Woke philosophy’s most recent moves

Daniel Kaufman at The Electric Agora walks us through the t philosopher-Justin Weinberg campaign to ostracize and silence The Evil TERFs, starting with t philosopher:

Woke philosophy’s most recent moves can be found in an “open letter” to the profession, published anonymously (by “t-philosopher”) and entitled “I am leaving academic philosophy because of its transphobia problem,” as well as a lengthy essay, written by none other than our intrepid Weinberg, “Trans Women and Philosophy: Learning from Recent Events” and published at the Daily Nous. The two pieces are an exquisite pairing: T-philosopher is wounded and empowered and terrified and accusatory and defeated and defiant, all at once – sometimes, even in the same sentence – and then, suddenly, thankfully, as if out of a puff of smoke, Weinberg appears on the scene to help us sort it out so that we all might become Better People.

T-philosopher announces to the profession – all of it – that she is leaving because of philosophy’s “transphobia” and the terrible harm she has suffered at the hands of “bigots” like Kathleen Stock (who else?), whose presence renders her no longer “safe in professional settings.” Then comes the inevitable “call to action”: Journals must refuse to publish articles critical of gender identity theory and activism; conferences must no-platform philosophers seeking to present gender critical arguments; gender critical thinkers must be barred from public discourse, whether on blogs, discussion boards, social media sites, comments sections, or other online venues; and anyone and everyone who is going to engage in both professional and public philosophical discourse on the subject had better accept that “any trans discourse that does not proceed from this initial assumption — that trans people are the gender that they say they are — is oppressive, regressive, and harmful” and that “trans discourse that does not proceed with a substantial amount of care at amplifying trans voices and understanding the trans experience should not exist.”

If you’ve raised a teenager, as my wife Nancy and I have done, you’ll immediately recognize this as very typically adolescent behavior. The clueless narcissism (“to the academic philosophy community…”); the catastrophizing (I know Kathleen Stock. You can watch video of Kathleen Stock.  One cannot possibly be “unsafe” because of Kathleen Stock); the empty (because toothless) demands; the emotional blackmail (You see what you’re making me do!); even the proverbial running away from home (I’m leaving and never coming back!)  It’s all there.

Another way of understanding it is simply as narcissism. The two are pretty much the same thing – we know narcissists when we see them because they act like angry teenagers even though they are grown-ass adults. They don’t all threaten to run away from home, to be sure, but the trans activist variety sure do invoke suicide a lot.

Then he gets to Weinberg. He is not an admirer.

Suffice it to say that Weinbergism is alive and well and holding court: the phony even-handedness (a not-very-effective trick he employs is to repeatedly suggest that those on his side of the issue are likely as dismayed by what he has said as his opponents); the credulous embrace of the testimony of those with whom he is already sympathetic (“Reader, what do you do when you are confronted with the anguish of another person?”); the breathtaking hypocrisy (“Be attentive to hostile rhetoric in work you are considering hosting or publishing”); the false modesty (“Yes, that’s my name up there. No, I’m not going to defend myself in this post. That’s not the point of this”); the obligatory swipe at Brian Leiter, with the equally obligatory misrepresentation of things that anyone with a pulse, two fingers, and an internet connection can check for themselves (“a well-known philosophy-blogger’s obsession with belittling graduate students who use Twitter to discuss trans issues” (2)); the by-now legendary lack of self-awareness (“Note the venues. Much of the trans-exclusionary writing by philosophers that has fueled recent controversies has been self-published (e.g., at Medium) by philosopher-activists..,” published on Weinberg’s personal site, in an essay about a politically-soaked letter published on Medium).  It’s classic Weinberg; Weinberg as only Weinberg can be.

He goes on to point out that woke philosophy isn’t philosophy at all but politics. I would think, though, that philosophers could carry the skills and the norms they rely on for philosophy into their other endeavors. Is that fatuous? Kaufman points out that their goals are very different: politics is about working for a specific outcome, while philosophy is about good arguments. (Sloppy paraphrase, but you get the drift.) If you can’t come up with a good argument for your favored outcome you should probably conclude that you ought to stop favoring that outcome…but political commitments often have to do with loyalties. It’s tricky. What if a good argument, one you can find no way to dispute, justifies an abhorrent conclusion? What do you do?

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