made up of scholars interested in cognitive, philosophical, neurophysiological, and evolutionary-psychological approaches to the analysis of film and other moving-image media. To learn more or become a member, see University of Copenhagen hosts the 7th Conference. Previous conferences have been held in Kansas City, Pecs in Hungary, Grand Rapids in Michigan, Potsdam in Germany, Madison in Wisconsin and, in 1999, in Copenhagen. The conference features three parallel paper presentation from an international group of scholars, a keynote speech by David Bordwell and, as a special event, a screening of Lars von Trier's Antichrist. Visit the conference webpage here:

Elkholy, Sharin N. Review of Marije Altorf's IRIS MURDOCH AND THE ART OF IMAGING. NDPR (June 2009).

Altorf, Marije. Iris Murdoch and the Art of Imaging. London: Continuum, 2008.

The general public often knows more about the personal lives of female artists and thinkers than their actual achievements. This is likely the case with philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch who was the subject of a recent film, Iris (2001), based on her relationship with John Bayley and her bout with Alzheimer's disease. One of the first women to study philosophy at Cambridge, along with Elizabeth Anscombe, Mary Midgley, Philippa Foot and Mary Warnock, Murdoch went on to teach philosophy, making little of her status as a woman in a field dominated by men. Instead, Murdoch broke with the analytic tradition she studied and became the first thinker to write in English on the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, paving the road for the independent approach she would later take to philosophical problems. Increasingly unsatisfied with Sartre's philosophical account of the meaning of existence, Murdoch turned to literature, her own, to explore human relationships and, above all, morality. Murdoch is the author of dozens of novels, numerous plays, poetry and philosophical texts.

In Iris Murdoch and the Art of Imaging, Marije Altorf explores the relationship between philosophy and literature in Murdoch's thought. She argues that while there has been some consideration regarding the influence of Murdoch's philosophy on her literature, little attention has been paid to the influence of Murdoch's fiction on her philosophical work. Through an exploration of Murdoch's use of imagery, Altorf works to portray the distinctiveness of Murdoch's approach to philosophy and morality. Altorf believes that through a study of Murdoch's literature the reader may arrive at her vision of philosophical truths and the forms of morality she deems valuable.

Writing literature allowed Murdoch to explore the intricacies and ambiguities of human existence in ways she was unable to in her philosophical writings. Altorf argues that Murdoch's conception of literature serves as the springboard for her philosophical positions, as well as the source of her criticisms of contemporary existentialism and philosophy of language. Observing the changes in Murdoch's imagery and metaphors, Altorf suggests, one can gauge the development of Murdoch's thought, culminating in her understanding of the role of the imagination and fantasy with regard to the "Good." . . .

Read the whole review here:

Critchley, Simon. "BEING AND TIME: Part 2 On 'Mineness.'" GUARDIAN June 15, 2009.

As Heidegger makes clear from the untitled, opening page with which Being and Time begins, what is at stake in the book is the question of being. This is the question that Aristotle raised in an untitled manuscript written 2500 years ago, but which became known at a later date as the Metaphysics. For Aristotle, there is a science that investigates what he calls "being as such", without regard to any specific realms of being, eg the being of living things (biology) or the being of the natural world (physics). Metaphysics is the area of inquiry that Aristotle himself calls "first philosophy" and which comes before anything else. It is the most abstract, universal and indefinable area of philosophy. But it is also the most fundamental. With admirable arrogance, it is the question of being that Heidegger sets himself the task of inquiring into in Being and Time. He begins with a series of rhetorical questions: Do we have an answer to the question of the meaning of being? Not at all, he answers. But do we even experience any perplexity about this question? Not at all, Heidegger repeats. Therefore, the first and most important task of Heidegger's book is to recover our perplexity for this question of questions: Hamlet's "To be or not to be?" . . . Read the rest here:

Pub: KB JOURNAL 5.2 (2009).


Visit the journal homepage here:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Laqueur, Thomas W. Review of Richard Bernstein's THE EAST, THE WEST, AND SEX. SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE June 14, 2009.

