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Jon Cogburn
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By Phil Percs Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing... And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn In Michael LaBossiere's post on H.P. Lovecraft's racism he considers and critiques three arguments attempting to exculpate Lovecraft: (1) that his racism was unremarkable for a person of his time, ethnicity, and class, (2) that he had other qualities that offset the racism, and (3) that Lovecraft... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Philosophical Percolations
By Phil Percs Saturday, January 30th: Phil Percs' Saturday (January 30th) Linkorama Friday, January 29th: Jon Cogburn's Another tilt at the Kantian windmill Michael LaBossiere's Denmark’s Refugee “Fee” Jon Cogburn's Was Kant talking about the necessary a posteriori all along? Wednesday, January 27th: J. Edward Hackett's What Caputo Got Wrong... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Philosophical Percolations
By Phil Percs There remains the particular character of the disjunctions in the passage, which are especially well-chosen. "Uncannily shriveled or compressed" surely does not mean that in some cases there was shriveling and in other cases compression. Although I have called these passages "disjunctions," that is true only in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn Some chunk of the facebook discussion about my post earlier today on Kant consisted in explaining basic facts of Kripke and/or Kant to me that I'm already familiar with and that moreover seemed at least to me besides the point.Yes I know there is a difference between... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn [Update: Please see Nick Stang's "Did Kant Conflate the the Necessary and the A Priori." Stang argues against one of my key claims, but (in addition to advancing it) his paper shows really well what the debate is in the secondary literature.] I'm not a historian of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Saturday, January 23d: J. Edward Hackett's Unmaking the Catholic Argument Against Contraception Phil Percs' Saturday (January 23d) Linkorama Friday, January 22nd: Michael LaBossiere's Guardian Angels Jon Cogburn's Three things you can do to help persecuted colleagues in Turkey Wednesday, January 20th: Jason Megill & Dan Linford's Theistic Arguments from the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Ooh, sorry we missed that one while compiling. I never thought of William James that way before. I mean, I knew he played bass on some of his brother Ric's 1970s flops but I had no idea that philosophers might find those songs fruitful.
By Phil Percs God loves the plagiarist. And so it is written, 'God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them." God is the original plagiarizer. With a lack of reasonable sources from which to filch - man created in the image of what? the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn If you haven't heard about the gross persecution of Turkish academics who support reconciliation with Turkey's Kurdish minority, please a least read the links provided below. My friends in Turkey (some of them staring down the barrel of a loaded gun) have assured me that the simple... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn One of the thrilling things in Graham Harman's Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy is how he instantiates what he terms "the method of ruination": By discovering how a given passage might be made worse, we find an indirect method of appreciating its virtues. This ties to a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn This semester, I'm re-reading Descartes' Meditations for the first time in I think over twenty years, and it's a vastly weirder book than I remember. The letter of dedication of the work to the University of Paris' Faculty of Sacred Theology is a masterpiece of Eddie Haskel... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
One of the strangest experiences I had was reading Colin Powell's account of his service in Vietnam in his autobiography. By his recounting all he did was march from village to village with his group destroying the food of rural Vietnamese villagers day after day after day. That was their explicit mission, to destroy the crops and hidden food of poor rural Vietnamese people. If I remember right, there's absolutely no awareness that burning the food of desperately poor people is an evil thing to do. [I don't remember, but I'm guessing that destroying crops was to support the disastrous 'strategic Hamlet' program which forced South Vietnamese to move away from their ancestral homes to government run ghettos.] Your comments on how focusing on the consequences is a rhetorical and practical way to legitimate evil seem apropos here. One of the most important techniques of rhetoricians is to get your mark to "think past the sale" by talking in ways that presuppose that the sale is already done thing and you are talking about how things are in virtue of the fact that the sale is a done thing. I think this is tied to what you are writing about as well. Of course we become our own marks. Maybe the Bush administration did something like this with their fantasy about Iraq being a free market Utopia as they gutted all of the public sector forces in the country that might have stabilized things. To some extent we've done the same thing to ourselves.
