Sunday, August 29, 2010

Simms, Brendan. "A Combatant in the Battle of Ideas." WALL STREET JOURNAL July 30, 2010.

Ernest Gellner was by training and profession an anthropologist. He began his career by conducting fieldwork among the Berbers of Morocco, sometimes accompanied by his intrepid wife, Susan. But Gellner was really a classic polymath whose interests ranged across several disciplines at a time when it was still (just) possible to feel a mastery of more than one field of study. Gellner launched forays into philosophy, sociology, psychoanalysis and history.

The fields might have been diverse, but the method of inquiry was similar in each case: analytical rigor combined with a strict commitment to reason. Those who knew Gellner recall that this commitment could result in truly nerve-racking conversations, in which they found themselves under relentless interrogation as Gellner tried to get to the heart of a problem. There was not much small talk, and there was nowhere to hide as he chipped away at the position of his interlocutor—or, to put it another way, his opponent. As one might imagine, Gellner did not suffer fools gladly. He told the assembled doyens and divas who constituted the celebrated Cambridge History of Political Thought school, for example, that there were simply too many of them. . . .

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Kingsley, Patrick. "The Art of Slow Reading." GUARDIAN July 15, 2010.

If you're reading this article in print, chances are you'll only get through half of what I've written. And if you're reading this online, you might not even finish a fifth. At least, those are the two verdicts from a pair of recent research projects – respectively, the Poynter Institute's Eyetrack survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen – which both suggest that many of us no longer have the concentration to read articles through to their conclusion.

The problem doesn't just stop there: academics report that we are becoming less attentive book-readers, too. Bath Spa University lecturer Greg Garrard recently revealed that he has had to shorten his students' reading list, while Keith Thomas, an Oxford historian, has written that he is bemused by junior colleagues who analyse sources with a search engine, instead of reading them in their entirety.

So are we getting stupider? Is that what this is about? Sort of. According to The Shallows, a new book by technology sage Nicholas Carr, our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual information. Round-the-clock news feeds leave us hyperlinking from one article to the next – without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content; our reading is frequently interrupted by the ping of the latest email; and we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts.

Which all means that although, because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other. And so, as Carr writes, "we're losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we're in perpetual locomotion".

Still reading? You're probably in a dwindling minority. But no matter: a literary revolution is at hand. First we had slow food, then slow travel. Now, those campaigns are joined by a slow-reading movement – a disparate bunch of academics and intellectuals who want us to take our time while reading, and re-reading. They ask us to switch off our computers every so often and rediscover both the joy of personal engagement with physical texts, and the ability to process them fully. . . .

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Vinx, Lars. "Carl Schmitt." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY August 7, 2010.

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) was a conservative German legal, constitutional, and political theorist. Schmitt is often considered to be one of the most important critics of liberalism, parliamentary democracy, and liberal cosmopolitanism. But the value and significance of Schmitt's work is subject to controversy, mainly due to his intellectual support for and active involvement with National Socialism. . . .

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Bristow, William. "The Enlightenment." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY August 20, 2010.

The Enlightenment is the period in the history of western thought and culture, stretching roughly from the mid-decades of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, characterized by dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics; these revolutions swept away the medieval world-view and ushered in our modern western world. Enlightenment thought culminates historically in the political upheaval of the French Revolution, in which the traditional hierarchical political and social orders (the French monarchy, the privileges of the French nobility, the political power and authority of the Catholic Church) were violently destroyed and replaced by a political and social order informed by the Enlightenment ideals of freedom and equality for all, founded, ostensibly, upon principles of human reason. The Enlightenment begins with the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rise of the new science progressively undermines not only the ancient heliocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles. D'Alembert, a leading figure of the French Enlightenment, characterizes his eighteenth century, in the midst of it, as “the century of philosophy par excellence”, because of the tremendous intellectual progress of the age, the advance of the sciences, and the enthusiasm for that progress, but also because of the characteristic expectation of the age that philosophy (in this broad sense) would dramatically improve human life.

The task of characterizing philosophy in (or of) the Enlightenment confronts the obstacle of the wide diversity of Enlightenment thought. The Enlightenment is associated with the French thinkers of the mid-decades of the eighteenth century, the so-called “philosophes”, (Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert, Montesquieu, et cetera). The philosophes constitute an informal society of men of letters who collaborate on a loosely defined project of Enlightenment centered around the project of the Encyclopedia. But the Enlightenment has broader boundaries, both geographical and temporal, than this suggests. In addition to the French, there was a very significant Scottish Enlightenment (key figures were Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Thomas Reid) and a very significant German Enlightenment (die Aufklärung, key figures of which include Christian Wolff, Moses Mendelssohn, G.E. Lessing and Immanuel Kant). But all these Enlightenments were but particular nodes or centers in a far-flung and varied intellectual development. Given the variety, Enlightenment philosophy is characterized here in terms of general tendencies of thought, not in terms of specific doctrines or theories.

Only late in the development of the German Enlightenment, when the Enlightenment was near its end, does the movement become self-reflective; the question of “What is Enlightenment?” is debated in pamphlets and journals. In his famous definition of “enlightenment” in his essay “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” (1784), which is his contribution to this debate, Immanuel Kant expresses many of the tendencies shared among Enlightenment philosophies of divergent doctrines. Kant defines “enlightenment” as humankind's release from its self-incurred immaturity; “immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another.” Enlightenment is the process of undertaking to think for oneself, to employ and rely on one's own intellectual capacities in determining what to believe and how to act. Enlightenment philosophers from across the geographical and temporal spectrum tend to have a great deal of confidence in humanity's intellectual powers, both to achieve systematic knowledge of nature and to serve as an authoritative guide in practical life. This confidence is generally paired with suspicion or hostility toward other forms or carriers of authority (such as tradition, superstition, prejudice, myth and miracles), insofar as these are seen to compete with the authority of reason. Enlightenment philosophy tends to stand in tension with established religion, insofar as the release from self-incurred immaturity in this age, daring to think for oneself, awakening one's intellectual powers, generally requires opposing the role of established religion in directing thought and action. The faith of the Enlightenment – if one may call it that – is that the process of enlightenment, of becoming progressively self-directed in thought and action through the awakening of one's intellectual powers, leads ultimately to a better, more fulfilled human existence.

This entry describes the main tendencies of Enlightenment thought in the following main sections: (1) The True: Science, Epistemology, and Metaphysics in the Enlightenment; (2) The Good: Political Theory, Ethical Theory and Religion in the Enlightenment; (3) The Beautiful: Aesthetics in the Enlightenment. . . .

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Demeter, Tamas. Review of Peter Machamer, et al., DESCARTES'S CHANGING MIND. MOR June 1, 2010.

Machamer, Peter, and J. E. McGuire. Descartes's Changing Mind. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009.

Rational reconstructions of a philosopher's thought tend to misrepresent its historical content because their focus falls exclusively on maximizing the strength, coherence and stability of the philosophical position read off from the philosopher's oeuvre. Approaching texts with this attitude has an important role to play for philosophical discourse in which presenting a position in its most defensible form is a virtue and induces further argument. However, it has much less legitimacy in a historical work: the various utterances of philosophers may diverge, as real-life figures sometime change their mind and their position develops -- sometimes even to the point of contradicting to their earlier views. There is thus a tension between the aspirations of philosophical and historical reconstructions which is not always easy to overcome.

Machamer and McGuire are aware of this when they tell their narrative of Descartes's changing mind "organized around the philosophical analysis of the Cartesian corpus" (ix). What they offer is an overarching view of Descartes's natural philosophy, metaphysics and philosophy of mind from the Rules for the Direction of the Mind (1619) to the Principles of Philosophy (1644). The most general lesson one can draw from this book is not that Descartes's position is frequently misrepresented, but that there is no such thing as Descartes's position: his oeuvre is entirely dynamic, his works are rather like milestones in the development of his philosophical thought, summaries of his then actual positions -- but not of ultimate solutions and arguments. This dynamic character implies that Descartes's oeuvre cannot be treated as a coherent exposition of a unified theory, and therefore it is an interpretative error to use earlier texts to elucidate his later position (1). . . .

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Perring, Christian. Review of John R. Shook, et al., eds. A COMPANION TO PRAGMATISM. MOR May 5, 2009.

Shook, John R., and Joseph Margolis, eds. A Companion to Pragmatism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.

I'm starting to wonder whether "Pragmatism" any longer serves as a useful label for a branch of contemporary philosophy. (I'll use the capitalized word "Pragmatism" here to emphasize it is the philosophical theory I'm talking about.) Most of the Blackwell Companions to Philosophy address either individual philosophers, or areas of philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, and Heidegger; Ethics, Philosophy of Science, and Early Modern Philosophy, for example. Only 3 others address particular traditions of thought with a definite point of view, on Feminism, Rationalism, and Relativism. None of the Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy address particular traditions, The series of Cambridge Companions to Philosophy, Religion and Culture, numbering 117 at present, including ones on Postmodern Theology, German Idealism, and Critical Theory, does have one on Peirce, but none on Pragmatism. Christopher Hookway in his Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Pragmatism says in the introduction that, "The core of pragmatism was the pragmatist maxim, a rule for clarifying the contents of hypotheses by tracing their ‘practical consequences’. In the work of Peirce and James, the most influential application of the pragmatist maxim was to the concept of truth. But the pragmatists have also tended to share a distinctive epistemological outlook, a fallibilist anti-Cartesian approach to the norms that govern inquiry." He mentions Rorty, Putman and Brandom as modern pragmatists, but points out that Putnam denies that he is a pragmatist.