Bernstein, Richard. The East, the West, and Sex: a History of Erotic Encounters. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. As Richard Bernstein writes in The East, the West, and Sex, his book about the erotic allure of the East for Western men, "sex was a pleasure avidly pursued by the builders of empire going places where it was readily available." This is beyond dispute if only because sex was also a pleasure avidly pursued by those who stayed at home. Maybe it was more avidly - and successfully - pursued away from the prying eyes of neighbors, kin, police and the church. In any case, sex - kinky and straight - was very much part of the encounter of two worlds. East India merchants set up house with bibis - mistresses - with whom they often lived quite respectably, but they also imitated Mogul princes by engaging dancing girls and whole teams of concubines. Gustave Flaubert could scarcely contain himself in writing about one of the young prostitutes he had in Cairo. His countryman, the 20th century novelist Henry de Montherlant, managed to live a secret life of pederasty in Algiers while enjoying a second life as a literary lion back home. The explorer and polyglot Richard Burton made available to his countrymen The Thousand and One Arabian Nights and the Indian sex guide Kama Sutra in the hope that his translation would shake Europeans loose from their uptight ways. And he did pretty much everything one can do in explorations of the East. In probably no other city of the late 19th and early 20th century was sex of all sorts more available than Shanghai - under European control but serviced by the local mob. . . . Read the whole review here:

Belu, Dana S. Review of Sharin Elkholy's HEIDEGGER AND A METAPHYSICS OF FEELING. NDPR (June 2009).

Elkholy, Sharin N. Heidegger and a Metaphysics of Feeling: Angst and the Finitude of Being. London: Continuum, 2008. Sharin Elkholy's Heidegger and a Metaphysics of Feeling offers an original interpretation of the role of Angst in Heidegger's Being and Time. Against the grain of many and varied commentators on this theme, Elkholy's central thesis is that the experience of Angst or anxiety, and the concomitant encounter with the nothing fundamentally disindividuates and strips inauthentic Da-sein of any and all sense of selfhood. The last two chapters develop this thesis at some length and conclude with an argument for the retrieval of Da-sein's authenticity as a pre-personal and historically-inflected identity that Elkholy explains using her own concept of "ontological occlusion". The book is divided into four chapters. While the last two chapters presuppose that the reader already has more than a rudimentary familiarity with Being and Time and at least some of its influential interpretations, the first two chapters are excellently suited for the newcomer. They present a clear and detailed account of main ontological (existential) categories along with a special emphasis on "inauthenticity" and being-toward-death. The detailed account of "inauthenticity" as a deep form of conformism where Da-sein relates to its possibilities in a "leveled down" way shaped by a prereflective understanding of Being as "objective presence" is important to the structure of the book. This is because Elkholy's work turns on clearly understanding the difference between Da-sein's authentic and inauthentic or empirical comportment in its being-toward-death and guilt. . . . Read the whole review here:

Wolin, Richard. "Reason vs. Faith: the Battle Continues." CHRONICLE June 15, 2009.

In 1802 Georg W.F. Hegel wrote an impassioned treatise on faith and reason, articulating the major philosophical conflict of the day. Among European intellectual circles, the Enlightenment credo, which celebrated the "sovereignty of reason," had recently triumphed. From that standpoint, human intellect was a self-sufficient measure of the true, the just, and the good. The outlook's real target, of course, was religion, which the philosophes viewed as the last redoubt of delusion and superstition. Theological claims, they held, could only lead mankind astray. Once the last ramparts of unreason were breached — our mental Bastilles, as it were — sovereign reason would take command and, presumably, human perfection would not be long in coming. Soon legions of skeptics and naysayers emerged to cast doubt on the Enlightenment's presumptuous self-conceit. By making the lowly human intellect the measure of all truth, weren't the philosophes arbitrarily isolating humanity from the possibility of attaining a higher order of truth? Who would really want to inhabit a totally enlightened universe, denuded of mystery, plurality, and sublimity? What if ultimate reality weren't attainable by the prosaic methods of cognition or secular reason? What if, instead, the Absolute had more to do with the faculties of the imagination, intuition, or the unfathomable mysteries of the human unconscious? A cursory glance at the major cultural divide of our day suggests that, in many respects, we haven't gotten much beyond the landmark dispute between faith and reason that separated the leading lights in Hegel's time. For with the notable exception of Western Europe, on nearly every continent, religion seems to have found its second wind. And it would be difficult to deny that this global revival of spirituality has occurred in pointed reaction to the broken promises of enlightened modernity. Nineteenth-century utopians like Charles Fourier speculated that, once industrial society was perfected, rivers and lakes would pulsate with lemonade, public fountains would overflow with salmon, men would learn to fly, and wild beasts would do our hunting. Instead, as we confront on a daily basis the dislocations of Western modernity — teeming cities, urban blight, industrially scarred landscapes, massive pollution, and climate change of eschatological proportions — it seems as though Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West was more clairvoyant than Fourier's odes to universal harmony. Prominent secularization theorists like Peter L. Berger who, as recently as the 1960s, openly conceded religion's demise, are having to radically alter their forecasts. They have had to invent new concepts and categories to describe the phenomenon of religion's unexpected global resurgence. The philosopher Jurgen Habermas now felicitously refers to the advent of a "postsecular society" to characterize religiosity's remarkable staying power. In recent works such as Between Naturalism and Religion (Polity Press, 2008), he questions whether modern societies possess the moral resources to persevere without relying on their religious roots — the Judeo-Christian basis of secular ethics, for example. And Berger himself, who was once secularization theory's most vocal proponent, has expressed his change of heart in a book title, The Desecularization of the World (W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999). . . . Read the rest here:

