...but there's a lot going on, including preparing for this excellent event at Riverside. A bit more next week I expect....
Here, for those who might be interested.
Robin Jeshion (UC Riverside) writes:
You often cite newspaper articles that are philosophically uninformed or dimwitted. Here's one that is terrific -- sort of a mix of up-to-the-minute relevant Heidegger and a bit of Marx, with no jargon at all, and its well- written and extremely thought-provoking. Perhaps you'll find it as engaging as I did and worth flagging on your blog.
UPDATE: Neil Levy points out why the article's author may have become disillusioned with intellectual work.
...in the U.S. academy. Personally, I would not have sent that particular e-mail (though it's arguably within the parameters of the course), but it's almost unbelievable that it should trigger a formal "investigation" because of external pressures by groups that are systematically committed to stifling honest discussion of Israeli policy.
When someone flagged for me last week Clayton Littlejohn's pointer to a bit of raving bigotry by one of the many right-wingers at the aptly-named "What's Wrong with the World" blog (which exemplifies, rather than analyzes, the phenomenon), I merely added a note about it as an afterthought to an earlier post. But an alert reader has since pointed out to me that the author of the offending item, Lydia McGrew, is the spouse of the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan University, which has long been a recommended terminal MA program in the PGR. Here is what the Chair's spouse wrote:
Does this mean that I think Muslims in America should not have due process, should not be legally treated as innocent until proven guilty? No, it means I think they should not be in America....
[T]he time has come for conservative American parents to consider the danger posed to them by immigrant cultures that, to put it bluntly, make traditionalist parents look bad. It is in our interests to support the ending of Muslim immigration, thereby blocking a route by which the public will plausibly be made suspicious of parental rights and of countercultural groups.
Anyone interested can read the entire post to appreciate the "reasoning" underlying this item, but in short, it is this: conservative Christians, especially those who homeschool, don't want society to interfere with the religious indoctrination of their children, therefore, conservative Christians should oppose Muslim immigration, since (it is alleged) some Muslim parents mistreat their children in ways that would prompt societal interference in the family.
It may well be that Professor McGrew, the Chair of the WMU Philosophy Department, does not share his wife's bigotry or hostility towards Muslims. But, as my correspondent pointed out, I owe it to students, especially Muslim students, to flag this extraordinarily ugly display so that they can investigate the situation for themselves in the event they are considering the terminal MA program there.
UPDATE: Professor Allhof from WMU writes:
As Director of Graduate Studies at WMU, I can attest that we have had have had all sorts of minorities (racial, sexual, religious, etc.) in our program, and there has never been a complaint from any of them about the climate or their treatment. Since I’ve been here, we haven’t had a Muslim student that I know of, but I suspect it’s only because we haven’t had many apply. (One of our admittances for next year is from Iran, though he has yet to commit and I know nothing of his religious views.) I encourage prospective students to contact me with any questions about the graduate program or else our incoming chair, who will be appointed next month. Certainly Dr. Lydia McGrew’s views should not be taken to reflect those of the department, with which she is not affiliated.
I think that speaks fully to any reasonable concern someone might have had, and I thank Professor Allhof.
I thought it might be useful to update in one place the status of the 'moves to watch for' noted in the last PGR; in quick summary form:
1. David Chalmers (ANU) turned down Princeton and Rutgers, and accepted a half-time post at NYU. Due to the different calendar years, he will remain more-or-less full-time in Canberra as well.
2. Daniel Jacobson (Bowling Green) turned down UC San Diego.
3. Gabriel Richardson Lear and Jonathan Lear (both Chicago) turned down Yale.
4. John MacFarlane (Berkeley) turned down Harvard and NYU.
5. Michael Otsuka (UCL) turned down Pittsburgh.
6. Kieran Setiya (Pittsburgh) turned down Texas.
7. Allen Wood and Rega Wood (Indiana) will return to Stanford, though Rega will only teach the next two years there.
Jeremy Waldron (NYU) is still negotiating with Oxford on the offer of the Chichele Professorship in Social & Political Theory, and Calvin Normore, currently splitting between UCLA and McGill, has not, to the best of my knowledge, made a final decision about whether that arrangement will continue or whether he will move full-time to one or the other.
A top advertising spot (where the current UCL or Durham ads are) for the entire summer can be had for a mere $500 (regular price $810). A top spot for any individual summer month is available for $200 (regular price $300). For information on summer traffic, see here.
There are also still some advertising spots available in the fall (September forward), at the regular rates.
E-mail me if you're interested.
This guy really was very good, and had a very nice manner with a group of 1st-graders--he had them laughing hysterically as well as enjoying and participating in the magic.
Story here. Aseel took her PhD in philosophy at UT Austin, writing a dissertation with my former colleague A.P. Martinich. Kudos to Aseel and the others for their courage and ground-breaking victory!
It appears not, judging from the fact that they keep running his sophomoric prattle. I have been ignoring it, but a reader flags today's foray into bad epistemology and philosophy of science:
Evidence, understood as something that can be pointed to, is never an independent feature of the world. Rather, evidence comes into view (or doesn’t) in the light of assumptions – there are authors or there aren’t — that produce the field of inquiry in the context of which (and only in the context of which) something can appear as evidence.
To bring all this abstraction back to the arguments made by my readers, there is no such thing as “common observation” or simply reporting the facts. To be sure, there is observation and observation can indeed serve to support or challenge hypotheses. But the act of observing can itself only take place within hypotheses (about the way the world is) that cannot be observation’s objects because it is within them that observation and reasoning occur.
While those hypotheses are powerfully shaping of what can be seen, they themselves cannot be seen as long as we are operating within them; and if they do become visible and available for noticing, it will be because other hypotheses have slipped into their place and are now shaping perception, as it were, behind the curtain.
By the same analysis, simple reporting is never simple and common observation is an achievement of history and tradition, not the result of just having eyes. And while there surely are facts, there are no facts (at least not ones we as human beings have access to) that simply declare themselves to the chainless minds Hitchens promises us if we will only cast aside the blinders of religion.
Indeed, there are no chainless minds, and it’s a good thing, too. A chainless mind would be a mind not hostage to or fettered by any pre-conceptions, a mind that was free to go its own way. But how could you go any way if you are not anywhere, if you are not planted in some restricted location in relation to which the directions “here,” “there” and “elsewhere” have a sense?
A mind without chains – a better word would be “constraints” – would be free and open in a way that made motivated (as opposed to random) movement impossible. Thought itself — the consideration of problems with a view to arriving at their solutions — requires chains, requires stipulated definitions, requires limits it did not choose but which enable and structure its operations....
If there is no thought without constraints (chains) and if the constraints cannot be the object of thought because they mark out the space in which thought will go on, what is noticed and perspicuous will always be a function of what cannot be noticed because it cannot be seen....
Pking gets it right. “To torpedo faith is to destroy the roots of . . . any system of knowledge . . . I challenge anyone to construct an argument proving reason’s legitimacy without presupposing it . . . Faith is the base, completely unavoidable. Get used to it. It’s the human condition.” (All of us, not just believers, see through a glass darkly.) Religious thought may be vulnerable on any number of fronts, but it is not vulnerable to the criticism that in contrast to scientific or empirical thought, it rests on mere faith....
So to sum up, the epistemological critique of religion — it is an inferior way of knowing — is the flip side of a naïve and untenable positivism.
Quine, among others, would no doubt be surprised. Feel free to discuss. (And for those curious who the Paul Campos is that thinks Fish "smarter" than Dawkins, he is a law professor at Colorado, with an MA in literary theory and a penchant for foolishness, in both his 'scholarship' and his public pronouncements.)
With nearly 900 votes cast, we now know:
|1. Plato (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)|
|2. Aristotle loses to Plato by 367–364|
|3. Kant loses to Plato by 411–328, loses to Aristotle by 454–295|
|4. Hume loses to Plato by 534–166, loses to Kant by 533–176|
|5. Descartes loses to Plato by 597–117, loses to Hume by 356–269|
|6. Socrates loses to Plato by 548–101, loses to Descartes by 327–270|
|7. Wittgenstein loses to Plato by 610–85, loses to Socrates by 385–193|
|8. Locke loses to Plato by 659–29, loses to Wittgenstein by 311–239|
|9. Frege loses to Plato by 611–86, loses to Locke by 279–256|
|10. Aquinas loses to Plato by 642–57, loses to Frege by 289–284|
|11. Hegel loses to Plato by 615–82, loses to Aquinas by 288–285|
|12. Leibniz loses to Plato by 650–36, loses to Hegel by 281–266|
|13. Spinoza loses to Plato by 653–49, loses to Leibniz by 281–207|
|14. Mill loses to Plato by 645–39, loses to Spinoza by 272–247|
|15. Hobbes loses to Plato by 647–47, loses to Spinoza by 269–245|
|16. Augustine loses to Plato by 663–46, loses to Mill by 296–247|
|17. Marx loses to Plato by 653–52, loses to Augustine by 305–248|
|18. Nietzsche loses to Plato by 691–63, loses to Marx by 327–269|
|19. Kierkegaard loses to Plato by 622–106, loses to Nietzsche by 330–256|
|20. Rousseau loses to Plato by 638–41, loses to Kierkegaard by 280–209|
Berkeley was a close runner-up for the top 20.
