Given that the Twitter Red Guard continue to dissemble and moan about Professor Stock's and my expose of the APA blog scandal, perhaps a reality check is in order.
Nathan Oseroff, a man in his late 20s, who has a prominent on-line position with the American Philosophical Association (that he continuously advertises), took it upon himself to launch a jihad against feminist philosophers, especially philosopher Kathleen Stock (Sussex) who held what he, in his superior wisdom, deemed to be a "morally unacceptable" opinion about the proposed gender self-ID law in the United Kingdom (this law would permit anyone to redesignate their gender for all legal purposes without any medical or other oversight, evaluation or waiting periods). This man used his role at the APA blog to post a comment attacking Prof. Stock on the APA's blog that violated blog guidelines (the editor in charge of the blog apologized to Prof. Stock, removed the comment and briefly suspended the offender--remarkably, he has not been removed entirely).
This adult male also took to social media to defame Prof. Stock as someone who directed "hate" at her students and colleagues. Doing so would be grossly unprofessional conduct, but this man's only evidence for his libelous charge was that Prof. Stock had a different view about the gender self-ID Law in the UK than he did. In addition, it turns out that this man also abused his role at the APA to "police" the conference practices of a philosophy society that had actually accepted one of his papers, even though the APA, let alone its blog or its editors, has no authority about how professional societies referee papers.
This adult man, who is almost 30 years old, objected that no one should criticize him since he is a PhD student in philosophy. Some of his fellow Twitteratti, endorsed this view (unsurprisingly, they are all similarly situated: adults in school engaged in stupid on-line conduct!).
I suggest that Donald Trump should enroll in a PhD program soon, since some segment of the population apparently believes that misconduct is entitled to a free pass if the perpetrator is an adult PhD student. (Unfortunately for Trump, that segment may consist only of the Twitter Red Guard.)
When I came across Weigel's sneering review of The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, I thought it a bit thin on substance and a bit thick on rhetorical tricks: here was another standard-issue comp lit PhD invested in identity politics and pissing all over the enemy. (I confess to having little patience for Haidt, who did some clever psychology experiments early in his career--although he consistently misinterpreted their philosophical import--before becoming a public pontificator who apparently believes the main issue in academia these days is not enough Republican faculty: go figure?) Now someone has gone to the trouble to eviscerate the review, rather amusingly so. But let's not knock ad hominem attacks, at least when not strictly fallacious. Dr. Weigel's father, it turns out, is a retired tax partner at a "white shoe" New York law firm; I'd bet she even has a trust fund. Any reader of Adolph Reed would hardly be surprised that an elite female child of ruling class privilege would turn out to be deeply invested in identity politics, to the point that its opponents are unintelligible to her.
The authors submitted seven "fake" papers to journals, which passed peer review and were accepted for publication, including Hypatia (more on that, below). They frame this, unhelpfully, as about "grievance studies," but that several of the papers did get accepted indicates that the journals in question have seriously flawed standards, to the point where one might wonder whether there is a Wissenschaft there at all.
Here is the fake paper that Hypatia accepted after two referee reports!
Title: When the Joke Is on You: A Feminist Perspective on How Positionality Influences Satire
Thesis: That academic hoaxes or other forms of satirical or ironic critique of social justice scholarship are unethical, characterized by ignorance and rooted in a desire to preserve privilege.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept an argument that shuts down critiques of social justice scholarship as a lack of engagement and understanding, even if one engages fully and knowledgeably with the ideas to the extent of having a paper on them published in a leading academic journal. (This paper is also to anticipate and show understanding of the feminist epistemological arguments against our project and demonstrate their high estimation in the field by having them accepted in the leading academic journal of feminist philosophy. That is, to criticize our work that way, they have to cite us.)
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This is a very promising essay and so revisions will be very helpful.” -Reviewer 1, Hypatia
“The paper is well written, accessible and clear, and engages in important scholarship in relevant ways. Given the emphasis on positionality, the argument clearly takes power structures into consideration and emphasizes the voice of marginalized groups, and in this sense can make a contribution to feminist philosophy especially around the topic of social justice pedagogy.” -Reviewer 2, Hypatia
“The topic is an excellent one and would make an excellent contribution to feminist philosophy and be of interest to Hypatia readers.” -Reviewer 2, Hypatia
“Excellent and very timely article! Especially nice connection with pedagogy and activism.” -Reviewer 1, Hypatia (second review)
“I have a couple of personal, very minor comments that I’ll put in below the referee’s praise. I hasten to add that I like your paper very much as well!” -Editor of Hypatia, acceptance letter
Whatever its proximate sources, the picture shaping Harman’s thinking only needs to be plainly articulated for its peculiarity to become apparent. His conviction about the inherent inaccessibility of reality seems ultimately to rest on assuming that genuine knowledge of an object would have to take the form of becoming wholly and fully identical with that object: fusing with it, actually realising the theatrical method-acting aspiration that he claims is internal to the experience of metaphor (but also claims is not truly realisable). This is a strangely idealist assumption for a putatively realist ontology, and one which would abolish the independent reality of both subject and object if it were realised. But of course, knowledge cannot rest on any such assumption, because it is a sheer fantasy. It evacuates the idea of knowledge of any content, since neither we nor Harman have any idea what it would mean for a subject to become the object of her knowledge.
Philosopher Dan Kaufman (Missouri State) comments; an excerpt:
The way this goes is depressingly familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the last few years. A professor articulates a view on a controversial social or political subject that is at odds with the prevailing view in the academy or at least, with the view that is most fiercely promoted by academic activists. It is then claimed that the professor in question has “harmed” the relevant population, i.e. racial minorities, trans people, women, etc., and that consequently, his or her writing/speech is outside the frame of acceptable discourse. If the professor decides to stand up for him or herself and reaffirm the position in question, even perhaps marshaling additional arguments or evidence on its behalf, what only can be called a “mob” is then unleashed, first on social media, and then later, depending on the circumstances, against the professor’s home institution, with the aim of exacting some penalty, up to and including the termination of his or her employment.
Ferrin starts by claiming that saying that ‘trans women aren’t women’ (or, in the new, more accurate construction, saying that they aren’t females) ‘hurts’ and ‘harms’ (her italics) trans women, in that it leads to physical violence against them. This is highly tendentious, for a number of reasons. For one, it is very difficult to work out precise causal routes to physical violence against trans people, in the cases we know about — is it violence on the basis of being gender-non-conforming (not all gender non-conforming people are trans)? Is it violence on the assumption the person is gay (i.e. homophobia)? I have looked at many a survey on violence against trans people since I started writing about this, and none of them have done anything to try and sort this out question, in relation to responses given. (Such surveys also tend to be commissioned by trans activist organisations and done on the basis of self-selection and self-report, with no follow-up surveys; but I digress). Crime reports are also mostly impotent to settle it.
And like her other defenders, it's kind of pathetic. (On the evidence of her most loyal admirers, one might conclude Prof. Ronell is a charlatan, though one shouldn't visit the sins of the students on the teacher obviously.) Part of the pathos is that it's in large part unintelligible. Here's the crucial (I think) paragraph:
As it stands now 1) our precarious German department, filled with marginal characters, is being likened to Weinstein corporation by the media; 2) theory is being subsumed under deconstruction and relitigated as some bogeyman art, as if Brian Leiter’s strain of analytic philosophy were anything but self-serving indignation; 3) feminism and prominent feminists are being outright attacked by a legal team steeped in the rhetoric of men’s rights, arguing with reactionary notions of “discrimination”; 4) tropes are being exploited that problematically paint our minoritarian style of humanities research as perverse, sectarian, hypocritical, and even worthless.
Let's take these in order.
(1) A handful of articles in the popular media are being written assimilating Ronell's treatment of Reitman to the Harvey Weinstein scandal that sparked what is now called "metoo," but not many: "metoo" has already claimed lots of male victims (think the ridiculous Leon Wieseltier) who were not rapists like Weinstein. What brought Ronell into this orbit was the unethical effort by her friends to try to bully NYU out of disciplining her given her alleged fame and international stature. I was responsible for exposing this disgraceful behavior, hence the anger of the acolytes.
(2) I've referred to "theory" consistently as what they call "bad philosophy" in literature departments, and that's what it is: ask 99% of the philosophers at the best universities in the country. Deconstruction is a big part of that, as Marjorie Perloff noted with direct reference to Ronell. I'm not familiar with my "strain of analytic philosophy," and most analytic philosophers aren't either. My intellectual lodestars are, in order, Nietzsche, Marx, Quine, Hart. I'm unrecognizable to most analytic philosophers, though I do try to honor Nietzsche's dictum from The Gay Science: "Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound strive for obscurity."
A number of folks on social media are again asking whether the pro-Ronell website is really a parody after it published this barely intelligible "devastating reply" (in the words of the site) to the CHE piece on Ronell from the other day. The proprietor of the site is a Ronell flunkie, Robert Craig Baum, who, as best I can tell, really does believe he is helping Ronell. Readers can judge for themselves.
First there was the fact-free smear merchant Jennifer Doyle (UC Riverside), now comes Jack Halberstam, professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, and another friend of Butler, Ronell et al.. From his public Facebook page on August 20 (!):
The letter, let's remember, was released by a right wing philosophy site long before the signatories were done crafting it.
As the humanities PhD student elsewhere, who sent this to me, remarked: "I don't know if that's just plain stupid or intentionally malicious (to use the letter's favorite word), but I'm incredulous at how a tenured professor, who should be a beacon of responsibility, is resorting to such deliberate defamation." I'm less sure it's deliberate: some of these people are just having trouble coping with what their pals did, and so are unconsciously wishing away the unpleasant facts. In any case, Marjorie Perloff, the distinguished poetry scholar (emerita at USC and Stanford), soon corrects Halberstam on his FB page:
The fact is that the letter was mailed to the president of NYU on May 11. So it's not true that the signatories had not done crafting it.
The letter's content was crafted and set: that's why it was being sent to hundreds of academics around the world for signatures. There were some typos, but that letter expressed the views of Buter et al. for which she has now (finally) felt the need to apologize, sort of. Halberstam adds to this the nonsense that this is a right-wing blog (I'm about as right-wing as Adolf Reed), but as often happens with these smear merchants, they use words in highly revisionary ways: "right-wing" in this context means something more like "someone who is critical of my friends."
As the humanities PhD student who tipped me off to this latest display wrote: "I really hope, however, that this whole affair will lead to some Götter- (or Götzen-)Dämmerung within the literature departments, in the sense of a return to doing real Wissenschaft." I share that hope. Both my parents earned graduate degrees in English, before English departments were colonized by "bad philosophy" and political posturing, when English scholars really had to be historians, philologists, and genuine scholars of diction and form. (I took so many English and Comparative Literature courses, I could have had a minor in the subject.) Many, of course, still are (and I have been glad to hear from many of them, who are appalled by this whole affair), though I can still recall when A. Walton Litz resigned from the English Department at Princeton in the 1980s to join the Creative Writing Program, because he wanted to be "around people who enjoy reading books." So three cheers for the disciplined study of literary texts and the many humanities professors who maintain that scholarly tradition today.
Thank you for publishing my email. But I really don' t understand why you think I am an anti-semit. I assume you are able to read. There is nothing anti-semitic in the email. You made the effort to publish my email, so you should also make the effort to explain to me why you think I am an anti-semit. Ok, I offended Mr. Melamed, but is it anti-semitic to offend a jew?
And I want you to know that I am not afraid because you published it. I really like it. I got two reactions, one man cursed at me and the other wrote that I am right. I'm waiting for your explanation why I am an anti-semit. A man with your academic reputation should have the decency not to denounce someone publicly without explanation.
Sincerely Jan Friedrichsen
Dear Mr. Friedrichsen:
It’s hard to know whether you’re being serious. But let me help you:
Denying Professor Melamed’s testimony that the German police participated in the killing of his grandparents on the grounds that the German police “did NOT kill anyone” sounds like you are denying the Holocaust, which as you know is a crime in Germany and which is something only denied by anti-semites.
Even if you weren’t denying the Holocaust, denying, on the basis of no evidence, what the German police did to Professor Melamed’s family suggests hostility towards Jews that is typical of anti-semites; normal people accept the testimony of others about their family history.
Referring to “fucking stupid Jews” is not a phrase used by anyone who is not an anti-semite.
Referring to Israel as a “fucking desert” and suggesting Prof. Melamed return there are statements that would not be made by a normal human being but only by an anti-semite.
You are, as I said, what’s wrong with the human race. I hope the German police investigate you (though I hope they don’t beat you, as they did Prof. Melamed).
I am adding you to my list of blocked senders, so don’t bother writing again.
Very truly yours,
UPDATE: In the interest of fairness--yes, fairness to unself-aware anti-semites--Mr. Friedrichsen left me a phone message claiming I had misunderstood his e-mails, that they were due to his not being a native speaker of English. He claims, for example, that he does not deny the Holocaust, he was saying only that the Bonn police had not killed anyone. And he claims that if he had been writing to a footballer, he would have said "fucking stupid footballers." He was adamant, but polite in the message he left me. I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.
I just read the article about you and the Bonn police. I am german and want to tell you something. Except of the muslim migrants, there is no antisemitism in Germany anymore. We do not care if you are jewish or not. But you are a liar. You say you got hit twice for a few dozen times in the face by the police. So they hit you 50 to 100 times in the face??? Never! And you say you are not afraid of the german police because they killed your family in 1942. They did NOT kill anyone. You fucking stupid jews still cry like babies about a time that ended 73 years ago. And you weren't even born at that time. You didn't know them. I really don't care what happened to my ancestors a hundred years ago. So stop crying. I am 42 and even my father was born four years AFTER WWII. So I do not feel guilty for ANYTHING. If you start crying like a little baby every time you get in a little trouble, then stay in your fucking desert you call Israel! And stop telling lies about Germany and german policemen!
Btw you should be afraid of the german police otherwise you now know what happens and I think you deserved it. I hate it when people say Germany has a problem with antisemitism, because it's not the german people but the muslim migrants.
Sincerely Jan Friedrichsen
I have a short message for Herr Friedrichsen: you are what's wrong with the world.
Stadler, an Associate Professor of English, at Haverford College weighs in with the following on twitter (with reference to this):
I was really alarmed to see many people I follow so uncritical about something coming from Leiter, a troll with tenure who wields enormous power to keep philosophy the fortress of white maleness it is.
1. It is "trolling" to expose Judith Butler's shameful defense of a colleague accused of sexual harassment or misconduct under Title IX; Stadler hurls this epithet even after CHE has confirmed that the letter was, as I said, real.
2. For good measure, Prof. Stadler adds in a fact-free smear of my mentorship of students; more than half of those now in philosophy departments are either women, or are racial or ethnic minorities, or sometimes both. So much for my securing "the fortress of white maleness."
Honorable members of the English profession should denounce these irresponsible and unprofessional smears.
UPDATE: It appears that, since this morning, Prof. Doyle has decided to make her website "private." That's a shame because, as I note in the update, below, I do like to link to those whose writings I criticize so that readers can assess matters for themselves. (ADDENDUM 5:30 pm CST: A reader sent the cached version of the original, which does not include her temper tantrum after I linked to her, but does include her original commentary on the Butler letter.)
It's a big internet, and there was bound to be someone in "theory"-land who would actually try to defend the indefensible: enter Jennifer Doyle [link now private[, English professor at UC Riverside, whose blog is aptly titled "trouble thinking." She does, indeed, seem to have some trouble with that particular cognitive activity, but read it for yourself. I'll just share e-mailed comments from a PhD student in literature, who sent me the link to Doyle's display:
This has been one of the more profoundly disillusioning experiences I've had with the academy. How can these people spend dozens of years learning how to think, and still make statements like these without a shred of embarrassment?
"The blog that published this letter is not trustworthy. It’s trollish."
Is that a claim that you tampered with the letter? If not, what bearing could it possibly have?
"Publishing that document is hurtful. That letter is a miserable crisis document."
30 years reading Foucault and their argument is: it is 'hurtful' to drag the concealed workings of power into light? In what conceivable way is 'That letter was not intended for publication' a moral defense when the letter was intended for submission? That's the whole point! And the notion that 'crisis document' provides some sort of moral pass is beneath contempt. It's a letter written, read, signed, and circulated by full professors in their offices, not the transcription of a statement given to police with no lawyer present.
The irony about Doyle's childish smear of my exposing these antics to daylight is that the CHE article had already confirmed that my blog was, in fact, wholly trustworthy: that was the real letter Butler et al. sent out soliciting signatures. There's no doubt at this point.
That would seem to be the takeaway from this remarkable letter (written, I am told, by Judith Butler) in support of Avital Ronell, who teaches in German and Comparative Literature at NYU: Download BUTLER letter for Avital Ronell. The signatory list reads like a "who's who" of "theory" (as they call bad philosophy in literature departments), from Butler to Zizek (with a few honorable exceptions, of course). But far more revealing is the content of the letter.
Professor Ronell, it seems, is the target of a Title IX complaint and investigation at NYU; the details are not known to me, and are not revealed in the letter. But this is apparently irrelevant. From the remarkable first paragraph (boldings added by me):
Although we have no access to the confidential dossier, we have all worked for many years in close proximity to Professor Ronell and accumulated collectively years of experience to support our view of her capacity as teacher and a scholar, but also as someone who has served as Chair of both the Departments of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. We have all seen her relationship with students, and some of us know the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her. We wish to communicate first in the clearest terms our profound an enduring admiration for Professor Ronell whose mentorship of students has been no less than remarkable over many years. We deplore the damage that this legal proceeding causes her, and seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her. We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare.
Imagine that such a letter had been sent on behalf of Peter Ludlow, Colin McGinn, John Searle, Thomas Pogge or anyone other than a feminist literary theorist: there would be howls of protest and indignation at such a public assault on a complainant in a Title IX case. The signatories collectively malign the complainant as motivated by "malice" (i.e., a liar), even though they admit to knowing nothing about the findings of the Title IX proceedings--and despite that they also demand that their friend be acquitted, given her past "mentorship of students". (I imagine many faculty members found guilty, correctly, in a Title IX proceeding have also mentored lots of students, chaired a department, and produced notable scholarship.) If Professor Ronell had any role in soliciting this letter, it looks to me like a clear case of retaliation against the complainant that will compound her and the university's problems.
But you get a real sense of the hypocrisy and entitlement of these precious "theorists" in the concluding paragraph of the letter addressed to the NYU President and Provost:
With a name like that, it should hardly be surprising that it is thin on facts, and thick on fabricated bullshit, like their philosophy rankings, according to which Boston College is #1. But part of the scam is then trying to get schools to promote the fake recognition (I assume somewhere along the line a fee kicks in), as in this e-mail sent to a philosophy professor at UNC-Chapel Hill:
I wanted to follow up with you to make sure you saw my previous email about the high rankings UNC Chapel Hill has achieved in Philosophy.
This article was created to highlight the unique strengths of your institution. You should feel free to pass the information around to people inside and outside your organization. You can even add a unique quote to the article by clicking the link within the press release that says, Learn how to contribute to this article.
Alas, Mr. Phelan is apparently too ignorant to realize that ranking Chapel Hill the second-best philosophy program in North Carolina and the 34th-best in the country (on a list with Boston College at #1) is an insult, not a badge of honor. In any case, caveat emptor about this latest nonsense from profiteers preying on those in search of real guidance.
I find it hard to believe that anyone with at least a high 2-digit IQ actually repeats this nonsense. Trump inherited a $400 million real estate fortune from his father in the mid-1970s (the father had a successful career, profiting in part from his willingness to cater to racists, whose views he probably shared). Trump himself made one good business decision, namely, to invest in Manhattan real estate in the 1970s; he made nothing but egregiously inept decisions thereafter, leading to multiple bankruptcies. He has never been a major player in New York real estate, in part because of his incompetence and in part because the real players--in real estate, in banking, in law--won't deal with him. For the latest evidence of his business acumen, there is also this.
UPDATE: So with over 500 votes since yesterday evening, 59% think Trump has no redeeming human qualities, while a generous 24% think he does and an also generous 17% are unsure. I am genuinely curious to hear from the "yes" voters--and please, he doesn't have redeeming human qualities just because you like some of his policy positions, so none of that. What character trait or other feature of the person redeems him qua human being?
...and of course they aren't satisfied, which should be a warning to any school that thinks of capitulating and substituting juvenile consumerism for academic judgment. This remark by a faculty member is apt:
Meanwhile, defenders of Hum 110 -- which currently begins with the Epic of Gilgamesh and ends with the Bible and Apuleius’ The Golden Ass -- have argued that critics err in transposing modern notions of race into the course, or even misunderstand it altogether.
“The idea that Hum 110 is a ‘white’ course is very strange to me,” Jay Dickson, a professor of English, recently told Reed Magazine. “It presupposes that our contemporary racial categories are timeless.”
Q: In the book, you argue that the anger we’re seeing in rural America is less about economic concerns and more about the perception that Washington is threatening the way of life in small towns. How, specifically, is Washington doing this?
A: I’m not sure that Washington is doing anything to harm these communities. To be honest, a lot of it is just scapegoating. And that’s why you see more xenophobia and racism in these communities. There’s a sense that things are going badly, and the impulse is to blame “others.”
The great writers of the Enlightenment, contrary to the way they are often caricatured, were mostly skeptics at heart. They had a taste for irony, an appreciation of paradox, and took delight in wit. They appreciated complexity, rarely shied away from difficulty, and generally had a deep respect for the learning of those who had preceded them.
Enlightenment Now has few of these qualities. It is a dogmatic book that offers an oversimplified, excessively optimistic vision of human history and a starkly technocratic prescription for the human future. It also gives readers the spectacle of a professor at one of the world’s great universities treating serious thinkers with populist contempt. The genre it most closely resembles, with its breezy style, bite-size chapters, and impressive visuals, is not 18th-century philosophie so much as a genre in which Pinker has had copious experience: the TED Talk (although in this case, judging by the book’s audio version, a TED Talk that lasts 20 hours)....
That's the title of John Gray's amusing takedown of the latest panglossian blather from Pinker; an excerpt:
[For Pinker] you don’t need to bother about what the Enlightenment was actually like. By any standards, David Hume was one of the greatest Enlightenment thinkers. It was the sceptical Scottish philosopher who stirred Immanuel Kant – whose well-known essay on Enlightenment Pinker quotes reverently at the start of the book – from what Kant described as his “dogmatic slumber”. Pinker barely mentions Hume, and the omission is not accidental. He tell us that the Enlightenment is defined by a “non-negotiable” commitment to reason.
