(1) Over the last year, the gender breakdown of academics criticized on this blog was nearly 75% male, about 25% female. This fact (which is what it is) won't stop, however, some benighted souls from asserting otherwise. Why? Group polarization: when some malevolent dope says on Facebook that I criticize more women than men, other malevolent dopes concur, thus reinforcing the false belief.
(2) Those who make the most outrageous assertions about me, including contradicting the facts in #1, are, it turns out, overwhelmingly from religious Christian backgrounds, especially Catholic and various Southern Protestant denominations. This is true of the most extreme cases, as well as the more run-of-the-mill casual defamers. I hadn't really registered this until a reader pointed it out, and some checking confirmed many cases. I'm not sure what to make of this fact; possibilities are (a) they are already ill-disposed towards me because of my critical comments about religion; (b) they're (explicit or implicit) anti-semites; (c) they are simply timid and fearful people, perhaps drawn to their religion because of that, but in any case easily frightened by pugnacious criticism directed at anyone. Of course, all of this may simply be an accidental correlation: the numbers are small (a dozen or so diehard obsessives) and of course most philosophers with Christian upbringings do not engage in the ugly distortions and casual defamation characteristic of my special small "anti-fan" club.
We realize he's the nominee of a freak show of a party--did you ever read AEI's Norm Ornstein?--but he's also the clearest threat to what remains of democracy in the American plutocracy. He's also a narcissistic sociopath, clown, and life-long fuck-up: ask anyone in the real estate business in New York over the last forty years. If he farts, you can ignore it. If he tweets, you can ignore it.
You should do so before civilization ends. We've just concluded the first election cycle in my lifetime in which an honest person who actually supports regular people has garnered millions of votes. That wasn't Hillary Clinton, and that wasn't Dopey Donald Chump. That humane candidate lost, alas. Hillary Clinton is reprehensible, a war-mongerer worthy of George W. Bush, a Nixon Republican, an empty vessel like her husband Bill. But at least the Clintons are parochially decent and mildly prudent plutocrats, unlike the mentally ill ignoramus whose opinings you report.
There's only one serious question about Dopey Donald Chump, the proto-fascist and narcissistic ignoramus worth contemplating. But it would not be polite to write about it here. So, please, just ignore him.
Let me begin by thanking all the people who signed the Change.org petition to save the WIU philosophy major. Though I have signed quite a lot of petitions, I used to think signing them was silly, and now I know they are broadly ineffective. But what I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of emotional and psychological support the kind words of friends and strangers from across the globe could provide. So, thank you.
It will come as no surprise to those paying attention that the Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to authorize the elimination of philosophy and three other programs at Western Illinois University, but readers may be interested in how this happened so quickly over the last two weeks.
Gun control advocates contend that semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 are a logical choice for mass shootings because of their ability to rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds. Defenders of the firearm [i.e., delusional morons] say it is misguided to blame a gun that is used by millions of owners across the country in a responsible manner.
The rifle is legal to buy in most states, including Florida. In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban that prohibited manufacturing AR-15 for civilian sale with large-capacity magazines, bayonets or pistol grips. The ban limited, but did not end, sales of AR-15s. The weapons ban expired in 2004.
In a video taken by a bystander, more than 20 rounds can be heard being fired in rapid succession. This would indicate that the weapon had a magazine with a capacity commonly used in military service.
Like most states, Florida does not restrict the capacity of magazines. State bans have been ineffective: the shooters in San Bernardino used high capacity magazines despite California’s ban on semiautomatic rifles with magazines with more than 10 bullets.
A young philosopher tells me that he's been repeatedly solicited by the infamous David Publishing outfit. Getting tired of the repeated solicitation, he replied that they should "fuck off" since he knows they're a scam. This generated the following reply:
Sorry to disturb you. But in fact, our company has been founded more than 10 years, our authors are from all over the world, our journals are indexed in some world famous databases such as
EBSCO, CSA, CAS, Ulrich, ProQuest, Summon, CEPS and so on, can all the people be cheated by us? We admit our mistake or weakness at the begining of our set-up, but we are perfecting ourselves these years and we think every coins have two sides, which is what we cannot avoid. And we publish the papers,
upload them to our website and post hard copies to authors, which can say we are not a scam. Hope you can understand.
ADDENDUM: As if on cue, Audrey Yap (Victoria) (yes, that Audrey Yap). At least the "battle lines" are clear, and many on the wrong side of these issues have identified themselves.