This collection edited by Shook and Margolis is a large volume with over 430 pages and 38 contributions. It is divided into three sections: "Major Figures," "Transforming Philosophy," and "Culture and Nature." The 12 major figures include, in addition to the obvious candidates, F.C.S. Schiller, Jane Addams, Alain Locke, Quine, Putnam, and Habermas. The essays in this section include some biographical information and vary in their scope. . . .

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Hellekson, Karen. "Breaking the Primacy of Print." TWC SYMPOSIUM BLOG August 20, 2010.

I was brought on board to help launch TWC in part because of my expertise in the scientific publishing world and my background in production. I was a hard sell when asked to lend my time to the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) and to TWC. What convinced me was the open access nature of the journal, the Creative Commons copyright, and the notion of fair use that would permit the journal to embed video and stills. These are in striking contrast to the locked-down access, repressive reprint rules, and monetization of content that I see every day in the journal-publishing industry. When it came time to decide whether we wanted a print component available for TWC’s articles, like a print version or PDFs, I spoke out strongly against it. I argued for the primacy of the online version because TWC embeds media, like YouTube videos and screen caps. How could that be duplicated in print? It can’t. Better that there be only one official version, and that one online. We would strike a blow for online-only content!

Two years later, TWC is still online only, but it’s become clear that that ideal has a cost. TWC’s audience is made up of acafans, and lots of academics who might otherwise submit to TWC find that they ought not, because their university has rules that online-only publications do not count for promotion and tenure. Some publishers won’t send us review copies of books because they have a blanket policy that they will not provide books to online-only publications. It’s clear that the reputation of online-only publications is markedly lesser than print publications. . . .

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Taylor, Mark C. "Academic Bankruptcy." NEW YORK TIMES August 14, 2010.

WITH the academic year about to begin, colleges and universities, as well as students and their parents, are facing an unprecedented financial crisis. What we’ve seen with California’s distinguished state university system — huge cutbacks in spending and a 32 percent rise in tuition — is likely to become the norm at public and private colleges. Government support is being slashed, endowments and charitable giving are down, debts are piling up, expenses are rising and some schools are selling their product for two-thirds of what it costs to produce it. You don’t need an M.B.A. to know this situation is unsustainable.

With unemployment soaring, higher education has never been more important to society or more widely desired. But the collapse of our public education system and the skyrocketing cost of private education threaten to make college unaffordable for millions of young people. If recent trends continue, four years at a top-tier school will cost $330,000 in 2020, $525,000 in 2028 and $785,000 in 2035.

Yet most faculty and administrators refuse to acknowledge this crisis. Consider what is taking place here in New York City. Rather than learning to live within their means, Columbia University, where I teach, and New York University are engaged in a fierce competition to expand as widely and quickly as possible. Last spring, N.Y.U. announced plans to increase its physical plant by 40 percent over the next 20 years; this summer Columbia secured approval for its $6.3 billion expansion in Upper Manhattan. N.Y.U. is also opening a new campus in Abu Dhabi this fall.

The financial arrangements for these projects remain obscure, but it is clear that they will not be completed without increasing the universities’ already significant and perhaps unsustainable levels of debt. . . .

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Cohen, Patricia. "Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review." NEW YORK TIMES August 23, 2010.

For professors, publishing in elite journals is an unavoidable part of university life. The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century.

Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.

“What we’re experiencing now is the most important transformation in our reading and writing tools since the invention of movable type,” said Katherine Rowe, a Renaissance specialist and media historian at Bryn Mawr College. “The way scholarly exchange is moving is radical, and we need to think about what it means for our fields.”

That transformation was behind the recent decision by the prestigious 60-year-old Shakespeare Quarterly to embark on an uncharacteristic experiment in the forthcoming fall issue — one that will make it, Ms. Rowe says, the first traditional humanities journal to open its reviewing to the World Wide Web.

Mixing traditional and new methods, the journal posted online four essays not yet accepted for publication, and a core group of experts — what Ms. Rowe called “our crowd sourcing” — were invited to post their signed comments on the Web site MediaCommons, a scholarly digital network. Others could add their thoughts as well, after registering with their own names. In the end 41 people made more than 350 comments, many of which elicited responses from the authors. The revised essays were then reviewed by the quarterly’s editors, who made the final decision to include them in the printed journal, due out Sept. 17. . . .

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Deutscher, Guy. "Does Your Language Shape How You Think?" NEW YORK TIMES August 26, 2010.

Deutscher, Guy.  Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages.  London: Metropolitan, 2010.

Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century. At first glance, there seemed little about the article to augur its subsequent celebrity. Neither the title, “Science and Linguistics,” nor the magazine, M.I.T.’s Technology Review, was most people’s idea of glamour. And the author, a chemical engineer who worked for an insurance company and moonlighted as an anthropology lecturer at Yale University, was an unlikely candidate for international superstardom. And yet Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.

In particular, Whorf announced, Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”) and actions (like “fall”). For decades, Whorf’s theory dazzled both academics and the general public alike. In his shadow, others made a whole range of imaginative claims about the supposed power of language, from the assertion that Native American languages instill in their speakers an intuitive understanding of Einstein’s concept of time as a fourth dimension to the theory that the nature of the Jewish religion was determined by the tense system of ancient Hebrew.

Eventually, Whorf’s theory crash-landed on hard facts and solid common sense, when it transpired that there had never actually been any evidence to support his fantastic claims. The reaction was so severe that for decades, any attempts to explore the influence of the mother tongue on our thoughts were relegated to the loony fringes of disrepute. But 70 years on, it is surely time to put the trauma of Whorf behind us. And in the last few years, new research has revealed that when we learn our mother tongue, we do after all acquire certain habits of thought that shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways. . . .

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kang, Du Won. "A Fresh Look at Thomas Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science: Part 2." EPOCH TIMES August 14, 2010.

With a focus on what scientists do rather than what they should do, Thomas Kuhn emphasized the powerful role that values and interests play in science as a social activity. At the same time, he acknowledged that there are some rational and effective aspects of what scientists do.

Charges of irrationalism in Kuhn’s philosophy were partially true, as Kuhn himself acknowledged, but some of the charges may have been too extreme.

In The Trouble with the Historical Philosophy of Science, published in 1992, Kuhn continued to explain that personal interest, politics, power, and authority play a role in science, as they do in other aspects of societal life.

However, Kuhn did not agree with the postmodernist movement, called the “strong program,” which claims that power and interests are all there are. While there is an irrational side to the practice of science, observations of nature do play a role in scientific development, according to Kuhn. . . .

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Kang, Du Won. "A Fresh Look at Thomas Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science: Part 1." EPOCH TIMES August 5, 2010.

The most widely read work on the philosophy of science, was and still is very influential while being widely misunderstood.

In his famed book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Structure for short), Kuhn introduced some controversial aspects of science while confusing some of his points, which led to decades of misunderstanding and criticism. Furthermore, Kuhn’s descriptions of what scientists normally do as dogmatic and rigid were not well received by many who celebrated the achievements of science.

He spent much of his later life trying to clarify his views about science while continuing to refine his philosophy beyond Structure. Some of the most lucid clarifications of what he thought about science were revealed in candid discussions not long before his death from cancer in 1996. . . .
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Cfp: "Saidism in the 21st Century," First International Interdisciplinary Conference on Edward W. Said’s Thought, Jagiellonian University, November 8-9, 2010.

The goal of the conference is to promote a new field of interdisciplinary research - SAIDISM - that is derived from Edward W. Said's (1935-2003) name and is interdisciplinarily connected to his thoughts, writings, political activities and academic work.


Session 1: Edward Said, Joseph Conrad and Literature:

- Edward W. Said and his Early Academic Period (1958-1967)
- Joseph Conrad and conradism – inspirations, motives, symbols, languages
- Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography
- World, the Text and the Critics - literary criticism
- Beginnings – intentions and methods of writing
- Philosophy in Literature – philosophies of writers, Jean Baptiste Vico, Antonio Gramsci, etc.
- Modernism and Postmodernism in Literature - James Joyce, etc.
- Erich Auerbach and Mimesis
- William Butler Yeats

Session 2: Edward Said, Orientalism and Postcolonial Studies

- Edward W. Said and his Transitory Period (1968-1978)
- Orient and Occident
- Orientlists and oriental studies - Gustave Flaubert, Jean Baptiste Fourier, etc.
- Orientalism – phenomenon
- Orientalism in culture – literature, art, politics
- Culture and Imperialism
- Colonialism and Postcolonialism – Africanism and Frantz Fanon, Caribbean Revival, Ireland and Irish Revival, Algierian Liberation, etc.
- Domination and Power
- Postcolonial Studies – Edward W. Said’s disciples, etc.

