All entries by this author

Paul Kurtz on Science and Ethical Judgments *

Nov 30th, 2004 | Filed by

Can science and reason help us reason about ethics?… Read the rest

Hurrah for Nerds, Geeks and Enthusiasts *

Nov 30th, 2004 | Filed by

Guess what, they make a contribution.… Read the rest

Paul Ricoeur Shares Library of Congress Prize *

Nov 30th, 2004 | Filed by

Kluge prize goes to historian Jaroslav Pelikan and philosopher Paul Ricoeur.… Read the rest

100 Trillion Synapses and Real Experiences *

Nov 30th, 2004 | Filed by

Computers could write novels, but they would probably be on the dull side.… Read the rest

How Dare They

Nov 30th, 2004 12:15 am | By

Let’s take a look at a letter from Judith Butler to the New York Times on that UC Irvine site to apotheosise Derrida. The letter is quite short, but full of matter. Dense with significance. Significance oozes out of every word.

Jonathan Kandell’s vitriolic and disparaging obituary of Jacques Derrida takes the occasion of this accomplished philosopher’s death to re-wage a culture war that has surely passed its time.

A culture war. That’s significant. That implies that the only reason to say anything critical about Derrida or his reputation and standing, is that one is a cultural warrior, i.e. a right-winger. That doesn’t happen to be true; it’s not even close to true; saying it is merely a rhetorical way … Read the rest

Mark Your Calendar

Nov 29th, 2004 7:10 pm | By

Bookshop barnie. Eh? I don’t know; that’s what it’s called. Don’t ask me. But anyway – chance of a lifetime.

The next debate, on January 20th 2005, will be held at the London Review of Books bookshop in Bury Place, WC1.Here Jeremy Stangrom, co-founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine, will speak to the themes of his new book, written with Ophelia Benson: The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense: A Guide for Edgy People October, 2004. This should ease us into the New Year, with questions whether this sort of book challenges, undermines or reinforces dumbing down. Barnies attract around fifty seated guests for a close up and personal discussion on the themes thrown up by a particular book. You don’t have

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Environmental Study ‘Clears’ GM Crops *

Nov 29th, 2004 | Filed by

Study also found potential benefits to farmers of growing GM crops.… Read the rest

Study Finds Benefits in GM Crops *

Nov 29th, 2004 | Filed by

And no evidence that they harm the environment… Read the rest

John Gray Reviews Alister McGrath on Atheism *

Nov 29th, 2004 | Filed by

And makes one dubious assertion after another.… Read the rest

Mark Bauerlein Reviews Just Being Difficult? *

Nov 29th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Outside the tiny group of academic theorists, the question is closed.’… Read the rest

The Derrida Industry…

Nov 29th, 2004 | By Brian Leiter

…has been working overtime to salvage the reputation of their man. Things are so bad that Joan Scott–who I’m told is a substantial historian, but apparently not much of a philosopher–actually wrote the following to The New York Times:

[Your obituary writer] is embarrassingly illiterate in the history of philosophy. His obituary is also terribly one sided. I thought the Times was committed to balance. Where are the appreciative quotes from American philosophers and literary critics? From those (and there are many) who have used his work to great effect and taught whole generations of students how to read [sic] differently [i.e., badly]?

The obituary author may, indeed, be ignorant of the history of philosophy, but certainly no more … Read the rest

There is a Reason

Nov 29th, 2004 2:49 am | By

I should have dug this up sooner.

Here is a petition/memorial for Derrida at the University of California at Irvine. A great many signatures from literature professors…and very few philosophers. That’s fine; no harm in being a literature type, or having a memorial thingy; only he does get called a ‘world-renowned philosopher’ and the like, quite a lot. But mostly only by people in other departments. One can’t help suspecting that all those non-signatory philosophers know something that the literature people don’t quite grasp…

Brian Leiter for example. Here and here and here and here. And Leiter, entirely unlike me, has actually read the guy. So he confirms my suspicions. Yes, there is a reason why it’s literature people … Read the rest

My Suspicions are Awakened

Nov 28th, 2004 9:29 pm | By

Do us a favour, if you feel like it and have a minute. I’ve heard from two readers who have written good reviews of the Dictionary at Amazon. Neither one has shown up; one was several days ago, the other was a week and a half ago. So the one-star just sits there uncontradicted all this time. Hmm…that seems odd. So if anyone else has written a favourable review that hasn’t shown up, perhaps you could let me know. I’m just curious…… Read the rest

Centre for What?

Nov 28th, 2004 9:21 pm | By

Frances Stonor Saunders makes a pointed comment in the Observer.

Last week came an announcement from the University of London’s Birkbeck College that it intends to establish a centre for public intellectuals…But what exactly is a public intellectual? Unfortunately, Birkbeck doesn’t tell us. There’s some woolly stuff about the centre putting itself at the ‘forefront of current intellectual debate’, about making ‘public intervention on issues of current importance’. The centre’s inaugural project will be a series of lectures honouring the life and work of Jacques Derrida. A centre for public intellectuals needs a public to address. By focusing on Derrida, whose work took impenetrability to dizzying heights, Birkbeck is clearly signalling that by ‘public’ it means elitism on a platform.

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Zimbabwean Children Sell Their Bodies *

Nov 28th, 2004 | Filed by

To get food for themselves and their siblings.… Read the rest

Cunning Plan for Zimbabwe: Obesity Tourism *

Nov 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Will obese tourists pay to do manual labour on land seized from white farmers?… Read the rest

What College Students Learn About Science *

Nov 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Philip Mole says credulity is the consequence of incomplete education.… Read the rest

Frances Stonor Saunders on Public Intellectuals *

Nov 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Derrida may be ‘elitism on a platform’ but fatal compromise is worse.… Read the rest

Tribal Sentimentalism a Threat to Democracy *

Nov 28th, 2004 | Filed by

A Wala feels superior to a Dagarti, the Dagombas and Gonjas feel superior to neighbours, the Asante feel superior to the lot.… Read the rest

What to Do About Chelsea Tractors *

Nov 28th, 2004 | Filed by

Try health-warning labels.… Read the rest