Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Contest for the Biggest Geek in the World

I know I've posted on this topic previously, but here I go again.

I just received in my aptly designated junk email-box a Call for Papers from Open Court Press for yet another "Pop Culture and Philosophy" volume. This one is devoted to Dr. Who and Philosophy. Geeks of the world, opportunity knocks!

The email contends that "This is an opportunity for you to express your philosophical musings about your favorite Time Lord and popularize philosophy at the same time." Fuck you. These books do not popularize philosophy, they provide for inept and unaccomplished persons who somehow managed to find jobs teaching in philosophy departments a vanity outlet for their shabby, illiterate, and often philosophically incompetent output. What gets popularized, if anything, is not philosophy but an image of philosophy that's already quite popular according to which philosophy is trivial bullshit. And to think that there are some institutions which recognize this kind of activity as publication! It's CV padding, nothing more.

Luckily, these books are most often not read, but simply added to the owner's collection of pop-cultural memorabilia. Nonetheless: This series need to be fucking stopped.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is this a joke?

That tool of a filmmaker who shold have retired after Platoon Oliver Stone is making a film (titled W) about the rise of George W. Bush from drunken frat boy moron douchebag to the biggest tool of a US President ever? Is it so?

Monday, July 28, 2008


I was just reminded of something incredible:

Last week, I was listening to a radio station that was playing "Money" by Pink Floyd. (I know... could they pick a worse Floyd tune?) What was incredible, however, is that they bleeped out the word bullshit (in the lyric about "do-goody-good bullshit"). What the fuck is that? Since when can't a radio station play a record with the word bullshit in it? Is bullshit even vulgar in this context? Isn't it correct to say that the word now has a well-established meaning that has nothing at all to do with the fecal matter of bulls? That no one bought Frankfurt's book taking it to be an essay on bull feces shows this adequately.

In fact, it's a wholly different word: bullshit is not equivalent to bull shit. Assume that rat is a forbidden term. Would Socrates then be forbidden in virtue of the fact that it contains the consecutive letters r, a, and t? No. So why should it count against bullshit that shit is forbidden?

It's late, I'm on cold medication, the cold medication is keeping me awake (despite its being "nighttime"), and I forgot almost everything I learned in the philosophy of language seminar I took way back in graduate school, but I'm fucking outraged right now....

(And thanks to the jerk-- you know who you are-- that reminded me of this.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

$5 Pillows, No Offense

I just got back from my (kind of) vacation. On the plane earlier today, the flight attendant announced that passengers would have to pay $5.00 for an in-flight pillow. What an outrage.
Upon hearing the announcement, the guy sitting next to me said, I'd rather kill somebody than pay five dollars for a pillow!

I must have reacted in a way that seemed disapproving, because after 30 seconds or so he added, No offense.....

We're doomed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A College Degree? Make it So!

I simply cannot help but post about the University of Huddersfield, which boasts of one of the most distinguished university chancellors of all time: Patrick Stewart. That's right: Capitan Jean-Luc Picard is the chancellor of a university.

Since you'll no doubt want to move your (academic) career to Huddersfield, here's a link to their job openings. It seems they don't have a philosophy department. But those of us who can also hang with the political theory crowd still have a shot. Engage!

Monday, July 14, 2008

NY Philosophy (and Vacation)

I'm off for about a week beginning Wednesday and thankfully won't have internet access during my travels. So there won't be any new posts until I return.

In the meantime, ponder this: In a conversation today, someone referred to "New York philosophy" in characterizing not a position but a style of argument (or so it seemed). It got me thinking... I think I know what "Cornell realism" is and there's definitely something distinctive about what comes out of Pittsburgh. Is there a distinctively "New York" philosophy? (I think we'd need to include within the scope of "New York" certain parts of Northern New Jersey.) Do Fodor, Bilgrami, Block, Boghossian, Devitt, Kitcher, and co. form a "kind"?

I suppose I could just ask the guy who used the term what he meant, but who cares what he thinks?

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Ethics of R&R

I just spoke with someone who received a revise and resubmit verdict on a paper that he submitted to an academic journal. As we all know, there are subtle degrees of the r&r decision, ranging from the enthusiastic (borderline conditional acceptance) to the lukewarm ("we like the topic more than the paper, so if you resubmit, we'll send it out, but we don't really care that much either way").

Anyway, this person received what I read as an almost enthusiastic r&r. In the note the editor outlines what she takes to be criticisms most worth addressing, but does not give the further indications of enthusiasm (such as a promise of an especially expedient review for the resubmission).

The author asked me whether it was kosher to respond positively to the journal editor, indicating an intention to revise and resubmit, but then submit the original version of the paper to another journal, with the intent to publish the original version at the second journal if it is accepted in its current form, and revise and resubmit to the first journal if it is rejected at the second.

My view is that in the case of a straightforwardly enthusiastic r&r, submission of the current paper to another journal is not cool. But things are murky with lesser degrees of r&r enthusiasm. Any views?

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Here's a link to Dickipedia, a "wiki of dicks." Entries on offer for a wide variety of dicks, including Dick David Blane, Dick Ben Stein, Dick Pat Robertson, Dick Michael Moore, Dick Dick Cheney, and lots of other well-known and insufferable dicks.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Moral Quandry

I've been asked by a journal to consider writing a rejoinder to a paper they've just accepted that's a criticism of my views. I was enthusiastic about this, especially since the paper makes what seem to me a several glaring errors. But then I noticed that the author of the paper I'd be responding to is untenured. What's the right thing to do here?

I suppose having a more senior person respond in print to one's work is a good thing for a junior person's CV and tenure file. But if the content of that response is largely negative, it could hurt a tenure file, right? I suppose I could try to respond in a way that is philosophically forceful, but does not make the author look amateurish; yet, given the character of the criticisms, this will be difficult to achieve. I suppose I could simply decline, but that's unsatisfying in its own way. Part of me thinks that writing the gloves-off, I-drink-your-milkshake rejoinder would be a sign of respect. But would a T&P committee see it this way? Perhaps I have an inflated sense of how much damage I can do? Suggestions? Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Interdisciplinary" Conferences

I just declined an invitation to participate in an "interdisciplinary" conference. I did so because I vowed to myself some years ago never to bother with anything describing itself as "interdisciplinary." This vow was brought on by an exhausting exchange I had at such a conference. During the Q&A, an audience member posed a question to me that was objectively incoherent-- a string of words with a vocal inflection at the end. In the posing of this question, the audience member repeatedly used the word "theory" and the word "metaphysics" interchangeably. In trying to respond to the (alleged) question, I began by noting, "You seem to treat the words 'metaphysics' and 'theory' as synonyms." The audience member interrupted at this point, saying "No I don't." So I replied, "Well, you use them interchangeably." With a tone of confident vindication, the audience member responded, "Yes... I do." My response that interchangeability is at least a symptom of synonymy, if not a criterion for it, was met with a blank, but nevertheless confident, stare.

I later discovered that this audience member was a very distinguished professor of English. I concluded that "interdisciplinary" simply means something like people with no philosophical training bullshitting about philosophy.