"Literary Theorists of Late Renaissance Italy," University of Agder, Norway, July 4-5, 2009.

The Kristiansand Renaissance seminar is a research forum for specialists in the Early Modern period in the Nordic countries and beyond. It is part of the activities of the research programme in Early Modern Urban Culture at University of Agder, Kristiansand, which focuses on relations between literary arts and urbanism in Renaissance Europe. The summer 2009 seminar concerns literary theorists of the late Renaissance. The seminar features papers on Castelvetro, Varchi, Fracastoro, Robortello, Tasso and Gaurini. Speakers include: Morten Bartnfs, University of Agder / University of Tromsx Clare Guest, University of Agder Claudia Rossignoli, University of St Andrews Stefano Rota, Swedish Institute in Rome / Libera Universita Maria Santissima Assunta, Rome Matthew Treherne, Univeristy of Leeds.

For further details, contact

(From Renaissance Lit Blog:

Claude Levi-Strauss Awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal.

Esteemed French anthropologist and father of structural anthropology, Claude Lévi-Strauss, was awarded the Smithsonian Institution’s James Smithson Bicentennial Medal last week. Lévi-Strauss was nominated by the National Museum of Natural History for his “fundamental contributions to understanding the human condition and passionate personal engagement in defense of the common humanity and dignity of all peoples.” Read the Smithsonian’s press release here. (From AAA Blog:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Westmaas, Nigel. "Recognising and Celebrating Guyanese Philosophy." STABROEK NEWS June 8, 2009.

The recent passing of renowned historian, linguist, anthropologist, and philosopher of the first order, Ivan van Sertima, allows for some preliminary musings on the subject of Guyanese philosophy, its tradition and “acceptance.” Amid all the cynicism, emigration and a multitude of other problems bedeviling Guyana after more than a half century of political and social decline, can one safely raise the issue of a Guyanese philosophical tradition? In spite of the skepticism this might attract, it is important, as Rupert Roopnaraine states in his study of Stanley Greaves, “to celebrate the garden over the ashes” and respond to an often overlooked legacy. Guyana possesses a history of philosophical enquiry and output rarely acknowledged, perhaps on account of the guilt and division amplified by our pre and post independence condition (if a situation such as “post-independence” still exists). What exactly is philosophy and can we extend its usage here? To appreciate philosophy’s use we must eliminate the mystique from the term itself. The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes it as 1. Study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence/a set of theories of a particular philosopher/the study of the theoretical basis of a branch of knowledge or existence 2. a theory or attitude that guides one’s behaviour. The term “philosophy” then in its broad sense and tradition is very rich and embraces many areas of learning. Evidently, the accreditation “philosophy” has for too long been restricted to the domain of mainstream western philosophers like Socrates, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Herbert Spencer, Arthur Schopenhauer or Karl Marx. While Kant, Marx et al are important philosophers and thinkers who should be read and appreciated, they are not the only source of human thinking and philosophy on a global scale. Many local contributions and bodies of work have been unconsciously disregarded because of probable insecurity on what constitutes philosophy and a lack of confidence in the assertion. But how do we define Guyanese philosophy? . . . Read the rest here: [you may have to keep trying to access the article as the website is very unreliable]

Heinze, Eric. "Imperialism and Nationalism in Early Modernity . . . in Shakespeare's CYMBELINE." JOURNAL OF SOCIAL AND LEGAL STUDIES 18.3 (2009): .

