Jerry Dworkin calls my attention to this NYRB piece on Donald Chump, which includes this:
I recalled a remark that the philosopher Richard Rorty made back in 1997 about “the old industrialized democracies…heading into a Weimar-like period.” Citing evidence from “many writers on socioeconomic policy,” Rorty suggested that:
members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots….
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion…. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
Let's hope Rorty sticks to his track record, and is wrong about this too.
A new study finds no such effect. If it is accurate, that is hopeful: it may mean that norms, including the implicit ones, are changing in positive ways. Comments are open for any readers who know more about this latest study and its soundness.
Votes of no confidence spread. President Cross is in a difficult situation; the Regents should all resign, they have more power and they have been complicit in laying the seeds for the destruction of what was a great state university system. Shame, shame.
This is quite interesting, though it does proceed on the assumption that Trump actually means what he says, but who really knows? But Mearsheimer is plainly correct that Hillary Clinton is a "super hawk" with a record of terrible judgment on foreign policy matters. Mearsheimer clearly likes that he hears Trump as moving away from the "liberal imperialism" of both the Republicans and Democrats, of which, of course, Mearsheimer himself is a critic (though, needless to say, a more nuanced one than Trump!).
This crazy legislation has passed in other benighted states (e.g., Texas), but lucky for Georgia, the Governor vetoed it; from his explanation for the veto (#9 at the link):
Perhaps the most enlightening evidence of the historical significance of prohibiting weapons on a college campus is found in the minutes of October 4, 1824, Board of Visitors of the newly created University of Virginia. Present for that meeting were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, along with four other members. In that meeting of the Board of Visitors, detailed rules were set forth for the operation of the University which would open several months later. Under the rules relating to the conduct of students, it provided that “No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or venomous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind…”
The approval of these specific prohibitions relating to “campus carry” by the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the principal author of the United States Constitution should not only dispel any vestige of Constitutional privilege but should illustrate that having college campuses free of weapons has great historical precedent.
So religious crazy Ted Cruz--"Lucifer in the flesh" in the memorable phrase of the former Speaker of the House John Boehner (himself not exactly a paragon of cosmopolitan virtue and enlightenment, but still quite a bit saner than Lucifer)--has dropped out of the Republican race after losing to Herr Trump in the Indiana primary. It is true that, early on, I endorsed Trump for the Republican nomination, not realizing how much impact that would have. Clinton, alas, will be the Democratic nominee, which means however this ends, it will be bad for humanity at large. Bear in mind that the various polls about Clinton vs. Trump so far all show Clinton leading substantially (the exception is the consistently right-leaning Rasmussen reports), but often with 15-20% of the electorate undecided. Trump will begin his assault on Clinton soon, which may or may not inflict damage. Assuming Trump does not pick a woman as a running mate (e.g., his wife or daughter) or find a minority running mate, someone who would no doubt make Uncle Tom look like Frederick Douglass, Clinton would be well-advised to pick the liberal Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, a crucial state to win, and a running mate more likely to appeal to Sanders supporters and working class white men. In the end, the demographics will propel Clinton to office: women, young people, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American voters will all vote for Clinton, or at least against Trump, by sizeable majorities (on the order of 60-90%), which will send not only Trump but hopefully many other Republican congressional candidates down in flames in November. With luck, the Republican Party will disappear from the face of the earth, or regroup in smaller factions, e.g., "the Lucifer Party," the "Libertarians" and so on.
An interesting essay by journalist Andrew Sullivan, who even works in some Plato, not implausibly. As with everything by Sullivan, the substance is mixed, but there are, as one of the several readers who sent this to me today said, some "gems." Herewith a few excerpts:
Could it be that the Donald has emerged from the populist circuses of pro wrestling and New York City tabloids, via reality television and Twitter, to prove not just Plato but also James Madison right, that democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention … and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”? Is he testing democracy’s singular weakness — its susceptibility to the demagogue — by blasting through the firewalls we once had in place to prevent such a person from seizing power? Or am I overreacting?
I'd be curious to hear from philosophers of biology and other biologically-informed readers about this New Yorker piece. Accurate? Misleading? Links to better or other discussions of epigenetics accessible to non-biologists welcome.
This is hopeful. To be sure, there will still be tens of millions of benighted Americans, their minds clouded by religion or simple ignorance, who will remain loyal to the crazed ideology that is the current Republican Party, but without a formal organization, they will become irrelevant to electoral outcomes. And then the U.S. might return to the league of civilized nations, with Clintonites playing the role of acceptable Republicans and Sanderites becoming the opposing social democrats.
A nicely written essay by Zena Hitz (St. John's College, Annapolis). It offers an interesting defense of a decidedly Christian understanding of the "interiority" and "dignity" of humanistic reflection (also a Platonic one, though as Nietzsche said, "Christianity is Platonism for the people") against the neoliberal ("the humanities produce people who are useful for capitalism") and liberal ("the humanities make people good democratic citizens") defenses of humanistic study. As Nietzsche notes in the Genealogy, the "slave revolt" in morality made human beings interesting, giving them interior lives. And the humanities (here understood capaciously to include the cognitive sciences generally) are, when done well and seriously (e.g., not Badiou studies!), are precisely those that help one become a human being who is "interesting." That concern has no resonance for the neoliberal or liberal defenses of the humanities. Since our age is still neoliberal to its core, that means humanistic study is doomed in the neoliberal countries. But it will likely return elsewhere.
What do readers think of Prof. Hitz's interesting essay?
...which you can watch here. And if you'd like to know the truth about what's really going on with Supreme Court nomination battles, read this. (I'm not there, I'm at home working, since the faculty have been thrown out of their offices for the day!)
The Trustee Committee report, in full, is here. It has interesting details both about his accomplishments (including securing the right to vote for women, and the 8-hour workday), his willingness to appoint Jews and Catholics to the faculty, and, of course, his virulent anti-Black racism. I have not read the entire report, I should note. If anyone has time to read it all, comments are open.
The specter of the quasi-fascist narcissist looms over everything these days, even outside the U.S.--when I was recently in Rome and Calabria, discussion invariably turned to Trump (and also to the corrosive and destructive effect years and years of Berlusconi had on Italy). Nate Silver has a useful analysis of how things can, and are likely to, go awry for Trump at the convention. Unless the Repugs end up nominating Kasich, the so-called "moderate" (though he appears far to the right of Trump on some issues, assuming one can have any idea what Trump stands for), this is all good news for the Democrats. Cruz will be considerably easier to beat, even for Clinton, than Trump.
Since I know a good number of philosophy undergraduates and graduates think about law school, this piece in The New York Times by my co-blogger at the Law School Reports might be of interest, since it offers a more nuanced look at changes in employment in the legal sector over the last 15 years more or less.
...if she had lived to see this. Ruth told me years ago that Butler had great difficulty passing the logic requirement in the Yale PhD program in philosophy, and finally, Ruth took pity, and gave her a pass. I had the sense she later regretted that. On Butler, Martha Nussbaum got it right many years ago. Critical Theory has been in a downward spiral for a long time now, but that an obscurantist posturing faker like Butler should be deemed its heir...oy veh.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)