My author copies of Levinas Unhinged arrived today. If you’re interested, you can get your own discounted copy at Amazon HERE, a few weeks earlier than anticipated.
If you’re a fan of Schelling, Merleau-Ponty, or Levinas (or all three together) then Duquesne University is the place to be in 2013. Duquesne will host the following events:
Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy (Schelling and Naturphilosophie), August 5-9
North American Levinas Society, July 28-31
Merleau-Ponty Circle, September 26-28
Levi has enumerated a set of axioms, largely inspired by materialist and atheist modes of thought, in support of what he’s calling ‘dark ontology’. How to cope with the truth of these axioms? That is perhaps one of the greatest, if not the most challenging, philosophical problems.
A History of Habit: From Aristotle to Bourdieu will be available in the coming weeks. Amazon says it’s available May 1, but availability might be closer to mid-May. In any case, there’s the cover for it. Adam and I are really happy with how it turned out and are very grateful to Matt Harris for the cover image.
Harman announced a couple days ago, in case you missed it, that he has landed a contract for the sequel to Prince of Networks. Like the first, his sequel, Prince of Modes, will appear with re.press. If it’s anything like the original, Prince of Modes should bring to light a lot of the rich metaphysics lurking within Latour’s writing, albeit a different sort of metaphysics than that explored in Harman’s first book.
It just so happens that last week I taught an article on the moral status of animals in medical ethics and attended a talk in the philosophy of race. I was struck by how far apart the intuitions (or at least sympathies) were in these texts. Reading the animals article, the author (like many others in animal ethics/studies) seem to work under the intuition that humans and nonhuman animals are quite similar and, morally speaking, deserve the same or nearly identical consideration. The hard part for them is to cash in this intuition for philosophical currency.
By contrast, at the philosophy of race talk the speaker recalled the history of analogies drawn between black/brown persons and animals. These analogies, of course, have been used to degrade black/brown persons. They’re animals!, so the insulting analogy goes. In response to this history, the speaker expressed a measured contempt for all of the (undue?) attention that animals have gotten in recent philosophy, especially in the so-called animal turn in continental philosophy. How can we, she was implying, pay so much attention to animals and so little attention to the plight of human minorities? Implicit (or explicit?) in her contempt is the intuition that human animals of course deserve greater moral consideration than nonhuman animals.
I’m not sure what to make of this, as I’m sympathetic to both views. But it does reinforce some of my skepticism about the value of intuitions for the discernment of truth.
I’m trying to figure out what conservatives think about persons, their autonomy, and their rights. It’s difficult because it seems like the following positions, all defended quite broadly and intensely from the right, don’t quite line up.
Abortion. In this debate, the conservative view argues that personhood begins at conception. This is why abortion is wrong: abortion murders a person.
Gay Marriage. It seems that conservatives need to hold something like the following view: gay humans are not persons, and this is why they should not be allowed to marry. After all, if all citizens of the United States are granted equal rights, then no citizen should be denied the right to marry. But if a gay human is not a person, and personhood is a necessary condition for citizenship, then a gay human does not qualify for citizenship and can be denied the rights of citizenship (including the right to marry). Of course, conservatives will not claim that gay humans are not persons, they’ll instead say that marriage has a specific, traditional definition that excludes gay marriage, as if what people really care about is the sanctity of definitions. So, if they don’t want to make the argument that definitions are more important than love, then they have to argue from consequentialist grounds that gay marriage threatens to undermine the well-being of the US (which they do, in unconvincing ways) or they have to argue that gay humans do not qualify for full citizenship and all the rights involved therein.
It’s interesting to note that when the issue is abortion, conservatives are pretty intense deontologists, concerned as they are with the autonomous rights of the embryo or fetus. But when it comes to gay marriage, they quickly become vehement consequentialists, quick to enumerate all of the nasty consequences that will befall America if gay marriage is legalized nationally.
Education. As Melissa Harris-Perry realized this week, conservatives don’t see children as persons. If they did, they wouldn’t be claiming–contra Harris-Perry–that children ‘belong’ to their parents. They wouldn’t be claiming that children belong to anyone; they’d be arguing that children are persons, and therefore belong to no one but themselves. Personhood entails autonomy, and autonomy means that no one can treat you like property and make decisions for you unless those decisions are in your best interests or consistent with what a rational agent would choose for oneself.
So, embryos and fetuses are persons, but children and gays are not persons? I’m confused.
THIS article has me a bit furious. It apparently reveals the “dark side of open access,” but it seems to be that it’s not really about open access at all, but about academic scams, what we might call “spam conferences” or “spam journals.” I’m curious to know what others think. If I’m right, open access is the scapegoat of the article.
Find the review at NDPR