Abstract: the discourses of conquering empire and vassal nation are varied, often internally contradictory. The empire may represent openness and diversity, or militarist brutality. The underling nation may represent autonomy and self-determination, or narrow provincialism. Those discourses spawn ideologies of liberation (‘the empire liberates the nation’; ‘the nation must be liberated from the empire’) and counter-ideologies of oppression (‘the empire oppresses the nation from without’; ‘the empire prevents oppression by dominant national groups of subordinate national groups’). Such concepts are central to Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Bound to pay tribute to Caesar Augustus, Britain’s King Cymbeline contemplates a national rebellion against pax romana, whilst at the same time exercising its own dominance over Wales and other conquered territory in the Isles. Parallels to the reign of James I are apparent, where England is embarking upon its ascent to empire, its pax britannica, in the face of Welsh, Scottish or Irish resistance. Several discourses emerge as hallmarks of power politics in early modernity: cosmopolitan empire, oppressive empire, cosmopolitan nation, oppressive nation. Download the paper here:

Souffrant, Eddy M. Review of Joshua Glasgow's A THEORY OF RACE. NDPR (June 2009).

Glasgow, Joshua. A Theory of Race. London: Routledge, 2009. Joshua Glasgow's A Theory of Race . . . accounts for both the denial that race is biologically real and the relevance of race as a social concept. In seven chapters and an afterword, Glasgow undertakes his exploration of the concept of race and the contemporary literature it has spawned. He enlists the help of some of the prominent race theorists of our time ranging from Kwame Anthony Appiah to Naomi Zack, Linda Martín Alcoff, Jorge Gracia, Michele Moody-Adams, Lucius Outlaw, Anna Stubblefield, Ronald Sundstrom and Paul Taylor, to name but a few of the authors whose views are considered in the text. These authors of race theories help Glasgow explain the race debate and facilitate his goal to have us understand the concept of race and what it entails. From this foundational exposition, Glasgow proceeds to consider the various constituents of, and justifications for, racial discourse. Racial discourse depends on the reality of race. That bond informs any viable theory of race. A sustainable racial discourse is gauged by that basic standard of reality. What if race is not real? What becomes then of racial discourse? Glasgow's innovative approach answers both the problems inherent in my scenarios as they are presented above and the apparent ontological challenge that racial discourse engenders. Glasgow argues that even if there is no biological basis for race and race is an illusion, it does not follow that racial discourse should be eliminated. Instead he proposes to "reconstruct racial discourse . . . to eliminate the biological pretensions of that discourse . . . [and also] to eliminate any racist pretensions" (136). . . . Read the whole review here:

Cfp: "Rethinking 1968," Special Issue of PHAENEX (forthcoming).

The events of 1968 shook the world. On the 40th anniversary of the protests in France, Germany and the United States, the EPTC organized a series of panels to investigate these industrial and student actions, and whether they can serve as a basis for critiquing our current political climate. We want to ask if the philosophical underpinnings of these revolutionary acts have continued relevance today. For example, in France, the French phenomenologist and existentialist, turned Marxist, Jean-Paul Sartre was held up as one of the intellectuals who could provide an intellectual basis for the revolution. Alongside structuralists like Althusser, Sartre was viewed as an intellectual god-father of the movement, not only because of his writings critical of capitalism and the bourgeois system, be they his early writings on existentialism, or his later reformulation of Marxism in the Critique of Dialectical Reason, nor because he linked left-wing activism in the first world with support for the oppressed elsewhere, but because he was willing to lend his name and support to the Maoists against the Gaullist government. Similarly, in Germany, two philosophers, the phenomenologically-inspired and Marxist Herbert Marcuse and the neo-Marxist and member of the Frankfurt School Jürgen Habermas were central figures for the student revolutionaries. As a member of the Frankfurt School’s second generation, Habermas was viewed by the students as safely removed from the alleged post-World War II conservatism of Adorno and Horkheimer. For the first several years following its publication, Habermas’s habilitation thesis, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, was a text central to the student struggle in Germany. Similarly, Marcuse’s texts, Reason and Revolution, Eros and Civilization, and One-Dimensional Man, as well as his occasional writings, were used as rallying cries by the left both in Europe and in the United States. The question we propose for this volume is, what relevance do these philosophers’s works have today, in light of the continued expansion of the capitalist system, and the fact that student leaders like Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Bernard Kouchner, and Joschka Fischer have renounced extra-political activities and joined the political mainstream. We are interested in papers that explore the relevance of the philosophical critiques that inspired the movements of 1968 for present day radical politics, including papers that use the philosophical inspirations behind 1968: (1) To critique global capitalism while providing a positive way forward, (2) To examine American hegemony, (3) To examine possibilities for overturning existing political structures in either the developed or developing world, (4) To examine issues surrounding the environment or environmental justice, (5) Or any other topic, provided that the paper deals extensively with the philosophical ideas of 1968 and their relevance for today’s changed political landscape. Interested authors should submit a copy of their paper in RTF or WORD format to PhaenEx's website ( Queries should be sent to: Kevin W. Gray at The submission deadline is July 1, 2009.

