Thursday, May 21, 2009

5 1 2 Thoughts on a Thursday

1) If you're wondering what to get me for my birthday - and I know that you are - you might want to track down a copy of Logicomix, the graphic novel that tells the "epic story of the quest for the Foundations of Mathematics." Now, I don't know how supportive I can be about any story that picks Bertrand Russell as its protagonist, but the truth is that it's an awesome story to tell, and that the artwork looks great.

This one of those things that makes me really like academic philosophy and philosophers....

2) ... Unfortunately, I found it through a link on the blog Philosophers Anonymous, which doesn't make me miss academic philosophy at all. It is a blog run by a total dick of a philosophy professor (something he proudly admits to on his profile) and is filled with the kind of attitudes which completely turns people off of philosophy. (Which, I bet, he thinks is a good thing.) He also absolutely hates the PCP series, something which is not uncommon among professors. But there are good reasons to dislike these books (some of the essays are really bad) and then there are bad reasons to dislike them, such as:

The past several weeks have brought an incredible number of "calls for abstracts" for volumes in the various "pop culture and philosophy" series. As I've argued previously on this blog, these books are an embarrassment to our profession and should be boycotted. The enterprise reached a new low, however, this morning with the announcement of a volume on Spider-Man and Philosophy.

Yes, at first the idea of such a volume seems no more stupid and useless than the others. But wait. As is typical, the "call for abstracts" includes a rather long and random list of silly suggested paper topics. In addition to the obvious suggestions-- which involve nothing more than taking a perennial philosophical question and inserting Spider-Man into it (e.g., "Spider-Man and the problem of evil"; "Spider-Man and personal identity")-- there is the suggestion that one might write a paper on "Just how does Spidey-sense work?"

Finally the series becomes aware of itself: An open invitation to utter bullshit.
I'm pretty sure Blackwell's doing Spider-Man. (Good for them!) But seriously, fuck this guy. He has a good following of snarky philosophy geeks, one of whom makes a very good point:

god, who even reads those books?

And yet, someone must-- walk into any B+N bookstore and the shelves are crammed with pop fluff wankery.

Whilst the Hegels gather dust and yellow...

Other ways that this guy gets under my skin:

So when she asked me what she should do, I told her that the answer was simple: stop reading your evaluations. Ignore them. Seriously: Has anyone has learned a damn thing of value from student evaluations?

Sometimes it's helpful to scan the Conference Alerts webpage. But most of the time it's little more than an occasion for confronting DOOM. Here's a prime example. No, I'm not making this up....

M(o)ther Trouble is a two-day international conference on the maternal, psychoanalysis and feminism. It is linked to an exhibition of artworks by Bracha Ettinger at the Freud Museum. Keynote speakers: Bracha Ettinger and Adriana Cavarero.

M(o)ther Trouble? Are they kidding? Assuming they're trying to play on "mother" and "other" (and, yes, there's a rat in Socrates, too), don't they mean (M)other? What's a "mther"?
And (this is him citing, approvingly, someone else):

Our department just released the results from its graduate logic exam and as usual half of the students did not pass. Every year the unsuccessful students react by grumbling about the pointlessness of having a logic requirement in the first place.
I suck at logic. But if this guy's failing half of his class as usual, then it's not the students who are at fault.

Sorry. Just had to get that off my chest.

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