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Helen De Cruz
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By Helen De Cruz In this installment of the Boot Camp, I'll discuss how to get support from a mentor, what a mentoring relationship involves, and how one can turn to peers for support. Many readers will already be familiar with formal mentoring programs, such as the Job Candidate Mentoring... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Philosophers' Cocoon
By Helen De Cruz When I first arrived in Somerville College, Oxford, in September 2011, I found myself incredulously staring at the women's portraits, gazing calmly and confidently at me in the dining hall and throughout the college buildings. I was so used to all male portraits and busts in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
By Helen De Cruz Viewers of the HBO show Game of Thrones may remember with horror how Stannis Baratheon sacrificed his only daughter Shireen to ask the God of Light for success in battle (pictured). Seeing how the girl pleaded in vain to her parents to spare her was heartbreaking.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
This is a series of recommendations by Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame) on how to write better letters of recommendation for job applicants and applicants for graduate study. I find them all excellent, and am inviting readers to give their own tips and tricks. Note: The norms are obviously somewhat different... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2015 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
And The first link is an interview with Michael Rea, about, among other things, the relationship between liturgy and divine hiddenness The second link is an interview with Samuel Lebens, about what it is like to be a philosopher and an Orthodox Rabbi.
Fun fact: the term cliffhanger comes from A pair of blue eyes, a serial novel by Thomas Hardy which appeared in several installments in a literary magazine. The purpose, as for season finales, is to entice the reader to buy the next novel. In that cliffhanger, the protagonist looks into the eyes of a fossil (Hardy was interested in Darwinism). Here is the passage: Haggard cliffs, of every ugly altitude, are as common as sea-fowl along the line of coast between Exmoor and Land’s End; but this outflanked and encompassed specimen was the ugliest of them all. Their summits are not safe places for scientific experiment on the principles of air-currents, as Knight had now found, to his dismay. He still clutched the face of the escarpment — not with the frenzied hold of despair, but with a dogged determination to make the most of his every jot of endurance, and so give the longest possible scope to Elfride’s intentions, whatever they might be. He reclined hand in hand with the world in its infancy. Not a blade, not an insect, which spoke of the present, was between him and the past. The inveterate antagonism of these black precipices to all strugglers for life is in no way more forcibly suggested than by the paucity of tufts of grass, lichens, or confervae on their outermost ledges. Knight pondered on the meaning of Elfride’s hasty disappearance, but could not avoid an instinctive conclusion that there existed but a doubtful hope for him. As far as he could judge, his sole chance of deliverance lay in the possibility of a rope or pole being brought; and this possibility was remote indeed. The soil upon these high downs was left so untended that they were unenclosed for miles, except by a casual bank or dry wall, and were rarely visited but for the purpose of collecting or counting the flock which found a scanty means of subsistence thereon. At first, when death appeared improbable, because it had never visited him before, Knight could think of no future, nor of anything connected with his past. He could only look sternly at Nature’s treacherous attempt to put an end to him, and strive to thwart her. From the fact that the cliff formed the inner face of the segment of a huge cylinder, having the sky for a top and the sea for a bottom, which enclosed the cove to the extent of more than a semicircle, he could see the vertical face curving round on each side of him. He looked far down the facade, and realized more thoroughly how it threatened him. Grimness was in every feature, and to its very bowels the inimical shape was desolation. By one of those familiar conjunctions of things wherewith the inanimate world baits the mind of man when he pauses in moments of suspense, opposite Knight’s eyes was an imbedded fossil, standing forth in low relief from the rock. It was a creature with eyes. The eyes, dead and turned to stone, were even now regarding him. It was one of the early crustaceans called Trilobites. Separated by millions of years in their lives, Knight and this underling seemed to have met in their death. It was the single instance within reach of his vision of anything that had ever been alive and had had a body to save, as he himself had now. The creature represented but a low type of animal existence, for never in their vernal years had the plains indicated by those numberless slaty layers been traversed by an intelligence worthy of the name. Zoophytes, mollusca, shell-fish, were the highest developments of those ancient dates. The immense lapses of time each formation represented had known nothing of the dignity of man. They were grand times, but they were mean times too, and mean were their relics. He was to be with the small in his death. Knight was a geologist; and such is the supremacy of habit over occasion, as a pioneer of the thoughts of men, that at this dreadful juncture his mind found time to take in, by a momentary sweep, the varied scenes that had had their day between this creature’s epoch and his own. There is no place like a cleft landscape for bringing home such imaginings as these.