"Reading Sartre: on Phenomenology and Existentialism," a Series of Three Workshops.

"Sartre on Self and Other," Cardiff University, November 18, 2009: "The Irreal in Non-Representational Painting" – Andreas Elpidorou (Boston) "You Can't Get Something For Nothing: Sartre's Argument for Freedom" – Matt Eshleman (North Carolina Wilmington) "The Transcendental Nature of Sartre's Philosophy" – Sebastian Gardner (UCL) "Imagination and Affective Response" – Robert Hopkins (Sheffield) "Magic in Sartre's Early Philosophy" – Sarah Richmond (UCL) "Sartre on Ethics and Existentialism," Institute of Philosophy, University of London, September 17, 2009: "The Ethics of Authenticity" – Christine Daigle (Brock) "Being Colonized" – Azzedine Haddour (UCL) "The Literary and the Philosophical" – Andrew Leak (UCL) "The Social Dimension of Bad Faith" – Jonathan Webber (Cardiff) "Sartre on Experience and Reality," Cardiff University, July 16, 2009: "Focusing and Positing: the Trouble with Self-Consciousness" – Anthony Hatzimoysis (Athens) "The Ungraceful and the Obscene" – Katherine Morris (Oxford) "Knowledge of Other People" – Tony Stone (London South Bank) "Subjectivity and the Transcendence of the Ego" – Ken Williford (St Cloud) "Shame and Self-Conscious Emotions" – Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen) Further information may be found here:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sellers, Mortimer. "The Influence of Marcus Tullius Cicero on Modern Legal and Political Ideas." CICERONIA (2008).

Abstract: Marcus Tullius Cicero is the father of modern law and politics. Cicero's influence was significant throughout subsequent European history, but never so much nor so directly as in the emergence of modernity and in the development of modern law and constitutional government. The early moderns became faithful apostles of Cicero's thought and ideals because their world and political circumstances were in many ways closer to those of Cicero than to those of any intervening centuries. The influence of Cicero's legal and political ideas on the modern world illustrates the decisive importance that the study of history can have on legal innovation and social change. The modern world would not have developed where it did, when it did, nor as it did were it not for the life and writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Download the paper here:

Heald, Paul. "The Death of Law and Literature." UGA Legal Studies Research Paper 09-006.

Abstract: thirty years after the publication of James B. White's iconic The Legal Imagination, Law & Literature scholarship has gained no traction in the practice of law. This essay, prompted by a session of teaching Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden to federal judges, explains why our scholarship has no impact, but fiction itself is very influential. Download the paper here:

Gooch, John C. "Imagining the Law and the Constitution of Societal Order ..."

Abstract: legal scholar and theorist James Boyd White has challenged both lawyers and rhetoricians to imagine the law as a rhetorical and literary process (“Imagining the Law” from the 1997 anthology, The Rhetoric of Law). White contends that members of the legal profession should see law as an activity of speech and imagination that occurs in a social world (“Imagining the Law,” p. 35). He encourages members of the legal profession to look at law in its social context; in other words, instead of thinking of law as a social machine or technical system of regulations and applying its rules in a mechanical way, lawyers should engage the legal profession as an interaction of authoritative texts and as a process of legal thought and argument (“Imagining the Law,” p. 55). By asking members of the legal professional to see law as rhetoric, White encourages them to recognize the socially constitutive nature of language, which runs contrary to a perspective of law as machine or, rather, the law as only a system of rules and regulations. My paper will extend White’s notion of imagining law as rhetorical and literary process. White has analyzed specific court cases as instances of lawyers and judges imagining the law in particular ways. In addition, scholars, particularly from communication and rhetoric, have taken inspiration from his ideas and applied them to the rhetoric of the courtroom (e.g., court testimony, judicial opinions, and narrative in legal discourse). However, I intend to take White’s concept of imagining the law and to apply it to a public address concerning constitutionality and the legal system (as opposed to analyzing transcripts from court cases). The specific case for my paper, the “Crime and the Great Society” (1965) speech from former Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker, reflects Parker’s imagining of the law and of constitutional rights – particularly the rights of the accused. (Based on my research, the speech itself represents an artifact no one has seriously studied.) My paper will show how his speech reflects a vision for the City of Los Angeles; Parker, himself, imagines the law by referencing several authoritative texts and literary works to advance his agenda for societal order in Los Angeles. In the end, Parker asks his audience, the city’s leaders and citizens, to share his vision and his imagination, and, moreover, he constitutes a societal order through his use of language. Such imaginings, however, can adversely affect the very society a rhetorician intends to strengthen if the rhetorician’s words result in negative consequences for citizens’ constitutional rights. Download the paper here:

Starger, Colin P. "The DNA of an Argument: A Case Study in Legal Logos." JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY (2009).

Abstract: this article develops an original rhetorical framework for analyzing the logic of legal arguments and then applies it to unpack a post-conviction DNA testing controversy currently before the Supreme Court. My framework extends Aristotle's concept of logos by specifying different logical types of proof in legal argument. The Osborne case now before the Court concerns how DNA proof intersects with legal process and the procedural barriers to prisoners' accessing DNA evidence after conviction. After parsing the persuasive dynamics in the federal litigation preceding Osborne, I make a prediction on what argument logic will prevail in the Court. Drawing on the work of Aristotle, neo-Aristotelian argument scholars, and contemporary jurisprudence, I first construct an original taxonomy of logos that distinguishes between modes of proof in legal argument. This taxonomy characterizes prototypical differences in formal, empirical, narrative, and categorical arguments by reference to the logical and rhetorical roles of their constituent premises, inferences, and conclusions. I then use my new vocabulary to frame an in-depth case study of federal-court litigation over post-conviction access to DNA evidence under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. I describe the history of this discourse, and engage in close readings of two arguments – the concurring opinions of Judge Michael Luttig and Chief Judge Harvie Wilkinson in the Harvey II case – that represent the competing rhetorical poles of the debate. I classify Luttig's argument logos as formal, and Wilkinson's as narrative. After examining all published decisions that have considered the Section 1983 issue since Harvey II, I argue that Luttig's formal logos has successfully persuaded federal courts. I therefore predict that Luttig's logic on the procedural dispute in Osborne will prevail at the Supreme Court. By closely dissecting this argument over DNA, I bring fresh perspective on the rhetorical DNA of a legal argument. Download the paper here:

Bix, Brian. "Law and Language: How Words Mislead Us."

Abstract: this talk was the Reappointment Lecture for the Frederick W. Thomas Chair in the Interdisciplinary Study of Law and Language at the University of Minnesota. The topic is the way that the words we use in legal doctrinal reasoning can - intentionally and unintentionally - mislead us regarding the proper outcomes of cases and the best development of the law. Connecting to the ideas of the American legal realists Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Felix Cohen, the talk uses examples from Contract Law (assent to terms in electronic contracting cases, waiver of the failure of conditions), Medical Decision-Making (deciding on behalf of incompetent patients), and Family Law (same-sex marriage, child custody, and alimony) to make general points about how we choose words to make our decisions more persuasive or more comfortable, when we should instead be using more transparent (more honest) terminology, in order better to confront the real underlying moral and policy questions. Download the paper here:

Stern, Simon. "Literary Evidence and Legal Aesthetics." TEACHING LITERATURE AND LAW. Ed. Austin Sarat, et al. New York: MLA, forthcoming.

Abstract: this short essay considers the different ways in which law professors and English professors teach courses in Law and Literature -- particularly the differences in the course materials and the analytic approaches used in understanding those materials. Courses taught on law faculties generally include fewer readings drawn from case law and legal theory. On the other hand, courses taught in English departments are more likely to emphasize similarities between the legal readings and works of fiction or drama. I discuss some of the disciplinary habits that make it difficult for faculty members in each area to come to terms with materials taken from another discipline, but I end by arguing that these barriers are not insurmountable and can even be addressed, to some extent, by focusing on analytical habits already available in the home discipline. Download the paper here:

Jaschik, Scott. "Auf Widersehen." INSIDE HIGHER ED June 12, 2009.