Toggle Commented Jan 19, 2016 on Mission statements at Philosophical Percolations
By Phil Percs Saturday, January 16th: Phil Percs' Saturday (January 16th) Linkorama Thursday, January 14th: J. Edward Hackett's What Do We Want From Moral Theory? Jon Cogburn's Worries about “Boo Neoliberalism!” Convergence Wednesday, January 13th: Duncan Ricther's Making the world bigger Tuesday, January 12th: Duncan Richter's Orwellian language Monday, January... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Phil Percs Lester Bangs: “I saw Bowie the other night.” Lou Reed: “Lucky you. I think it’s very sad.” Lester Bangs: “He ripped off all your riffs, obviously.” Lou Reed: “Everybody steals riffs. You steal yours. David wrote some really great songs.” Lester Bangs: “Aw c’mon. Anybody can write... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn Every Saturday at philpercs we post our Linkorama, which at this point has (d)evolved into an experiment in attempting to construct a weekly drudgereport type thingy for people with a radically different sensibility than drudgereport readers. As a result of my input into the process I end... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
If things were honest, then Bernie would win in a landslide. He's likeable, conveys strength (important to the American electorate), and Americans agree with his views by very large percentages. But things are not honest. The only reason Hilary is more electable at this point is because the overwhelming majority of the big buck boys see her as a reasonable compromise between looting the rest of us until the whole system breaks (Bush Jr.) and trying to ensure that the grift is able to sustain itself for just a few more years (Bill Clinton). And I fear that they'll do whatever it takes to bring Sanders down. Re: the general ugliness of contemporary reality - I think nearly everybody continues (including the Hilary campaign) to vastly underestimate Trump. He's got way, way more on the ball than Reagan or Bush Jr. did. He reaches right into our lizard brain and hands out whatever sustains lizard brains and he's mastered faux populism better than any politician I've ever seen (I'm just old enough to remember Reagan). If I had to predict, I'd predict: (1) Trump gets the nomination, and (2) the big money people can't resist the lure of huge tax cuts and let themselves be seduced by Trump, at which point he beats Clinton. I think Sanders might beat Trump, but the Democratic party has a rather sizeable fist on the scales at this point (superdelegates as well as Clingon sychophants at the reigns) and that as a result it is very unlikely that Sanders will be the nominee. Just to be clear, I think Clinton would make a good president. So this wouldn't worry me too much if I didn't think that Trump was going to get the nomination and suck up about 20% of the Democratic vote. I wish Hall and Murdoch happiness together. In all the circulating photos, they *look* like aging vampires. I don't know if they are. Scary Monsters indeed.
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2016 on David Bowie at Philosophical Percolations
Ooh, thanks. I hadn't read this piece by Sparrow. Harman has a nice short essay on Lingis and the imperative in his Towards Speculative Realism anthology. It will be really fun to read this alongside his.
I hope you do write the paper. It sounds wonderful.
By Phil Percs Saturday, January 9th: Saturday (January 9th) Linkorama Friday, January 8th: Michael LaBossiere's Occupying & Protesting Jon Cogburn's [punkrockmonday #31] Phil Collins Tried to Kill Antmusic Tuesday, January 5th: J. Edward Hackett's What *should be* the relationship between philosophy and religion? Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn One of the most entertaining digressions in Houellebecq's Les Particules élémentaires (translated as Atomised and The Elementary Particles) is his portrayal of one of the protagonist's obsession with the theory that Mick Jagger killed Brian Jones as a stepping stone towards taking over the Rolling Stones. The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Phil Percs Sunday, January 3d: Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò's Cite Another One (another one...another one...another one) Saturday, January 2nd: Phil Percs' Saturday (January 2nd) Linkorama Friday, January 1st: Guest post by Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa about Citation Practices Thursday, December 31st: Is offering language advice policing women’s language? Tuesday, December 29th:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Ooh great point about grounding. I never connected you and Meena's piece with your criticism of that literature. Three cheers for not disregarding decades of research on metaphysical dependence! I think that default naturalism leads us (philosophers) to not look at problems in the empirical sciences, problems which are pretty widely discussed at places like the Chronicle. Hyperspecialization is widely taken to be injurious to scientific progress and the result of grant hysteria and vastly increased publication expectations. Given the current ecosystem, it's much easier to set up a lab where people get irrelevant data and then have your students write up the data in ten different ways while you are writing the next round of grant applications, many concerning work your students have already done. We gripe about hyperspecialization leading to triviality in philosophy, but it's nowhere near as bad as it is in fields like psychology or biology. I extended on the relevance of this in my response to Marcus. This being said, I accept that you might be right that the social and hard sciences citational practices are not part of the problems they are facing in this regard. From my own experiences I'm not so sure though. About a fifth of my papers I've stopped submitting in part because I keep getting told by reviewers to not only cite but discuss work that's come out after I wrote (and in some cases presented at an APA) the original paper. If I danced this recursive dance I would learn and think about a tiny fraction of what I'm able to learn and think about by dropping those papers. I've published around thirty papers and am working on books now. I think the number would be lower and the range much narrower, and I'd know much less about the things I don't write about, if I played the citation game with respect to the eight or so papers I've dropped. Maybe I'm sui generis in this regard, but I don't think so. I think the forces working on my own research output are operative in the discipline as a whole. Maybe the issue is importantly distinct from what the three of you have raised. I don't know. I do think any pressure to cite more needs to be carefully distinguished from what's going on when authors are already being pressured to cite more in the current system of norms, and should be crafted so as to not make that pressure worse when it's unreasonable. This is at least somewhat distinct from Jonathan's worry though. Just to recap, my worries were three: (1) that a book like Jonathan's would be impossible were we to go over to the citational norms of the social and (at least some of) the hard sciences, and this would be a very bad thing since we (and especially science itself) desperately needs non-hyperspecialized reflection on how it hangs together, (2) citing all of the relevant stuff would end up just lowering the social cachet of citation, and (3) people who are members of discriminated against groups and who don't have top institutional affiliations not only are less likely to be cited, but are also forced to cite far more by journal editors, often in ways that involves both wasting time and deforming the article in question. I think that your criticism of (2) is spot on and maybe it applies to (3) as well. I still worry about (1) though.
I think we may be talking past each other with respect to psychology. Things were exactly as you described fifteen years ago when I was conversant in the concepts/lexical semantics empirical work and I agree with everything you write about how beneficial it is. My points are (1) in addition to all of the benefits, the norms force much more specialization than is typical in philosophy, and (2) the norms for public recognition in the two disciplines are not that different, it's just that in philosophy public recognition tracks citation where it doesn't in fields where the articles are forced to cite everything under the sun. On the second point, I think Jessica is correct. My criticism shades too easily into the claim that we should not do moral action x, because to make a substantive enough difference y would also have to happen (again, compare with voting). But the first point was Jonathan's and the case of psychology seems to confirm it to me. The vast majority of the work is ridiculously hyperspecialized. Consider most of the work that philosophers typically don't look at, the field of abnormal psych. Most of the articles are some useless bit of data where the authors at the end just kind of suggest how it might be relevant to the DSM classifications. If you can get the grants to get your graduate students to do the slogwork you can get a career in this. But (2nd point) most of the articles are written by academic Eleanor Rigbies (even though they get cited in intro sections), and (1st point) most of the work is absurdly narrow. The Chronicle of Higher Education did a series of articles about a kind of research where people train animals to do tricks and then inject their brains with dye before freezing their heads and looking at the tissue (my sister actually briefly dated a researcher who did this). All of the grant money comes from the promise that it would help with Alzheimers and related degenerative nerve disorders. But several tens of millions dollars later and who knows how many dead rats and monkeys over decades and any reasonable person (according to the Chronicle articles) conversant both in the brain freezing research and the pharmacological work around degenerative brain diseases realizes that the former has and will have no influence whatsoever in the latter. It's not even clear how it could. But the hyperspecialized norms are such that it doesn't matter. The grant money is going to keep coming in and the animal heads are going to keep being frozen as far as anyone can see. In part because of the null hypothesis of naturalization, we tend to worship science so much that we lose sight of the fact it really does need philosophical attempts to make sense of how things hang together across subfields and what is more and less important. And I do worry that crappy citation practices are a necessary condition for being able to do this for exactly the reasons given by Jonathan. I'm *not* saying there is no room to improve things. But I do think we should admit the danger and should not try to replicate the citation practices of Psychology. Finally, (3) the class aspect which I mentioned above. On more than two occasions I've given papers at APAs, written them up for publication in the seceding year and started the process of sending them to good journals. Then, during the years of sending and resending the paper out reviewers demand that I not only cite but *substantially discuss* papers that have come out by bigger figures in the field *after* I presented the work at an APA. I've got somewhere around ten unpublished papers (with thirty or so published during the time period) that I've given up on getting published because I wouldn't get any new philosophy done if I played that game with respect to stuff I've already written. My response to this is to work on books, where the citation norms are not so onerous. Again, as far as I can tell, the citation norms are substantially different depending where you are in the academic Cursos Honorum. People near the top of the ladder tend to see their own work not getting published enough whereas people not at the top tend to seem themselves constantly forced to not only cite but subtantially discuss work by people at the top which may not even be relevant. Norms to cite more would certainly be imposed differently depending on institutional affiliation and name recognition. This may be morally irrelevant, I don't know. But I think it's at least worth being clear about the issue. Again though, I think it's not all bad that people at the top don't have to cite as much. When the system is working right, it will select for people who are good at making sense of many different areas of thought. But this brings us back to Jonathan's point.