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Jon Cogburn
Interests: some
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Twenty five years ago today, the last great example of an artform destroyed by the Disney copywrite regime.The band members are still being sued for the sampling. I was going to post one of the videos from the album, but MCA would have preferred the video at right. Continue reading
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A couple of times I've co-written with people who don't use the Oxford comma. It can end up being a big headache when the usage isn't consistent, and then it's also weird to realize just how many times you conjoin three or more words in a phrase. Putnam's book came... Continue reading
I've long been obsessed with what it would have been like to be a Saxon in post-Roman Britain. Roman concrete was so good that for hundreds of years Saxons inhabited Roman buildings. But their architectural wherewithal was primitive compared to the Romans, so as the roofs collapsed on the Roman... Continue reading
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Interesting article here by Princeton English professor Raphael Allison comparing literary theorists and rock bands. There's some good stuff on the anthropology of subcultures to explain the weird ways that people talk at thea annual MLA convention, but the author's main conceit is as far as I can tell completely... Continue reading
Update: In the comments below philosopher Shelley Tremain takes issue with me posting this song and philosopher Christy Mag Uidur argues that the song's casual use of a derogatory term for disabled people is offensive. When I initially posted it I hadn't realized that it had the word "spastic" in... Continue reading
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Visits of condolence is all we get from them. They squat at the Holocaust Memorial, They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall And they laugh behind heavy curtains In their hotels. They have their pictures taken Together with our famous dead At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb And... Continue reading
John Divers' Possible Worlds has a nice discussion of the worry that counterpart theory doesn't adequately justify the extent to which we are ego-concerned with our own possibilities. If the possible Humphrey that won the election is a distinct creature in a universe not spatially connected to ours, what does... Continue reading
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Lots of nice reflections here about how fear undermines our vocation. Though much of it is (appropriately) scary, there's some optimism too. Arvan's post ends with: The only final thing I would suggest--following Zombie's remarks above as well as my experience with the Cocoon--is that whatever risks you take, whether... Continue reading
I don't own a television (one of many area men I approximate), but with the advent of Hulu now my wife and I watch an episode of some reality cooking show nearly every evening after the kids go to bed. I've seen nearly every episode of the Gordon Ramsay vehicles... Continue reading
The article by Atlantic Monthly Senior Editor Rebecca Rosen is HERE. Pretty Cool! De Cruz's posts actually produced postive national coverage of academic philosophy. The Rosen article is currently at the top of their web page. Continue reading
Tonight I was fondly recalling Michael Hand and Jonathan Kvanvig's old paper on Tennant's solution to Fitch's Paradox (it's a beautiful read) and a weird thought occured to me. Hand and Kvanvig argue that Tennant's solution would be analogous to a set theorist responding to Russell's Paradox by proposing naive... Continue reading
While glancing through Graham Priest's new book I came across a place where he said something to the effect that what distinguished existing from non-existing things was whether or not the thing in question was causally efficacious. Following up on Mark Lance's suggestion that we should be most skeptical when... Continue reading
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Check out all the people chewing around the 4:00 minute mark of the video at right. I don't get this. Close ups of people eating are disgusting, yet they form a fairly reliable trope in LSD movies. If you've suffered through the entire Magical Mystery Tour movie, then the infamous... Continue reading
A million (or somewhere in that neighborhood) thanks! This is exceedingly helpful.
I agree with what you write (and God bless the non-weird philosophers), but I might have one minor misgiving. Some of the worst people I know are avowed Kantians* who are very good at giving reasons for their behavior if ever challenged. This possibility makes me a little wary of the extent to which moral correctness coincides with that which can be defended by reason. Part of my weirdness is that I just don't know how to communicate when there's a large group of people and a lot of ambient background noise. I either say nothing or end up shouting at people in ways that unsettle them. I've tried very hard to rectify this as it makes me useless at APA Smokers and every week when church lets out and everyone walks by the pastor. But there just aren't a good set of instructions for how to master the skill. Dale Carnegie has some good advice, but it doesn't help with this kind of thing. You can smile and ask people about themselves, and still come across in ways that make people unsettled or angry. I think that all of the subtle ways we can be unkind are probably at least as complicated as how to behave in crowded areas with lots of ambient background noise, and also that navigating the space requires sensitivity to how others react to us. With you and the philosophical tradition, I think that a huge part of this is when others ask us to justify our actions and we feel required to come up with a good reason, and to change our behavior if we can't (and famous people are systematically robbed of this kind of check). But I think a lot of it is below that level. We just get a sense when other people are hurt, fed up, angry, joyful, etc. and our virtues develop over the years of negotiating these situations on the fly (Mark Lance has written very beautifully about this). Unfortunately, a lot of famous people get robbed of this kind of moral friction as well. The supply of yes men and women is pretty inexhaustible and society is very good at teaching us to pretend that those with power over us can do no wrong. We pretend so much that we start to believe it. The alternative is too painful. Part of why this onion story ( http://www.theonion.com/articles/humanity-surprised-it-still-hasnt-figured-out-bett,36361/ ) is so funny is because it's clear that everyone doesn't know this, though they should. [*And best! Also, as CS Lewis wrote with respect to Christianity, the real question concerns how much worse they would be without the Kantianism. I think Kantianism helps some people who don't have the standard range of affective moral responses but still want very badly to be good people. I've known a couple of people who have used Kant to overcome the moral fallout from suffering something like clinical narcissim. Again though, I'm not slamming Kantians. (1) We're all narcissitic, and (3) I don't mean to be saying anything inconsistent with the fact that many Kantians are affectively well tuned and also find the approach to moral theory plausible.]
Here's an example. I have a linguist friend who was good friends with a student who dated a (married) famous philosopher a couple of decades ago. My friend actually feels sorry for the philosopher, because she saw two dynamics going on. (1) He was so famous that nobody was willing to call him on behavior that got increasingly anti-social. (2) People actually supported that behavior because it was viewed as yet more evidence of his genius. So he lived in this world without the moral friction/gravity that the rest of us depend on. From talking to my linguist friend and a few other people who know the philosopher in question (as well as reading lots of biographies of powerful people), I think it's incredibly destructive to human beings when they are in a situation where nobody is willing to remonstrate with them. You see this kind of thing in politics of many different cultures and ages, a kind of anti-morality where people end up being appraised in terms of what they can get away with. I think it clearly happened with Dov Charney and Terry Richardson in the fashion industry. Richardson had a really difficult childhood in the custody of a brain damaged mother who was the butt of the town's jokes. His apotheosis as a fashion photographer made it such that he wasn't in a position to deal with those issues, or rather he dealt with them in the worst possible way. But the way he (and Dov Charney) sexually harassed people were often taken as evidence of their genius. It's a terrible dynamic for everyone involved. Pink Floyd's "The Wall" was supposed to be in part an exploration of that dynamic. During the tour for "Animals" Roger Waters had a come-to-Jesus moment right after he found himself spitting in a fan's face during a Toronto stadium show. What's happened to him? How did he become this terrible person? At the very end of the album, Pink's sentence is to be exposed before his peers. It's really quite brilliant. Famous people often live without the moral friction and become increasingly awful as a result, but then at some point their awfulness gets so pronounced that they become famous for that instead of people originally liked about them. And there's usually a disgusting amount of schadenfreude involved, often quite sexist if the celebrity is female. Of course, academia is not politics or rock and roll. But I think some of the dynamics involving fame and power are similar. Two things though. (1) Evidence strongly suggests that there are a lot of superstars who figure out how to be good people in spite of the fame. (2) I'm not saying that the kinds of social dysfunction you find among academics is something that people consciously manifest so as to seem smarter than they actually are. I very much doubt that would work. But also, I think you have to be a little bit bent to want to dedicate your life to philosophy. We're a pretty weird bunch. . . But I think that's independent of treating people badly or not.
Near the end of summer the LSU philosophy reading group is going to begin reading things on vagueness. We're going to start with Rosanna Keefe's excellent Theories of Vagueness, which gives an excellent overview of the state of the field circa 2000. We don't really know where to go from... Continue reading
One of the worst things that can happen to someone is that they become so powerful in their field that the community no longer works as a check on their behavior. We should pity their victims more, but we should also have some sympathy for people like Dov Charney and... Continue reading
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Daniel Dennett once said something similar in the context of ripping on Wittgenstein. You can read a stub of the article with the beginning of the gedankenexperiment at http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,990616,00.html . [*True Story- In 1999 when I was still in graduate school, Time Magazine had an on-line survey for the 100 most important people, leading up to an eponymous issue. This was the early days of the internet,** so of course fans of Kemal Ataturk flooded the voting and he was the most important by a large factor. Anyhow, there weren't any philosophers on the list, so I wrote the Time Magazine editors a long report on why some philosophers needed to be included, including a plea for Wittgenstein, offering to write the stuff myself. The editor wrote me and said I was right, but that they had house writers to do the articles. And I couldn't very well complain when they picked Daniel Dennett over me.** I would like to say that he owes me a beer for getting him the work, but obviously he didn't really need it. **This was around the time when "Atlas Shrugged" won some press's on-line poll as most important twentieth century novel. Me and some friends spent hours upon hours voting, resetting cookies, repeat to get various of P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster novels to move up the list. I don't think we cracked the top twenty though. Clearly, Objectivists have a lot more free time than Wodehouse reading moochers like me. ***Though it's probably the second grumpiest thing he has ever written, just after the time he schooled some animal ethologists who were using his account of belief without taking into account Gricean considerations.]
Yeah, for the past two days I've been trying without success to come up with puns involving some combination of epistemicism, necessitism, Le Creuset porcelain-over-cast-iron cookware, and those cool industrial/retro looking KitchenAid stand mixers. It's not as easy as one might think.
If I could go back in time and change the Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy anthology in one way, I would make sure that it included an essay on rules bloat. Nearly every role playing game suffers from this. At the outset the impetus is to present something that is... Continue reading
The drum sound on this is a thing of wonder. I wish George Martin had achieved something like it for Ringo's toms during the White Album sessions. Or maybe Ringo just needed to pound them harder. I don't know. The snare and symbols are wonderful, but the wimpy toms make... Continue reading
Wow Badiou says some weird things about analytic philosophy in the Introduction to Being and Event. The 'analytic' current of English-language philosophy discounts most of classical philosophy's propositions as senseless, or as limited to the exercise of a language game (1). . . .for Kant, the transcendental subject, after which... Continue reading