Last year, German scholars and other advocates for foreign language education were outraged when the University of Southern California eliminated its German department, abandoning a major in the field. It turns out that was just the start of a bad period for German in American higher education. This year, of course, the economic mess has prompted many colleges to kill programs or to draft lists of departments that may be eliminated or scaled back. USC is not alone in rethinking the need for a university to maintain a program in the language.
  • At Florida State University, German (which has both bachelor's and master's programs) is on a list of programs for possible elimination, pending adoption of a final budget. The program could get word on its survival (or not) as early as today, following several months of petitions and lobbying on its behalf, and there are rumors circulating that the program may survive.
  • The University of Iowa announced this month that it is suspending admissions to its master's and doctoral programs in German for at least two years.
  • The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is studying the German studies major for possible elimination.
  • The University of Idaho plans to eliminate an undergraduate major and a master of arts in teaching in German.
  • Washington State University is planning to eliminate its German major, although there is some talk of continuing to offer first-year German.

Read the rest here:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Migrations and Diasporas," Sixth Annual Conference, Caribbean Philosophy Association, University of Miami, August 12-15, 2009.

Shifting the Geography of Reason 6. The Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) invites proposals from scholars in any discipline who aim to "shift the geography of reason" by exploring critical, theoretical, and creative questions about or relating to the Caribbean, its Diaspora, and the "global south" more generally, including the South in the North. We particularly welcome North-South and South-South intersections and/or dialogues. The theme for this meeting deals with migrations and diaspora. While proposals dealing with the broader organizing theme of the CPA ("shifting the geography of reason") will be welcome, the organizers are especially interested in presentations and panels that highlight questions about space, traveling, national and transnational communities, gender and sexuality, and issues of race and identity across migrations and diasporas not only in the Caribbean, but globally. We accept proposals in English, French, and Spanish. The principle goal of the CPA is to support the free exchange of ideas and foster an intellectual community that is truly representative of the diversity of voices and perspectives that is paradigmatic of, but not limited to, the Caribbean. The Caribbean is thus understood not solely as a geopolitical region, but more generally as a trope to investigate certain dimensions of the multiple undersides of modernity. Likewise, philosophy is conceived, not as an isolated academic discipline, but as rigorous theoretical reflection about fundamental problems faced by humanity. Understood in this way, Caribbean philosophy is a transdisciplinary form of interrogation informed by scholarly knowledges as well as by practices and artistic expressions that elucidate fundamental questions that emerge in contexts of "discovery," conquest, racial, gender, and sexual domination, genocide, dependency, and exploitation as well as freedom, emancipation, and decolonization. Reflection about these areas often appears in philosophical texts, but also in a plethora of other genres such as literature, music, and historical writings. The CPA invites theoretical engagements with all such questions, thematic areas, and genres with emphasis on any given discipline or field, but with a common interest in "shifting the geography of reason," by which we mean approaching the Caribbean and the "global south" in general as zones of sustainable practices and knowledges. As stated above, the principal areas of focus in the 2009 conference are migrations and Diasporas. See the CFP here:

Young, Jeffrey R. "Six Lessons One Campus Learned About E-Textbooks." CHRONICLE June 12, 2009.

Northwest Missouri State University nearly became the first public university to deliver all of its textbooks electronically. Last year the institution's tech-happy president, Dean L. Hubbard, bought a Kindle, Amazon's e-book reading device, and liked it so much that he wanted to give every incoming student one. The university already runs an unusual textbook-rental program that buys thousands of printed books for students who pay a flat, per-credit fee. Mr. Hubbard saw in the gadget a way to drastically cut the rental program's annual $800,000 price tag, since e-books generally cost half the price of printed textbooks. Then the university ran a pilot study with the Sony Reader, a device much like the Kindle (Sony was more responsive to the university's calls than Amazon was). University officials learned some sobering lessons about electronic books. Students who got the machines quickly asked for their printed books back because it was so awkward to navigate inside the e-books (though a newer version of the device works more gracefully). Mr. Hubbard still dreams of lighter bookbags and lower costs, but the university is now moving more slowly — and running tests involving several different types of e-books. Publishers are clamoring to be part of the experiment. . . . Read the rest here:

Kirschner, Ann. "Reading Dickens Four Ways." CHRONICLE June 12, 2009.