INDEED as this mindlessness migrates to philosophy, the results should be interesting. The typical "intro" graduate seminar to 20th-century analytic philosophy would involve reading Frege, Russell, Strawson, Carnap, Quine, Kripke, maybe some Davidson or Putnam or D. Lewis too. That course would have to go. The study of German Idealism: that's out too, all a bunch of white guys, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel etc. 19th-century German philosophy: forget it, all white guys again, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, maybe also Feuerbach and Schopenhauer (and all Germans to boot--what a disgraceful lack of diversity). Of course, the study of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy would have to go, once again all white guys (were they white? I'm not even sure, but they were definitely guys!). The future of academic philosophy is going to be interesting!
...with these appropriately condescending attacks. She's got three big advantages: she's smarter, she's more articulate, and she's not a pathological liar. As this perceptive game-theoretic analysis of Dopey Donald Chump's modus operandi makes clear, Senator Warren's relentless, belittling attacks will drive him to distraction and self-destruction.
The latest sexual harassment scandal in academic philosophy has, predictably, brought the usual know-nothing pontificators out in force, busy signaling their rectitude while actually harming the interests of the complainant against Pogge. Let me explain.
is rightly considered a pillar of civilised society. But people have a tendency to over-apply it in irrelevant cases. The presumption of your innocence means that the state can't punish you for a crime unless it proves that you committed it. That's it. It has nothing to do with how one individual should treat or think about another, or whether an organisation should develop or continue a relationship with an accused individual. The presumption of innocence doesn't protect you from being unfriended on facebook, or shunned at conferences, or widely thought by other people to be a criminal. It just protects from being criminally convicted.
Why is the "presumption of innocence" considered "a pillar of civilized society"? Presumably because there is moral value in avoiding sanctioning the innocent, and we can avoid sanctioning the innocent if we shift the burden of proof to the accuser. That moral value exists outside the legal context, though it is particularly important in the legal context because the sanctions are very serious. But even when the sanctions are less serious, the moral value of the presumption remains. Think of it this way: the First Amendment protection of free speech prevents the state from sanctioning you for the content of your speech (except under very special circumstances), but that doesn't mean "freedom of speech" has no value, and deserves no moral weight, in contexts other than the exercise of state power. I do not suggest that there should be a legal remedy for "unfriending" on Facebook or for swarmy pontificators and shunners like Ichikawa et al., but I do think it obvious that a "presumption of innocence" plays a useful role in regulating our informal dealings with others, even if it is a defeasible assumption (and is defeated in this case, about which more in a moment).
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently appointed John C. Bambenek to the Illinois Board of Higher Education as the sole faculty representative. Many have criticized the move by claiming that Bambenek’s views aren’t representative of most faculty members. I claim this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Bambenek should not be eligible to serve as the lone faculty representative to the IBHE since he isn’t even eligible to represent the University of Illinois faculty on their Senate.
The Illinois State Senate still has to approve Rauner’s appointment. State Senator Antonio Muñoz is the Chair of the Executive Appointment Committee. Professor Gay is sending letters to both Senator Muñoz and Governor Rauner objecting to Bambenek’s appointment. There is still time for philosophers, faculty, and citizens of Illinois to ask for an actual faculty member who understands the needs and concerns of faculty in Illinois to represent them on the IBHE.
Reader David Gordon sends along this gem of a dustjacket blurb:
Theory of Identities is essential for those who work in Laruelle studies or whose work departs from the fundamental presuppositions of non-philosophy and non-standard philosophy. Indeed, this book constitutes the most illustrative proof that "non-philosophy is a synthesis of quantum theory and Marxism." It is a testimony of the dense complexity of Laruelle's genius combining methodologically uncompromising scientific rigor and transgressiveness of a mystic's glance into what most of us would choose to avert eyes from: the point where the comfort of neurosis ceases to exist, which is also the place where neurosis necessarily always already reestablishes itself.
(Katarina Kolozova, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje)
One possibility is that Laruelle is as big a bullshitter as this blurb suggests; the other possibility is that Kolozova is the worst blurber in the history of blurbs. (Or maybe Kolozova studies with Michael Marder?)
From the usually excellentNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews (which frequently falls short in this particular area, alas, I am guessing because one can't get serious philosophers to review stuff like this):
As the Anglophone reception and appreciation of François Laruelle's work grows, it is worth reminding ourselves of the radicality of its ambition to be a thoroughgoing non-representational style of theorising and thinking. Carried out in the name of the destruction of onto-theology, the overcoming of metaphysics, the excess of the Real, or the deconstruction of presence, the attempt to think outside of traditional representational categories and to do so by means of novel philosophical styles or gestures is, of course, typical of much twentieth-century European philosophy, particularly that coming out of France. It may be tempting, therefore, to view Laruelle's writing as simply one further, albeit idiosyncratic in the extreme, example of philosophical and stylistic invention that places its impossible object of thought in excess of thought itself. Yet, as Laruelle has consistently argued at least since the early 1980s, philosophy has never gone, nor can ever go, far enough in its suspension, destruction or deconstruction of representational thought. Notions of radically withdrawn, ungrounded Being, of transcendence or alterity that would be otherwise than Being, or of difference that would detach philosophy and ontology from all logic of foundation or totality and place the very notion of Being itself under erasure simply do not, for Laruelle, go far enough. For in the end such notions remain conceptual and representational if only because they represent being as withdrawn, as transcendence or alterity, or as difference in excess of ontological foundation or ground. For Laruelle, any kind of ontology, be it differential, negative, or given in the mode of an exacerbated apophasis, does not and cannot do justice to the radical immanence of the Real.
...some of whom were involved in the disgraceful Kipnis affair (which they actually have the audacity to revisit and try to rationalize in this new letter--and see also). Here's the letter. I would guess from the content that one of the primary authors was the author of the FP blog post we discussed awhile back. (The letter even cites the FP blog post, and makes clear the author learned nothing from the discussion of it, which is part of what is quite alarming about these zealots.) This crowd has long made clear their contempt for fairness and due process, so their posture in this matter is hardly surprising. I assume the adults at the AAUP will ignore this.
At last, we have a genuine anti-semitic loony-tune in academia, one Joy Karega, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric & Composition at Oberlin College, with a PhD from the University of Louisville. So far, the evidence is she confines her anti-semitic ravings to her Facebook page. After initially defending on academic freedom and free speech grounds her right to be an anti-semite on Facebook, Oberlin now appears to be changing course, which is unfortunate. The College would be well within rights to find out what's going on in her classrooms, but given that she's an assistant professor in a field with no discernible wissenschaftlich standards, it's not clear quite how that would work. In any case, even if Oberlin holds firm and resists punishing her for her Facebook speech, I would expect this to come back to haunt her at tenure time, by which time the media's 30-second attention span will have moved elsewhere.
Predictably, I suppose, some pontificators on social media are mystified that the irresponsible APA statement could be at all controversial. Indeed, philosopher Jenny Saul (Sheffield) has reiterated her view that controversy about the statement reflects badly on the state of the profession. My view is, unsurprisingly, different: the absence of controversy in certain parts of academic philosophy is what suggests the "profession" is populated with people who are not really grown up. The deficiencies of the APA statement are so obvious that it should hardly be surprising that, for example, no group of academic lawyers has promulgated a statement so ridiculous.
Let us recall what the statement said--not regarding the criminal threats and racist abuse suffered by Prof. Yancy--but regarding the lawful anonymous speech on metablogs:
Abusive speech directed at philosophers is not limited to responses by the public to published op-eds. A look at some of the anonymous philosophy blogs also reveals a host of examples of abusive speech by philosophers directed against other philosophers. Disagreement is fine and is not the issue. But bullying and ad hominem harassment of philosophers by other philosophers undermines civil disagreement and discourse and has no place in our community.
I'm not entirely sure why the statement targets anonymous speech, since it seems to me there are many possible examples of speech that runs afoul of the APA statement that was not anonymous. But they all raise the question: what exactly is the "abusive speech" that is now according to a handful of philosophers at the APA forbidden? Consider:
1. Philosopher Rachel McKinnon (Charleston) launched a Twitter tirade against Justin Weinberg (South Carolina), because he had linked to a part of a discussion by Leslie Green (Oxford) of whether Germaine Greer was correct about transgender women. Prof. McKinnon wrote, inter alia, that those she attacked should "suck it up, buttercup," and proudly proclaimed "we're not polite" after denouncing Weinberg for having "fuck[ed] up just now." Indeed, she regularly calls her opponents "philosophy asshat," "fuckwhistles" and tells them to "shut the fuck up" and "fuck off." Surely this speech violate the APA's new policy! If so, what is the APA going to do about it?
2. I have, on multiple occasions, made harsh criticisms of anti-gay bigotry in the philosophy profession, for example, here, here, and here. Does this speech violate the APA's new policy? (Admittedly, if it does, the APA can't do anything about it, since I am not a member.)
3. After I criticized a badly reasoned opinion piece co-authored by Jason Stanley (Yale), he denounced me on his very public Facebook page before hundreds if not thousands of my colleagues, dismissing me as "old, dated, shrill, and frightened." This certainly sounds like ad hominem abuse (though admittedly it did lead dozens of philosophers to friend me on Facebook!). Does this volate the APA's new policy on speech? If not, why not?
My own view is that (a) all of this speech ought to be legal; and (b) none of it should be the object of sanction or opporobium by a purportedly professional organization. Yet all of it appears to fall within the scope of the APA's careless statement. And the reason why professionals in other fields, especially law, don't promulgate statements like this is precisely because such standards are vague and overbroad and thus inconsistent with the values of freedom of expression central to all intellectual and political life. That the APA has been captured by some academics who don't see this should be a cause for concern.
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)