I coined 'higher infantilization' recently to cover what is going on in so-called institutions of higher learning. (The STEM disciplines excepted.) The New Criterion provides a good explanation of this infantilization which is also a feminization:
“Perpetual childhood.” Is there a better illustration of this enforced immaturity than the regime of “safe spaces,” “microaggressions,” and “trigger warnings” on campus? Increasingly, today’s students—and their tutelary overseers—are bred without intellectual or moral vertebrae. They exist in an amniotic fluid of shared prejudice that admits no challenging ideas from the world outside. The last few years have provided a series of high-profile and pathetic examples of what happens when these embryonic snowflakes collide with an opposing thought. Wailing. Protests. Excoriation. Disinvitation. Repudiation. The election of Donald Trump was the most serious violation of their safe space yet. There were no trigger warnings, for everyone they encountered assured them it was impossible. This was not a microaggression but a frontal assault. They responded accordingly, and with a unanimity that would make a murmuration of starlings seem haphazard.
Read it all, especially you girly girls, girly men, pajama boys, cry bullies and especially the lowest of the low, the cowardly and supine university administrators who by all appearances did their graduate studies in the Department of the Abdication of Authority.
Lefties like to point out that the college-educated favored Hillary over Trump. But so what? Apart from the STEM disciplines, the colleges and universities of the land have become leftist seminaries, hotbeds of political correctness, and centers of Higher Infantilization. They have strayed far from their original charter.
So of course the college-indoctrinated will favor Hillary the leftist nanny-stater.
Leftists also crow over the fact that Hillary won the popular vote. But again, so what? Lefties congegate in certain densely populated enclaves wherein 'correct' views are enforced and 'incorrect' ones excluded. Most people, being highly suggestible, simply imbibe the circumambient suggestions. Few people form their political and social beliefs by any process of deep study and hard thinking. The more impressionable people crammed into places like San Francisco and New York City, the more leftist group-think. People naturally want to be liked, accepted, and get ahead. They go along to get along.
So how significant is it that Hillary won the popular vote?
But the finally trumping consideration is that our great system of government bequeathed to us by the greatest generation, that of the founders, prescribes that it is the members of the Electoral College, not the populace at large who decide presidential elections.
Kieran Setiya, The Midlife Crisis. An outstanding essay. What exactly is a midlife crisis?
In the form that will concern us, then, the midlife crisis is an apparent absence of meaning or significance in life that allows for the continued presence of reasons to act. Although it is often inspired by the acknowledgement of mortality, the crisis can occur in other ways. It may be enough to prompt the midlife crisis that you see in your future, at best, only more of the achievements and projects that make up your past. Your life will differ only in quantity from the life you have already lived, a mere accumulation of deeds.
A weblog as I envisage it is a form of writing that is midway between the unpublished privacy of the personal journal and the publicity of an article published in a professional journal. The blogs that interest me the most are thus those that include some of the self-reference of a Facebook page absent the full-bore, and boring, narcissism that characterizes most of them while retaining, in the main, an objective trans-personal focus. This by way of justifying some talk of myself.
Setiya's characterization of the midlife crisis fits my case almost exactly. My crisis lasted a long four years, starting at age 41. In the fifth year, a year's worth of travel and teaching and study in Turkey pulled me out of it. Three years later, at age 49, I embarked upon the happiest period of my entire life, a period which continues into the present. And the decline of physical powers consequent upon aging does not prevail against my sense of well-being. Looking back on the difficult crisis years, I ask myself: What was that all about?
"It may be enough to prompt the midlife crisis that you see in your future, at best, only more of the achievements and projects that make up your past." Exactly. That was the trigger for me, that and the action I took at 41.
Hired right out of graduate school at 28, I was awarded tenure at 34. Until tenure, life for an academic can be an emotional roller-coaster. It's up and down with the prospect of up or out, and if out, then most likely out for the count. Tenure brings a measure of peace. I settled in and enjoyed the job security. But then the worm began to gnaw. What now? More of the same? Will I spend the rest of my life in this boring midwest venue among these limited colleagues, decent people most of them, but academic functionaries more than real philosophers? Teaching intro and logic, logic and intro to the bored and boring? What starts out an exciting challenge can turn into a living death. It is truly awful to have to teach philosophy to a class of 35 only five of whom have a clue as to the purposes of a university and a scintilla of intellectual eros. It is like trying to feed the unhungry. (Cf. John Henry Cardinal Newman, The Idea of a University, a book overpaid administrators ought to be hit upside the head with and then forced to memorize.)
And then there was the rising tide of political correctness that in those days was only about half as bad as it has become. Why anyone with a conservative bent and a real love of the life of the mind would embark upon the quixotic quest for an academic post in the humanities in the current culturally Marxist climate is beyond me. You might get really lucky, find a job, and get tenure. But to what avail? You wanted to live the life of the mind in a university, not have to keep your mouth shut and your head down in a leftist seminary. No free man wants to spend his life in dissimulation.
Philosophy is different things to different people. For me it is a spiritual quest. Try to explain that to the average hyperprofessionalized and overspecialized academic hustler. The quest demands isolation from academic careerists and busybodies. It demands time for spiritual practices such as meditation. And so at age 41, having spent two years in a visiting associate professorship at a better school, I abandoned the tenured position at my home institution to live the life of the independent philosopher.
It was a bold move, foolish in the eyes of the world. "What about your career?" I was asked. The bold move triggered my midlife crisis and led me into the desert for a good long period of purgation. I have emerged from it a better man.
So if any of you are in the midst of a midlife crisis, view it as a sort of purgatory on earth. Perhaps you need to be purged of vain ambitions and unrealistic expectations. Make the most of it and you may emerge from it better than when you went in. Don't try to escape it by doing something rash like running off to Las Vegas with a floozie. Endure it and profit from it. If you must buy a motorcycle, do as a colleague of mine did: he rode it through his midlife crisis and then had the good sense to sell it.
For background, read thisInside Higher Ed article.
As far as I can make out, NYU professor Michael Rectenwald is a commie who takes issue with the trigger warning nonsense because it gives the Left a bad name. The following from an interview in the NYU student newspaper:
Michael Rectenwald: My contention is that this particular social-justice-warrior-left is producing the alt-right by virtue of its insanity. And because it’s doing all these things that manifest to the world, the alt-right is just eating this stuff alive. That’s why I adopted Nietzsche as the icon for the @antipcnyuprof and that’s why I said “anti-pc.” Frankly, I’m not really anti-pc. My contention is that the trigger warning, safe spaces and bias hotline reporting is not politically correct. It is insane. This stuff is producing a culture of hypervigilance, self-surveillance and panopticism.
WSN: Could you explain your feelings towards trigger warnings and safe spaces?
MR: One of the major problems of a trigger warning is this: according to trauma psychology, nobody has any idea what can trigger somebody. It’s completely arbitrary, and I don’t want to be indelicate, but let’s say a woman is raped while the guy happened to have this particular pack of gum on the table. So the woman would see this type of gum, and she’s going to feel triggered by this. Who could possibly anticipate such a thing? There is no way to anticipate just what would trigger people. As for safe spaces, I’m more ambiguous about it. I do think some people need safe spaces from different things, such as different beleaguered populations or groups who have been harassed or hounded — even murdered. People have their right to assemble as they wish. A safe space represents such an assembly. I do question their legality at some kind of state university for example, because it’s exclusionary, and that’s a public space.
WSN: How does that manifest at NYU?
