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Jon Cogburn
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I'm a little bit obsessed with work, probably because I never found the right answer to the ubiquitous question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" My husband Jon knew in college that he wanted to be a philosophy professor. He went to graduate school, landed a... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Emily's Pretty Cool Blog
Mark, Thanks for sharing the bit of scripture with anyone reading this. It's one of my favorites and likely to trace back to Jesus' actual words, since it's also in Mathew 7:5 and thus placed in the Q gospel. I thought it was clear that the post you reference ( http://drjon.typepad.com/jon_cogburns_blog/2014/10/some-thoughts-about-the-ontology-of-sin.html ) was meant to cover the way I dealt with the Wolfendale thing. The youtube clip is to a song titled "The Beast in Me" and I specifically mentioned the way I deal with philosophical debate. To the extent that it wasn't clear, thanks for pointing it out. I'm hoping by doing charitable posts on all fifteen sections of his book that any wrong I've done will bet considerably lessened. I realize that Wolfendale is young and doesn't have employment. On the other hand, I know a fair number of people whose work presupposes that speculative realism exists and that Harman is not a charlatan who are also young and lacking employment (I actually co-write with a few of them). In part because of them I felt the need to strongly protest Brassier's afterward and Wolfendale's endorsement of it. I wish there had been a better way to thread the Scylla and Charibdis, and probably there was. But I couldn't find it and I don't take back anything I said in the posts to which you take exception. Calvin realized what a nasty world this is. It's often very hard to figure out the right thing to do, and then often very hard to do that thing. I would never claim non-ironically to be "a good Calviunist." There's a pretty strong performative contradiction in doing so.
I'm still processing my thoughts about the Leiter brouhaha. I think that we should be deeply uncomfortable with the electronic version of mob-like behavior that this new technology occasions, especially when married to moral panics. I've recently realized that I've taken part in *at least* four of these now (against Plantinga et. al. during the Synthese affair, against Plantinga et. al. on the issue of Christian colleges that discriminate against homosexuals, against Colin McGinn's blogging, and now with this thing involving Leiter). I've also come very close to being subject to one of them. . . at least that's how my removal from newapps felt to me at the time. To be "Colin McGinned" is now a verb in my lexicon. Anyhow, I'm going to think more about your comment. As far as I can tell, it certainly cuts both ways, but need to think a lot more about how this fact connects with my broader discomfort.
I don't expect to change your mind. But let me just note for anyone reading this: (1) It's simply untrue to say that my upset over the way Mackay and company have treated Wolfendale comes down to one word. I think anyone reading the links that you provided will be able to see that. (2) It's also simply untrue to say that I was upset with Leiter merely because of the things he wrote about Harman. I've publicly stated several times that Leiter's ranking of specialty departments is a huge benefit to the discipline. While I've endorsed John Protevi's argument that Leiter's fingers have been on the scales with respect to continental philosophy (http://philosophysmoker.blogspot.com/2014/09/does-leiter-use-pgr-to-punish-his.html), I've also disagreed with Protevi's "October Resolution" against all rankings (http://drjon.typepad.com/jon_cogburns_blog/2014/10/a-plea-for-people-not-to-sign-the-october-statement.html). In the latter post I adumbrated several virtues of the PGR. Mark Silcox said it correctly I think, the main problem was just him both running Leiter Reports and the PGR at the same time. Professor Leiter ultimately agreed and bowed out with magnanimity, and I hope that everyone else can show him the same.
Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another philosophy department. . .
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Anno Miseram (for Glaucon) at Jon Cogburn's Blog
Oops, sorry I should have specified C.S. Lewis, not David. Before Plantinga (and I'm sure Plantinga is aware of this, and pretty confident he cites the relevant bits) Lewis argued that if materialism is true then scientific reasoning can't be trusted. Victor Repport goes into it in his book "C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason ( http://www.amazon.com/C-S-Lewiss-Dangerous-Idea/dp/0830827323/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413811227&sr=8-2&keywords=c.s.+lewis+argument )." The argument probably goes back to Nietzsche, and like nearly everything really interesting in Nietzsche, to Schopenhauer before him. I don't know though, because Schopenhauer is really remarkable in the way he uses naturalistic reasoning at ties in his own philosophy. I think most analytic philosophers are so confident in the conjunction of some form of materialism and trust in reason that it's almost a priori for us that any argument from the truth of one to the falsity of the other is going to be invalid.
Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading it.
No sorry. That's not right. It's too strongly stated in a variety of ways. But thanks for the chance to clarify myself. On (1), Meillassoux also defends other important commitments concerning who we should think of the problem of access. The most important is the Schellingian ones that (a) we must be able to make sense of the genesis of subjectivity within the world that subjectivity intends, and (b) the fact that we are things in the world (Schelling's "I am nature") allows us to realize that our knowledge of ourselves *is* knowledge of the way the world is. This falls under the "metaphysics is unavoidable" trope above. On (2), oh my goodness no. It would be silly to deny that lots of analytic and continental philosophers have addressed the problem of the external world. As wisdom teaches, nothing is really new under the sun anyhow. The issue is rather that there is a kind of null hypothesis about the problem that characterizes both fields. Phenomenologists tend to think that phenomenology gives you a place from which the issue is bracketed (remember that Heidegger calls the problem an "embarassment" in just this context). Analytic philosophers are far better than phenomenologists ever were at "bracketing" issues, since such bracketing is the price of non-systematicity. When I'm writing about the correct logic I don't need to worry about the external world or the problem of induction, and can proceed as if those problems have solutions perfectly in accord with common sense. In addition to reviving (a) and (b), Meillassoux produces pretty novel arguments that the phenomenological null hypothesis is incoherent and that analytical philosophers should not bracket the issue raised by Berkeley and Fichte. The thing about psycho-analysis was not meant seriously. I do think that the over the top negative reception of Lewis, Plantinga, and Nagel's arguments is a little bit bizarre, especially since it is so different from the reception of McDowell's similar ones. As far as I can tell, the only differences are: (1) that McDowell never mentions Darwin when talking about the problems that normativity pose for bald naturalism, and (2) that McDowell's quietism might work to put a Chinese wall between the two cultures in a way that would never satisfy Lewis, Plantinga, or Nagel.
I guess I find it weird because I have intuitions that (1) moral evil needn't be the result of pride, in our normal understanding of that term, and (2) moral evil is the result of sin. So I'm looking for a notion of pride that can carry the weight of both of these. I think your (2) is a really interesting philosophical issue in its own right. I think the DSM is a mess in part because psychologists aren't clear enough about the normative status of their most important claims and in part because we humans are just so inventive at finding new and creative ways at not being able to get our stuff together. I think I remember hearing people in the Buddhist tradition say things like "neurosis is the root cause of moral evil," where by "neurosis" they mean a kind of assertion of self-hood over everything else. I think that Buddhism and the reformed tradition of Christianity are similar in seeing that assertion as universal in nature and the root of (at least very much) suffering. Humans are different because we know that we're doing this. I'm still personally not that committed to talking this way just because I have so many neuroses that I think are completely incurable. They cause me a fair amount of suffering but I don't think they are tied up with any of the characteristic ways that I am morally evil though. However, that's probably beside the point because neuroses causing other kinds of suffering not implicated in moral evil is consistent with neurosis being the cause of moral evil. . . So maybe pride in the Christian sense is just in some way the neurotic assertion of the self? There are bits of the master/slave dialectic here too. Martin Luther King took a two semester course on Hegel in college. Man I wish I had been a fly on the wall during those classes.
Dirk and Thomas, Thanks so much for the resources. I read Phillips' critique of "reformed epistemology" fifteen years ago and found it very compelling and I've read my old colleague John Wittaker's Phillipsian accounts of contemplation, but I never knew that Phillips' first book was about prayer. It will be great to read that along with the historical and phenomenological work. I would love some day to have the wisdom and expertise to work on something like Smith or Prothero's (which looks great). I don't know what produces the ability to write things that are so widely encompassing, accessible, yet deep.
Oops, sorry about that. I've put the whole thing up there now. If Mark Ohm wasn't busy right now, we could get a good translation (he's actually competent to do so), but I'd be really chuffed to get your thoughts. Your thing on daily nous (http://dailynous.com/2014/09/06/what-is-continental-philosophy/ ) was one of the most interesting and thought provoking blog posts I've read in the last few months. I think Leiter misread it so badly because he's not that strong on contemporary French philosophy.
Oops, meant to say this now that you're over here (I think my comments on your blog might be going to the spam folder). I'd love, love, love to get your thoughts on the Le Monde Derrida article I posted about earlier today (it's at the top of the blog as I write this), not just for your language skills but because you are there and can speak to it. If you want to do it on your blog I'll provide a link here. If you're too busy, of course I understand. I've got a half written post on your criteria for continental philosophy and Leiter's attempted takedown that I should have up in the next week or so. I think that debate is highly relevant to the Le Monde article.
I don't understand how twitter even works, but I don't think the medium shows you at your best. I mean, just from the ones you've posted here, might there be something to Jackson's suggestion that such spats made it more likely that someone like Wolfendale might ignore the articles you've posted about and made publicly available at http://independent.academia.edu/TerenceBlake ?
I don't know Terence. Didn't you get really upset that Gratton hadn't read your stuff before writing his book? I think that's all he meant with the crave bit. I apologize if I'm misremembering that or somehow being otherwise insensitive.
Yeah, typepad goes nuts with comments. I think it's worth having the link to your piece up twice. It's very frustrating because the typology you give, and characterization of the various places in it, is not only plausible but incredibly productive. I mean, I think it correctly suggests further places we should be looking to for the various dialectics to progress (my Hegelianism showing here) Wow, Blake was really not at his best in that exchange. I understand his frustration, and if I remember right I've blogged about what I think are similar feelings I've had. But here's the thing; the overwhelming majority of academics have to go through this very thing, the point when you really realize that most of your writing is into the void. When I was at newapps during its glory days I could bloviate about some obscure punk band and thousands of people would read it. But an article that took me five years to write will almost certainly never be read, much less cited, by anyone not involved with its publication or who happens to be at a conference where I might deliver it. I've seen this kind of thing drive academics to extreme despair and beyond. Maybe it's worse for Blake because he's a bit isolated and so hasn't seen how utterly normal it is for the majority of us who write about philosophy? The thing is, it really couldn't be otherwise. A few people get so much stuff written about them that they couldn't possibly read it all. And everybody is so busy that they can't read even a tiny fraction of the stuff they would like to. So most things are going to get ignored. I've said this before, but this is the biggest will-to-believe type reason for being Hegelian. Even if nobody shows up, you still get to be part of matter becoming spirit, the universe becoming self aware. I think sometimes our moral soundness and mental well being dictates that we tell ourselves that this is good in itself and that it is enough. I was a bit surprised that Wolfendale didn't cite Blake probably because: (1) Niemoczynski held them up together as two of the main bloggers who were being effaced by the official accounts of Speculative Realism, and (2) Wolfendale's preface reminded me a bit of Blake's blogging when Blake is heated up. I'm going to take the time to carefully read some of Blake's papers on his academia.edu page as I go through Wolfendale's book. I'm not at all interested in trying to defend Harman from overheated charges by either of them (one can't rationally defend someone from the claim that they are pathological), but rather in the underlying questions being raised which from their blogging I think are pretty interesting sometimes. It will be neat to see the extent to which Blake beat Wolfendale to the punch with some of this.
Whatever about Charles Taylor and Adorno having texts without bibliographies. We're not them. I broached the issue because I was interested in whether Wolfendale discusses Terence Blake's earlier criticisms of Object-Oriented Philosophy? Do you know if he does and if so, where in the book? Like I said, he doesn't thank Blake in the preface, but I haven't read the book closely enough yet and there's no bibliography.
Thanks for the kind words. My friend (and scholar of lucha libre, among other things) Christopher RayAlexander once told me that when someone spits at you they don't make you angry, they just make you wet. I've found that my happiness tends to vary in proportion to which I consistently live that wisdom. But (and Mark will certainly agree with me about at least this) it's clearly a work in progress.
Look Mark, you can consider my earlier word a "a malicious distortion" when I said I'm going to give the book a fair shake. You, and Wolfendale and Trott and whoever can consider praise I've attempted to make with respect to Wolfendale (and Brassier for that matter) as philosophers to be "patronizing." Fine. But the only thing I've reviewed thusfar is the preface of the book. There are fifteen sections in addition to the preface and afterward. I'll do one post per section starting two weeks from now. Wolfendale is ferociously smart and I'm sure that I and anyone who bothers to read my posts will learn something (of course nobody is obligated to read them). Let me also repeat that Urbanomic agreed that I could review the book on my blog and never said that I couldn't do it a section at a time. I explicitly got permission from their rep with respect to this. As I said earlier, I have to complete two other editorial reviews for presses and won't be able to start this for two weeks. I'll shoot for one post a week after that. Let me say three things though: (1) Nobody is obligated to engage with interlocutors who are being uncharitable. This is important in this context because in my estimate over half of the bile directed at Harman is a result of various people who have never subjected themselves to the arduous and emotionally taxing process of publishing with a genuinely peer reviewed presses expecting him to do so. This is a weird aspect of internet philosophy. (2) If I continue to see evidence of shoddy editorial practices on Urbanomic's part (such as lack of a bibliography) and unprofessional levels of uncharity on Wolfendale's part I'll call attention to it. To expect me not to do so is actually is patronizing. (3) I'll read Wolfendale's positive arguments charitably, trying to elucidate the interesting issues and consequences. I have a fifteen years publication record of doing just this. I hope that Wolfendale's preface is radically misleading and he extended Harman the same courtesy. In any case, I wasn't being smarmy by endorsing Leibniz in the original post.
Ooh, that's extremely helpful! Do you know any good places to start to try to get an overview of different contexts by which prayer is understood? I know anything like that is going to probably be as simplifying as Russell's History of Western Philosophy or Huston Smith's The World's Religions, but those are both still pretty helpful texts. I've long wanted to teach an adult Sunday school course at my church on prayer, but never managed to get a decent idea how one might proceed. I think now the way to do it is not to start with philosophical problems such as the one I posed about a certain kind of intercessory prayer that late capitalist consumers like myself constantly engage in, but rather to try to get some appreciations for what prayer means in the different kinds of contexts that you mention. I realize that prayer might not yet have its Russell or Smith, but if you know of anything remotely helpful along those lines, that would be extremely cool. In any case, it's been a long sometimes frustrating struggle for me to bridge my religious and philosophical lives (I think I'd be more faithful and a better philosopher if I could get them at least a little bit closer), and the stuff you've said above point in really hopeful directions. I'm really excited about reading your book.
Ha! You criticize me for not taking into account the thousands of words written in reference to the earlier post and then turn around and beg me (for my own good) not to do so. I thought it was clear that the stuff I wrote above was reflecting on the things I have found weirdest among those thousands of words. Also are you the same "Mark" that has been on other blogs referring to the earlier things I wrote as "malicious distortions"? Should I or should I not take that into account? In any case, I guess we're almost even because I find your characterization of what I've written to be fairly distorting. Not entirely even though, as I have no idea whether you are writing with malice and wouldn't hazard an assertion (though the stuff about my psychological health is aiming pretty low). So, let me clearly state that I agree with much of what you write. *Of course* there's nothing wrong with Brassier or Brian Leiter or anybody out there not thinking much of Harman's books (though it just is bizarre to write 400 pages about someone whose work you take to be beneath notice). We all have to make such decisions. Among other things, life is finite and you have to pick what not to read. Ian Hamilton Grant has publicly disassociated himself from the "Speculative Realist" name. Like Tristan Garcia and Peter Gratton and Levi Bryant and myself, he has also publicly marked places where he disagrees with Graham Harman. *Of course* that's perfectly alright. What's not alright is characterizing a colleague's entire oevre as a "pathological" instance of all that's wrong with (what one takes to be) "continental philosophy." What's not right is insinuating that people who disagree with you are epistemically on a par with Randroids, Scientologists, and Big Foot enthusiasts. As Joe Bob Briggs says, I shouldn't have to explain this. If Urbanomic were an academic press they would have used independent readers who held Wolfendale to those standards. Note that the book has no bibliography! Does Wolfendale cite Terence Blake's earlier criticisms of OOO? He doesn't mention Blake in the preface. If he does cite Blake, it would have been nice to have a bibliography to find the places. Contrary to what you assert, this doesn't have very much to do with my fragile ego. Yes it's grating to be told that a list in which one is publishing a book is a list of something that doesn't exist (and given the ontology of philosophical movements, such claims are really normative grunts concerning what should not exist rather than what does or doesn't). But, most of my publications have nothing to do with Speculative Realism. None of them prior to tenure did. Please check out my cv - http://www.projectbraintrust.com/cogburn/cvs/joncogburncv.pdf . Most of my philosophical blogging is also firmly in analytic philosophy. Please read my recent meditations on vagueness http://drjon.typepad.com/jon_cogburns_blog/vagueness/ for some good times with the typed lambda calculus. I have learned an immense amount as a result of the Speculative Realist moment, and it has given me a new perspective on wide swaths of analytic philosophy. But the analytic philosophers who publish (or not) my articles aren't going to be swayed one way or the other by what Ray Brassier thinks. In any case, here are a few non-egoic reasons: (1) The claims in the preface and afterward are false, unfair, and damaging to Harman. I've taught a graduate class on his work. It's simply not true that his work is pathological or that it is exemplary in how it instantiates everything that is wrong with "continental philosophy." You can say, "but you haven't read Wolfendale's book closely yet." I'm sorry, but I don't need to read the thing closely to know that it doesn't establish this about Harman. I've also seen the nauseating amount of work Harman puts in as an editor to help other scholars *who disagree with him* get their work published in reputable places. What's happening here is nothing more than an instance of no good deed going unpunished, and yes that morally offends me. (2) I've taken a fair of grief in the past for opposing Brian Leiter for doing the exact same thing that Wolfendale and Brassier are trying to do in the preface and afterward. Again, this has nothing to do with my ego. I would have been better off not to have said anything. But I said so long before the recent brouhaha and I'm glad to have done so. I think it's terrible for philosophy as a discipline if we don't maintain a minimal amount of respect for one another. The last time this kind of thing gained ground with respect to an accomplished philosopher who gave dozens of talks a year to non-philosophy departments was when a bunch of analytics ganged up on Derrida (with respect to this fiasco: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Derrida#Cambridge_Honorary_Doctorate). As a disciplinary act, it was incredibly self defeating. For people doing work on the margins of both mainstream analytic and continental philosophy to do the same things to one another really is an example of a circular firing squads. I mean, with the Derrida thing the Leiterism (before Leiter) made a kind of political sense at least. If the result was that philosophy was further cut off from the rest of the humanities, at least there were clear winners in the truncated bit that was left over. This bit of Brasseriana is entirely self-defeating for everyone connected, including and especially Brassier and Wolfendale. The strands of post-phenomenological continental thought that still take German idealism, phenomenology, and post-structuralism to form part of the philosophical core are really at the margins of contemporary philosophy. Most high church phenomenologists, contemporary anti-core newappsy type pluralists, Leiter style continentals, and analytic philosophers have no time for this stuff. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone's got to work on their own projects. But circular firing squads are particularly stupid if you are already on the margin. (3) People are claiming I've done Wolfendale a bad turn by pointing out some of the problems with the book. But what if nobody pointed them out publicly? I guarantee you that someone writing a tenure letter would point these things out. I guarantee you that it would get pointed out by whoever is playing the devil's advocate in a hiring committee. At the very minimum, young scholars should not be publishing with vanity presses or the equivalent unless they already have enough lines on their vitas from reputable presses that employ normal standards of peer review. Fine if people want to say this is patronizing or somehow silencing the subaltern. I didn't invent the relevant scholarly norms and even if you disagree with me about their rationality, you should still admit that it's more unethical to send out other people to battle windmills than it is to say "Hey, that's actually a windmill there."