Hardcover or paperback? Until recently those were our reading options. As with everything else, whether it's ice cream or television, things are much more complicated now. We are way beyond vanilla and chocolate, way beyond the corner bookstore and neighborhood library and into a multiplicity of forms and platforms and technologies and interfaces that could be dispiriting if you are inclined to worry about the death of the book. Do I love books or do I love reading? When my book group picked Little Dorrit, I found myself asking that question. Good old paid-by-the-word Dickens: I figured that it would take me months to finish nearly 1,000 pages. My reading would take place on the New York City subway, in cars and planes, on business trips and vacation, and (my all-time favorite) in bed at the end of the day. I went automatically to my old Penguin paperback, standing ready on the shelf. Never mind its familiar and friendly orange spine — I hesitated. Maybe it would make sense to read the book on the Kindle that my husband bought me last year. Then again, for my daily Manhattan life, I love audiobooks, the best choice for crowded public transportation and a wonderful companion for walking. And now that I use an iPhone, I have been surprised by the ease of reading its crisp, bright screen. I decided to read Little Dorrit four ways: paperback, audiobook, Kindle, and iPhone. It was often maddening to keep finding and losing my place as I switched from format to format. But as an experiment, it taught me a great deal about my reading habits, and about how a text reveals itself differently as the reading context changes. Along the way, I also began to make some predictions about winners and losers in the evolution of books. . . . Read the rest here:

Dougherty, Peter. "A Manifesto for Scholarly Publishing." CHRONICLE June 12, 2009.

While university presses grapple with the economic and technological challenges now affecting how we publish our books — the subject of a thousand and one AAUP conference sessions, e-mail-list debates, and news articles — discussion of what we publish seems to have taken a back seat. And understandably so. Why obsess about content if books as we know them are about to become obsolete in favor of some yet-to-evolve form? Has creative destruction spelled the end of books? I believe quite the opposite. Books — specifically scholarly titles published by university presses and other professional publishers — retain two distinct comparative advantages over other forms of communication in the idea bazaar. . . . Read the rest here:

"Publisher Appears to Have Accepted Fake Paper From Bogus Center." INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION June 10, 2009.

It’s an especially bad time for a medical journal to be duped by an author who, say, submits a fake computer-generated research paper from a fake institution he named the Center for Research in Applied Phrenology — or CRAP. And yet that’s exactly what appears to have happened. The deception was the work of Philip M. Davis, a doctoral student in communication at Cornell University who serves as executive editor of the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s Scholarly Kitchen blog. Mr. Davis said he had concocted the plan after receiving numerous “aggressive” unsolicited e-mail messages from Bentham Publishing, which finances its line of 200 open-access scientific journals by charging authors a publication fee. Mr. Davis and the blog’s editor in chief, Kent R. Anderson, submitted two research papers that were created by a computer program at MIT called SCIgen that describes itself as generating random text intended to “maximize amusement, rather than coherence.” One of the papers was rejected by Bentham, and the other — a nonsensical five-page report with footnotes and graphical charts that purported to describe an Internet process called the “Trifling Thamyn” — was accepted after the publisher said it had been peer-reviewed. Mr. Davis reported that an invoice for $800 had been issued by Bentham, without any evidence that the article was actually peer-reviewed. . . . [I thought this sort of thing only happened with so-called Postmodernists and in the Humanities (see the Sokal Hoax)?] Read the rest here:

Critchley, Simon. "BEING AND TIME, Part 1: Why Heidegger Matters." GUARDIAN June 8, 2009.

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was the most important and influential philosopher in the continental tradition in the 20th century. Being and Time, first published in 1927, was his magnum opus. There is no way of understanding what took place in continental philosophy after Heidegger without coming to terms with Being and Time. Furthermore, unlike many Anglo-American philosophers, Heidegger has exerted a huge influence outside philosophy, in areas as diverse as architecture, contemporary art, social and political theory, psychotherapy, psychiatry and theology. However, because of his political commitment to National Socialism in 1933, when he assumed the position of Rector of Freiburg University in south-western Germany, Heidegger continues to arouse controversy, polemic and much heated misunderstanding. The hugely important matter of the relation between Heidegger and politics is the topic for another series of blogs entries. Indeed, to my mind, the nature and extent of Heidegger's involvement in National Socialism only becomes philosophically pertinent once one has begun to understand and feel the persuasive power of what takes place in his written work, especially Being and Time. The task I have set myself in this series of blogs is to provide a taste of the latter book and hopefully some motivation to read it further and study it more deeply. But once you have read Being and Time and hopefully been compelled by it, then the question that hangs over the text, like the sword of Damocles, is the following: how could arguably the greatest philosopher of the 20th century also have been a Nazi? What does his political commitment to National Socialism, however long or short it lasted, suggest about the nature of philosophy and its risks and dangers when stepping into the political realm? . . . Read the rest here: