Totally believable and totally disgusting. In a civilized society, these pointless people would be separated from the money that makes their excesses possible. (And it's an illusion that this behavior is confined only to the Upper East Side.)
[H]er latest publication, For the New Intellectual, offers a selection of those passages, with an overtly philosophical introduction which places the rest of the system in perspective. At last the eager student can get some sort of overview of the intellectual edifice which is presented for his acceptance. I must say at the outset that I have not found the offering very palatable. Not, let me hasten to add, because I disagree with the conclusions—free trade, a minimum of governmental interference in the economy, the immorality of altruism, are, I think, eminently justifiable intellectual positions. Rather it is the paucity of rational arguments, the frequency with which nonsense is offered as self-evident truth, the hysterical ranting against opponents who have had their views distorted beyond recognition, the amateurish psychologizing—in a word, the sloppiness of the whole thing, which forces me to regard it as a paradigm of philosophical incompetence. The temptation is to see it as a huge joke, a farce by means of which its creator can laugh at the gullible. But at the risk of being taken in I shall treat this book seriously, with perhaps only the popularity of the doctrine to justify the enterprise. My method shall be the following—I shall quote, sometimes at length, from the book, and then comment on the material presented.
And this from the conclusion equally sharp:
It is not difficult to understand the attraction Ayn Rand has for the uninstructed. She appears, I suppose, to be the spokesman for freedom, for self-esteem, and other equally noble ideals. However, patient examination reveals her pronouncements to be but a shroud beneath which lies the corpse of illogic. Those who are concerned with discovering the principles of a sound social philosophy can read and study libertarian thought at its best. The ludicrously mistitled “philosophy of Ayn Rand” is a sham. To those who are travelling her road I can only suggest its abandonment—for that way madness lies.
(1)....If a professor fails to attain a minimum threshold of performance based on the student evaluations used to assess the professor’s teaching effectiveness, in accordance with the criteria and rating system adopted by the board, the institution shall terminate the professor’s employment regardless of tenure status or contract. (2) The names of the five professors who rank lowest on their institution’s evaluation for the semester, but who scored above the minimum threshold of performance, shall be published on the institution’s internet site and the student body shall be offered an opportunity to vote on the question of whether any of the five professors will be retained as employees of the institution. The employment of the professor receiving the fewest votes approving retention shall be terminated by the institution regardless of tenure status or contract.
The first provision is bad enough--a legislatively authorized breach of contract and due process--but the second is just vicious and insane.
(Thanks to Chris Surprenant for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Reader Prabhu Venkataraman calls to my attention that this nasty piece of legislation has been killed in committee.
What a great phrase; I owe it to a philosopher in the UK, who used it with reference to this. (He gave permission to quote, initially with his name, but then he got worried he would fall prey to SJWs, so asked that I not use his name.)
Periodically, readers call my attention to the bizarre Wikipedia page on Critchley, which if he didn't write it himself, must have been written by his research assistants or students. (He links to it from his homepage, a giveaway.) There are serious philosophers profiled on Wikipedia (see, e.g., Quine or Adorno), and their entries do not contain summaries of all their books, as Critchley's does, as though they were significant works of philosophy. Nothing is included that would indicate his actual reputation as a lightweight hack, even among scholars of the Continental traditions. Wikipedia is often a disaster when it comes to profiles of living people, but this is really an embarrassment. (I should note that his Wikipedia entry was first called to my attention long before his drinking buddy at the New York Times brought him on as "moderator" of The Stone blog. It has been this ridiculous for awhile.)
A bill is introduced to require all professors to teach eight courses per year (rather than four). This would, among other things, involve a massive breach of contract, I expect, and it would, within a year, destroy the university as faculty fled. But since the legislators who propose measures like this have no conception of what research is, or what a scholarly reputation is, they may not care.
I was corresponding with a philosopher elsewhere about yet another cyber-example of the pathetic identity politics/language police, whom my correspondent described as an SJW, or "social justice warrior." I had not heard the term before, but my correspondent's explanation of it is worth sharing:
Functionally defined, "SJW" designates someone who monitors cyberspace for slights or miscues that reveal bias, and then exploits the various tools of social media to shame the offender, express outrage, and summon the digital mob, whilst achieving for themselves a righteous fame that ties their identities and their actions to the heroes and achievements of the civil rights movement, the landmark moments of which preceded their adulthood. SJWs divide the world, GWB-like, into the evildoers ("shitlords") and the oppressed, with the possible, but problematic remainder, being allies, whose status is ever tenuous and usually collapses into shitlord. SJWs do not distinguish between major and minor offenses -- unintentionally using "transgender-ed" instead of "transgender" is as unforgivable as any other act of oppression -- nor do they distinguish repeat and systematic from first-time offenders. They employ a principle of interpretation that is something like the opposite of charity. (If the utterance gives offense under one interpretation, that interpretation is correct.) It is a harsh "justice".