The top six are not surprising (though they wouldn't have been my top six, but that's another matter), but after that the results reveal how radically people's conceptions of philosophy diverge. Wittgenstein ahead of Locke, Hegel, Spinoza, Mill et al.? Augustine ahead of Marx and Nietzsche? Aquinas in the top ten? What explains it? Thoughts from readers? Signed comments strongly preferred, as usual.
Many academics use the term "philosopher" not as a description of the people working on the set of problems that occupy our time, but rather as a certain kind of honorific. As far as I can tell, on this usage, a philosopher is someone who constructs some kind of admirable general theory about a discipline - be it cultural criticism, history, literature, or politics. So while it would be odd for a philosopher to call themselves a literary critic because they work on interpretation, it is not unusual for English professors to describe themselves as philosophers. In contrast, we philosophers do not regard the term "philosopher" as an honorific. We tend to think that there are many people who are really truly philosophers, but are pretty bad at what they do. We also think that there are many brilliant thinkers who are not philosophers. This difference in usage has ruined many a dinner party for me. So I was pleased to discover this interview with Hannah Arendt, one of my great intellectual heroes. The interviewer asks Arendt what she thinks about being a woman in the traditionally male circle of philosophers. Arendt is bemused by the question - she protests that she does not belong to the circle of philosophers, and in no way feels herself to be a philosopher. Her "job" is political theory. She points out that just because she studied philosophy, that doesn't mean that she stayed with it. Arendt obviously doesn't think she is a worse thinker for not being a philosopher. She is just baffled that the interviewer confuses the kind of qualitative political and cultural theory Arendt built her career around with philosophy. Arendt knew enough traditional philosophy to understand the contours of the discipline; it might prevent some misunderstanding if our fellow humanists did as well.
There is a short memorial notice on the homepage of the Berkeley Department, where Professor Mates studied or taught for roughly half a century.
Reader Andy Lamey has collected some fun stats here (and scroll down).
The group's statement is here; it provides contact information for York University officials, who should be encouraged, of course, to ignore this call to shut down academic discussion. As my friend and part-time colleague Leslie Green (Oxford) notes at the preceding link:
Mr Ezrin [head of the group calling for the conference to be cancelled] seriously misunderstands the relationship between a university and the events that occur in it. The organization of a conference, or for that matter the reading of a book, are not actions “sanctioned” in any relevant sense (i.e. approved, endorsed, etc.) by a university. They are actions *permitted* by the university. Subject to the usual criminal and civil laws, universities must be places where controversial and, to some, misguided and pernicious ideas may be thoroughly explored and debated. The CIJA should be ashamed of itself for calling for the shut-down of an academic conference of this kind.
Reader Tracy Ho sends along the following interesting information:
I am a reader of your blog. Since you recently launched several polls about The Best Philosopher, I thought you might be interested in the following information.
In 2002, Professor Chen Bo (Philosophy, Peking University) was asked by one Chinese publisher about important contemporary philosophical works for publication in Chinese translation. At that time Prof. Chen was visiting at the University of Miami, so he asked Prof. Susan Haack for suggestions. They sent e-mails to sixteen philosophers in USA, England, Australia, Germany, Finland, and Brazil to recommend TEN of the most important and influential philosophical books after 1950. They received recommendations from twelve philosophers, including: Susan Haack, Donald M. Borchert (Ohio U.), Donald Davidson, Jurgen Habermas, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, Peter F. Strawson, Hilary Putnam, and G. H. von Wright. (Sorry I cannot give you the full list, because their names are typed in Chinese. Two of them I cannot identify.)
The results were as follows:
1. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. 13 votes go to Wittgenstein. Among them, 9 for "Philosophical Investigation." 2 for "On Certainty." Each of "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" and "The Blue and Brown Books" gets one.
2. W. V. Quine, Word and Object. 15 votes go to Quine. 8 for "Word and Object." 5 for "From a Logical Point of View." 2 for "Ontological Relativity."
3. Peter F. Strawson, Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics. 11 votes go to Strawson. 8 for "Individuals." "The Bounds of Sense," "Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties," and "Introduction to Logical Theory" obtain one vote for each.
4. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. 9 votes go to the same book, "A Theory of Justice."
5. Nelson Goodman, Fact, Fiction and Forecast. 10 votes go to Goodman. 7 for "Fact, Fiction and Forecast." 2 for "Ways of World Making." One for "Languages of Art."
6. Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity. 8 votes go to Kripke. 6 for "Naming and Necessity." 2 for "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language."
7. G.E.M. Anscombe, Intention. 8 votes go for Anscombe. 6 for "Intention." One for each of "The Collected Philosophical Papers" and "Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind."
8. J. L. Austin, How to do Things with Words. 7 votes go to Austin. 5 for "How to Do Things with Words." One for each of "Sense and Sensibilia" and "Philosophical Papers."
9. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 5 votes go to him and this book.
10. M. Dummett, The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. 8 votes go to Dummett. 3 for "The Logical Basis of Metaphysics." 2 for "Frege: Philosophy of Language." One for "Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics" and "Truth and Other Enigmas."
11. Hilary Putnam, The Many Faces of Realism. 8 votes go to him. 3 for "The Many Faces of Realism." Two for "Realism and Reason" and "Philosophical Papers." One for "Meaning and the Moral Sciences."
12. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. 5 votes go to him. Two for "The Order of Things" and "Discipline and Punishment." One for "An Archaeology of Knowledge."
13. Thomas Nagel, The View From Nowhere. 4 votes go to the same book.
14. Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia. 4 votes go to the same book.
15. R. M. Hare obtains 4 votes. Two each for "The Language of Morals" and "Freedom and Reason."
16. John R. Searle obtains 5 votes. Two each for "Intentionality" and "The Rediscovery of the Mind". One for "Speech Acts."
17. Bernard Williams gets 4 votes. Two for "Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. "One for "Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry" and "Moral Luck：Philosophical Papers 1973-1980."
18. Karl Popper gets 4 votes. One for "Conjecture and Refutation". Two for "Logik der Forschung." One for "Open Society and Its Enemies." (The last two were published before 1950)
19. Gilbert Ryle gets 3 votes, all of which go to "The Concept of Mind."
20. Donald Davidson gets 3 votes. Two for "Essays on Action and Event." One for "Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation."
21. John Mcdowell gets 3 votes. All go to "Mind and World." (Prof. Chen notes that Strawson and Putnam voted for him.)
22. Daniel C. Dennett gets 3 votes. Two for "Consciousness explained." One for "The Intentional Stance."
23. Jurgen Habermas gets 3 votes. Two for "Theory of Communicative Action." One for "Between Facts and Norm."
24. Jacques Derrida gets 3 votes. "La Voix et le Phenomene" and "De La Grammatologie" and "introduction a “L’origine de la Geometrie” par Edmund Husserl" get one for each.
25. Paul Ricoeur gets 3 votes. Two for "Le Metaphore Vive." One for "Freedom and Nature."
26. Noam Chomsky gets two votes. Each goes to "Syntactic Structure" and "Cartesian Linguistics."
27. Derek Parfit gets two votes. All go to "Reasons and Persons."
28. Susan Haack gets two votes. All go to "Evidence and Inquiry."
29. D. M. Armstrong gets two votes. Each of them goes to "Materialist Theory of the Mind" and "A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility."
30. Herbert Hart gets two votes. Each of them goes to "The Concept of Law" and "Punishment and Responsibility."
31. Ronald Dworkin gets two votes. Each of them goes to "Taking Rights Seriously" and "Law’s Empire."
Since most of the works on list are analytic philosophy, Prof. Chen asked Habermas to recommend some works in Europe. He recommended Axel Honneth, Kampf um Anerkennung (1992), Rainer Forst, Kontexte der Cerechtigkeit (1994）and Herbert Schnadelbach, Kommentor zu Hegels Rechtephilosophie (2001). [BL comment: Forst was Habermas's student]
It is unclear whether the advisers can vote for their own works.
It might be interesting to see a new result voted by your readers.
Reactions from readers to the preceding? Maybe we will run a poll on this, so feel free to suggest other volumes that ought to be included as major post-1950 books in philosophy.
Crispin Wright, now at New York University, will leave his part-time post at the University of St. Andrews and the Arche Centre there this summer, and take up leadership (again on a part-time basis) of the new Northern Institute of Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. There are more details here. Like Arche, the Institute will support six quarter-time research fellows and no doubt be a further boon to the revival of philosophy at Aberdeen, which has also recently appointed (part-time) Stephen Gaukroger (early modern) from Sydney and (full-time) Catherine Wilson (early modern, ethics) from the CUNY Grad Center. (The Arche Center is slated to continue, even without Wright, though it is possible some of the part-time fellows there will also end up moving to Aberdeen.)
They're certainly better organized than most of the discipline!
Larry Laudan (UNAM) writes:
A couple of days ago, I was forwarding a long list of philosophers to a friend. My spell checker in Mozilla Thunderbird was recently installed (and thus still virginal). Here are some of the more bizarre corrections it proposed (occasionally it produced several intriguing alternatives):
Buechner Muchness Buccaneer
Feyerabend Considerably Imponderable Federated
Hintikka Antiknocks Skintight Intakes
Lakatos Krakatoa's Lactose
Nagel Bagel Angel Navel
Schlick Schlock Schtick
Parmenides Disbarments Promenades
Sextus Empiricus Textures Sixties empiricism
Dilthey Filthy Dilute
Gadamer Daydreamer Cadaver
von Kleist Pleistocene
Meineke Neckerchief Menace
von Schlegel Phlegmatic
The obvious moral: don’t trust your spell checker!
Posted by Brian Leiter on May 11, 2009 at 03:30 PM in Personal Ads of the Philosophers (and other humor) | Permalink
Readers may recall--in connection with Professor Beckwith's defense of discrimination against gay philosophers--that Professor Beckwith also took exception to being described as a shill for ID creationism. The issue has arisen again, and it appears the charge stands. From the conclusion of the preceding analysis of Beckwith's record:
Beckwith’s attempt in his [recent] Baton Rouge talk to distance himself from the ID movement, and now his protestations about being called an ID supporter, are merely an attempt to perpetuate his charade as a disinterested scholar concerning ID. It was no coincidence that, barely three weeks after the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gutted its policy so as to create an opening for teaching ID, he appeared in Baton Rouge to deliver a lecture in which he argued that ID is not “stealth creationism,” a statement taken verbatim from an article in which he argues that not only permitting but requiring ID in public schools is constitutional. There were only two possible beneficiaries of Beckwith’s visit: the creationists at the LA Family Forum and the Discovery Institute, who are the only ones with anything invested in this piece of legislation.
Beckwith wants to have his cake and eat it, too. On the one hand, over a period of almost ten years (given the February 2009 talk in Baton Rouge, it’s fair to include the present), he wants to write articles and a book and make public appearances that any reasonable person would interpret as pro-ID, while on the other hand, he wants to deny that he is an ID supporter. But he doesn’t get to have it both ways. As Tim Sandefur noted in his response, at the very least, if one lies down with dogs, one gets up with fleas. Does Beckwith really think that he could do these things and no one would ever comment on them? His writings and actions are what they are, and he now must live with them.
UPDATE: There's more illuminating discussion of Professor Beckwith's sleazy tactics here.
ANOTHER GEM: From the "what's wrong with the world" crowd, who regularly exemplify, rather than, analyze the phenomenon. Professor Norcross called that blog "bizarro world," but nuthouse is coming closer to the mark.
Posted by Brian Leiter on May 11, 2009 at 08:40 AM in Texas Taliban Alerts (Intelligent Design, Religion in the Schools, etc.) | Permalink
I was reading the Normative Ethics volume in the great "5 Questions" series from Automatic Press, and was struck by this passage from the conclusion of the interview with Jeff McMahan (Rutgers):
I am highly optimistic about the prospects in normative ethics. It is evident to me that great progress has already been made since I entered the field in the early 1980s. Unlike many other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, which in recent years were seduced by bad French philosophy into a lot of silly "post-modern" theorizing that exposed them to derision and reduced them to irrelevance, analytic philosophy is flourishing. Part of the reason why analytic philosophy generally is in such a healthy state is that, as Jerry Fodor observed in a recent book review, philosophers no longer tend to have philosophies. We no longer devote our lives to developing comprehensive philospohical or ethical systems. We are individually narrower and more specialized, which enables us to focus more carefully and minutely on the problems we study, and as a consequence to produce work that is more rigorous and detailed. The results is that philosophy has become more of a collective endeavour than it was in the past, in the sense that different people are focusing selectively on problems that are elements or aspects of larger problems. When the results of the individual efforts are combined, we may achieve a collective product that exceeds in depth, intracacy, and sophistication what any individual could have produced by working on the larger problem in isolation.
Comments from readers? What are the areas of progress since the 1980s? Signed comments preferred, but, at a minimum, you must include an actual e-mail address (which will not appear).
Allen Wood (Kant, 19th-Century Continental philosophy) and Rega Wood (medieval philosophy), who moved last year to Indiana University at Bloomington from Stanford University, will return to Stanford, though Rega will only be teaching at Stanford for the next two years. That's a set-back for Indiana, and a good break for Stanford.
With 531 votes cast, here are the "top 20":
|1. Plato (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)|
|2. Aristotle loses to Plato by 231–229|
|3. Socrates loses to Plato by 366–81, loses to Aristotle by 356–122|
|4. Aquinas loses to Plato by 447–37, loses to Socrates by 328–130|
|5. Augustine loses to Plato by 458–22, loses to Aquinas by 279–115|
|6. Epicurus loses to Plato by 458–15, loses to Augustine by 291–106|
|7. Parmenides loses to Plato by 453–16, loses to Epicurus by 170–162|
|8. Heraclitus loses to Plato by 447–21, loses to Paremenides by 179–114|
|9. Confucius loses to Plato by 417–20, loses to Heraclitus by 152–150|
|10. Ockham loses to Plato by 462–9, loses to Confucius by 158–156|
|11. Anselm loses to Plato by 452–10, loses to Ockham by 162–150|
|12. Pythagoras loses to Plato by 457–12, loses to Anselm by 161–152|
|13. Duns Scotus loses to Plato by 436–11, loses to Pythagoras by 151–145|
|14. Machiavelli loses to Plato by 459–9, loses to Duns Scotus by 156–153|
|15. Democritus loses to Plato by 453–13, loses to Machiavelli by 166–151|
|16. Zeno of Elea loses to Plato by 458–10, loses to Machiavelli by 172–146|
|17. Plotinus loses to Plato by 441–7, loses to Zeno by 154–118|
|18. Avicenna loses to Plato by 426–8, loses to Plotinus by 134–114|
|19. Cicero loses to Plato by 450–6, loses to Avicenna by 140–134|
|20. Sextus Empiricus loses to Plato by 437–8, loses to Cicero by 142–134|
Thoughts from readers? Signed comments only; full name and e-mail address.
Some useful reminders here. The two really big unknowns: what will happen with swine flu in the Southern Hemisphere's upcoming flu season, and will swine flu return (and in what form) when flu season starts in the Northern Hemisphere next fall?
A reader writes:
I am a Visiting Assistant Professor who is weighing returning to a temporary position versus exploring other, non-academic career options. I am still holding out, at least in the near term, for a permanent position, and I have been “close” to acquiring one in the past. However, I am also concerned that I will be in the same position of uncertainty next year.
I was wondering if your readers could comment on the following questions. First, is it more difficult to publish while not having an academic affiliation? I am not necessarily concerned about the inevitable constraints on time another job would entail (regarding writing and research), but does the likelihood of acceptance diminish without an “edu” on your email? Second, does taking a year or two break from academics severely reduce the likelihood of landing a job? I realize PhDs tend to “stale” after time, but I’m wondering if a year or two break, especially in this economic climate, would be looked at as unfavorably as it would be in more normal times.
My take: (1) publication, at least with journals that run a legitimate peer review process, should not be harder; (2) hiring departments tend to be skeptical about people who have been away from philosophy, unless there is good evidence that they have remained intellectually engaged with the subject. Comments are open for other perspectives; post only once; comments may take awhile to appear.
Robert Pippin (Kant, 19th- and 20th-century Continental Philosophy) at the University of Chicago was the only philosopher elected to the American Philosophical Society this year. Other scholars in cognate fields elected to the APS this year include Douglas Hofstadter (Indiana) and Anthony A. Long (Berkeley).
Martin Kutsch (philosophy of science, social epistemology, Wittgenstein, 20th-century German philosophy), Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, will take up a chair in philosophy of science and epistemology at the University of Vienna beginning this summer.
The place to be for philosophers interested in Nietzsche, and especially for philosophers of mind and action who have even a passing interest in Nietzsche. This promises to be an unusually philosophically ambitious Nietzsche conference.
Michael Savage, a not-so-crypto fascist and racist talk show host in the US, has been put into some appropriate company, thanks to the British Government. Of course, it will just have the perverse effect of gaining him more attention in the U.S.
Here, featuring short accoutns of the arguments of recent journal articles.
The poll is here; 37 choices from the Renaissance back to antiquity, with a no doubt inadequate sampling of non-Western figures, but there are some. The "top 20" choices will be bolded in the results.
UPDATE: Several readers have already flagged some ambiguities and misspellings. "Zeno" is the Zeno of Elea, of paradoxes fame. And Pyrrho and Parmenides are boths lightly misspelled. Unfortunately, once the survey starts I can't get back in to fix the typos.
ANOTHER: Two knowledgeable readers have taken issue with my omitting Chrysippus the Stoic. Obviously this is not my field, so I have used the SEP table of contents as a double-check on my draft lists--but Chrysippus, alas, does not have his own entry, though is discussed in detail in the entry on the Stoics. So we may add him to some run-off.
It's the place to be for legal philosophers.
At last we know the truth, thanks to input from nearly 750 readers:
|1. Immanuel Kant (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)|
|2. David Hume loses to Immanuel Kant by 409–209|
|3. Rene Descartes loses to Immanuel Kant by 474–138, loses to David Hume by 351–242|
|4. Ludwig Wittgenstein loses to Immanuel Kant by 497–123, loses to Rene Descartes by 382–218|
|5. John Locke loses to Immanuel Kant by 549–63, loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 359–219|
|6. Gottlob Frege loses to Immanuel Kant by 538–77, loses to John Locke by 295–242|
|7. John Stuart Mill loses to Immanuel Kant by 550–65, loses to Gottlob Frege by 285–260|
|8. G.W.F. Hegel loses to Immanuel Kant by 555–48, loses to John Stuart Mill by 280–265|
|9. Gottfried Leibniz loses to Immanuel Kant by 564–69, loses to G.W.F. Hegel by 286–262|
|10. Bertrand Russell loses to Immanuel Kant by 561–97, loses to Gottfried Leibniz by 291–274|
|11. Baruch Spinoza loses to Immanuel Kant by 564–81, loses to Bertrand Russell by 295–274|
|12. Thomas Hobbes loses to Immanuel Kant by 564–68, loses to Baruch Spinoza by 303–254|
|13. Friedrich Nietzsche loses to Immanuel Kant by 557–78, loses to Thomas Hobbes by 325–244|
|14. Karl Marx loses to Immanuel Kant by 558–55, loses to Friedrich Nietzsche by 264–252|
|15. Soren Kierkegaard loses to Immanuel Kant by 541–62, loses to Karl Marx by 287–263|
|16. George Berkeley loses to Immanuel Kant by 583–57, loses to Soren Kierkegaard by 299–261|
|17. Jean-Jacques Rousseau loses to Immanuel Kant by 577–66, loses to George Berkeley by 281–257|
|18. W.V.O. Quine loses to Immanuel Kant by 572–43, loses to Jean-Jacques Rousseau by 287–283|
|19. Saul Kripke loses to Immanuel Kant by 570–89, loses to W.V.O. Quine by 328–215|
|20. John Rawls loses to Immanuel Kant by 588–24, loses to Saul Kripke by 270–242|
Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl came close to the top 20. Personally, I ranked Nietzsche 1st, Hume 2nd, and Marx 3rd, so I guess I wasn't quite with the program. Some enterprising reader can click on the detailed results and tally up how many #1 votes each philosopher got (Kant led, obviously). How many readers think that in 100 years a survey like this will put Kripke or Rawls in the top 20? Or Frege or Hegel or Russell in the top 10? Other thoughts on the results? Signed comments only: full name and e-mail.
Michael Otsuka (political philosophy), Professor of Philosophy at University College London, has turned down the senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.
Charles Siewert (philosophy of mind), Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside, has accepted a chair in philosophy at Rice University, where he will start in July 2010.