Session 3: Edward Said and Political Activism:

- Edward W. Said and his Full-Fledged Palestinian Period (1978-1990)
- Edward W. Said and Palestine – Palestinian political career, UN, relations with Palestinian Authorities and Yasir Arafat, Palestinians on E. Said and E.Said on Palestinians,
- The Middle East Modern History – Israeli-Arab wars, Palestinian-Arab relations, Gulf war, Iran-Iraq war, Muhamad Ali and Algerian National Liberation Front, etc.
- The Middle East Current Affairs - American invasion on Iraq, USA-Iran relations, Israel-Iran relations, etc.
- Israel-Palestinian Issues – conflict, peace process, status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees,
- Islam, Islamism and Islamocentrism – fundamentalism, etc.
- The Middle East Issues in Media – modern orientalism in media, Israeli, Arabic and Iranian media, language of media
- Political Activists – inspirations, opponents, etc.

Session 4: Edward Said, Saidism, and Philosophy:

- Edward W. Said and his Late Intellectual Period (1991-2003)
- Edward W. Said and himself – identities, auto-creations, self-presentations, languages, relatives, friendships, etc.
- Edward W. Said and his cities – idea of home (Cairo, Jerusalem, Beirut, New York),cosmopolitism (Paris, London, Berlin), intellectual home (schools, universities), etc.
- Philosophical Inspirations – Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs, Friedrich Nietzsche, etc.
- Modernism and postmodernism – Theodor Adorno, Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida, etc.
- Edward W. Said and his Philosophy - Travelling Theory, Exile, Dispossession, Borderlands, Intellectual Commitment, Intellectuals and Professionals, Humanism, Trans-humanism, etc.
- Intellectual and Academic Inspirations – Noam Chomsky, Gillo Pontecorvo, Frantz Fanon, etc.
- Intellectual and Academic Opponents – Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, Daniel Pipes, Amos Oz, etc.
- Art, Music and Esthetics – paintings, comics, Wagner, Furtwängler, etc.
- Edward W. Said, Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
- Edward W. Said and Media – journalism (“Al-Hayat”, “Al-Ahram Weekly”, “The London Review of Books”), radio, TV, film and film-makers, documentaries, etc.
- Late Style of Edward W. Said.

Visit the conference website here:

Richardson, Edmund. Review of William W. Cook, et al., AFRICAN AMERICAN WRITERS AND CLASSICAL TRADITION. BMCR (August 2010).

Cook, William W., and James Tatum.  African American Writers and Classical Tradition.  Chicago:  U of Chicago P, 2010.

The beginning must be uncertain, a note half-heard. For here is a story of the edges of memory – unquiet, Protean, astonishing. In their exploration of the richness of African-American engagements with the ancient world – from the poetry of Phyllis Wheatley to the satire of Fran Ross – Cook and Tatum have produced one of the most important and enchanting books ever written in the field of classical reception.

(And if that has the heavy finality of conclusion, it still must serve as opening gambit – such is the scope of this work.)

Wisely, the authors have not attempted an all-encompassing narrative. Instead, each of the book’s eight chapters is focused around one complex, suggestive figure, or literary strategy. The Ciceronian speech of Frederick Douglass – seized from his self-proclaimed ‘betters’ – leads into the troubled Odyssey of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, where the Cyclops lies in wait in an American psychiatric ward, and the allusive, quicksilver verse of Melvin Tolson, the ‘Pindar of Harlem.’ The chapters’ progression is broadly chronological – beginning in eighteenth-century Boston, ending in the present day and a glance, half-longing, towards times to come.

Grand narrative this is not, in any conventional sense. The past is fragile, here – hard to reach, harder still to make one’s own. While still a slave, Douglass had to ‘steal knowledge’ (58) from under the nose of his master, by persuading his white childhood friends to give him lessons. Wheatley’s antiquity is structured by loss (46). Even when past and present do meet on solid ground, the result – as in W.E.B. Du Bois’s Quest for the Silver Fleece – is often far from triumphant; ‘just because you start interpreting everything allegorically,’ as the authors remark, ‘[it] doesn’t mean you’ll be any better off’ (134). These are discourses which many conventional approaches to reception would be hard-pressed to narrate – where remembrance becomes ‘a dream as frail as those of ancient time’ (Tennyson, quoted 229). . . .

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Scodel, Ruth. Review of Christopher Lyle Johnstone, LISTENING TO THE LOGOS. BMCR (August 2010).

Johnstone, Christophe Lyle.  Listening to the Logos: Speech and the Coming of Wisdom in Ancient Greece.   Columbia:  U of South Carolina P, 2009.

This is a study of the interaction of how Greek concepts of wisdom interact with the understanding of speech. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it makes Aristotle its telos, and so considers Greek intellectual history as it leads to Aristotle: after a discussion of Homer, it goes through the Presocratics, the sophists and Socrates, Plato and Isocrates.

It is a good idea for classicists, every once in a while, to read treatments of their texts by smart people who are not classicists, usually colleagues in related fields. They can profit in two very different, indeed opposite, ways: first, sometimes the comparative outsider, with a fresh perspective, can offer insights, solutions to problems, or methods or approach that the community of specialists has missed because it can be very hard to go beyond the questions that have already been defined and endlessly discussed. Second, such books can reveal how the field looks to its neighbors. There is almost always a time lag between disciplines, and even between subfields. The people who work on an area go to conferences with each other and send emails to each other; then they read each other’s articles. The rest of us often find out that something important has changed only after a major book appears and has been reviewed, or perhaps when we read job applications. So we sometimes find out that our scholarly neighbors are out of touch with developments in classics, and maybe are encouraged to inform them better. There is always a danger, though, that we can turn ourselves into scholarly police, patrolling our boundaries and looking for mistakes on which to pounce.

All this explains why I thought it would be potentially valuable and fun to read a book about wisdom in Greece by a scholar of rhetoric, but also a little nervous. I am interested particularly in Greek conceptions of practical wisdom, since I aspire to it (sophia I have never hoped for, but I like to think that a certain measure of phronesis has come with middle age). This did not turn out to be the book I expected. Its narrative is basically the old “from mythos to logos” account, which is a disappointment, although I am worried that I have missed something very important. It could be interesting and useful to look single-mindedly for the antecedents of Aristotle’s thinking about sophia, phronesis, and speech. Lyric poetry, history, and tragedy could all contribute to an understanding of wisdom and logos. A study of wisdom and speech that does not discuss Solon’s poetry and does not mention Herodotus has missed too much. But the book has defined the antecedents of Aristotle largely in the terms of Aristotle’s own history of philosophy. So the basic problem seems to be that the book is either too Aristotelian or not Aristotelian enough; it is not clearly directed towards Aristotle as telos, but it allows Aristotle too much implicit control. . . .

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(Thanks to Ed Brandon for the suggestion.)

Rehg, William. Review of Andrew Feenberg, BETWEEN REASON AND EXPERIENCE. NDPR (August 2010).

Feenberg, Andrew.  Between Reason and Experience: Essays in Technology and Modernity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.

Among philosophers of technology who came of age in the latter half of the twentieth century, Andrew Feenberg counts as one of the most productive and influential. He has developed a capacious theoretical framework, integrating philosophical, historical, and sociological research in a critical theory of technology. Unlike analytic philosophy of technology, which focuses primarily on the nature of technology itself (see Franssen et al. 2010), critical approaches attempt to situate, understand, and assess technology in its relation to culture, politics, society, and the good life. Feenberg is especially remarkable in his capacity to draw on thinkers as diverse as Marx and Heidegger, approaches as opposed as social constructivism and technological determinism, literatures as vast as science and technology studies (STS) and modernity theory, and case studies ranging from Japan to France.

The present volume provides a good overview of Feenberg's work. The nine chapters, drawn in part from earlier publications (some not easily obtained), fall evenly into three parts. The first part places some of the main themes on the table: after opening with a revised version of his 1992 paper on "subversive rationalization" -- a dense presentation of his core critical categories -- Feenberg follows with two chapters that develop implications for environmentalism and explain how to move past dystopian visions. Part two deepens and clarifies his approach with an overview of his synthesis of social constructivism and critique, followed by two cultural studies: the French reception of videotex and the Japanese struggle to embrace modernity, primarily as seen through the eyes of the philosopher Kitaro Nishida. In part three, Feenberg tackles the relation between technology and modernity. The three parts are framed by reactions from two prominent STS scholars, Brian Wynne and Michel Callon.

At the heart of Feenberg's approach lies a distinction that responds to a set of interrelated oppositions. In the history of reflection on technology, a core opposition appears as two contrasting views: technological determinism and social constructivism. The former view, sometimes attributed to Marx but most famously associated with Jacques Ellul, holds that modern technological development follows a "unilinear" logic inherent in functional necessities, which exercise their force independently of society, culture, or politics. Technological progress thus points in one direction that is determined "by the base," i.e., the technical conditions of social reproduction (8). Although determinism can feed utopian visions of the future, the history of technologically mediated oppression continues to feed dystopian views: having made the choice in favor of technological progress, we face an inexorable march into slavery, which we can avoid only by renouncing our choice and returning to a simpler, pastoral society. The sheer implausibility of such a return only deepens the pessimist's despair. . . .

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1. “Rhetoric, Ethics, Aesthetics, and Probability in Fiction and Nonfiction: Pride and Prejudice and The Year of Magical Thinking,” by James Phelan p. 1
2. “John Milton, Englishman: “Of the Devil’s Party” per the Spanish Inquisition,” by Angelica Duran p. 22
3. "Devouring Uncle Tom's Cabin: Black Readers Between "Plessy vs. Ferguson" and "Brown vs. Board of Education," by Barbara Hochman p. 48
4. “Gandhi vs. Mishima: the Politics of Critical Reception,” by John Howard Wilson p. 94

5. “Reflections on the Interplay of Race, Whiteness and Canadian Identity in a Film Studies Classroom,” by Lee Easton and Kelly Hewson p. 116
Download the essays here:

Zuckert, Catherine H. Review of Alan Kim, PLATO IN GERMANY. NDPR (August 2010).

Kim, Alan. Plato in Germany: Kant -- Natorp -- Heidegger. Gent: Academia, 2010.

Like Hans Georg Gadamer in his Philosophical Apprenticeships, Alan Kim suggests that we will understand Heidegger's thought better if we know more about his debates with his colleagues at the University of Marburg. In particular, Kim contends that we will not truly understand Heidegger until we understand the position Heidegger was most immediately and directly critiquing in his interpretation of Plato -- that taken by Paul Natorp in his Platos Ideenlehre. . . .

Read the rest here:

Hildebrand, David L. Review of Colin Koopman, PRAGMATISM AS TRANSITION. NDPR (August 2010).

Koopman, Colin. Pragmatism as Transition: Historicity and Hope in James, Dewey, and Rorty. New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

Pragmatism as Transition (hence, Transition) aims to develop a new "wave" of pragmatism, "Transitional Pragmatism" or "Transitionalism." The need for such an alternative is justified, ostensibly, by an "impasse" or "holding pattern" which is paralyzing various contemporary pragmatisms and preventing them from doing "cultural criticism" and helping solve pressing (non-philosophical) ethical and political problems. Transition's basic strategy is to diagnose the impasse by showing a tension between two major historical roots (or "waves") of pragmatism and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each. Each of these two historical waves of pragmatism reveal, it is argued, various "transitional" elements of their own which can be selectively salvaged for use in the new and improved pragmatism, Transitionalism.

More specifically, the "1st wave" of pragmatism includes American classical pragmatists (CP) C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, primarily; the "2nd wave" includes figures sometimes called neopragmatists or linguistic pragmatists (NP): Richard Rorty, Robert Brandom, and Hilary Putnam, mainly. Many other figures (pragmatists, non-pragmatists, and others) are enlisted to advance critical and constructive points, with special help coming from Pierre Bourdieu, Stanley Cavell, Bernard Williams, and Michel Foucault. Despite this large and diverse cast, Transition primarily addresses itself to scholars in the American pragmatist tradition; we conclude this because the majority of close analyses (when given) are spent interpreting or criticizing Dewey. (The extent to which we were persuaded by these analyses forms the core of this review.) Nevertheless, we believe that something of interest can be found here for anyone interested in the above mentioned figures, various pragmatisms, or theories regarding genealogy, sociology, or anthropology.

The book consists of seven chapters and an introduction, notes, a bibliography, and an index. The introduction outlines some key terms and then neatly encapsulates the structure and motivation for the book's argument. Chapter 1 explicates the core components of Transitionalism, namely meliorism, historicity, and temporality; chapter 2, called "largely an effort in quotation," seeks to show that "transitionalist" themes characterize "every major pragmatist thinker" (7) as it begins comparing classical and contemporary streams within pragmatism. Chapter 3 labors to establish the necessity of a 3rd wave (Transitionalism) by showing how and why an impasse exists between the first two waves. Arguing that CP is too foundationalist-leaning ("experience-centric") and NP is too narrowly focused on linguistic-practice ("language-centric") the chapter is "concerned to point out certain deficiencies that result from placing too much stress on experience or language rather than on the processes of transitioning in which both experience and language ought to be situated." (8) Chapters 4, 5, and 6 seek to utilize the previous chapters' material by demonstrating how seeing through a "transitioning" lens can relieve longstanding impasses in epistemology, ethics, and political theory (e.g., a solution to the utilitarian/deontology impasse in ethical theory is proffered). Finally, Chapter 7 pleads for much greater attention to genealogical approaches to criticism, such as found in Foucault. These approaches, Transition argues, supply two lacunae in pragmatism: (a) a method for identifying our problems' specific historical roots (rather than focusing too singularly upon consequences, which, it is argued, CP typically does) and (b) a better mechanism for creating problems which stir up thinking -- a.k.a. "problematization." The chapter (and book) ends with a plea for more cross-pollination between genealogical criticism and pragmatism. . . .

Read the whole review here:

Pub: Recent Books by Gianni Vattimo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Death: Frank Kermode (1919 - 2010).

Flood, Alison: Celebrated Critic Frank Kermode Dies Aged 90 Guardian August 18, 2010:
Prominent in literary criticism since the 1950s, Kermode held "virtually every endowed chair worth having in the British Isles", according to his former colleague John Sutherland, from King Edward VII professor of English literature at Cambridge to Lord Northcliffe professor of modern English literature at University College London and professor of poetry at Harvard, along with honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He was knighted in 1991, the first literary critic to be so honoured since William Empson.

A renowned Shakespearean, publishing Shakespeare's Language in 2001, Kermode's books range from works on Spenser and Donne and the memoir Not Entitled to last year's Concerning E. M. Forster.

His publisher, Alan Samson, at Weidenfeld & Nicolson said Kermode would probably be most remembered for The Sense of An Ending, his collection of lectures on the relationship of fiction to concepts of apocalyptic chaos and crisis, first published in 1967, as well as for Romantic Image, a study of the Romantic movement up until WB Yeats. . . .

He fundamentally changed the study of English literature in the 1960s by introducing French theory by post-structuralists such as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault, and post-Freudians such as Jacques Lacan, into what Sutherland described as "the torpid bloodstream of British academic discourse". Speaking to Sutherland in 2006, Kermode admitted that the move had "attracted quite a lot of opprobrium".

Although he later moved away from theory, he told Sutherland that the time considering it was not wasted. "One of the great benefits of seriously reading English is you're forced to read a lot of other things," he said. "You may not have a very deep acquaintance with Hegel but you need to know something about Hegel. Or Hobbes, or Aristotle, or Roland Barthes. We're all smatterers in a way, I suppose. But a certain amount of civilisation depends on intelligent smattering." . . .
Mullan, John: Sir Frank Kermode Obituary Guardian August 18, 2010:
When Frank Kermode's elegant, melancholy, often very funny autobiography, Not Entitled, was published in 1995, many reviewers commented on the irony of its title and its tone. Its author was an academic who had gained every honour in his field, who had occupied several of the most illustrious chairs of English literature and, rarest of achievements for a literary critic, even been knighted. Yet Kermode, who has died aged 90, presented himself in his memoir as a slightly bemused outsider, unworthy of most of his successes, drifting into appointments and undertakings, guided mostly by accident.

This self-image, however artful, was true to the man, and the ironic, self-deprecating voice of Not Entitled was his voice. What he called there his "permanent condition of mild alienation" was temperamental – a distance from things that made him, in person, a wry observer of academic follies. The separateness was also, as he saw it, something to do with his upbringing. . . .
Sir Frank Kermode Telegraph August 18, 2010:
Sir Frank Kermode, who died on August 17 aged 90, was the most eminent critic of English literature since FR Leavis; his teaching career culminated in the senior English professorship at Cambridge University, a post he surrendered in 1982 in the aftermath of a widely reported doctrinal rift within the faculty. . . .

The Sense of an Ending gave notice of Kermode's increasing tolerance of modern literary criticism and of its interest less in the content of a work than in its form and structure. From 1967 to 1974 he taught at University College, London, a period that witnessed the birth of new literary theories, notably structuralism and deconstruction. These held that readers should no longer study a text with a view to discerning an objective meaning, since in the modern world texts might have an infinite number of equally valid meanings, each of equal cultural weight, each peculiar to the reader.

Although Kermode was later capable of castigating the gibberish written by many proponents of these ideas, he was always open-minded, and in the late 1960s was an important supporter of the further investigation of these new theories. In a celebrated coup, he arranged for the structuralist Roland Barthes to lecture at UCL. . . .

When he was offered the Regius Professorship in 1974, he hesitated to accept, as he was happy in London and had been warned about the atmosphere at Cambridge. Once there, he found a badly-organised faculty which was ill-disposed to change. Kermode later said that the happiest of his eight years at Cambridge was the one he spent as a visiting professor at Harvard.

The row that brought about his resignation in 1982 was presented in the press as a conflict in teaching methods between the traditionalists and the modernists, among whose ranks was Kermode. In reality, the dispute revolved around a junior lecturer, the structuralist Colin MacCabe, whose promotion the traditionalists had tried to block. Kermode's support was not so much for a dogma as for a talented colleague he thought had been unjustly treated; but his arguments did not carry the day. Shortly afterwards he resigned his post and fled Cambridge for a post in New York. . . .
See also:

Gould, Tim. Review of Lawrence Rhu, STANLEY CAVELL'S AMERICAN DREAM. OLP & LITERARY STUDIES ONLINE. August 19, 2010.

Rhu, Lawrence. Stanley Cavell’s American Dream: Shakespeare, Philosophy, and Hollywood Movies. New York: Fordham UP, 2006.

Lawrence Rhu’s Stanley Cavell’s American Dream is one of the most interesting books on Cavell’s work to be published in the last decade. Rhu’s book examines what he calls the “convergence and elaboration” of three “major subjects in the philosophy of Stanley Cavell” (1): Shakespeare (especially the Romances and the “Roman” plays), Emerson, and Hollywood movies (in particular the comedies and the melodramas that Cavell comes to focus on). Rhu’s intention is to reveal something significant about Cavell’s work through the fact and content of this convergence. But he is also attempting to use this convergence to make Cavell’s thought more accessible to a wider audience. He characterizes this potentially wider audience as those that would not normally find themselves involved in “the writings of professional philosophers” (1).

Rhu is a Renaissance scholar who aims to reshape the preoccupations of his field. Where others have been content to borrow Cavell’s insights about a particular field of study (for instance Shakespeare, film, the American Renaissance, or the nature of political community), Rhu explicitly wants the convergence of the fields to illuminate the core of Cavell’s work. He wants to examine this core as the goal of the convergence of these topics. He is certainly well aware that the historical direction of Cavell’s explorations is more explicitly outward, beginning with issues like skepticism and perfectionism. In Rhu’s argument, the outward movement of Cavell’s work implies the possibility of inward and convergent paths. He suggests that the very possibility of this convergence provides a wider access to Cavell’s work and even a kind of argument in favor of Cavell’s insights. He thus wants more than abstract structural analogies, such as the ones sketched in by Stephen Mulhall. He wants something of substance and content to provide the center towards which these fields converge. Herein lies the problem and the promise of this challenging book.

Rhu does not try to name the territory towards which the three areas of Cavell’s thought are tending. Indeed, there is a kind of provisional, Emersonian quality to any such effort to point to the heart of the matter of Cavell’s project. He does, however, make various efforts at characterizing this central ground. . . .

Read the rest here:

Cfp: "Commonalities: Theorizing the Common in Contemporary Italian Thought," a DIACRITICS Conference, Cornell University, September 24-25, 2010.

Over the last decade contemporary Italian thought has enjoyed enormous intellectual and editorial success in the United States. The work of Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Negri writing with Michael Hardt, Paolo Virno, Adriana Cavarero, and more recently Roberto Esposito and Rosi Braidotti, have placed Italian thought at the heart of current debates on topics as wide-ranging as bioengineering, globalization, and feminism. In ways that recall the success of French poststructuralism in the 1980s, Italian thought today appears increasingly to be setting the terms of both philosophical and political debates in this country. Yet such success raises a number of questions, in particular about the very features of Italian philosophical tradition that might account for such a result. In other words, if asked to sketch the principal features of Italian thought that join together philosophers as different as Cavarero, Agamben, and Negri, how might one reply? What is it that separates Italian thought from other philosophical traditions, and what might account for its importance today? As Negri asks, where does the Italian difference lie?

Although there are many possible responses, one undeniable feature linking some of the most powerful exponents of contemporary Italian thought is the decisive weight afforded the notion of the “common.” Certainly, Giorgio Agamben’s quasi-manifesto The Coming Community from 1994 merits attention, as does Hardt and Negri’s theorization of the coming together of commonality and singularity in the figure of the multitude in Empire and Multitude. So too does the “common” run through Adriana Cavarero’s reading of “horrorism” in terms of the body politic, Paolo Virno’s emphasis on the shared capacities of labor, Rosi Braidotti’s displacement of communal bonds in favor of a Deleuzian nomadology, and more recently Roberto Esposito’s analysis of the reciprocal relation between community and immunity. One common ground (though clearly not the only one) of recent Italian philosophical iterations will be found in a shared orientation towards reconceptualizing the common.

It is in this context that the diacritics conference “Commonalities: Contemporary Italian Thought and Theorizing the Common” will take place. . . .

For further information, visit:

Heyes, Cressida R. Review of C. G. Prado, ed. FOUCAULT'S LEGACY. NDPR (August 2010).

Prado, C. G., ed.  Foucault's Legacy.  London: Continuum, 2009.

The task of C. G. Prado's edited collection is to assess Foucault's legacy on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his death. As the editor admits in the introduction, this is a vast task, circumscribed in the volume through eight articles that "examine [Foucault's] contributions to contemporary thought by entering into various different conversations with one of the most innovative, enigmatic, and challenging thinkers of our time" (3). This is a fairly generic description, and the articles are wide-ranging. Most are oriented around explicating Foucault's indebtedness to, and influence upon, various other philosophers -- Heidegger, Nietzsche, Hegel, Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, Gianni Vattimo. As a result, we can read this volume as an analysis of Foucault's location in the ongoing history of ideas, as well as (in large part) an investigation of his relation to historicity and temporality and of his genealogical method. The essays progress more or less chronologically in terms of the interlocutors, from Nietzsche to Vattimo, bracketed by less directly figure-oriented essays on temporality and Foucault's relation to secularization and fascism. . . .

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Cfp: "The Nature, Forms, and Manifestations of Violence in the African World," 17th Annual Conference, International Society of African Philosophy and Studies, Ohio State University, April 17-20, 2011.

Sponsored by the Department of African American and African Studies and Department of French and Italian.

Apart from the traditional more or less negative representations of violence, the conference will enable participants to further nuance the concept of violence and connect it to morality, ethics, accountability, and 'democracy.' Scholars are also encouraged to discuss epistemic, economic, social, and political manifestations of violence that have functioned both as a means to free Africans, as a resource to keep them in subordination, or, as Fanon claims, as a cleansing force.


Cheikh Thiam
Assistant Professor/Maître de Conférences
Ohio State University
Department of French and Italian
Department of African American and African Studies
1775 College Rd. - 200 Hagerty
Columbus, OH 43201
Visit the website at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Beyond Critique: Reading after the Hermeneutics of Suspicion," Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature, Duke University, September 10, 2010.

A symposium followed by a reception in Duke’s Rare Book Room in Perkins library from 2p.m. - 6:30p.m. Speakers include: Rita Felski (English, University of Virginia Charlottesville), Sharon Marcus (English, Columbia), Stephen Best (English, Berkeley), Katherine Hayles (Literature and English, Duke). Respondent: Toril Moi (Literature, Duke). Program:

Stephen Best - The History of People Who Did Not Exist
Rita Felski - Suspicious Minds
Katherine Hayles - Hyper Reading: Pattern versus Meaning
Sharon Marcus - Celebrity: A Surface Reading

Moderator: Toril Moi (Duke)

Further information may be found here:

Hookway, Christopher. Review of Charles Sanders Peirce, 1890-1892. Vol. 8 of WRITINGS: A CHRONOLOGICAL EDITION. NDPR (August 2010).

Peirce, Charles Sanders.  1890-1892. Vol. 8 of Writings of Charles S. Peirce: a Chronological Edition. Ed. Edward C. Moore, Max H. Fisch, and J. W. Kloesel. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.

This book is volume eight of a multi-volume edition of Peirce's writings in logic and philosophy that was launched in the 1970s. The edition is important because, unlike most of its predecessors, it presents material chronologically, making it possible to study the development of Peirce's thought. It is also invaluable because of the extensive study of manuscripts and texts which has been involved in its production. Many manuscripts have been re-dated, others have been reconstructed from fragments, and we are now provided with extremely reliable transcripts of their contents. And, as in previous volumes, the editors have included drafts of important published papers and a lot of unpublished material. The current volume contains fifty-six items, ranging from published papers on metaphysics to manuscripts on logic and mathematics and reviews, mostly from The Nation, on a wide variety of topics, including William James's Psychology. Like earlier volumes, it contains a long introduction which gives us yet another chapter in a fascinating detailed and scholarly account of Peirce's life and work as well as providing insights into American academic and philosophical life in the later nineteenth century.

The period covered by this volume is an important one in Peirce's life. His teaching post at the Johns Hopkins University had lapsed in 1884, and he was struggling to earn enough to live on by working for the US Coast Survey and by writing definitions for the Century Dictionary. Around this time, Paul Carus launched a philosophical journal, The Monist. Peirce was in regular contact with Carus, and most of his writings between 1890 and his death in 1914, were either published in The Monist or intended for publication there, including five papers on metaphysics included in the present volume. Although not all are among the most accessible of his writings, these papers presented ideas that he had been working on for ten years or more and that continued to be important for his later work. Because these papers provide the intellectual core of the current volume, my comments will focus on them.

Since Peirce was best known in his lifetime as a logician and is probably familiar to contemporary philosophers mostly through his pragmatism and writings on the method of science, these papers may surprise some of Peirce's readers. Pragmatism is usually understood as a tool for undermining the pretentions of 'ontological metaphysics'. Peirce himself called it a form of 'prope-positivism', and, in many of his writings, it is associated with the rejection of the Kantian idea of a thing-in-itself. It is striking that the papers on metaphysics display some similarities to the German philosophical tradition of naturphilosophie, presenting a system of evolutionary cosmology and defending a form of objective idealism which shows the influence of Schelling and Schiller. There is no inconsistency here. Peirce's project is one of 'scientific metaphysics' and his cosmological writings are informed by science and consistent with pragmatism. . . .

Read the rest here:

Beam, Christopher. "Finishing School: the Case for Getting Rid of Tenure." SLATE August 11, 2010.

Imagine you ran a restaurant. A very prestigious, exclusive restaurant. To attract top talent, you guarantee all cooks and waiters job security for life. Not only that, because you value honesty and candor, you allow them to say anything they want about you and your cuisine, publicly and without fear of retribution. The only catch is that all cooks or waiters would have to start out as dishwashers or busboys, for at least 10 years, when none of these protections would apply.

It sounds absurd in the context of the food-service industry—for both you and your staff. But this system has governed academia for decades. Tenure—the ability to teach and conduct research without fear of being fired—is still the holy grail of higher education, to which all junior professors aspire. Yet fewer and fewer professors are attaining it. The proportion of full-time college professors with tenure has fallen from 57 percent in 1975 to 31 percent in 2007. The numbers for 2009, soon to be released by the Department of Education, are expected to dip even lower.

To which some educators are saying: good riddance. Tenure is a bad deal not just for universities, which are saddled with its costs, but also for professors, who are constrained by its conventions. Cathy Trower, a researcher at Harvard University who has studied tenure for the last decade, says the current system may actually be scaring talented young people away from academia. "This one-size-fits-all, rigid six-year up-and-out tenure system isn't working well," she says.

The case against tenure has been around as long as tenure itself. (The American Association of University Professors first declared the principles of academic freedom and tenure in 1915 and then revised them in 1940.) But the argument becomes only stronger over time. As tuition climbs and universities struggle to pay their bills, tenure is starting to look unaffordable. Keeping a professor around indefinitely—tenure means they can't be forced to retire—simply costs a lot. Mark C. Taylor, chair of the Columbia University department of religion and author of the forthcoming Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities, calculates that someone who serves as an associate professor with tenure for five years and then becomes a full professor for 30 years costs a private university $12.2 million.* Public universities pay $10 million over the same period. And because most universities pay tenured professors out of their endowments, each professor freezes up tens of millions in otherwise-liquid endowment money for a generation. University debt jumped 54 percent last year, with an average debt of $168 million. If the average university tenured about 15 fewer professors, they'd be in the black.

Then there's the effect of tenure on students. "Publish or perish" is the maxim of tenure-track professors. The corollary, of course, would be "teach and perish." Tenure committees claim to weigh publishing and teaching equally, but in practice publishing counts most. Taylor recalls a colleague winning a teaching award early in his career. Mentors urged him not to put it on his résumé. When the best young teachers focus their energies on writing rather than teaching, students pay the price.

The most common pro-tenure argument is that it protects academic freedom. Once a professor gains tenure, the thinking goes, he or she can say anything without fear of being fired. Academia thrives on the circulation of dangerous ideas. The problem is, for every tenured professor who's liberated at age 40 to speak his mind, there are dozens of junior professors terrified to say anything the least bit controversial, lest they lose their one shot at job security for life. Academia relies on young scholars to shake things up. Yet tenure incentivizes them not to. Instead, it rewards students who follow in the footsteps of the elders whose favor they will require when the day of judgment arrives.

Besides, says Taylor, the idea that a tenured professor can finally "speak out" is absurd. . . .

Read the rest here:

Di Leo, Jeffrey R. "Against Rank." INSIDER HIGHER ED June 21, 2010.

The practice of ranking scholarly journals is widespread in the United States for just about every discipline except those in the humanities. It is one sign of the good health of the humanities that they have not caught rank and brand fever like many of the other disciplines in the American academy. Whereas one can readily find rankings of science or business journals, there is silence when it comes to rankings of humanities journals. Why?

For one thing, unlike in business and the sciences, where accreditation and funding are directly linked to publication in highly-ranked journals, in the humanities there is little accreditation and even less funding. If a business professor in an AACSB accredited program does not publish in highly-ranked journals, she does nothing to help her program stay recognized. However, if comparative literature professors publish in a little-known journal, they are neither putting their program’s accreditation at risk (even though some believe that they are putting their program’s reputation at risk) nor jeopardizing its funding (which is meager to begin with). The only real danger of the comparative literature professor publishing in a lesser-known journal is that it has a lower chance of being read.

Compared to other disciplines, where funding and accreditation are linked to journal rank, publishing work in the journal Comparative Literature (one of the more well-known journals in the field) as opposed to say the South Texas Journal of Comparative Literature (an imaginary little-known journal) is more a matter of preference than of professional necessity. I’ve been a journal editor now for almost 20 years, and in that time, I have only come across one person who refused to publish because he viewed the journal I was editing as not befitting his “stature.”

Another reason for the roaring silence regarding the ranking of humanities journals regards the high level of sub-disciplinary specialization. . . .

Read the rest here:

Bartlett, Tom. "Michael Bellesiles Takes Another Shot." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION August 2, 2010.

Let's say you spend a dozen years researching a book. It's the first in a planned trilogy, the historical opus you consider your life's work. The book is published to gushing reviews ("stunning," "brilliant," a "tour de force") and becomes a national best seller. You win a big prize. You are living every scholar's dream.

Then it starts to crumble. Troubling flaws are found in your acclaimed work. At first you dismiss your critics as cranks, but as the evidence piles up, you struggle to defend yourself. Your admirers desert you. Your publisher drops you. Your big prize is withdrawn, and you're pressured to leave the faculty job you love. For a moment, you had everything, and then—just like that—it all goes away, plus some.

It's a sad story, yet the man who lived it, Michael A. Bellesiles, doesn't get a lot of sympathy. The book he wrote, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (Knopf, 2000), claimed to show that until the Civil War, guns were relatively rare in the United States, an argument that incensed gun-rights advocates. They were giddy over his downfall. Once it became impossible to deny that the work contained serious errors, former supporters felt betrayed and rapidly disassociated themselves from the book and its disgraced author. It was hard to tell who hated him more.

Now, nearly eight years later, Mr. Bellesiles is back. His new book, 1877: America's Year of Living Violently (New Press), isn't a contrarian showstopper; instead, it's an anecdotal history of a famously eventful and profoundly bloody year in American history. It's one of several books Mr. Bellesiles has been working on. After years spent figuring out how to recover and move on, the history professor has returned to writing and is feeling more productive than ever.

But will anyone give Mr. Bellesiles a second chance? And, more to the point, does he even deserve one?

Read the rest here:

Fish, Stanley. "Plagiarism Is Not a Big Moral Deal." OPINIONATOR BLOG. NEW YORK TIMES August 9, 2010.

Plagiarism is like that; it’s an insider’s obsession. If you’re a professional journalist, or an academic historian, or a philosopher, or a social scientist or a scientist, the game you play for a living is underwritten by the assumed value of originality and failure properly to credit the work of others is a big and obvious no-no. But if you’re a musician or a novelist, the boundary lines are less clear (although there certainly are some) and if you’re a politician it may not occur to you, as it did not at one time to Joe Biden, that you’re doing anything wrong when you appropriate the speech of a revered statesman.

And if you’re a student, plagiarism will seem to be an annoying guild imposition without a persuasive rationale (who cares?); for students, learning the rules of plagiarism is worse than learning the irregular conjugations of a foreign language. It takes years, and while a knowledge of irregular verbs might conceivably come in handy if you travel, knowledge of what is and is not plagiarism in this or that professional practice is not something that will be of very much use to you unless you end up becoming a member of the profession yourself. It follows that students who never quite get the concept right are by and large not committing a crime; they are just failing to become acclimated to the conventions of the little insular world they have, often through no choice of their own, wandered into. It’s no big moral deal; which doesn’t mean, I hasten to add, that plagiarism shouldn’t be punished — if you’re in our house, you’ve got to play by our rules — just that what you’re punishing is a breach of disciplinary decorum, not a breach of the moral universe.

