By Jon Cogburn
Merchants and charlatans gained control of Europe, calling their insidious gospel “The Enlightenment.” The day of the locust was at hand, but from the ashes of humanity there arose no Phoenix. The humble and pious peasant, Piers Plowman, went to town to sell his children to the lords of the New Order for purposes that we may call questionable at best. (See Reilly, Ignatius J., Blood on Their Hands: The Crime of It All, A study of some selected abuses in sixteenth-century Europe, a Monograph, 2 pages, 1950, Rare Book Room, Left Corridor, Third Floor, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans 18, Louisiana. Note: I mailed this singular monograph to the library as a gift; however, I am not really certain that it was ever accepted. It may well have been thrown out because it was only written in pencil on tablet paper.) The gyro had widened; The Great Chain of Being had snapped like so many paper clips strung together by some drooling idiot; death, destruction, anarchy, progress, ambition, and self-improvement were to be Piers’ new fate. And a vicious fate it was to be: now he was faced with the perversion of having to GO TO WORK.
- John Kennedy Toole
Saturday, October 3d:
- Saturday (October 3d) Linkorama. In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
Friday, October 2nd:
- Critical Reading, Cynical Reading. John Fletcher never mentions analytic philosophy in this post, but there's a lot here for a critic of the way analytic philosophers are typically acculturated. The piece is a meditation on the importance of developing the skill to just faithfully and charitably summarize others. This holds for when we first master our own field and then again when we try to engage with the material from other fields. But uninformed zeal is noise. You can’t just barge into a new (to you) conversation with a pre-formed opinion about what needs to be corrected. Nine times out of ten, your brilliant preconception proves banal, irrelevant, or old hat to the veterans and experts of the discourse. And you win no allies by treating other scholars as opponents to be bested. Even when criticizing another writer, I caution my students (and myself), you should keep in mind that in our relatively intimate field of theatre/performance, you will likely meet that scholar in person. Your representation of their arguments, evidence, and methodologies, then, has to be all the more accurate. They may disagree with your intervention, but don’t hand them a reason to dismiss you by straw-manning their work.
- Outline of a System (2nd edition). In Tristan Haze's philpercs beginning is Tristan Haze's philpercs end: This is a reposting of my first post here, this time with some links to posts on my blog Sprachlogik which further explain various points. It will be my last post here, at least for the time being. Haze's thesis of semantic granularity does really interesting work. We will continue to put up new Good Hair Hour material and hope that Tristan has time to continue commenting on posts here during his interregnum.
Thursday, October 1st:
- Films for philosophers. Duncan Richter introduces three recent films with cool philosophical content: Ex Machina, Language is the Thing We Do, and a new BBC Socrates documentary.
Wednesday, September 30th:
- __________. Michael LaBossiere presents part of his forthcoming self-help book Unleashing the Parmenides Within: Zero Lessens in Life, Love and Leadership from the Man Who Stymied Plato. In the comments Mark Silcox tries to best LaBossiere in the dyspeptic Olympics.
- 3D Touch: the Valorization of Nanoseconds Eliminated from Facebooking. James Rocha instantiates the appropriate narrative stance while explaining Apple's latest bit of silliness.
Tuesday, September 29th:
- Banned Books Week - A Philosophical Defense. In the context of discussing banned book's week Mark Silcox brings the thunder, meditating on the value of aesthetically divisive works, as well as the value of divisiveness. This yields a set of interesting philosophical conundrums which are followed up in the discussion.
- Mary Somerville - why we need women as science popularizers. Helen De Cruz starts with a wonderful description of the namesake of Oxford's Somerville College (who, among other things first hypothesized the existence of Neptune from Uranus' gravitational irregularities) and then meditates on what makes for good science popularization. The work of Mary Somerville can provide a useful illustration for reasons why I think there should be a better gender balance in science communicators today. First, since science communicators offer new philosophical and scientific ideas, as a direct result of their work qua communicators, Longino’s idea of scientific objectivity, realized through several voices becomes applicable to science communication as it is to science. We need a diversity of perspectives and pursuits to obtain a better picture of the nature of science. Second, for better or for worse, for most people - with the exception of college students - science popularizers are the first encounter with science (there is of course, also scientific education in primary and secondary education, but these rarely present students with contemporary findings, as science communicators do. If science popularizers are mostly men, this reinforces the idea that science is only for boys. Conversely, having a woman as a face of science can help fight stereotypes about women’s scientific and intellectual capacities.
Monday, September 28th:
- Progress in Philosophy: Goldstein and the Richer Pragmatic and Honest Option? J. Edward Hackett critically engages with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's essay on whether, and how, philosophy might progress. Among other things, Hackett presents a nice precis of various ways that even defenders of philosophy tend to ghettoize it.
- Philpercs Interviews....Ruth Groff (St. Louis). Debbie Goldgaber interviews Ruth Groff! Fascinating and very worthwhile stuff throughout, e.g. Of course, this is to just to say that some passivists don’t really mean it. But even if they don’t – and maybe especially if they don’t – your question still holds: “Why talk that way at all?” I suspect that part of it is the influence of empiricism at the level of epistemology. Apparently it’s hard to observe a power (though Reid gives a perfectly good empiricist argument from the experience of proprioception; Hume only rejects the version of it that he anticipates in the Treatise because Hume conflates powers with necessitation in the relevant passage). I think too that there is a feeling that the view’s being surprising, as you put it, is a good thing: especially, that being surprising is a mark of scientificity, and therefore of philosophical rigor. At the level of rhetoric, the idea that there is no such thing as activity, not really, is routinely compared to the “discovery” – it’s always put this way, and it’s always the same example – that tables are made of molecules or atoms, quarks even. Finally, related to the issues of empiricism and scientificity, I think that there is a default presumption that something called “science” has proven that there is no such thing as a causal power.
Sunday, September 27th:
- Sunday (9-27-15) Morning Recap. He has therefore, in His work of recapitulation, summed up all things, both waging war against our enemy, and crushing him who had at the beginning led us away captives in Adam ...the enemy would not have been fairly vanquished, unless it had been a man [born] of woman who conquered him. ... And therefore does the Lord profess Himself to be the Son of man, comprising in Himself that original man out of whom the woman was fashioned, in order that, as our species went down to death through a vanquished man, so we may ascend to life again through a victorious one; and as through a man death received the palm [of victory] against us, so again by a man we may receive the palm against death.