Indeed, it's unclear whether SJWs do not fully grasp the cruelty and inhumanity of their cybermob shame tactics, the anguish it causes, typically to the socially clueless and ASD spectrum types (itself a form of ableism), or just people with older, less plastic, brains, who are unable to keep pace with the rapidly shifting pronoun and non-slur requirements, or whether this is fully grasped, and indeed the retributive point of the exercise. In any case, the SJW hallmark is cruelty in the name of compassion. (And creating incredibly dangerous environments in the name of "safe space".)
Well, as a Nietzsche scholar, I can hardly tell you anything you don't already see better here. The difference between the Christian slave revolt and this one is that with Christianity at least, there is forgiveness.
The irony, of course, is that the SJW squanders his or her efforts on matters that rarely have anything to do with justice.
ADDENDUM: A reader in the UK writes:
I wanted to send you a quick note with regard to your most recent post on "social justice warriors". Whilst I am entirely sympathetic to your criticisms of the online mobs, vague identity politics, etc. I thought that seeing as you hadn't heard the term before you might want to be made aware that it originated and still continues to be used almost exclusively (to the best of my knowledge) as a pejorative by so-called 'Men's Rights Activists' (read: genuinely horrible and regressive misogynists) to describe anyone with a liberal or progressive disposition. Without impugning your correspondent, I am immediately suspicious when the term is used as it suggests (and originated from) an entirely different and also toxic version of identity politics. I think the most mainstream use of the term so far has been in the 'Gamergate' movement, which many (myself included) think was a thinly veiled attempt by the same misogynists to create an aura of legitimacy around their sending of rape and death threats to relatively benign (if sometimes mistaken) critics of video game tropes/culture.
Anyway, given the amount of baggage the term carries, I worry that you might (unintentionally) be, or be seen to be, lumping yourself in with a line of thought that is altogether more horrible than your actual political and moral beliefs. A google search of social justice warrior, or especially SJW, will demonstrate that its still very much the preserve of a nasty sort.
Though of course you could still agree with the definition given by your correspondent without necessarily endorsing all the horribleness associated with the term, I think there are some worrying signs in the definition itself (like the move towards claiming victimhood on neurosciencey terms) which are suggestive of additional beliefs on your correspondent's side, and of course the term itself is still used exclusively as a slur by a particular sort.
All news to me (I had never even heard of "Gamergate," though have now looked it up)! I'm quite sure my correspondent had nothing to do with any of this, far far from it in fact. It still seems to me an apt term for describing a kind of facile and superficial cyber-posturing.
ANOTHER: Some readers disputed the genealogy of the SJW term, though I don't think its etiology matters. See also this comment just submitted to the open thread.
ADDENDUM: A reader sends along this sophomoric prattle; The Monist must have fallen on hard times to be publishing material like this. The abstract alone will probably be enough for most readers, but do press on, it gives one real insight into the nether regions of the 'profession' where no actual intellectual standards prevail. Imagine, an entire paper organized around an alleged "conflation" that any smart undergraduate would avoid!
Professor Pessin compared Gazan Palestinians to “rabid pit bulls” who need to be caged. He described the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a cycle of letting the “snarling dogs” out of their “cage” and then beating them back into it. One person named Nicole commented on the post suggesting the “dogs” be put down. Professor Pessin responded, “I agree.” Professor Pessin directly condoned the extermination of a people. A member of our community has called for the systematic abuse, killing, and hate of another people.
(Thanks to Lukas Slothuus for alerting me to this story.)
ADDENDUM: Prof. Pessin offers an "apology" here, though, oddly, without clearly renouncing the view that Palestinians are "dogs."
UPDATE: IHE now has an informative item on this affair. Prof. Pessin thinks it is a defense of his slurs to report that they were only aimed at Hamas, the elected representative of the Palestinians in Gaza. He also makes the ludicrous claim that this is all an attempt to silence him, an outspoken proponent of Israel (when has an outspoken proponent of Israel ever been silenced in the United States?). On the other hand, students asking the Administration to denounce Prof. Pessin's remarks are wrong to do so: it is not the job of a college administration to police or editorialize about faculty speech.
Rightly so, do read the whole thing. From the conclusion:
In my view, in this book Fuller lends support to some dicey propositions, including creationism and intelligent design, the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, neurotheology, and transhumanism, not to mention an epistemology of divine psychology. By itself that would not trouble me. What troubles me -- I should say, annoys me -- is that he just avers these things. There is very little argument in this book. In place of it are obsessive self-citations to the author's other publications. That annoyed me because I had time and occasion to read his new book, only to find out that I cannot understand it without reading twenty others by the same author, including maybe even his dissertation. Without studying the earlier books, I can't understand the point of this one, yet nothing in this one makes me want to read those others.
One does begin to wonder whether Fuller is really bonkers, or whether this is all simply to be chalked up to narcissistic stupidity.
A group of researchers, led by Ron Eglash, from the field of Science Studies (STS) have written this petition to 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) to adopt a resolution that STS scholars should advocate that science should not be misrepresented in class-rooms in public schools, i.e. evolution should be taught in public schools, and that 'intelligent design' and 'creationism' misrepresent evolution.
...against outspoken law professor (though see the very good statement by the Law Dean towards the end of the article). This is really appalling. The only silver lining is that I guess they concluded they couldn't get away with firing him outright.
[I]f you are looking for a traditional understanding of modernism and of Deleuze and Guattari, you are bound to be greatly disappointed, because the idea of understanding as a stable and unified meaning is challenged and usurped here. This is not only because there are many different and sometimes incompatible views drawn together. It is also because many of the interpretations of modernism are often self-avowedly evasive and performed as such. At its most extreme, this effect brings us close to one of Deleuze's favourite authors, Lewis Carroll, and the mad tea-party. It turns out that to understand modernism we have to understand that we cannot understand what modernism is but rather experience what it does as something disunited and discombobulating....
I will conclude with a perhaps churlish qualm or cranky misgiving, not so much about the quality of this volume on the terms it has set itself with respect to artistic modernism and Deleuze and Guattari, but rather to extensions of the modern that seem essential 'in these times', as they say. The worry came about when reading the outstanding glossary entry on the rhizome, written by Eugene Holland. He is one of the foremost and most impassioned commentators on Deleuze and Guattari and politics, in particular in relation to their critique of global capitalism. So, in reflecting upon the idea of the 'rhizome-book' he remarks that 'the aim of such a book . . . is not to represent the world as it is or what it means, but to survey and map its tendencies and becomings, for better and for worse, so as to be able to affirm the former and avert the latter' (272). It is of course no coincidence that Holland reminds us of the debt to Marx in Deleuze and Guattari and political modernism. This progressive political and philosophical side of modernism is strangely lacking in the book. It is an absence that cannot be seen as a flaw on its own terms, yet it made me feel uneasy and fleetingly sad. I wanted to scream a new slogan: Modernism is collectively political, or it dies. No doubt the authors will respond that their works are political in the sense of seeking to change situations for the better on a micro-political plane. True. Yet I sensed too great an emphasis on individual ills and local connections, rather than collective action, for either Deleuze or modernism to be up to the challenges of the collapse of progressive late-modern societies and their eyeless tottering into something far worse.
This nonsense would surely have been enough to make Marx long for the philosophical sobriety of Bruno Bauer.
...since Socrates taught Plato "on a rock." As the philosopher John Armstrong (Southern Virginia), an actual ancient philosophy scholar, notes in the first comment: "Plato observed Socrates in the public square. Aristotle studied at Plato's estate. Both had wealth that freed them to pursue their inquiries full time."
From 2009. (Although I had removed that post after Mr. Koepsell asked me too, he's been cyber-stalking me ever since.)
ANNALS OF JUVENILE STUPIDITY: Mr. Koepsell, not being grown up, actually e-mailed my Dean, asking him to "investigate" (!) my having allegedly defamed him! (My Dean gets lots of e-mails from crazies complaining about anyone on the faculty who may have said something offensive to some random crank--he doesn't respond, needless to say, though he usually forwards them so that faculty are aware of their cyber-stalkers.) If Mr. Koepsell doesn't want to be described as a cyber-stalker, then he should not have spent the last couple of years obessiviely tweeting and re-tweeting hundreds of insulting, abusive or defamatory comments about me, or showing up in comment thhreads where I have commented or been mentioned in order to insult or harass me.
...but in crazy California you can get not only "religious" exemptions, but "philosophical" ones, not by having an argument, but simply by checking a box. Perhaps if Child Protective Services started taking kids away from the idiot parents who don't vaccinate them, California would cease being the measles and whooping cough capitol of America--and can polio be far behind?
Mitchell Aboulafia is Professor of Philosophy at Manhattan College. He is a former member of the SPEP Advocacy Committee, who took his PhD at Boston College, a SPEP department, and then taught at the University of Colorado at Denver and Pennsylvania State University, the latter a longstanding SPEP bastion. He appears to have developed a bit of an obsession with the PGR lately, though readers should be aware of his bias and of the fact that many of his postings contain factual errors, indeed, easily correctable ones if he were at all intereseted in accuracy. But he is not. And, as I've noted before, it's not worth the time to engage with the lies, falsehoods, and silliness.
UPDATE: I suppose I should not be surprised that Aboulafia doesn't know what an ad hominem argument is. Of course, everything I said, above, is true, though we may now add that Aboulafia has another source of bias that would explain his misrepresentations and distortions, namely, his membership in SAAP. As I said originally: caveat emptor.
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)