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Helen De Cruz
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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 59 minutes ago 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 7 days ago 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.
Hi Anon - you're probably on to something that this is genre related, and your remarks made me think about Tolkien's Eucatastrophe hypothesis, the idea that the sudden happy turn in fairy tales points to a deeper reality (his idea of a Christian reality where all ends well). But while I did not make a systematic study of noir and other genres, even there the absence of happy endings does not necessarily mean the just-world beliefs as frustrated. For instance, in The Maltese Falcon (at least the movie, I did not read the Hammett novel), Brigid and Sam are clearly in love, but since Brigid killed Sam's partner he has no choice but to turn her over to the police. He says he'll wait for her. It's a sad ending, but what Brigid got was what she deserved, and so it does not subvert just world beliefs.
I like this post; there is a lot to think about. I wouldn't be surprised if there was something like racial dysphoria. As a child, I so desperately wanted to belong, growing up in Belgium which is mostly white, with about 10% or less people of North African or west Asian origin (Turkish etc). I am of mixed heritage: my father's Malaysian (although, ironically, there he is racially typed as "Eurasian" because of the Kristang language - a sort of Portuguese mixed with a lot of Malay - and his surname, De Cruz, which indicates European ancestry too, but he does look Asian for the rest), and my mother is Belgian. Children kept on asking me if I was adopted, where my father was from, whether I had ever visited Malaysia, etc etc. At some point during summer camp, I had a total meltdown when a kid asked these questions for the what seemed 100th time in just a few days, and the teachers punished me severely by grounding me for the rest of the camp, saying I should be grateful that people took an interest in me at all. How angry I was, and how I wished to be white like the other kids. That would solve all my problems: I'd make friends more easily. As a teenager too, when I started noticing overt racism (and Belgium is incredibly racist with a 50% unemployment rate of people who are not white), and I called people out on it, I was told I was playing the "race card". So I would've paid a lot of money to be able to pass for white, and I tried my best by not sitting in the sun in the summer. I find it problematic that such attempts to pass as white would be seen as a form of deception, although there are some disanalogies in this case. For the moment, I'm OK with who I am but I do envy people who have a clear ancestral history that is clear-cut and that they can identify with. For instance, I do not speak Kristang, I only visited Malaysia once, I can cook some Malaysian meals but they don't taste as authentic as my father's. I feel more connected to my mother's white ancestry, simply because I lived in Belgium for most of my life, and was raised to a significant extent by my grandmother who had a rich cultural heritage of folk tales, Mary worship, pancakes and waffles, etc. I can imagine what it would be like to strongly emotionally identify with someone of another race and wanting to belong. I do not know all the details of the case, but it seems on the face of it that racial dysphoria is possible.
I like the messiness of the characters too, as well as the fact that the creators consciously go against the just world beliefs of their audience. The consensus about JWBs is that they are causally related to victim-blaming, in which case we would be better off not having any JWB. The empirical evidence for this is rather ambiguous. For instance, one paper shows that women (but not men) with high JWB are willing to allot higher compensation to rape victims if given the opportunity to do so - so JWB seem to incite people to actions that are victim-compensatory. The problem arises when victims cannot be compensated, in which case people switch to victim-blaming.
By Helen De Cruz Game of Thrones is a pretty violent show, but this is not, or not mainly, why it shocks its viewers - which it repeatedly does, and especially did in the final two episodes of this season. So what makes the show so shocking? What sets Game... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
By Helen De Cruz My son just turned two. Like other toddlers, one would say he’s got terrible taste. He loves brightly colored toys, mostly cars, and he loves movies about cars and nursery rhymes. We don’t own a television, but thanks to YouTube and DVDs, he’s got a fair... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
Alex: this is indeed unpleasant and awkward. A good reminder to be cautious about this
Oops! it should be (Marcus will fix the link).
I worry about this too, but I do think that the search committee can get more information in this way. For instance, in Europe application packages are quite minimalistic (no research or teaching statements, in my experience), and the personal website is a place where you can put those. Also, they allow search committee members to quickly look through some of your work to get a sense of the broader corpus of work, not just your writing sample. I fear that you are right that the personal website gives information about race, gender etc that you might not want disclosed at that point. But you can still then alter the website to make that kind of info inaccessible (e.g., only placing your initials, no personal photo).