MR: What happens is that the left presents its needs to the administration in universities, and the administration seizes on these opportunities to produce power and control to actually discipline the subjects under them. They don’t care what ideologies — whether it’s right, left, center. My dean two years ago — I mentioned the words trigger warning, and he snickered out loud, as if it was some foreign concept. Then last year, towards the end of the semester when we had a colloquium, he was floating the idea that they would be required on the syllabi. This is what happens. Once the administration gets it, it becomes a tool — an instrument — for them. Then they are able to compute to have more leverage and control over the curriculum, which should be faculty controlled in every university.
WSN: How do students handle this?
MR: Identity politics on campus have made an infirmary of the whole, damn campus. Let’s face it: every room is like a hospital ward. What are we supposed to do? I can’t deal with it — it’s insane. Look at the rules about Halloween costumes now. There’s a hoopla and hysteria surrounding Halloween. I tweeted something the other night about this self-surveillance — that they’re calling on people to do as reference to their Halloween costumes. It literally says “track your own online behavior” — self-surveillance. Safe spaces are turning the whole campus into an infirmary. And what do hospitals require? They require certain containment. They require a certain restriction of movement. They require surveillance. They require all of these things that I’m talking about, and that’s the problem with having a hospital as a university.
WSN: So how does this tie into Trump? Could you explain your support for him?
MR: I don’t support Trump at all. I hate him — I think he’s horrible. I’m hiding amongst the alt-right, alright? And the point is, this character is meant to exhibit and illustrate the notion that it’s this crazy social-justice-warrior-knee-jerk-reaction-triggered-happy-safe-space-seeking-blah, blah, blah, blah culture that it’s producing this alt-right. Now, I’m not dumb enough to go there. And my own politics are very strong — I’m a left communist. But I think that in fact, the crazier and crazier that this left gets, this version of the left, the more the more the alt-right is going to be laughing their asses off plus getting more pissed. Every time a speaker is booed off campus or shooed off campus because they might say something that bothers someone, that just feeds the notion that the left is totalitarian, and they have a point.
More proof of the collapse of American universities and Catholic universities in particular. As a result of the abdication of authority on the part of administrators, 'Catholic' universities have become anti-Catholic leftist seminaries, hotbeds of cultural Marxism. Am I exaggerating? Read Rod Dreher's interview with Professor Esolen and see for yourself. Here is the message that has to go out to parents thinking of sending their children to Providence College (PC !), or DePaul, or Georgetown, or Notre Dame, etc.:
What advice would you give to young Christian academics? To Christian parents preparing to send their kids to college?
It’s long past the time for administrators at Christian colleges to abandon the hiring policies that got us in this fix to begin with. We KNOW that there are plenty of excellent young Christian scholars who have to struggle to find a job. Well, let’s get them and get them right away. WE should be establishing a network for that purpose — so that if a Benedictine College needs a professor of literature, they can get on the phone to Ralph Wood at Baylor or me at Providence or Glenn Arbery at Wyoming Catholic, and say, “Do you have anybody?”
Christian parents — please do not suppose that your child will retain his or her faith after four years of battering at a secular college. Oh, many do — and many colleges have Christian groups that are terrific. But understand that it is going to be a dark time; and that everything on campus will be inimical to the faith, from the blockheaded assumptions of their professors, to the hook-ups, to the ignorance of their fellow students and their unconscious but massive bigotry. Be advised.
There is little or no point in writing letters of protest to the administrative and professorial crapweasels that oversee and enable this leftist insanity. They will ignore your respectful objections and go back to calling you racist, xenophobic, homophobic, etc. To these willfully enstupidated shitheads you are just bad apples at the bottom of Hillary's "basket of deplorables."
What you have to do is cut off their funding. If you are an alumnus of DePaul or PC -- how felicitous the abbreviation! -- refuse them when they ask for donations. And let them know that you will not send your children there.
That will get their attention.
I believe it was Lee Iacocca who said, "When money talks, ideology walks." We need to give leftist ideologues, especially stealth ideologues like Hillary, their walking papers.
What we really need is an Association of Conservative Philosophers. (The resonance of the initials ACP will not be lost on my astute readers.) The contributors to Rightly Considered may want to take this ball and run with it.
Thomas Sowell on the sad state of our elite universities. Excerpt:
There is no barbed wire around our campuses, nor armed guards keeping unwelcome ideas out. So there is no "iron curtain." But there is a curtain, and it has its effect.
One effect is that many of the rising generation can go from elementary school through postgraduate education at our leading colleges and universities without ever hearing a coherent presentation of a vision of the world that is fundamentally different from that of the political left.
There are world class scholars who are unlikely to become professors at either elite or non-elite academic institutions because they do not march in the lockstep of the left. Some have been shouted down or even physically assaulted when they tried to give a speech that challenged the prevailing political correctness.
Harvard is just one of the prestigious institutions where such things have happened -- and where preemptive surrender to mob rule has been justified by a dean saying that it was too costly to provide security for many outside speakers who would set off campus turmoil.
Despite the fervor with which demographic "diversity" is proclaimed as a prime virtue -- without a speck of evidence as to its supposed benefits -- diversity of ideas gets no such respect.
So far only two posts have appeared, but the effort looks very promising, and I wish them every success. In the premier post they introduce themselves as follows:
We are academics—graduate students, professors, and independent scholars, mostly in, or closely associated with, the profession of philosophy—who are on the political right. Obviously, we won’t always agree with each other on the finer points. We have no specific checklist of positions or statement of faith. But we all generally identify with the tradition of philosophical conservatism that began with ancient sages like Plato and Aristotle, carried on by Christian thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas, continued through Enlightenment-inspired geniuses like Burke, Tocqueville, and the American Founders, up to economic theorists like Belloc and von Hayek and contemporary authors like Kirk, Buckley, and Sowell. At the heart of this tradition is a family resemblance-related set of beliefs that we think uniquely promotes human flourishing. Whatever contradicts or subverts those beliefs not only inhibits human flourishing, but often promotes evil and suffering.
Such beliefs include, but are not limited to, the belief that all human life is intrinsically valuable, and in virtue of that all humans have natural rights, chiefly the right to live and have their life protected, the responsible exercise of individual liberty, and private ownership and management of justly acquired goods. Those natural rights are grounded in objective reality—human nature, among other things—not government. That reality entails a proper order to family and societal structures, as well as gender and sexuality norms. Maximal respect for those rights will almost always involve minimal intrusion, and most matters should be handled at the level of the closest appropriate authoritative body. These beliefs about ordered liberty and decentralization of power, when extended to the market, generate an economic system that creates more wealth and destroys more poverty than any other.
There is little doubt that the overwhelming majority of academics today are leftists, if not militantly anti-right. We are convinced that they, in some form or another, contradict or subvert the aforementioned beliefs (among others), and so, wittingly or not, inhibit human flourishing and promote evil and suffering. But the fact is that leftists are the power brokers of academia today, and so have the luxury of taking their leftist dogma for granted. Publicly questioning leftist dogma often leads to ostracism and discrimination. We’re tired of being pressured to remain closeted conservatives out of fear of ideological persecution and even more tired of seeing countless students influenced by only one side—a side we find highly unconscionable, to say the least.
We, as academics on the right, created this blog to share perspectives on politically related topics and current events that are rarely represented in other academic blogs, or anywhere else in academia for that matter. Some of our posts will be research oriented. Some of our posts will be critical replies and rebuttals. Some will be satirical and comical. Some will be expository and info-sharing. Some will be philosophically exploratory. But all will be rightly considered.
There follow entertaining biographical sketches of the contributors, one of whom is of the distaff persuasion. One cannot fault them for their pseudonyms given how vicious and vindictive leftists are. The proprietor of a certain philosophy gossip site will be tearing out what little hair he has left trying to determine their identities. My favorite bio is this one:
Conservatrarian Conservatrarian has degrees in philosophy from the US and UK. His present interests include politics and topics in applied ethics. He has published papers in academic philosophy journals on topics that anger leftists.Conservatrarian carries a Glock 19 with a 15 round magazine on his hip at all times, so mess with [him] at your own peril.
Graph from the American Enterprise Institute. Commentary mine.
One irony here is that the more worthless college education becomes (in the non-STEM areas at least), the more outrageously expensive it becomes, while with electronics, the use value of the gear skyrockets while prices plunge.
In the 'higher education' sector, a trifecta of corruption and stupidity. The federal government underwrites huge loans with no oversight; greedy and mostly useless administrators proliferate like rabbits, raising tuition and fees because of the availability of federal funds; stupid students go deep into debt to finance worthless degrees.
The degrees are not only economically worthless; they are intellectual junk to boot. Outside of the STEM areas, and the medical schools, the universities of the land have become leftist seminaries and hotbeds of political correctness.
Complain if you like about the low level of your students, but bear in mind that you probably wouldn't have a teaching job if if it weren't for the decline in standards that led to the expansion of 'higher education.'
This is an outstanding five-minute video by Peter Kreeft of Boston College. (HT: J. I. Odegaard) It presents the theistic worldview and its naturalistic alternative about as clearly as is possible within a few minutes. It doesn't argue for or against, but it does present the benefits of theism.
It is in the Prager U series.
As the universities of the land, including so-called Catholic universities, abdicate their authority and collapse under the weight of their own political correctness, substituting trendy nonsense and decadent junk for genuine learning, we need to build alternative centers to carry on the great traditions.
There is some discussion of Kreeft in the entries referenced infra.
Saturday marked the 44th anniversary of Angela Davis’s acquittal on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy. Remember Angela Davis? I asked several of my younger colleagues: No one under 35 had heard of her. But the former Black Panther, recipient of the Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize, and two-time vice-presidential candidate on the Communist Party ticket with Gus Hall, was once a household name. That was enough for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, which last Thursday bestowed on Ms. Davis the 2016 Sackler Center First Award, “honoring women who are first in their fields.”
Previous honorees include the novelist Toni Morrison, Miss Piggy and Anita Hill—pioneers all, no question. Ms. Davis is surely the first person to have parlayed an appearance on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list into a tenured professorship at the University of California.
Let me give just one example of political correctness run amok in campus women’s studies in the U.S. In 1991, a veteran instructor in English and women’s studies at the Schuylkill campus of Pennsylvania State University raised objections to the presence in her classroom of a print of Francisco Goya’s famous late-18th-century painting, Naked Maja. The traditional association of this work with the Duchess of Alba, played by Ava Gardner in a 1958 movie called The Naked Maja, has been questioned, but there is no doubt that the painting, now owned by the Prado in Madrid, is a landmark in the history of the nude in art and that it anticipated major 19th-century works like Manet’s Olympia.
The instructor brought her case to a committee called the University Women’s Commission, which supported her, and she was offered further assistance from a committee member, the campus Affirmative Action officer, who conveyed her belief that there were grounds for a complaint of sexual harassment, based on the “hostile workplace” clause in federal regulations. The university, responding to the complaint, offered to change the teacher’s classroom, which she refused. She also refused an offer to move the painting to a less visible place in the classroom or to cover it while she was teaching. No, she was insistent that images of nude women must never be displayed in a classroom — which would of course gut quite a bit of major Western art since ancient Greece.
This is where things got interesting, and President Michael Drake came into his own. He sent osu Senior Vice President Jay Kasey as his ambassador to the protestors. Speaking in calm, measured tones (the video clip is widely available on the internet), Kasey explained that he was not there to negotiate. “Dr. Drake will never receive a list of demands and he will not negotiate with you.” Er, what? Yes, they heard right. They were in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Kasey informed them, and if they did not vacate the building by a certain time, police officers would be called to clear the room. The administration was pleased, he added, to “give you the opportunity to go to jail for your beliefs.”
This wasn’t part of the script the students had signed on for. “What do you mean by ‘clear the room?’ ” one student asked. “Our police officers will physically pick you up,” Kasey patiently explained, “and take you to a paddy wagon and take you to be arrested. You will be discharged from school also.” Hmm. What do you mean “discharged?” someone asked. Probably, Kasey clarified, you will be expelled.
Gratifying as that exhibition of vertebracular stiffness was, what was most instructive was the rationale Kasey enunciated for insisting on the students’ removal: they were violating a “safe space.” The people who worked in the building, he explained, felt intimated by their presence. But how are we intimidating? whined one student, possibly one who had on another occasion claimed that reading Huckleberry Finn or dressing as an American Indian on Halloween constituted a micro-aggression that violated his safe space. It was a brilliant move and, judging from the response of the osu Police, was a coordinated effort. One Tweet from the university police advised the world that “Ohio State respects everyone’s 1st Amendment rights. @osupolice on hand to enhance safety and allow #Reclaimosu to voice peaceful concerns.” Who could be against “enhancing safety”?
In a single stroke, the osu administration, led by Michael Drake, had turned the table on the college crybullies who have been weaponizing their resentment and putative status as victims to wallow in an infantilizing bath of moralizing intolerance. We commend osu not only for its bracing exhibition of principle but also for its canny strategic gambit: seizing on the students’ own rhetoric to justify its disciplinary action, the university not only forestalled any effective response, it also . . . we were going to say, it also made the students look like fools, but no, the students accomplished that all on their own.
For a long time now, leftist termites, aided and abetted by cowardly administrators and go-along-to-get-along faculty members, have been busy undermining the foundations of the West, including the universities. Here Jason Riley reports on an outrage that affected him personally. Excerpts:
Nor is it merely classroom instruction that leftists tend to control. Liberal faculty and college administrators also closely monitor outside speakers invited to campus. The message conveyed to students is that people who challenge liberal dogma are not very welcome. A 2010 report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that only 40% of college freshman “strongly agreed that it is safe to hold unpopular positions on campus” and that by senior year it’s down to 30%.
In more recent years the intimidation has not only continued but intensified. A lecture on crime prevention by former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was canceled after Brown University students booed him off the stage. Scripps College in California invited and then disinvited Washington Post columnist George Will for criticizing ever-expanding definitions of criminal assault.
Planned commencement addresses by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice(Rutgers University), human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Brandeis University) and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde (Smith College) were scuttled by faculty and student protesters, who cited Ms. Rice’s role in the Iraq war, Ms. Ali’s criticism of radical Islam and the IMF’s rules for lending countries money.
Yet you don’t have to be in such distinguished company to earn the ire of the campus left. Last month I was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech in the fall. Last week, the same professor reluctantly rescinded the invitation, citing concerns from his department head and other faculty members that my writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests. Profiles in campus courage.
We need some serious fumigation of the universities. Who will you call for pest control? Donald or Hillary?
THE greatest academic gig is that of the black philosopher. Spout hackneyed and malicious political slogans and you will be treated as a paragon of wisdom.
George Yancy is a professor of philosophy at Emory University. In addition to being a rising star in the field of “body politics, ” he specializes in Critical Whiteness Studies. That means: “white subject formation, white racist ambush, white opacity and embeddedness, white complicity, white anti-racist praxis.” In other words, he specializes in anti-philosophical racial grievance and intellectual junk.
Read it all. While I disagree with the Housewife on some things, I don't disagree on her assessment of Yancy.
A few days after the 2004 election, Gabriel Rossman went for a job interview with the UCLA sociology department. Rossman was finishing a doctorate at Princeton, and his research on how ownership affects mass-media content was a good fit for a school in the entertainment capital. He got the job as an assistant professor.
But he also got a warning about academic culture. At a dinner following his day on campus, two of his future colleagues started ranting about George W. Bush’s re-election. One called it “a referendum against the Enlightenment.” Rossman smiled and nodded, never letting on that he’d cast his ballot for Bush.
Rossman’s story appears anonymously in "Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University," just published by Oxford University Press. He agreed to break cover because, he said, “I have tenure.” In an interview, he noted that staying in the intellectual closet doesn’t require actively lying, merely letting colleagues assume that everyone shares the same political views.
One good thing about leftists is that they eat their own. So here is a leftist professor who is attempting to confess her 'white privilege.' She mentions the word 'nigger.' She is not using it any more than I just used it: she is not applying it to anyone. She is talking about the word. She is trying her damndest to toe the party line, but still she gets purged.
If you know the history of communism, you know the historical antecedents of this sort of insanity. The origins of PC are in the CP.
We students in the class began discussing possible ways to bring these issues up in our classes when COMS 930 instructor Dr. Andrea Quenette abruptly interjected with deeply disturbing remarks. Those remarks began with her admitted lack of knowledge of how to talk about racism with her students because she is white. “As a white woman I just never have seen the racism… It’s not like I see ‘Nigger’ spray-painted on walls…” she said.
You should read study my articles infra. Inform yourself and fight back against the forces of liberal-left scumbaggery. By the way, for those of you who went to public schools, infra means 'below.'
If I had had outstanding teachers, perhaps I would not have been able to gain and sustain the self-confidence that saw me through. And if not for lousy colleagues I might not have been hired when I was pretty lousy too.
The American Philosophical Association has issued a statement that condemns bullying and harrassment. Who could disagree? But the following paragraph needs a little more work:
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. [. . .]
Two points. Why the restriction to anonymous philosophy blogs? There is a decidedly non-anonymous gossip site run by a philosophy adjunct that has featured numerous unprovoked attacks on fellow philosophers. Here is a prime example.
Now let's say you have been attacked out of the blue by this fellow, and you respond in kind with mockery and contumely, to give him a taste of his own medicine. Should it not be pointed out that the same types of actions can be justified as defense that cannot be justified as attack?
Civility is a good old conservative virtue. But it has limits. Civility is for the civil, not for those whose hypocritical calls for civility serve to mask their aggression.
Students at Lebanon Valley College (LVC) in Pennsylvania are demanding Lynch Memorial Hall on campus be renamed, due to the potential traces of racism associated with the word “lynch.”
[. . .]
Michael Schroeder, an associate professor of history, said about LVC, “We’re not an island but sometimes it feels like an island because it’s such a rural and bucolic setting. But we’re clearly caught up in the same currents that the rest of the country is.”
Schroeder added he supports the goals of the students making the demands.
“Students here tend to be relatively quiescent, but this year there’s a disproportionately large number of students of color and they’re feeling marginalized and silenced,” he said.
The stupidity of the students making this ridiculous demand, though deplorable, is perhaps excusable, but not the abdication of authority on the part of the history professor. The man is a despicable fool and probably a coward. You don't acquiesce in a demand like this, you point out the obvious. The name 'Lynch' is precisely a name and not a verb, and has nothing to do with lynching.
You point out that critical thinking, which is part of what should be taught in college, is not the association of ideas.
Does this fool think that Loretta Lynch, the present Attorney General of the U. S. should change her name? Does he think she is a 'traitor to her race' for bearing this name?
And then there is the utter incoherence of his final remark. If there is a disproportionately large number of "students of color," how is it that they "feel marginalized and silenced"?
As contemporary 'liberals' become ever more extreme, they increasingly assume what I will call the political burden of proof. The onus is now on them to defeat the presumption that they are so morally and intellectually obtuse as not to be worth talking to.
I know you've been following the insane protests that have been occurring at places like Missouri, Yale, and Ithaca. I had wondered how long it would take for them to reach Rochester. Sure enough, they made it here two Fridays ago, culminating in students handing the university president a list of DEMANDS (as you will see in the link I provide). I thought you might find this interesting.
I find the contrast between the mentality of the students and the mentality that I was raised with to be starkly different -- almost shockingly so. I tried to think of a time when I felt I was in the position to demand something from anyone, and I can't think of one time. Certainly never with a boss, professor, or university president. To demand something is to not be open to dialogue.
To my disgust, only a few days after the protests, the university president sent a massive email to the entire campus community, conceding to many of the demands of the protesters. As you say, there is no coward like a university administrator!
One other note, if you look at the petition, you notice that the students are demanding a "Bias Related Incidents" reporting network. We have a CARE network on campus, which any campus member can use to report anyother campus member who seems to be struggling with something. I don't hate the CARE system, although I see it as coddling, because it often does help students who have fallen into hard times and need help (drug related issues, family strife, etc.). But this "Bias Related Incidents" reporting network is downright Orwellian.
You'll also notice that the petition mentions "intolerable acts of racism" as a motivating reason for change, but they never mention one specific act of racism.
Anyway, I thought you might find a "live report" interesting. I hope this finds you well. Here's the link:
To understand the Left you must understand that central to their worldview is the hermeneutics of suspicion which is essentially a diluted amalgam of themes from Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.
Thus nothing has the plain meaning that it has; every meaning must be deconstructed so as to lay bare its 'real meaning.'
Suppose I say, sincerely, "The most qualified person should get the job." To a leftist that means: "People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race."
Or suppose I describe a black malefactor as a thug. What I have actually said, according to the hermeneutics of suspicion, is that the malefactor is a nigger. But 'thug' does not mean 'nigger.' 'Thug' means thug. There are thugs of all races.
Leftists often call for 'conversations' about this or that. Thus Eric Holder famously called for a 'conversation' about race. But how can one have a conversation -- no sneer quotes -- about anything with people who refuse to take what one sincerely says at face value?
Every day brings further evidence that contemporary liberals have lost their minds.
A yoga class has been cancelled at the University of Ottawa on the ground that participants are complicit in 'oppression' and 'cultural genocide.' By the way, we are talking about hatha yoga here which is essentially just stretching.
So you might think that re-labelling the course 'Stretching' would solve the problem. But no!
This is a good place to observe that stretching is an essential ingredient in a balanced physical fitness program along with aerobic exercise (walking, hiking, running, biking, etc.), anaerobic work (weight-lifting), and activities that maintain good hand-eye coordination (tennis, pickleball, etc.) The Maverick recommends a four-pronged approach.
Why is Canada such a Pee Cee place? I should think that with all that rugged country up there, those vast empty expanses, and the ass-freezing temperatures a tougher breed of cat would live there and not a bunch of pc-whipped pussies.
Another 'interesting' development is the assault on free speech. According to Pew Research, 40% of millennials think it acceptable to limit speech offensive to minorities.
Trouble is, almost anything will be found offensive by the members of some minority or other. Some blacks have shown themselves to be absurdly sensitive to the slights they imagine embedded in such words and phrases as 'niggardly,' 'denigrate,' 'black hole,' and 'watermelon.'
Some take offense at 'chink in the armor.' But if 'chink in the armor' is about Asians, then the Asians in question would have to be rather tiny to hang out interstitially in, say, a coat of mail.
Why not take offense at 'chunk'? Someone might get it into his Pee Cee head that a chunk is a fat chink.
There is no end to this madness once it gets going, which is why we sane and decent people need to mock and deride liberals every chance we get. Mockery and derision can achieve what calm reasoning cannot.
One cannot reason with those who are permanently in a state of self-colonoscopy.
Welcome to the worst job market in America. Extracts:
As late as 1970, more than two-thirds of faculty positions at U.S. colleges and universities were tenure-line, but now the percentages are reversed, with 1 million out of the estimated 1.5 million Americans teaching college these days classified as “contingent” faculty, the overwhelming majority of them working part-time. Parents who have shelled out or borrowed the more than $60,000 per year that it can now cost to attend an elite private college may be shocked to learn that their young Jayden or Sophia isn’t actually being taught by the Nobel Prize-winners advertised on the faculty but by shabbily attired nomads with ancient clattering cars who are wondering how to get the phone bill paid. Some adjuncts have successfully unionized. In 2013 adjuncts at the University of Oregon won the right to a boost in base pay, regular raises, health insurance, and the ability to qualify for multiyear contracts. That still didn’t erase—and perhaps set in stone—their second-class faculty status, and they still would earn tens of thousands of dollars less than the greenest assistant professor.
Explanations for this two-tier phenomenon abound. Marc Bousquet, now an associate professor of film and media at Emory University, contended, in his 2008 book, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation, that the problem was the “corporatization” of the university. Bousquet argued that formerly high-minded academia figured out that it was actually a business. Like the rest of American businesses during the 1980s and 1990s, Bousquet argued, universities adopted outsourcing as their most profitable economic model, transforming their historic teaching mission into a form of low-wage, gig-economy service employment in which the majority of the instructors, like Uber drivers, are responsible for their own overhead.
An alternative and less class-warfare-driven theory came from Benjamin Ginsberg, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. In his 2011 book, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, Ginsberg targeted administrative bloat as the culprit for the massive shrinkage in tenure-line faculty from the 1970s onward, even as college tuition costs were rising exponentially. He pointed out, for example, that between 1998 and 2008, America’s colleges increased their spending on administration by 36 percent while boosting their spending on instruction by only 22 percent. In an adaptation of his book for the Washington Monthly Ginsberg wrote: “As a result, universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school.”
[. . .]
In the end, though, the best course for Ph.D.s facing underemployment—as most do—is probably a version of William Pannapacker’s “Just Don’t Go”: Take the supply-and-demand problem into your own hands, and just say no to adjuncting and its Dickensian miseries. This past April Jason Brennan, a philosophy professor at Georgetown and a self-described libertarian, incurred the Internet wrath of the famously left-leaning adjunct-advocacy community by proclaiming that “it’s hard to feel sorry for [adjuncts].” There’s no reason for them “to wallow in adjunct poverty,” Brennan wrote, pointing out that they could “quit any time and get a perfectly good job at GEICO.”
In a phone interview, Brennan said, “So many people consistently make bad decisions. The system isn’t going to deliver more tenure-track jobs. A small number of people will, and the rest get kicked out for good. Most people won’t get what they want. There just isn’t that much money.”
"Roughly 150 Black Lives Matter protesters reportedly stormed a library at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Thursday night to berate students studying there for their supposed racial privilege." Here.
The solution, of course, is to expel the BLM thugs. But that would be a 'racist' thing to do. So is it the leftist view that blacks are thuggish by nature and simply cannot be expected to behave in a civilized manner? So who are the real racists here?
TRIGGER WARNING! The above contains careful thought and big words and will upset and offend the 'safe space' crybullies, the BLM thugs, and the liberal- left scum who apologize for them.
Addendum (11/20): If the secular sphere has a 'sacred' space, that would be the university library, the repository of the best thoughts of humanity. The university is finished if such a space is allowed to be invaded and disrupted by thugs and savages.
There is no coward like a university administrator, to cop a line from Dennis Prager. But that is not to say that there have never been any who have demonstrated civil courage. But we have to go back a long way to the late 60s and early 70s.
With apologies to that unrepentant commie Peter Seeger who wrote it and to all who have sung it:
Where have all the Silbers gone, long time passing? Where have all the Silbers gone, long time ago Where have all the Silbers gone, gone into abdication every one When will they ever learn, when will they e-v-e-r learn?
I believe that I now have a clear mandate from this University community to see that: (1) our lines of communication between all segments of the community are kept as open as possible, with all legitimate means of communicating dissent assured, expanded, and protected; (2) civility and rationality are maintained; and (3) violation of another’s rights or obstruction of the life of the University are outlawed as illegitimate means of dissent in this kind of open society.
Now comes my duty of stating, clearly and unequivocally, what happens if. I’ll try to make it as simple as possible to avoid misunderstanding by anyone. Anyone or any group that substitutes force for rational persuasion, be it violent or non-violent, will be given fifteen minutes of meditation to cease and desist. They will be told that they are, by their actions, going counter to the overwhelming conviction of this community as to what is proper here.
If they do not within that time period cease and desist, they will be asked for their identity cards. Those who produce these will be suspended from this community as not understanding what this community is. Those who do not have or will not produce identity cards will be assumed not to be members of the community and will be charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace on private property and treated accordingly by the law.
After notification of suspension, or trespass in the case of non-community members, if there is not within five minutes a movement to cease and desist, students will be notified of expulsion from this community and the law will deal with them as non-students.
There seems to be a current myth that university members are not responsible to the law, and that somehow the law is the enemy, particularly those whom society has constituted to uphold and enforce the law. I would like to insist here that all of us are responsible to the duly constituted laws of this University community and to all of the laws of the land. There is no other guarantee of civilization versus the jungle or mob rule, here or elsewhere.
I'm sure you've heard a lot about the Mizzou [University of Missouri] protests so I'll spare you the details. But one particular debate caught my eye. Some of these student protesters claimed that the press has no right to photograph them because to do such is an intrusion on their privacy (obviously the press has a legal right to do such). Some people respond by saying that since Mizzou is a public space (it's a public university) you have no right to privacy in public spaces. But of course you still have some right to privacy in public areas (the right not to have your person searched without a warrant, the right to use a bathroom without people watching, etc.) So what are the moral grounds (as opposed to the legal grounds) for saying that the press should have unrestricted access to photograph things in plain view in public spaces?
Protests and demonstrations occur in public, and for good reason: the whole point is to make public one's concerns. So there is something deeply paradoxical about protesters who object to being photographed or televised. It is paradoxical to go public with one's protest and then object to reporters and other people who give you publicity. It is incoherent to suppose that a space in which one is noisily protesting and perhaps disrupting normal goings-on can be a 'safe space' into which the public at large cannot intrude, even at a distance, with cameras and such.
Paradox and incoherence aside, the protesters have no moral right not to be photographed given that they have occupied and disturbed the peace of public spaces. Does the press have the unrestricted moral right to photograph things in plain view in public spaces? No, not an unrestricted right. But surely they have the right to photograph what is in plain view in a public place if the ones photographed are protesting or demonstrating whether peacefully or violently.
Suppose a couple are enjoying a tête-à-tête under a tree in the quad. Does a roving photog have the moral right to snap a photo? I say No. He has a moral obligation not to do such a thing without permission. So I would say that is not just a question of good manners, but a question of morality.
It began in the universities in the '60s. And now it is in full 'flower.' I recall Dennis Prager putting it this way: "There is no coward like a university administrator." Now hear David French:
Fortunately for the radicals, our universities are populated by the craven and the cowardly. Push a professor, even slightly, and it’s likely he’ll fold. Demand faculty support for your protest, and dozens will rush to join, self-righteously advancing their own false oppression narratives even as they enjoy lives billions of others would covet. There is nothing brave about these people. They are not “elite.” They don’t deserve a single dime of taxpayer money or one cent of student tuition. They dishonor their schools and their country.
Closeted campus conservatives are worse than useless. Indeed, their very timidity contributes to the narrative that there is something shameful about their beliefs. To read anonymous letters from professors who are afraid to “out” themselves in a hostile campus culture is to read the sad dispatches of people too pitiful for their profession. Do something else, anything else, than merely sit and watch while the revolutionaries shred the Constitution, reject our culture, and assert their own will to power.
The true shame is that it doesn’t even require actual courage to defeat the university Left, just a tiny bit of will — a small measure of staying power. No one is shooting at trustees. No one is beheading professors. There’s no guillotine in the quad. Instead, campus “leaders” tremble before hashtags and weep at the notion of losing a football team so inept that it couldn’t score a touchdown through most of the month of October. Let them strike. With an offense that inept, the SEC won’t even notice.
These are the times that try men’s souls? No. These are the times of men without chests. The Left has the will to power. University leaders have no will at all. They have earned nothing but contempt.
Arthur C. Brooks deplores the lack of ideological diversity and the prevalence of 'groupthink' in academia in an October 30th NYT editorial entitled "Academia's Rejection of Diversity." He is of course right to do so. But this is nothing new as any conservative will tell you. And we don't need studies to know about it, which is not to say that studies are not of some slight use in persuading doubters.
What I would take issue with, though, is Brooks' apparently unqualified belief that "being around people [ideologically] unlike ourselves makes us [intellectually] better people . . . ." I have added, charitably I should think, a couple of qualifiers in brackets.
Interaction with ideological opponents can be fruitful, and sometimes is. That goes without saying.
But I think it is very easy to overestimate the value of interactions with people with fundamentally different views. It is a mistake to think that more and more 'conversations' will lead to amicable agreements and mutual understanding. This mistake is based on the false assumption that there is still common ground on which to hold these 'conversations.'
I say we need fewer 'conversations' and more voluntary separation. In many situations we need the political equivalent of divorce. In marriage as in politics the bitter tensions born of irreconcilable differences are relieved by divorce, not by attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. Let's consider some examples. In each of these cases it is difficult to see what common ground the parties to the dispute occupy.
1. Suppose you hold the utterly abhorrent view that it is a justifiable use of state power to force a florist or a caterer to violate his conscience by providing services at, say, a same-sex 'marriage' ceremony.
2. Or you hold the appalling and ridiculous view that demanding photo ID at polling places disenfranchises those would-be voters who lack such ID.
3. Or you refuse to admit a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.
4. Or you maintain the absurd thesis that global warming is the greatest threat to humanity at the present time. (Obama)
6. Or, showing utter contempt for facts, you insist that Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was an 'unarmed black teenager' shot down like a dog in cold blood without justification of any sort by the racist cop, Darren Wilson.
7. Or you compare Ferguson and Baltimore as if they are relevantly similar. (Hillary Clinton)
8. Or you mendaciously elide distinctions crucial in the gun debate such as that between semi-auto and full-auto. (Dianne Feinstein)
9. Or you systematically deploy double standards. President Obama, for example, refuses to use 'Islamic' in connection with the Islamic State or 'Muslim' in connection with Muslim terrorists. But he has no problem with pinning the deeds of crusaders and inquisitors on Christians.
10. Or you mendaciously engage in self-serving anachronism, for example, comparing current Muslim atrocities with Christian ones long in the past.
11. Or you routinely slander your opponents with such epithets as 'racist,' 'sexist,' etc.
12. Or you make up words whose sole purpose is to serve as semantic bludgeons and cast doubt on the sanity of your opponents. You know full well that a phobia is an irrational fear, but you insist on labeling those who oppose homosexual practices as 'phobic' when you know that their opposition is in most cases rationally grounded and not based in fear, let alone irrational fear.
13. Or you bandy the neologism 'Islamophobia' as a semantic bludgeon when it is plain that fear of radical Islam is entirely rational. In general, you engage in linguistic mischief whenever it serves your agenda thereby showing contempt for the languages you mutilate.
14. Or you take the side of underdogs qua underdogs without giving any thought as to whether or not these underdogs are in any measure responsible for their status or their misery by their crimes. You apparently think that weakness justifies.
15. Or you label abortion a 'reproductive right' or a 'women's health issue' thus begging the question of its moral acceptability.
On each of these points and many others I could write a book demolishing the hard Left position that underlies the points and that dominates the universities, the mainstream media, the courts, and our current government. So what's to discuss? What conceivable motive could a conservative have to enter into debates with people who, from a conservative point of view, are willfully wrongheaded and demonstrably mistaken? There are open questions that need discussing, but the above aren't among them.
Presumably, to indoctrinate is to teach one doctrine as if it is true, as opposed to presenting a variety of different doctrines on the same topic without endorsing any one of them. In general, indoctrination ought not be done at the college level: Competing positions should be presented fairly and objectively and students should be encouraged to think matters through themselves and form their own opinions. But this point demands careful qualification.
For surely indoctrination is legitimate in some subjects such as mathematics and the hard sciences. No one could fault a math or science teacher for failing to give equal time to the views of numerologists, alchemists, astrologists, flat earthers and geocentrists. And in political science classes short shrift should be given to 9-11 'truthers' and other conspiracy enthusiasts. Their views may be discussed in passing, but to present them as if such theories are serious contenders in the arena of ideas makes a mockery of the search for truth, which presumably is what universities ought to be about. Certain views are beyond the pale and ought not be dignified by being taken seriously, e.g., Holocaust denial, the allegations made in the protocols of the Elders of Zion, the views of NAMBLA members, and so on.
But even in philosophy some indoctrination could well be justified, in logic, for example. One is justified in teaching introductory standard logic dogmatically without bringing in Hegelian and Marxist and dialetheist critiques of the law of non-contradiction, say. But not only in logic. To borrow an epithet from Arthur Collins, eliminative materialism is a 'lunatic" philosophy of mind. I would cover it in a philosophy of mind course, but I would not present it as a possible view that one might justifiably hold; I would present it as not merely false but as incoherent. And I would take myself to be justified in doing so. Of course, I would present the doctrine and the arguments thought to support it accurately; but I would not present it as if it were one epistemically possible view among others. So in that sense I would be engaged in legitimate indoctrination: if not by the promotion of the true view, at least by the rejection of false or incoherent ones.
If one were to oppose all indoctrination, then one would have to present every extant view on every issue as if it had a legitimate claim on our attention. But this would encourage the view in students that all views are equally good, which is obviously not the case. For example, in the philosophy of mind, eliminative materialism, behaviorism, and type-type identity theory are all very bad theories with eliminativism being the worst and the identity theory being the best of the three. But nothing hinges on this example. I could give many from different areas of philosophy. The point is that a pedagogic posture of studied neutrality with respect to every view is as bad as an extreme doctrinalism in which contentious positions are tendentiously promoted.
One can see from these sketchy remarks that the issue is not easily sorted out. Teaching that promotes relativism and skepticism, that leaves the student with the notion that all views are equally good or that nothing can be known is bad teaching. Equally bad is teaching that merely foists opinions on students without inculcating habits of critical thought or without fairly presenting the debates surrounding reasonably debatable issues. (Not all issues, however, are reasonably debatable.) Navigating between the Scylla of of the one and the Charybdis of the other is no easy task.
Only 100 semolians? Get out of here, and take your crappy journal with you.
If you need to pay to publish, then you shouldn't be publishing. It is not that difficult to publish for free in good outlets. If I can do it, so can you. Here is my PhilPapers page which lists some of my publications. My passion for philosophy far outstrips my ability at it, but if you have a modicum of ability you can publish in decent places. When I quit my tenured post and went maverick, I feared that no one would touch my work. But I found that lack of an institutional affiliation did not bar me from very good journals such as Nous and Analysis.
Here are a few suggestions off the top of my head.
1. Don't submit anything that you haven't made as good as you can make it. Don't imagine that editors and referees will sense the great merit and surpassing brilliance of your inchoate ideas and help you refine them. That is not their job. Their job is to find a justification to dump your paper among the 70-90 % that get rejected.
2. Demonstrate that you are cognizant of the extant literature on your topic.
3. Write concisely and precisely about a well-defined issue.
4. Advance a well-defined thesis.
5. Don't rant or polemicize. That's what your blog is for. Referring to Brian Leiter as a corpulent apparatchik of political correctness and proprietor of a popular philosophy gossip site won't endear you to his sycophants one or two of whom you may be unfortunate enough to have as referees.
6. Know your audience and submit the right piece to the right journal. Don't send a lengthy essay on Simone Weil to Analysis.
7. When the paper you slaved over is rejected, take it like a man or the female equivalent thereof. Never protest editorial decisions. You probably wrote something substandard, something that, ten years from now, you will be glad was not embalmed in printer's ink. You have no right to have your paper accepted. You may think it's all a rigged wheel and a good old boys' network. In my experience it is not. Most of those who complain are just not very good at what they do.
I read John D.Caputo years ago, in the late '70s, in connection with work I was doing on Heidegger. I read a couple of his early Heidegger articles and a couple of his books. One of them, The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought, is in my library. Caputo seemed worth reading at the time. But he appears to have gone off the deep end. This from a New York TimesOpinionator interview entitled "Looking White in the Face":
John D. Caputo: “White” is of the utmost relevance to philosophy, and postmodern theory helps us to see why. I was once criticized for using the expression “true north.” It reflected my Nordo-centrism, my critic said, and my insensitivity to people who live in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, no such thing had ever crossed my mind, but that points to the problem. We tend to say “we” and to assume who “we” are, which once simply meant “we white male Euro-Christians.”
Postmodern theory tries to interrupt that expression at every stop, to put every word in scare quotes, to put our own presuppositions into question, to make us worry about the murderousness of “we,” and so to get in the habit of asking, “we, who?” I think that what modern philosophers call “pure” reason — the Cartesian ego cogito and Kant’s transcendental consciousness — is a white male Euro-Christian construction.
White is not “neutral.” “Pure” reason is lily white, as if white is not a color or is closest to the purity of the sun, and everything else is “colored.” Purification is a name for terror and deportation, and “white” is a thick, dense, potent cultural signifier that is closely linked to rationalism and colonialism. What is not white is not rational. So white is philosophically relevant and needs to be philosophically critiqued — it affects what we mean by “reason” — and “we” white philosophers cannot ignore it.
This is truly depressing stuff. It illustrates the rarefied, pseudo-intellectual stupidity to which leftist intellectuals routinely succumb, and the level to which humanities departments in our universities have sunk. We speak of 'true North' in distinction from 'magnetic North,' which is what a compass needle points to. The difference in location between the two is called declination and must be taken into account for accurate navigation. The phrase 'true North' has nothing to do with Nordo-centrism or insensitivity to those who live in the Southern Hemisphere. It is just a physical fact that compass needles track magnetic North, and that magnetic North is not the same as true North.
I feel as if I should apologize for pointing out something so obvious, but in the lunatic precincts of the postmodern, the obvious gets no respect. Does Caputo perhaps imagine that the Earth and its magnetic properties are social constructs? I hope not. One wonders what is going on in his head. Perhaps he is afraid of hurting the feelings of people who live in the Southern Hemisphere by his use of 'true North.' But for them to take offense at that phrase would be like a black person taking offense at 'black hole,' which, mirabile dictu, has actually happened. The phrase is from cosmology. Roughly, a black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing can escape including no form of electromagnetic radiation such as light. Black holes have nothing to do with people of African-American descent or with black whores: 'hos' in black street idiom. And this is the case even when 'black hole' is used metaphorically to refer to, say, a windowless office.
It is the same with 'true North.' If used literally, it does not mean that the North is 'true' and the South 'false' or any such nonsense. And the same goes for the phrase used metaphorically.
People with basic common sense know that there is such a thing as taking inappropriate offense and that one should not cater to the whims of the absurdly sensitive. In this connection I remind you of the case of the poor schlep who lost his job because of his use of the perfectly innocuous English word 'niggardly,' which, of course, has nothing to do with 'nigger.' By the way, I just mentioned the word 'nigger'; I did not use it. I said something about the word; I did not apply it to anyone. (Is your typical Continental philosopher aware of the use-mention distinction?)
The purveyors of POMO need to be reminded that thinking is not association of ideas: if you associate 'niggardly' with 'nigger,' that is your problem and no basis for an argument to the conclusion that a user of 'niggardly' is a racist.
Should we question our presuppositions? Of course. That is essential to the philosophical enterprise. But one ought to do this without absurd exaggerations ("the murderousness of 'we' ") and double standards. I say we ought to question our presuppositions. Who am I referring to with my use of 'we'? To those of us who aspire to be reasonable and to seek the truth. I am afraid I don't see the "murderousness" of that. And I don't see how a white person is barred from referring to rational truth-seekers by his use of 'we' just because he or she is a white person.
Now to our title question. Is pure reason a white male Euro-Christian construction? This is just nonsense and is really beneath refutation. But given the sorry state of things, refutation is needed. Caputo is alluding to Kant's 1781 (2nd ed. 1787) Critique of Pure Reason. And Caputo must know that for Kant 'pure' means: free of empirical elements (CPR B 3) and that pure reason is the faculty that "contains the principles whereby we know anything absolutely a priori." (CPR A 11 B 24) This has nothing to do with racial purity.
Caputo is here instantiating the role of Continental mush-head: he is not thinking but engaging in argument by association, which is not argument at all, any more than another Continental favorite, argument by incantation, is argument at all.
But it is worse than this because Caputo is engaged in a sort of philosophical smear job. Here we have a great philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who is undertaking to evaluate the cognitive 'reach' of pure reason. His project is to assess the capacity of reason unaided by sensory input to secure knowledge in special metaphysics (metaphysica specialis) whose main objects are God, the soul, and the world as a whole. Corresponding to these objects are the highest concerns of humanity: God, freedom, and immortality.
And what does Caputo do? He conflates the purity that Kant speaks of with racial purity and then goes on to associate, scurrilously and irresponsibly, pure reason with "terror and deportation" and "colonialism." This of course is right out of the cultural Marxist's playbook.
For a leftist, anything a reasonable person says is 'code' for something else. The leftist cannot take anything at face value as meaning what it obviously means. He is out to debunk and deconstruct and unmask. As cultural Marxists, they are out to cut through 'false consciousness' and 'bourgeois ideology.' Theirs is the hermeneutics of suspicion. So 'pure reason' cannot mean what Kant says it means; it has to mean something else: it is a "cultural signifier" for terror and deportation and what all else. Or if I speak of truth and of seeking truth, then my use of 'truth' really signifies power and white privilege and what all else.
And when I refute the POMO nonsense and show that it is self-contradictory, that too cannot be taken at face-value as meaning what it manifestly means and showing what it manifestly shows; it has to be 'deconstructed' as masking some sort of power play or re-affirmation of 'white privilege.'
Is Caputo trying to convince us of certain truths? Then he presupposes truth, in which case truth cannot be a social construct. It is not that there are no social constructs; the point is that not everything can be. Truth, for example. Who constructs it? White males collectively? But if this is so, then that is the case beyond all constructions, in which case truth cannot be a white male construction or a construction by any person or persons. Truth is absolute by its very nature.
Could reason be a social construct? When Caputo tries to convince us of something he appeals to our reason to convince us of what he takes to be reasonable and true. He gives arguments and adduces various considerations. He makes assertions that purport to be true. (And, of course, in purporting to be true, they purport to be objectively and absolutely true, which is to say: not merely true for me or for us or for this social class or that historical epoch.) But how can Caputo, who is a white male who enjoys all sorts of perquisites and privileges, appeal to reason if reason is a white male Euro-Christian construct?
Of course, it may be that Caputo has no intention of appealing to reason. It could be that his POMO verbiage is nothing but obfuscatory rhetoric that masks a bid for power for him and his ilk. I prefer not to believe this, if possible; I met the man once and he seemed like a decent human being.
Is Caputo appealing to a 'true reason' that is not a white male Euro-Christian construct? But he can't do this by his own constructivist, relativist principles. For then he would have to put a different construct in its place, say reason as a black female Afro-Islamic construct. But then he won't be able to convince us or himself of anything rationally. For that different construct would just be another contingent, unbinding framework. If there is a 'true reason,' then it cannot be any sort of contingent human construct vriable across races andf sexes, regions and religions.
The problem, very simply, is that if reason is culturally or racially or in any way relative, then there is no such thing as reason. Reason is like truth in this respect. Truth is absolute by its very nature; talk of relative truth is nonsense. Similarly, reason is normative and impartially adjudicative by its very nature. Talk of reason as reflective of class interests or racial biases is nonsense. So either there is no reason or it is not a social construct. And if it is not a social construct, then of course it is not a white male Euro-Christian construct.
There is some interesting material here. Certainly contemporary academic philosophy in the Anglosphere and elsewhere is over-specialized and hyper-professionalized. A critique is needed. I have given the APP effort only a cursory reading, so I won't say anything more about it now except to observe that the contributors are anonymous.
I should think that if one is serious about what one maintains and wants to be taken seriously, one should show some civil courage, speak in one's own name, and witness to the truth as one sees it. And this especially in the case of one of the contributors, Z, who describes himself as follows: "Z is a 50-something cosmopolitan anarcho-philosopher, and previously was a tenured full professor of philosophy at a public university somewhere in North America, but still managed to escape with his life." Why so coy?
Really, is there any more pertinent sign for most colleges and universities? Cigarettes manufacturers are required to ornament their wares with all manner of alarming advisories, why shouldn’t institutions of higher education face similar requirements? After all, the noxious atmosphere they diffuse is perhaps even more dangerous than cigarette smoke, which harms only the body. A college education threatens to eat away at a student’s soul and capacity for a healthy, robust, adult emotional life. “You Are Leaving the American Sector.” For many, perhaps most colleges and universities today, that about sums it up.
Both. Here is a liberal professor, writing (not very well) under a pseudonym (of course!) who says he or she is terrified of his or her liberal students. But he or she does make a good point when he or she points to the consumerist mentality that prevails among students. That's been in place for a long time now and is one of the reasons I gave up a tenured position in 1991.
One of the phrases one increasingly hears these days is 'comfort zone.' I humbly suggest that if you are not prepared to leave said zone on a regular basis you will never really live.
One needs stress to grow, mentally, physically, and in every way. Stress is not to be had in a 'safe space.'
Glaubt es mir! – das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heißt: gefährlich leben!For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, sec. 283, tr. Walter Kaufmann)
There is a website by the name of The Philosophers' Cocoon. You read that right: cocoon. On the masthead: "A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers."
Years ago I answered a reader's e-mail on line, providing his full name. The topic was technical and non-political. A while back he contacted me because he wanted his name removed from an arcane post buried deep in my archives. I did so. But then he started worrying about his name's occurrence in the ComBox . . . .
Now I sympathize with the young and unestablished. We live in nasty, illiberal times. I've made mine, so it requires no great courage to speak the truth under my real name. But it requires some, and more need to 'man up' and 'woman up' to confront the fascist scum on the Left. There is such a thing as civil courage without the exercise of which by large numbers we are done for as a free republic. Click on the link for another example of a reader who requested that his name be removed from my weblog.
And if you are unfamiliar with the disgusting Laura Kipnis affair, bang on this. Dreher's piece ends ominously.
UPDATE: A nationally known conservative college professor, a man who is well into his career, and protected by tenure, just wrote to say “it’s worse than you think,” then sent evidence. He said this has definitely had a chilling effect on the lectures he gives, for fear of triggering a Little Empress or Emperor, who will set out to ruin his academic life. I’m not going to quote his post, because I want to protect him and his position on his campus. But he adds:
If I had to do it over again, I would have never, ever entered academia. I cringe when I think of the few young, ambitious, and bright conservatives who are entering the academy now who have no idea of how even uttering their viewpoints will be turned against them to destroy them.
A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers. - See more at: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/#sthash.d68YIgKt.dpuf
A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers. - See more at: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/#sthash.d68YIgKt.dpuf
A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers. - See more at: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/#sthash.d68YIgKt.dpuf
The only kind of diversity liberals care about is politically correct diversity, diversity in respect of skin color and reproductive plumbing, not a diversity of ideas.
I've been pinching myself a lot recently. Am I awake? Is this stuff really happening?
Last night at five I turned on the TV to see blacks rioting in Baltimore. I should think that crapping in one's own pants is not the most effective way of protesting something. Where are the adults? Abdication of authority. Clowns and fools, race-baiters and liars, in high places.
At the same time, fascist abuses of authority as in theJohn Doe raids in Wisconsin.
UPDATE 1: Joshua Orsak tells me The Onion is a joke site. Spencer Case, NRO journalist, said the piece is "accurate." I am tempted to go Hillarious: In this POMO age, what difference does it make? The Prez and the Veep are jokes, Nancy Pelosi is a joke, our foreign policy is a joke, the universities of the land . . . . In this day and age jokes are realities. 'Trigger warnings' for example.
UPDATE 2: Elliot writes,
Regarding your 28 April post on the Lively Exchange of One Idea: it sure looks like a joke, but I also fear this type of thinking is present in American higher education.
I've had a university administrator tell me and fellow instructors during a faculty meeting that, when grading papers, we should be less concerned with providing educative feedback and more concerned with providing feedback that "makes students feel warm and fuzzy and comfortable." This is just a sample of many similar comments I've heard over the years.
I sometimes suspect that (at least some) universities seek to pamper rather than educate students. This coddle-desire puts instructors who actually want to educate in a difficult spot.
I also worry that educational confusion is widespread at the elementary school level. You may have seen the following article.