Now if plagiarism is an idea that makes sense only in the precincts of certain specialized practices and is not a normative philosophical notion, inquiries into its philosophical underpinnings are of no practical interest or import. In recent years there have been a number of assaults on the notion of originality, issuing from fields as diverse as literary theory, history, cultural studies, philosophy, anthropology, Internet studies. Single authorship, we have been told, is a recent invention of a bourgeois culture obsessed with individualism, individual rights and the myth of progress. All texts are palimpsests of earlier texts; there’s been nothing new under the sun since Plato and Aristotle and they weren’t new either; everything belongs to everybody. In earlier periods works of art were produced in workshops by teams; the master artisan may have signed them, but they were communal products. In some cultures, even contemporary ones, the imitation of standard models is valued more than work that sets out to be path-breaking. (This was one of the positions in the famous quarrel between the ancients and the moderns in England and France in the 17th and 18th centuries.)

Arguments like these (which I am reporting, not endorsing) have been so successful in academic circles that the very word “originality” often appears in quotation marks, and it has seemed to many that there is a direct path from this line of reasoning to the conclusion that plagiarism is an incoherent, even impossible, concept and that a writer or artist accused of plagiarism is being faulted for doing something that cannot be avoided. R.M. Howard makes the point succinctly “If there is no originality and no literary property, there is no basis for the notion of plagiarism” (“College English,” 1995).

That might be true or at least plausible if, in order to have a basis, plagiarism would have to stand on some philosophical ground. But the ground plagiarism stands on is more mundane and firm; it is the ground of disciplinary practices and of the histories that have conferred on those practices a strong, even undoubted (though revisable) sense of what kind of work can be appropriately done and what kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. If it is wrong to plagiarize in some context of practice, it is not because the idea of originality has been affirmed by deep philosophical reasoning, but because the ensemble of activities that take place in the practice would be unintelligible if the possibility of being original were not presupposed. . . .

Read the rest here:

Gabriel, Trip. "Lines on Plagiarism Blur for Students in the Digital Age." NEW YORK TIMES August 1, 2010.

At Rhode Island College, a freshman copied and pasted from a Web site’s frequently asked questions page about homelessness — and did not think he needed to credit a source in his assignment because the page did not include author information.

At DePaul University, the tip-off to one student’s copying was the purple shade of several paragraphs he had lifted from the Web; when confronted by a writing tutor his professor had sent him to, he was not defensive — he just wanted to know how to change purple text to black.

And at the University of Maryland, a student reprimanded for copying from Wikipedia in a paper on the Great Depression said he thought its entries — unsigned and collectively written — did not need to be credited since they counted, essentially, as common knowledge.

Professors used to deal with plagiarism by admonishing students to give credit to others and to follow the style guide for citations, and pretty much left it at that. But these cases — typical ones, according to writing tutors and officials responsible for discipline at the three schools who described the plagiarism — suggest that many students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed.

It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism. Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image. . . .

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Jerema, Carson. "Academic Crisis at U of T." MACLEANS August 10, 2010.

Faculty at the University of Toronto are digging in their heels over a sweeping academic plan that would see several arts and science centres and departments either closed or stripped of their independence. Responding to an “unprecedented” number of complaints, the U of T Faculty Association (UTFA) is preparing to file a grievance with the provost’s office by the end of the month. The five year Academic Plan, released by arts and science dean Meric Gertler in July, proposes to reduce the number of administrative units in an effort to control overhead costs.

The faculty association is calling the situation a “crisis” and wants implementation of the plan to be shelved until their forthcoming grievance is settled. “A spirit of fear and distrust has taken hold, and UTFA is distressed to hear that departments are asking, ‘Who is next’”? Cynthia Messenger, UTFA’s vice-president, grievances, stated in a written response to Maclean’s.

Because U of T faculty are not technically unionized, the faculty association says it has limited means to address complaints from its members. There is no official mechanism in place to deal with the closure or amalgamation of academic units, a process UTFA wants to establish through their grievance.

Among the proposed changes would be the creation of a new School of Languages and Literature that will house six previously autonomous units, such as East Asian Studies and Italian Studies. The creation of the new school has drawn international criticism because it includes a plan to disestablish the Centre for Comparative Literature that was created in 1969 by Northrop Frye.

Other centres on the block to be closed are the Centre for Ethics and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational studies. The Centre for Biological Timing and Cognition would fall under the umbrella of the psychology department.

Although no professors are slated to lose their jobs, UTFA is concerned over the “scholarly standing” of affected units. “The downgrading of status from department to ‘program’ conveys to potential graduate students, granting agencies, international research collaborators, and donors that the unit is not sufficiently productive or academic,” Messenger said. . . .

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Connolly, Katie. "Teaching Philosophy with Spider-Man." BBC NEWS August 12, 2010.

Cultural and media studies have paved the way for universities to incorporate pop culture into their curriculum. These days it is not uncommon to find a television studies class alongside 17th-Century literature in the course listings of an English department.

Now, philosophy professors are finding superheroes and comic books to be exceptionally useful tools in helping students think about the complex moral and ethical debates that have occupied philosophers for centuries.

Moreover, superheroes are attracting students to a discipline often perceived as overrun by musty books, suede elbow patches and bow ties. . . .

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Smith, Stephen B. "Nazi or Philosopher?" CLAREMONT REVIEW OF BOOKS (Spring 2010).

Faye, Emmanuel. Heidegger: the Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy. Trans. Michael B. Smith. New Haven: Yale UP, 2009.

Sometime shortly after the publication of Victor Farias's Heidegger and Nazism (1987), I recall a conversation with the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre who complained that the title of Farias's book was misleading. The "and" suggested that Heidegger was one thing and National Socialism something else; the correct word should have been "is." The publication of Emmanuel Faye's Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy would seem to be the work that MacIntyre was looking for.

Faye is far from the first to detail Heidegger's love affair with the Nazis. In addition to Farias, it suffices to mention the work of Hugo Ott and Guido Schneeberger in Germany and Tom Rockmore and Richard Wolin in the United States. But the links between Heidegger and Nazism have never been drawn so clearly and explicitly as Faye draws them. Indeed, Faye goes farther—much farther—than Heidegger's earlier critics. Most of Heidegger's critics have been content to ask the question how could a great philosopher be a Nazi? Faye, an associate professor at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, argues that Heidegger's embrace of National Socialism is sufficient to eliminate him from the ranks of philosophy altogether.

In Faye's view, Heidegger systematically distorted the meaning of philosophy to make it serve the ends of Nazi propaganda. What else can you say of a man who used apparently philosophical titles such as "The Fundamental Question of Philosophy," "Of the Essence of Truth," and "Logic" to smuggle in doctrines of Aryan supremacy, völkisch German nationalism, and the Führerprinzip? Henceforward, Faye argues, Heidegger's works should be removed from the philosophy sections of libraries and bookstores and placed under the category of Nazi Studies. A strong thesis, to say the least.

The book concentrates on Heidegger's work of the mid-1930s, at the height of his enthusiasm. Faye begins with a brief, selective treatment of proto-Nazi themes in Heidegger's masterpiece Being and Time (1927), but concentrates on his speeches, seminars, and writings from the 1933-45 period. In addition to the heavily redacted Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works), Faye has had access to previously unpublished seminar materials in which Heidegger often speaks more openly and politically than in the published texts. . . .

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Black, Tim. "Rescuing the Enlightenment from its Exploiters." SPIKED REVIEW OF BOOKS ONLINE 36 (July 2010).

Todorov, Tzvetan.  In Defence of the Enlightenment. London: Atlantic, 2009.

While the Enlightenment, ‘one of the most important shifts in the history of man’ as one recent account put it, has certainly had its detractors, who blame it for anything from the Holocaust to soulless consumerism, it now also has a veritable army of self-styled heirs. Militant secularists, New Atheists, advocates of evidence-based policy, human rights champions… each constituency in their turn will draw justification from the intellectual emanations of that period beginning roughly towards the end of the seventeenth century and culminating – some say ending – in the 1789 French Revolution and its aftermath. And each in their turn will betray it.

It is not deliberate treachery. This is no reactionary dissimulation – it is more impulsive than that. Still, in the hands of the neo-Enlightened, from the zealously anti-religious to the zealously pro-science, something strange has happened. Principles that were central – albeit contested – to the Enlightenment have been reversed, turned in on themselves. Secularism, as we have seen recently in the French government’s decision to ban the burqa, has been transformed from state toleration of religious beliefs into their selective persecution; scientific knowledge, having been emancipated from theology, has now become the politician’s article of faith; even freedom itself, that integral Enlightenment impulse, has been reconceived as the enemy of the people. As the Enlightened critics of Enlightenment naivete would have it, in the symbolic shapes of our ever distending guts and CO2-belching cars, we may be a little too free.

Published in France in 2006, but only recently translated into English, philosopher Tzvetan Todorov’s In Defence of Enlightenment is, in short, a corrective. And insofar as it offers a polite but stern rebuke to those who distort the Enlightenment project, often in its own specious name, it is a welcome corrective at that. . . .

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Other reviews may be found here by:
Interviews with Todorov on the book by:
Videos of Todorov speaking:
See also this earlier post here on Todorov:

Cfp: "Species, Space, and the Imagination of the Global," Ninth Biennial Conference, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), Indiana University, Bloomington, June 21-26, 2011.