Yet in A Treatise of Human Nature (1738), Hume wrote: “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” Hume believed being reasonable meant accepting the limits of reason, and so too, in quite different ways, did later Enlightenment rationalists such as Keynes and Freud. Pinker’s Enlightenment has little in common with the much more interesting intellectual movement that historically existed....
....wins rave reviews from billionaire capitalist! Who would have guessed? I understand that Pinker once upon a time did serious work, but starting with his polemic against putative skeptics about human nature (by which he really meant skeptics about disreputable evolutionary psychology of human nature) he really went off the ideological rails, becoming the right-wing media darling and intellectual clown act (complete with the hair!) we now have before us. (An earlier item of relevance.)
ADDENDUM: Many years ago (when I had hair!), a young (conservative) philosopher amusingly dubbed me the "Marxist with clown hair." Now we have found "the libertarian with clown hair"!
ANOTHER: An amusing take on the latest ideological nonsense from Pinker. (Thanks to Aaron Garrett for the pointer.)
...before hosting garbage like this. Why anyone would bother to analyze Jordan Peterson's "ideas" is already beyond me, but Harrison Fluss, the author, apparently has as superficial a knowledge of Nietzsche as Peterson has of everything. Fluss, alas, turns out to be a Stony Brook PhD. I will assume, charitably, that he didn't really study Nietzsche there; if he did, Stony Brook should revoke the doctorate!
...courtesy of Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, astrophysicist. Part of the difficulty with the culture of deception and dissembling that now thrives in certain quarters of the academy is that one can't even discuss what's really going on and whether and when it is justifiable without provoking irrational abuse. (It is of course sometimes justifiable, but not for the mindless reasons usually given.)
UPDATE: Among the philosophers to endorse "fuck off" (through liking or retweeting) as a response to an argument are Shen-yi Liao (Puget Sound) and the "logician" Richard Zach (Calgary). Class acts, they are, but I'm sure everyone will duly note their position.
Here. (Thanks to Michael Swanson for the pointer.) Surely the remaining adults among the Republicans in Congerss will realize that impeachment is the only option, unless the Cabinet invokes the 25th Amendment to remove the incompetent.
The House of Representatives actually passed a bill that would require civilized states to honor the licenses to carry concealed weapons issued by barbaric states even when the holder of the license is in the civilized state that prohibits concealed weapons. Democrats in the Senate will, one hopes, kill it. What a disgrace.
I accepted an invitation to be on the editorial board many months ago, before the editor-in-chief was named, which I learned of by e-mail this morning (the editorial board was not consulted):
I am pleased to announce Prof. Graham Harman as Editor-in-Chief of "Open Philosophy" journal.
Prof. Harman is a central figure in speculative realism. He has written fifteen books (the recent ones: "Immaterialism: Objects and Social Theory" (2016), and "Dante's Broken Hammer: The Ethics, Esthetics, and Metaphysics of Love (2016)). In the years 2013-2015 he was listed by ArtReview among the 100 most influential people in the contemporary art world. In 2016 he was named by The Best Schools among the 50 most influential living philosophers. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles.
The ‘speculative realist movement’ exists only in the imaginations of a group of bloggers promoting an agenda for which I have no sympathy whatsoever: actor-network theory spiced with pan-psychist metaphysics and morsels of process philosophy. I don’t believe the internet is an appropriate medium for serious philosophical debate; nor do I believe it is acceptable to try to concoct a philosophical movement online by using blogs to exploit the misguided enthusiasm of impressionable graduate students. I agree with Deleuze’s remark that ultimately the most basic task of philosophy is to impede stupidity, so I see little philosophical merit in a ‘movement’ whose most signal achievement thus far is to have generated an online orgy of stupidity.
There are so many highly competent scholars and philosophers who now traverse both the Anglophone and Continental traditions in philosophy, it is a shame that this new open access journal should discredit itself by choosing someone so manifestly unserious.
I notified Katarzyna Tempczyk the managing editor for DeGruyter philosophy this morning that I was resigning from the editorial board. I would encourage others to follow suit.
ADDENDUM: The journal's website claims, "The journal does not favour any particular philosophical school, perspective or methodology." Yet Graham Harman has been explicitly hostile to (and is clearly ignorant) of "analytic" philosophy!
We've had so much amusement with the reactionary religious fanatic Ed Feser over the years, that it was inevitable that several readers would send me this devastating review of his latest; some excerpts:
This brings me to Feser and Bessette’s treatment of the Church Fathers. It is painfully obvious that neither of them bothered to read the patristic texts they cite; they merely went searching for anything that looked like a proof text, no matter how tenuous or fragmentary, and without paying even cursory attention to context. They claim, for instance, that in the Contra Celsum Origen affirmed the right of the state to execute criminals, but when one consults the passage they cite one finds nothing more than a rueful acknowledgement of the power of the state to punish crime with force. The same is true of their citation from Gregory of Nazianzus. They also treat an elliptical turn of phrase in Athenagoras as a declaration of the validity of capital punishment rather than, as is actually the case, a mere impartial recognition of its reality. Perhaps the greatest howler is a quotation they extract from Origen’s fourteenth homily on Leviticus concerning the way in which certain sins might be absolved by penal death. They fail to notice that Origen’s tortured reflections on the literal reading of the seemingly bizarre list of capital crimes in Leviticus 20 is prompted by his certainty that capital punishment is forbidden by the law of Christ. In fact, even when Feser and Bessette notice in passing that the Fathers they mention all seem to advise against use of the death penalty, they fail to grasp that this is not merely a matter of personal predilection. Once again, the question of whether the death penalty is in some sense “just” is wholly irrelevant in the context of Christian belief. As far as the Fathers were concerned, all of us merit death. This does not mean that they believed Christians are permitted to impose such a penalty....
The most appalling aspect of this book is finally not its shoddy reasoning or theological ignorance, but its sheer moral coarseness. For example, Feser and Bessette twice adduce the career of Giovanni Battista Bugatti—the official executioner of the Papal States who from 1796 to 1865 executed 516 convicted criminals, by decapitating them with an axe or a guillotine, or slitting their throats, or crushing their heads with a mallet, or having them drawn and quartered—as some sort of proof of the Catholic Church’s commitment to the essential justice of the death penalty. On neither occasion do they express the slightest alarm at, or disapproval of, either the number or the savagery of these killings. This is typical of the entire tone of the book: every page exudes an atmosphere of almost numbing callousness. There are times when a faint touch of false tenderness on the authors’ part would have been, at least, decorous.
Reader Prabhu Venkataraman, a mathematician at Eureka College, shared this apt observation by his colleague Zeke Jarvis on the reconciliation process for the tax bill:
There are still some differences between the House and Senate tax bills that need to be reconciled. For instance, the House will let the rich feed on the blood of middle class families’ first-born children, but the Senate only allows them to grind up old people for meat. Obviously, there will be some hard conversations ahead.
One of the University of Chicago's best-known alums, alas, is Richard Spencer, the poster-boy for aggrieved, mediocre white people; from The Atlantic:
Spencer graduated from UVA in 2001, then proceeded to the University of Chicago for a master’s degree in humanities. He said he studied there with the philosopher Robert Pippin, who “influenced me a great deal.” “It was there I started questioning the fundamental nature of democracy,” Spencer said. (Pippin doesn’t remember him. “I regard his rhetoric and activities as loathsome and despicable,” Pippin wrote to me. “I revere the founding principles of liberal democracy, and want no association with the man.”) At a party during his year at Chicago, he confessed his political leanings to the Marxist philosopher Gopal Balakrishnan, then a professor at the school. Spencer recalls that Balakrishnan gave a professional diagnosis on the spot: “You’re a fascist.”