Philosophy Fun

You might want to check out Brian Leiter today.  After you follow the links on swine flu (an elementary school near me closed today–how nervous should I be?), you might want to read the discussion that’s brewing up about a seriously idiotic editorial in the New York Times which says academia should undergo an extreme make-over. Plus there have been some fun polls lately (with high-quality Kant-bashing in the comments), not to mention a recent post about the newly designed Philosopher’s Magazine website last week.  I used to think the blog was all news about professional comings and goings, but I’ve become a fan.

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  1. Hi Jean,
    I read parts of the editorial you mention and agree in large part with your estimation of it. I’m wondering if he really knows what ‘s involved when he writes “Many academics who cry out for the regulation of financial markets vehemently oppose it in their own departments.”
    But he does have some good points, one being the graduating of PHD’s without their having serious prospects for a job. A number of years ago, I think it was in the ’70’s the mathematics dept. at Berkeley warned students applying to their PHD program that the job situation was such that work towards of the degree should be considered a cultural pursuit. How often do you get that kind of honesty from any school?
    And I take editorial author’s thoughts on changing not unkindly the thesis requirements, or at least their formats, in some areas.
    But mainly I found what he had to say rather juvenile.

  2. There’s certainly a big problem with some graduate programs just being run for the slave labor, with graduates having low chances of ever getting jobs, but the guy’s solutions are absurd. They presuppose that academic disciplines have no integrity, that everyone’s ready to drop what they’re doing and jump into some kind of interdisciplinary soup. I think he’s exaggerating the pettiness of what people today work on in various disciplines. Who knows, maybe it’s true of his discipline, or his department, but I think it’s not true (on the whole) of philosophy.

  3. Has Leiter calmed down a bit? I used to read his stuff, but… well he was always so annoyed about something or other: World’s Worst Nietzsche Scholar Pinches Election for the Republicans Whilst Taking Money from the Discovery Institute, and by the way Philosophy at UCLA is Crap – that kind of thing.

    (That probably doesn’t make any sense!) 🙂

  4. I became a fan really as a result of Leiter’s frank coverage of the forces of evil who want to dilute the APA’s policy against sexual orientation-based discrimination. I like a guy who cuts through all the scholastic nonsense and calls a bigot a bigot. Plus, he’s gotten into polls. I love polls. I never met a poll I didn’t want to take. Well, except some of Leiter’s extremely time-consuming Condorcet polls, which require you to stay up all night ranking obscure philosophers from previous centuries. But I like reading the results.

  5. (That probably doesn’t make any sense!)

    No that’s one joke that’s actually funny!

  6. Jeremy, you’re such a delicate flower!

  7. I like the polls too. Jean, I was proud of the way you faced the heavy artillery and the F-16’s (maybe they were Mig’s) when you defended Kristoff and animal rights a few weeks ago. I was going to comment: don’t mess with my online philosophy professor, but I realized that you didn’t need my chivalry in your defense.

  8. Jeremy Stangroom

    Jeremy, you’re such a delicate flower!

    Ye Gads! Given up by a trackback!

  9. Amos–That conversation really surprised me. I had to bail out shortly after someone complained about Nicholas Kristof’s “deeply, deeply trivial mind.” It was like reading that Brittany Spears deserves the Nobel peace prize. I just couldn’t understand it, especially because the commenter had recently put out a book about philosophy and video games. I kept picturing Nicholas Kristof interviewing survivors of the Darfur genocide in Chad and this guy (on the other hand) playing his video games. What (on earth) was he thinking? I guess you just have to figure that some people occupy a different moral universe than you do.

  10. Many of the comments were very elitist and snobbish.
    Lots of leftists look down on do-gooders like Kristof, but do nothing themselves, except look down. It reminds me of Marxist-Leninists who refused to tip waiters or give small donations to charity, because after the revolution, all social problems would be resolved; and things like charity and tips kept the masses from seeing the truly perverse nature of capitalism and thus, retarded the revolution. The revolution never came and there aren’t many Marxist-Leninists around any more, but I’m sure that said individuals found new excuses not to tip waiters.

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