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2015 on I Hate Cliffhangers at Philosophical Percolations
By Helen De Cruz Ancient DNA (aDNA), extracted from deceased organisms, has recently let to exciting discoveries. In the field of paleoanthropology, there was a long-standing debate on whether or not anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals interbred. Thanks to aDNA, we know there is some introgression of Neanderthal DNA in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
On the philosophy smoker, Mr Zero asks why he keeps on going on the job market, year after year. He loves the job, and he likes the position he has, which are solid reasons to stay in his NTT position, but he also says "I don't really know how to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2015 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
By Helen De Cruz [Note: this is not a hugely philosophical post, just one where I muse about some of the cool features of countries I've lived in] I live in the Netherlands - it's the third country I live in. Living in different countries gives you a perspective on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
With the American job season warming up and several jobs posted already for the fall, notice the several British philosophy jobs one can apply to. The UK academic job market does not operate on a timetable; there are jobs all year round. I've been on both sides of the interview... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2015 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
By Helen De Cruz Robert Heinlein was an influential SF author, writers of such works as Starship Troopers and Stranger in a strange land. In The moon is a harsh mistress, he developed a libertarian philosophy and presented the Moon as a libertarian anarchist utopia, a place without laws, no... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
For my next installment of philosophers who write speculative fiction, I interview Julian Friedland on his novel American Steam. Can you tell me something about yourself, and how you got into writing speculative fiction? Writing a novel is something I’ve always wanted to do. And it's certainly been a liberating... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
Hi Scott - these are excellent points, thanks! From the same cognitive closure article, Djikic et al note "Paradoxically, the smaller the number of alternative hypotheses, the greater is the thinker’s confidence in their validity", which may indeed be part of the phenomenon you point to, namely that people become more confident as they have less information available. One way to avoid this happening is to avoid a philosophical debate, in its early stages, of getting stuck around a few major positions, and I think the need for cognitive closure - the need to get a few handles on a new philosophical phenomenon, plays a major role in this.
By Helen De Cruz One of my new research interests is the philosophy of skills, or knowledge-how (see blogposts on The Philosophers' Cocoon, e.g., here). As so often is the case, the philosophical debate on knowledge-how is dominated by two well-outlined, opposing positions, in this case intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. According... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
In this series, I’ll be exploring speculative fiction, in particular science fiction or fantasy, as a philosophical tool by interviewing philosophers who write in these genres. This fourth part of the series is with David John Baker, associate professor at the University of Michigan. He writes short science fiction stories.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
By Helen De Cruz In this series, I’ll be exploring speculative fiction, in particular science fiction or fantasy, as a philosophical tool by interviewing philosophers who write in these genres. This third part of the series is with R. Scott Bakker, philosopher and fiction author. You can read a short... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
I'm doing a series of posts on expert skills over at the Philosophers' Cocoon:
In this series, I’ll explore speculative fiction, in particular science fiction or fantasy, as a philosophical tool by interviewing philosophers who write in these genres (see here for part 1). This second part of the series is with Eric Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at UC Riverside, with a PhD... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
Hi Michel X - that's a good point (and people now wonder how anyone could have been fooled by van Meegeren - it does not look like Vermeer at all). Morellian analysis by itself does not work, and we need other tools (such as dating techniques), still, I regularly see art appraisers who are used to, say, assess whether a small etching found in an attic is by Rembrandt or by an obscure contemporary. Maybe appraisers do better with this sort of thing than with deliberate forging, in any case, one can be wary about whether skills are really reliable. I'm going to address this in one of my follow-up posts here
Hi Elisa: Thanks so much! I just read your post - do you have, next to your blogpost, any articles on this that I could cite?
Hi Elisa - thank you for your insights and the reference to the jeweler's case - I will check this out. About (2) I agree basic perception (what Reid called "original perception") is variable across cultures, lots of interesting Whorfian effects, for instance. Still, I'm wondering if one can't make the case skilled perception is more variable. But maybe it's better to see this at the individual level rather than the cultural level. For instance, I have difficulties distinguishing between 2 closely matching hues of blues which speakers of Russian will easily tell apart because they correspond to different basic color terms. But try as I might, I cannot tell a piece of colored glass from, say, a sapphire (or pick any gem resembling glass somewhat). I will deal with the problem of (3) in one of my next posts! The problem of circularity is indeed there - and it's a bigger problem than for basic perception, but I think it can be solved.
In this series, I’ll be exploring speculative fiction, in particular science fiction or fantasy, as a philosophical tool by interviewing philosophers who write in these genres. This first part of the series is with Mark Silcox, a professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma. His first... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
Hi Specialist: I think your reasoning is correct - being in a general philosophy helps you to "pass" as a philosopher even if your work is rather unconventional. But I think it does highlight some very problematic aspect of our profession, namely that some fields of philosophy are regarded as inherently less philosophical (Kristie Dotson has an excellent musing on this in Hypatia), and thus the perceived need for passing, by placing one's work in a journal that is regarded as having a high standard of excellence.
Hi Anon - I'm not sure what the rationale of the Bingo strategy is, only that many people seem to think it looks good to have a smorgasbord of publication venues in one's CV. It's easier to do that if you work either in a broad field like epistemology or have several fields of specialization. Fortunately, I don't think that it's a necessary condition for a good CV and the discipline still recognizes specialists whose work does not fit in a wide array of journals. There seem to be several motivations why people send to top journals, among others: 1. Belief that one needs top publications to get a tenure track job. Even before I had a TT job, I didn't send to top journals except a few times. It just doesn't seem to be the case - and Carolyn Dicey Jenning's work confirms this - that one needs to have such papers to be hired. 2. Wanting to be perceived as a leader in the field. I fear that it is increasingly the case that if you want to be perceived as a research star (not just land a TT and get tenure), publication in such journals *is* important, which is problematic for some fields. For instance, there's very few papers in philosophy of race, feminism, philosophy of religion, aesthetics etc etc in such journals.