Cool. Cool. Cool. Have you ever checked out the Homebrewed Christianity broadcast? The main page is at http://homebrewedchristianity.com/ but you can browse the entire history at http://homebrewedchristianity.com/category/podcast/. I went to a radical theology conference a few years ago that they were involved with and Jack Caputo was the keynote speaker. It was fantastic. Weirdly, I hadn't checked the page in a while and there's some stuff pretty directly related to the OP. Leon Niemoczynski (http://afterxnature.blogspot.com/) was actually interviewed by Trip Fuller and will be on in the next few weeks (I'll do a post when it comes out). It should be great stuff.
Surely something like what you say is true. Always remember that the chains of our oppression might need flowers. Seriously, one of the (if not the) main gripes I've found in digging through philosophy of religion textbooks this last week is that none of them devote anything close to sufficient attention to Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx's critiques of religion (many don't have a section at all). This is stuff that educated people should know. We're really falling down here.
Wow, thanks! This book looks excellent. I'm teaching a lower division philosophy of religion class for the first time this coming semester and it was awfully hard to select a textbook (I don't have the expertise yet *not* to teach from a textbook), and part of my frustration stems from exactly the issues that Schilbrack addresses in this book. Now I hope to get a chance to teach his book in an upper level class. I did find Zagzebski's book for the lower level class, and it seems to me to be the closest one out there that broaches the themes of Carroll's. Great point about how one's broader ethical and theological commitments will shape one's view of these things. I should have been clearer in the OP about the absolute centrality of Calvin's vision of the depravity of man for my religious practice. From that perspective it's not nearly as perverse to suggest that prayer is, among other things, evidence of faithlessness. Someone truly perfect wouldn't do it, but that doesn't describe any of us. In this context it's important to stress that just because x is evidence of y, it doesn't follow that not doing x will alleviate y. At the limit of faithfulness one might not pray, but given our depraved nature prayer (alone and with groups) might be a very, very good way for depraved creatures like ourselves to get closer to true faithfulness. I actually suspect that something similar is going on with the notion of belief. I'm waiting until the research is in from Kvanvig's project (https://bearspace.baylor.edu/Jonathan_Kvanvig/www/plans_projects.html) before I dig into this in a sustained philosophical way though. I think that thusfar Wittgensteinian non-cognitivists have done the best job making sense of the apophatic tradition and the challenge this poses for belief-centric accounts of faith. But from my reading of Phillips and Whittaker I worry that this tradition doesn't make enough sense of what's going on with ordinary believers and I also worry that the underlying philosophy of language is too positivistic. Are you the Thomas Carroll who wrote Wittgenstein within the Philosophy of Religion (http://www.amazon.com/Wittgenstein-within-Philosophy-Religion-Carroll/dp/1137407891 )? The book looks fascinating and strikes me as giving an importantly different account than the Phillipsian one. It will be fun to read it and hopefully teach it. With the focus on Calvin, I'm tempted to see many of things in terms of a theory of conditional obligations that follow from our depravity. I don't think anybody has understood the cataphatic tradition of positive theology (of which 90% of contemporary analytic philosophy of religion is a part, people like Kvanvig and Schilbrack being important exceptions) as what many of us must do because we are morally and epistemically depraved. This is a bit strange in terms of the contrast between Orthodoxy and the Reformed tradition framed in the OP. In the Orthodox tradition the apophatic is higher than the cataphatic. You get something much more like the early Wittgenstein's mysticism here. In the Reformed tradition it's usually the reverse, which is why analytic philosophers are so much more likely to parse Calvin's sensus divinitatus in terms of a priori positive theological beliefs rather than other things stressed in the Reformed tradition such as sensitivity to Grace and ability to act out of gratitude (which is independent of belief in propositions stressed by the cataphatic tradition). Anyhow, thanks again so much for the link to Schilbrack's book. I think it (and your take on Wittgenstein) will be a great companion piece to Kvanvig's stuff when I get a chance to teach an upper level philosophy of religion class, and some day I hope to be able to incorporate these things into lower division classes too.
First, I enjoyed the putdown about dull punk bands and whatnot. It's pretty funny. Second, I apologized above both for calling Wolfendale a kid (though see what you call people when you are in your mid-40s with children of your own) and for saying that Brassier and I are not fit to polish the shoes of people like Adrian Johnson and Paul Livingston. Third, you should let John Protevi speak for himself about whether he respects me. I have immense respect for him as a philosopher, a teacher, and as a mentor to junior scholars and students. Please check out the notes he provides gratis to students on his web-page (http://www.protevi.com/john/courses.html). The amount of labor he puts in is pretty remarkable. At the end of the day we had very, very different visions of what newapps should be. Given the amount of work and emotion we'd both put into it the divorce was ugly. Stuff like that happens. Newapps is going fine in its current incarnation with him as an emeritus blogger. Fourth, to the extent that there are any substantive claims in Wolfendale's preface, they are: (1) Speculative Realism never existed (Brassier's "last word" that Wolfendale endorses), (2) Harman single handedly destroyed Speculative Realism by being a meany on the blogs, and (3) that all the faults of continental philosophy are manifest in Harman's pathological work. I'm being pilloried on facebook for supposedly not addressing his arguments for these claims. But how could one possibly produce compelling arguments for the conjunction of them? You'd need something like the Russell set and unrestrained ex falso quodlibet for the first two. The third could only be supported via polemical caricature. And on the first one, as I noted in the OP, I have already expended a decent amount of effort addressing the question. The first half of this article http://www.speculations-journal.org/storage/07_Cogburn_Ohm_Actual_Qualities_of_Imaginative_Things.pdf by me and Mark Ohm describes in detail what we take Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Philosophy to be. Also see our Translator's Introduction to Garcia's Form and Object, at http://www.euppublishing.com/userimages/ContentEditor/1394446563626/Garcia%20-%20Form%20and%20Object%20-%20Introduction.pdf . I linked to these above. I don't know what you want me to do, cut and paste large chunks of them here? The above post was just concerned with the preface and afterward of Wolfendale's book. I will give the book a careful read when I have time. If the actual philosophy is as ridiculously unfair and misleading as the preface I won't finish it. From reading Wolfendale's other work, I assume that there are some interesting things in there which I'll be happy to learn from. Fifth, the sycophant thing is absurd. If I was a sycophant I'd probably still be posting at newapps. I think Mark Lance is one of the most important living philosophers of language. I love his work. If I were a sycophant I would have turned over and peed myself when he piled on in the partially successful attempt to Colin McGinn me during my penultimate newapps post [ http://www.newappsblog.com/2014/09/in-praise-of-ableism.html ]. In general, one can cherish a philosopher's philosophy without being sycophantic. With respect to Harman personally, I've never met the guy. If I was a sycophant with respect to him I probably would not have Terence Blake and Anthony Paul Smith on my blog roll at right. If I was a sycophant with respect to him, I would have finished my Speculative Realism on time book instead of taking a three years' hiatus to work on Tristan Garcia. That Harman was nothing but supportive about this shows just how morally unfair is the picture one gets of him from Wolfendale's preface. Sixth, I don't know what you mean about being a mentor to the young. I get peeved when I perceive people being publicly unfair to other people, as Brassier and Wolfendale are in their caricatures of Harman. This has nothing to do with the age of the person being unfair. The only reason I mentioned Wolfendale's age is because I think these kinds of vices are both more explicable and forgivable in the young. Maybe I shouldn't have. I get a little peeved when people compare me to Scientologists, Big Foot enthusiasts, and Randroids. Wouldn't you? And yes it's a drag when people (no matter their age) who I've been nothing but decent to endorse the comparison. If the comparisons were fair, then it would be unreasonable for me to get peeved. But they're not fair. Nor is the claim that I haven't given arguments. I spent a year helping someone translate another 400 page work and co-wrote two relevant papers mentioned above. Again, there's no point to cutting and pasting chunks of them here. Anyone interested is free to follow the links or not.