The conference theme seeks to engage with questions of humans' relation to nonhuman species, both plant and animal, and to explore intersections between work on nonhuman species in disciplines such as biology, anthropology, philosophy, neuroscience, literature, and art. Our goal is to do so in a transnational framework that will allow us to reflect on how different historical, geographical and cultural contexts shape our encounters with the natural world and with environmental crises.

The following topics are of particular relevance to the conference theme; we also encourage submissions on other, related issues:
  • Visions and theories of globalization in their relationship to the environment, including the resistance to globalization
  • Cultural geography in its contributions to environmentalist thought
  • Postcolonial ecocriticism and the geopolitical relationships that have shaped different human populations' uses of natural environments in the past and the present
  • Environmental justice
  • Environmental literature as world literature, including comparative literature, cross-cultural approaches, borderlands writing, and travel writing
  • Environmental disasters and their repercussions, including their representations and cultural reactions to them (including both natural and human-caused disasters), in their local, regional and global ramifications
  • Environmental diseases,their local, regional and global spread, prevention and countermeasures
  • New media for envisioning local and global processes, including GIS, maps, graphs, visualization, databases, and other digital and nondigital media
  • Studies of migration, both human and nonhuman
  • Wildlife conservation, including the policies and practices of parks, refuges, and assisted migration
  • Ethnozoology and ethnobotany
  • Critical animal studies, including the question of a "posthuman" turn
  • Biotechnology and its transformations of biodiversity
  • The politics, cultures and pedagogies of climate change
Visit the conference website here:

"Intellectuals and their Publics," Third Annual U.S. Intellectual History Conference, CUNY Graduate Center, October 21-22, 2010.

Original Call for Papers:

This year’s theme is “Intellectuals and Their Publics.” We seek papers and panels reflecting upon the social, political, and cultural impact of intellectuals and their varied relationships to a diversity of publics, such as ethnic or racial groups, professionals, scholars, artists, politicians, or civil rights organizations. Intellectuals have always worked in relationship to their audience. In what ways have intellectuals defined, or been defined by, their audiences? In the pluralistic public culture of the United States, have audience divisions shaped distinctive intellectual traditions or supplemented a common public culture? In general, how have intellectuals—whether scientists or theologians, philosophers or authors, artists or policymakers—sought broader public relevance, as social critics, “public intellectuals,” or in other ways? In what ways have academic intellectuals breached disciplinary boundaries and/or reached non-academic audiences? Have the responsibilities pressed upon, and accepted by, Black, Latino/a, Native American, and Asian-American intellectuals been different from those expected of Euro-Americans? While we solicit papers on these and related issues, we welcome papers and panels on other aspects of U.S. intellectual history as well.

Visit the conference website here:
Download the programme here:

Blincoe, Nicholas. "Is the Pope a Philosopher?" GUARDIAN April 2, 2010.

Pope Benedict XVI spent his earlier, professional life as a theologian and one might say he has reached the absolute heights of his profession: he has become infallible. Yet his PhD was in philosophy, a field that lies outside Catholic doctrinal certainties. This presumably means that even the most ardent Catholic could challenge the pope on his philosophy. So what is it? Is the pope a philosopher?

The first task is to separate the pope's philosophy from his theology. How do we construct a Benedictine philosophy that is separate from his faith? . . .

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McCarthy, John. Review of Christopher Ben Simpson, RELIGION, METAPHYSICS, AND THE POSTMODERN. NDPR (August 2010).

Simpson, Christopher Ben.  Religion, Metaphysics, and the Postmodern: William Desmond and John D. Caputo.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009.

Christopher Ben Simpson identifies the very large horizon of the concerns addressed in his book, Religion, Metaphysics, and the Postmodern: William Desmond and John D. Caputo, early in the introduction:
The broad issue addressed is the state of religion and/or God-talk in the context of "postmodernity." It attends to the question: how should we think of religion and God today? How now -- in the context of recent continental ('postmodern') philosophy -- God? Within the broad outlines of this question, I wish to address the more particular issue of the relationship between religion and metaphysics -- and, secondarily, ethics.  (p. 1)
How Simpson "addresses" and "attends" to this large horizon is by placing the thought of two authors in relation to each other on the topics of metaphysics, ethics, and religion. John Caputo becomes the emblematic figure for "postmodern" (anti-metaphysical) thinking, and William Desmond becomes the emblematic figure for metaphysical/theistic thinking. The thesis argued regarding the relationship between the figures, and consequently, between the emblematic forms of thinking, "is that William Desmond's approach to thinking about religion and God in relation to the domains of metaphysics and ethics provides a viable and preferable alternative to the like position represented in the work of John D. Caputo" (p. 3). The book, published by Indiana University Press in its series on Philosophy of Religion (series editor, Merold Westphal), is a very minimally revised Ph.D. thesis titled, Divine Hyperbolics: Desmond, Religion, Metaphysics and the Postmodern, completed in 2008 under the supervision of John Milbank at the University of Nottingham.

How we should think of religion and God today, or in any day, has proven to be an enduring, controversial issue for Western thought. The "today" location of this issue places the thinking at a particularly congested intersection of professional discourses: philosophy of religion, epistemology, critical theory, fundamental theology, neuro-theology, metaphysics, and phenomenology, to name a few. And at this congested intersection several discussions converge, some with quite a long history, others with a more recent vintage: the relation of faith/reason; how to describe "the modern" and its many adjectival children; the possibility of a philosophical apologetics for religion in an age of critical thought; the relation of "thinking" to "rationality"; the ubiquitous issues with language; and the relation of academic discourse about religion and God to religious life. To be sure, Simpson's book addresses a large matrix of issues that are both important in the tradition of Western thought about religion and God and of current concern given the rapidly changing discourses involved in the discussion.

So the question then becomes, "Can and does the book achieve its goal through this strategy of juxtaposing the thought of Caputo and Desmond, the goal understood not only as the viability and preferability of Desmond's metaphysical approach to philosophy of religion, ethics, and God, over that of Caputo, but also the viability and preferability of metaphysical theism over and against a postmodern radical hermeneutics?" This is not a book that can be understood as dealing only with the extensive corpus of two living philosophers, Desmond and Caputo; it is a book about a form of thinking appropriate to ethics, religion, and the understanding of God for contemporary Western Christian theism. . . .

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Friday, August 06, 2010

"Leo Strauss: Philosophy's Mystery Man." THE PHILOSOPHER'S ZONE July 31, 2010

According to some commentators, there was a mysterious, dark presence lurking behind the Bush administration. He was, said his critics, elitist, illiberal and anti-democratic. He encouraged American's leaders in imperialist militarism, neo-conservatism, Christian fundamentalism and the deliberate deception of those they led. And he did all this despite having died in 1973. He was Leo Strauss, professor of political science at the University of Chicago. But was this passionate student of classical philosophy really as dark a figure as all that?

Read / listen here:

McLemee, Scott. "After the Postsecular." INSIDE HIGHER ED August 4, 2010.

Smith, Anthony Paul, and Daniel Whistler, eds. After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.

Call it a revival, of sorts. In recent years, anyone interested in contemporary European philosophy has noticed a tendency variously called the religious or theological "turn" (adapting a formulation previously used to describe the "linguistic turn" of the 1960s and '70s). Thinkers have revisited scriptural texts, for example, or traced the logic of seemingly secular concepts, such as political sovereignty, back to their moorings in theology. The list of figures involved would include Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Gianni Vattimo, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, and Jürgen Habermas -- to give a list no longer or more heterogenous than that.

A sampling of recent work done in the wake of this turn can be found in After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion, a collection just issued by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. One of the editors, Anthony Paul Smith, is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Nottingham and also a research fellow at the Institute for Nature and Culture at DePaul University. The other, Daniel Whistler, is a tutor at the University of Oxford, where he just submitted a dissertation on F.W.J. Schelling's theology of language. I interviewed them about their book by e-mail. A transcript of the discussion follows. . . .

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Pub: SPECULATIONS 1 (2010).

Table of Contents:

Editorial – Paul Ennis


  • "Science-Laden Theory: Outlines of an Unsettled Alliance" – Fabio Gironi
  • "Thinking Against Nature: Nature, Ideation, and Realism between Lovecraft and Schelling" – Ben Woodard
  • "To Exist Is To Change: A Friendly Disagreement With Graham Harman On Why Things Happen" – Michael Austin
  • Interviews with Graham Harman, Jane Bennett, Tim Morton, Ian Bogost, Levi Bryant and Paul Ennis – Petter Gratton
Position Papers:

  • "Nomological Disputation: Alain Badiou and Graham Harman on Objects" – Nathan Coombs
  • "Response to Nathan Coombs" – Graham Harman
  • "Networkologies: A Manifesto, Section I" – Christopher Vitale
Book Reviews:

  • Deleuze/Guattari & Ecology, edited by Bernd Herzogenrath – Adrian Ivakhiv
  • The Ecological Thought by Tim Morton – Petter Gratton with a response by Tim Morton
  • After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion edited by Anthony Paul Smith and Daniel Whistler – Austin Smidt
Download the essays here: