Alas, articles with titles like this are a sign of the times in the neoliberal order: higher education priced out of reach, parents and students alike anxious about their economic futures, and the old ideal of college as a time for developing the mind and becoming a human being, rather than a reactive brute or mindless vessel through which all the prejudices of society pass, is forgotten. I share the worries of the Wake Forest history professors quoted in the article.
Rhetorically, it is brilliant, even if moralistic posturing by a crypto-fascist like Putin is ludicrous. (Moralistic posturing by the leader of the United States, the most dangerous country on the face of the earth, is also ludicrous, for somewhat different reasons.) But he is right that it would be prudent for everyone, even the aggressors, not to launch criminal wars of aggression.
Let us be realistic: Russia and America have always done what they can get away with in the regions where they thought they could act without provoking the other: thus we had the American invasion of South Vietnam in 1962, and of Iraq in 2003, among many other cases. So, too, Russia dealt with Hungary, Afghanistan and Chechnya in a similarly brutal manner. But 2013 is not 2003, and Russia has already seen one Baathist party toppled in the Middle East. Putin has made clear that it will not see a second one meet the same fate. The nominal stabilitiy of the so-called "world order" since WWII--i.e., the absence of catastrophic wars of annihilation involving many countries and continents--has depended on this restraint. Putin's movtives are no doubt as impure and mixed as Obama's, but one may hope, for the sake of that part of humanity not within Assad's reach (and no doubt for many of those subject to his criminality), that they will hear each other clearly.
Here, a bit past 30 seconds in. The paraphrase is fair, though the context is not one Nietzsche was thinking about! But for any Republican to be talking about telling the truth...well, another Nietzsche quote might be apt in this context as well, from The Antichrist, section 38:
Where has the last feeling of decency and self-respect gone when even our statesmen, an otherwise quite unembarrassed type of man, anti-Christians through and through in their deeds, still call themselves Christians today and attend communion?
This is really quite interesting; in retrospect, Adorno seems to have the better of the debate, though Marcuse responds effectively on many points. Alas, both suffered from taking the nonsense of Hegelian dialectics seriously, but there is still much worthwhile in the exchange notwithstanding that. Marcuse is upset that Horkheimer allegedly described his version of critical theory as "crude and simplified," which it was, but it wasn't, as far as I can see, inaccurate to the core ideas--indeed, as I often say to students, Marcuse often says clearly what Adorno says opaquely.
I suppose The New York Timeswould not have printed this except for who the author is. If he believes what he's written, I trust he will allocate his Foundation's resources to radical political parties. (The increasing number of philosophers who seem to think charitable giving is an ethical imperative would do well to contemplate the issues raised by Mr. Buffett.)
A system in which liberals tolerate massive inequality, exploitation and structural dysfunction on the one hand, and then lobby rich people to "give back" in various ways - creative and sometimes effective though those give-backs might be - is an embrace of injustice and the prerogatives of power, not a challenge to it. Charity-state liberalism and the cult of philanthropy are neoliberal capitalism's way of defending itself against structural change while buying indulgences for its sins.
From his 1952 essay "The Situation of the American Intellectual at the Present Time":
[W]hen you speak of your relation with your country and your culture, you are responding to a tone and a style in your compatriots, to their tempo of movement, the inflection of their voices, the look on their faces. You trust or you do not trust. You penetrate beneath the manner and the manners to the intention which the manner and manners stand for, you become aware of your compatriots' estimate of the future, of their relation to life and death. Sometimes, as you meditate upon yourself in your individuality, insisting upon that individuality for the moment or for an extended time, your fellow beings simply do not seem very real to you. They do not seem to exist sufficiently. You have lost the power to understand their intentions. Or, if you understand, you are repelled or frightened.
These authors make fair points, but it is indicative of the depraved circumstances under which we live that the argument has to be made in this form ("studying humanities can make you employable"!). The point of humanistic study is to make students human, that is, to allow individuals to realize some distinctively human abilities, such as having and understanding values, reflecting upon and understanding the past, cultivating aesthetic appreciation or achievement along the many dimensions that the world has offered us, and refining the intellectual tools necessary to understand, interpret, and interact with the broader world as something other than an automaton. Or, to borrow from Nietzsche, the point of disciplined humanistic study is to cultivate everything that "makes life on earth worth living--for instance: virtue, art, music, dance, reason, intellect--something that transfigures, something refined, fantastic, and divine" (Beyond Good and Evil, 188). The real scandal is that purportedly serious universities let students study "business" and "engineering" and other fields that have their uses--they make life livable, but not worth living.
Chattel slavery may be history in most parts of the world, thank goodness, but wage slavery is not, and these defenses of the humanities are, alas, depressingly realistic testimonies to that fact.
On this day in 1855, Walt Whitman (books by this author)published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. The first edition consisted of 12 poems, and was published anonymously; Whitman set much of the type himself, and paid for its printing. Over his lifetime, he published eight more editions, adding poems each time; there were 122 new poems in the third edition alone (1860-61), and the final "death-bed edition," published in 1891, contained almost 400 poems. The first edition received several glowing — and anonymous — reviews in New York newspapers. Most of them were written by Whitman himself. The praise was unstinting: "An American bard at last!" One legitimate mention by popular columnist Fanny Fern called the collection daring and fresh. Emerson felt it was "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed." This wasn't a universal opinion, however; many called it filth, and poet John Greenleaf Whittier threw his copy into the fire.
The 1855 edition contained a preface, which was left out of subsequent editions, and in it he wrote: "This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
UPDATE: Reader Jason Streitfeld writes:
I enjoyed your recent post on Whitman's original publication of "Leaves of Grass." The whole of that original, lengthy preface is phenomenal. But there are some important points that the quote from Garrison Keller leaves out: While Whitman didn't put his name on the original publication, he did sign it with his own image. (See the frontispiece, here: http://www.whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/1855/whole.html) Also, Whitman's name is not the only one missing. The publisher was not named, and none of the poems were given names, either. Nothing is named, except (in the preface) his country.
This video makes Australia look as stupid and ass-backwards as the United States. What explains it? Is the garbage it highlights unusual, or really mainstream? Am curious to hear from Australian readers.
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)