By Phil Percs (with Jon Cogburn, John Fletcher, BP Morton, and Duncan Richter)
For whether there is progress or not, at all events there is change; and the changed minds of each generation will require a difference in what has to satisfy their intellect. Hence there sems as much need for new philosophy as there is for new poetry. In each case the fresh production is usually much inferior to something already in existence; and yet it answers a purpose if it appeals more personally to the reader. What is really worse may serve better to promote, in certain respects and in a certain generation, the exercise of our best functions.
- F. H. Bradley
- The A.V. Club has had a great week for Halloween-themed pop culture lists. Among the best: 13 Old Radio Show Episodes to Creep You Out (Check out "The Dark"); The 25 Best Horror Movies since 2000; 21 Horrifying Moments from Children's Entertainment; and 5 Tabletop Horror Games.
- As part of A.V. Club's Horrors Week, Noel Murray examines how movies like It Follows and The Babadook usher in an era of "unbeatable horror."
- The A.V. Club's Becca James and Alex McCown debate whether Cabin in the Woods is really a horror movie.
- A defense of Snoopy's exemplary narcissim.
- aeon's Owen Vince's paean to German Expressionism in film. Always they treat it as a legend, till something happens and turns it into actuality again.
- Digressions & Impressions' Eric Schliesser's Natural Hiding Places.
- Most recent editions of Tanya Kostochka's To φ Or Not To φ and Ryan Lake's Chaospet.
- Graham Harman now number 75 on the ArtReview list. At some point the band always breaks up. Although philosopher Ray Brassier was resisting attempts to call the philosophical approaches dubbed ‘speculative realism’ a movement as far back as 2011, it’s hard to miss the fact that the term has become currency in artworld debates over the last few years, broadly indicating an avoidance of ‘anthropocentric’ or metaphysical ways of thinking about the world and human beings’ relationship to it. But while last year’s four figures remain individually influential in their field, Harman is perhaps the thinker who has done most to popularise his own strand of ‘object-oriented philosophy’ to a wider public, especially when it comes to bringing those ideas to the artworld– lecturing at art colleges as much as in philosophy departments. Prolific, diplomatic and energetically networked, Harman draws followers and provokes enemies in equal measure (Timothy Morton, writing in this issue, is keen on Harman’s work; Artforum, by contrast, published a long attack on Harman in its summer issue). What’s undeniable is Harman’s ability to influence artistic and curatorial thinking when the reference points in politics, art and the humanities have never been more unstable.
- LARB's Angela S. Allen interviews Stephen King.
Ethics and Political Philosophy:
- LARB's John Paul Rollert on Ayn Rand and the destruction of the social contract in the United States.
- Regina Rini pushes back against the notion that noticing and working to mitigate microagressions signals a "culture of victimhood."
Gender and its Discontents:
- Effects of gendered behavior on testosterone in women and men. Our experiment demonstrates that gender-related social factors also matter, even for biological measures. Gender socialization may affect testosterone by encouraging men but not women toward behaviors that increase testosterone. This shows that research on human sex biology needs to account for gender socialization and that nurture, as well as nature, is salient to hormone physiology.
- A Dad Who Was Tired Of “Cute” Halloween Costumes For His Daughters Is Trying Something New.
- aeon's Katherine Quarmby wonders why it is OK to be trans with respect to one's gender and not with respect to one's ethnicity.
- Feminist Philosophers' Audrey leads a discussion about Greg Martin's claims about the statistical unlikeliness of all male conferences.
- See entry #1 in Race and Racism.
- See entries #6 and 7 in (Pseudo-)Science and Techmology.
Good News for Defenders of the Evidential Argument from Evil:
- Hillary Clinton’s Lucrative Goldman Sachs Speaking Gigs.
- Ladies and Gentleman - The Next Governor of the Gret Stet of Loosiana!
On the other hand:
- Chicago Now's Pamela Valentine hosts Greta Gustava Martela, founder of Trans Lifeline
describing how she started the crisis phone line for at risk trans people.
- See entry #1 in University/Teaching/Professional.
Metaphysics, Broadly Construed:
- Scientific American's Michael Schermer on why humans might not have evolved to see things as they really are. To test his theory, Hoffman ran thousands of evolutionary computer simulations in which digital organisms whose perceptual systems are tuned exclusively for truth are outcompeted by those tuned solely for fitness. Because natural selection depends only on expected fitness, evolution shaped our sensory systems toward fitter behavior, not truthful representation. I have no idea how any of this stacks up, but can we all be a little nicer to Alvin Plantinga now? If he and Nietzsche, C.S. Lewis, and John McDowell (who, though they are not pilloried for having suggested as much, all made very similar arguments) all want to run a victory lap, I'd give them little conical paper glasses full of Gatorade.
- See entry #1 in Philosophers, Stylin' and Profilin'. But consider the atheist philosopher, Schopenhauer, who writes about the metaphysical need in the human being. The great world religions express in an imagistic or symbolic form what philosophy tries to articulate in more reflective concepts. The relation between an atheistic metaphysician and religion need not always be hostile.
Philosophers, Stylin' and Profilin':
- Irish Times Joe Humphreys interviews William Desmond, the author of Ethics and the Between. Kant talks about the human being as an end in himself, but this is a secularised vision of the human being that, in the longer religious tradition, is ultimately grounded in God. We often speak about humanity’s unconditional value, but are we drawing from a religious deposit that, so to say, has been ‘cleaned out’? If so, the cheque for infinite value will eventually bounce.
- Eurozine's Michaël Fœssel interviews Jürgen Habermas. But since Bourdieu also died, it's become lonely for me in Paris. Whom should I meet for lunch?
(Pseudo-)Science and Techmology:
- See entry #1 in Metaphysics, Broadly Construed.
- The prevalence of statistical reporting errors in psychology (1985–2013). In line with earlier research, we found that half of all published psychology papers that use NHST contained at least one p-value that was inconsistent with its test statistic and degrees of freedom. One in eight papers contained a grossly inconsistent p-value that may have affected the statistical conclusion.
- Boston Review's Jenny Hendrix reviews Sven Birkerts' Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Digital Age.
- That star that we thought might be surrounded with alien megastructures? It may just be rotating weirdly. Bye-bye, aliens. Thanks, Obama.
- Eric Grundhauser at Atlas Obscura gives us the history of hollow Earth theories.
- Arthur Chu on the details of the SXSW panel debacle.
- Buzzfeed on pulling out of SXSW because of the panel debacle.
Race and Racism
- Lynn Yeager at Vogue remembers African-American suffragists, who of course had to fight both sexism and racism.
- Jim Klagge talks sense about the Confederate flag.
- See entry #3 in Gender and its Discontents.
- African American Intellectual History Society's Patrick Rael on Bowdoin College's dropping it's Jefferson Davis award. Now if my real life high school (and Kenny Powers fictitious middle school) would only follow suite.
- Synthetic Zero's Arran James on what black panther survival programs can teach what passes for the contemporary left.
- Daniel Darling and Andrew T. Walker argue in Christianity Today that "We Should Expect Non-Christians to Share Our Morals." Expect to your hearts' content, guys.
- The American Conservative's Rod Dreher critiques a recent open letter by prominent Roman Catholics against NYTimes editorial writer Ross Douthat. The Catholic layman Ross Douthat, according to these liberal Catholic academics, is too stupid to have an opinion about Catholicism, because he has not been trained in theology. And his opinions are invalid because they
reach offer a conclusion offensive to the letter-writersfollow a “politically partisan narrative that has very little to do with what Catholicism really is.”
- See entry #2 in Superfunpack.
- Sorry: This Feel-Good Story About A Fraternity Helping Veterans With PTSD Isn’t Quite Enough To Change Your View On Frats.
- Costume Ideas for the Church Halloween Festival.
- New Law Enforcement Robot Can Wield Excessive Force Of 5 Human Officers.
- I Am Going to Write a Poem Titled “The Mercy of Geography,” and It’s Going to Be About How Unmerciful Geography Is.
This Week’s IEP:
- Patrick Bondy's Epistemic Value.
This Week’s NDPR:
- Lydia Patton reviews Frederick C. Beiser's The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880.
- Richard Capobianco reviews David Farrell Krell's Ecstasy, Catastrophe: Heidegger from Being and Time to the Black Notebooks.
- Justin Snedegar reviews Robert Audi's Reasons, Rights, and Values.
- John P. Burgess reviews Ian Rumfitt's The Boundary Stones of Thought: An Essay in the Philosophy of Logic.
- Alexander Bird reviews Eric Funkhouser's The Logical Structure of Kinds.
- Colin McLear reviews R. Lanier Anderson's The Poverty of Conceptual Truth: Kant's Analytic/Synthetic Distinction and the Limits of Metaphysics.
- Jonathan Cohen reviews M. Chirimuuta's Outside Color: Perceptual Science and the Puzzle of Color in Philosophy.
This Week’s SEP:
- Translating and Interpreting Chinese Philosophy (Henry Rosemont Jr.) [NEW: October 27, 2015].
- Computer and Information Ethics (Terrell Bynum) [REVISED: October 26, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Causation in Arabic and Islamic Thought (Kara Richardson) [NEW: October 26, 2015].
- Theodor W. Adorno (Lambert Zuidervaart) [REVISED: October 26, 2015]
Changes to: Bibliography.
This Week’s Wiphi:
No new entries this week.
- Barry Deutsch hosts a fascinating discussion about Cardiff University's invitation to notoriously trans-exclusionary feminist Germaine Greer and the pressure from some Cardiff groups to "no-platform" (disinvite) her.
- The Atlantic on why academic writing is so needlessly complex. Doesn't explain how we got from the prose of F.R. Leavis to: The work of the text is to literalize the signifiers of the first encounter, dismantling the ideal as an idol. In this literalization, the idolatrous deception of the first moment becomes readable. The ideal will reveal itself to be an idol. Step by step, the ideal is pursued by a devouring doppelganger, tearing apart all transcendence. This de-idealization follows the path of reification, or, to invoke Augustine, the path of carnalization of the spiritual. Rhetorically, this is effected through literalization. A Sentimental Education does little more than elaborate the progressive literalization of the Annunciation. I wouldn't mind so much if it weren't so lazy. "Dismantling the ideal as an idol" is the real howler here. Is the ideal being dismantled and thus shown to be an idol, or is the ideal as an idol what is being dismantled? How does one study literature for a living and still write with such flacidity? And just what is it to "literalize" a signifier? Does paraphrasing away metaphors really have anything at all to do with the distinction between transcendence and non-transcendence? [Answer - no.] And why would one think that idolatrous deception constitutively involves anything like unreadability?
- El Paso Teacher Draws Penis On Student's Assignment, Report Says.
- Daily Nous' Louie Generis answers a letter about why our students are doing the reading. Lots of helpful things in the initial answer and discussion.
- Liberal arts minus liberal arts professors.
- Academe Blog's Gaye Tuchman on why we do not have academic freedom. I did not choose my hypothetical cases at random. This past year two black assistant professors of sociology faced significant problems after making statements about racism on Twitter. In each case, at least one white person complained. One of these women changed jobs. The other issued a public apology that appears to have been coordinated with the office of her university president.
- Philosophers' Cocoon's Helen De Cruz' hosts a series of pieces by people who were or have been on the job market for a long time:
- Worrying news on the end of tenure in Wisconsin.
What it's Like:
- Living in a Christian commune.
- Imagining (and realizing through SFX makeup) dead versions of various Disney princesses.
When I was only a youngster,
Sing: toodle doodlede ootl
Ole Kate would git her 'arf a pint
And wouldn't' giv' a damn hoot.
'Them stairs! them stairs, them gordam stairs
Will be the death of me/
I never heerd her say nothin'
About the priv'lege of liberty.
She'd come a sweatin' up with the coals
An a-sloshin' round with 'er mop,
Startin' in about 6 a.m.
And didn't seem never to stop.
She died on the job they tells me,
Fell plump into her pail.
Never got properly tanked as I saw,
And never got took to jail,
Just went on a sloshin'
And totin' up scuttles of coal,
And kissin9 her cat fer diversion,
Cod rest her sloshin’ soul.
‘Gimme a kissy-cuddle'
She'd say to her tibby-cat,
But she never made no mention
Of this here proletariat.
- Ezra Pound