On the thread I’ve been obsessing about for the past few days I’ve made three comments. Only the first has been approved by Leiter; the other two are pending and, I suspect, will not be approved. Other comments have appeared since I made mine, which leads me to believe that I’ve been excluded. If they do eventually appear, all the better. The first responded to two of Leiter’s own responses and basically reiterated my call for substantial criticism of the issue under question (i.e., ‘bad’ philosophy). It also suggested that the purpose of Leiter’s post is to perform quality control on the NDPR, by chastising their editorial decisions. Leiter contends:
BL COMMENT: I’m not entirely sure where this particular discussion is going. Bad philosophy is bad, and should be held up for ridicule. Someone really patient, with endless time, can write up a careful critique of bad philosophy–scholars have done that on occasion, with limited effect. The readers of the NY Times are not the audience for this discussion. Bad philosophy is still well-represented in academic philosophy departments in the US and elsewhere; indeed, there’s an entire professional organization, SPEP, which champions bad work on and inspired by the Continental traditions in philosophy.
BL COMMENT: No one has questioned the quality of NDPR, indeed, the opposite. The particular nonsense at issue here is anomalous, and can be attributed, no doubt, to the fact that the editorial board includes some hacks and “Jewish poker” philosophers like Simon Critchley. So it goes.
I think the only way to make sense of Leiter’s post is to see it as an indictment of the NDPR’s decision to include Marder’s review of Skempton. If this isn’t its purpose, then we have to conclude that it’s an open forum to beat up on the SPEP crowd. I also asked, in my filtered comment, for a criterion that can help uninitiated outsiders (for several comments worry about these folks’ encounter with philosophy) determine when a piece of philosophical writing is bad or good. It seems like the first criterion would be: if it’s written by a marginal philosophy professor and focused on a contemporary French Sophist, then it’s bad. I invite others to provide helpful criteria for non-philosophers.
Here’s my second comment, just in case it doesn’t get approved by Leiter. It basically responds to one commentator, who first admits that Deleuze has written some good stuff before lamenting: ‘when I see what qualifies as Deleuze-inspired “theory” in film studies and other disciplines I’m horrified and embarrassed’. I immediately thought of John Mullarkey, who must terrify this commentator. In any case, my controversial comment:
I disagree with Sistare and Garrett. There’s nothing heated about this exchange. In fact, it’s only now becoming a genuine discussion. Remember, we shouldn’t worry about what other programs are doing with philosophers because they represent themselves. Literature departments have been written off countless times in this forum, so let’s just write off film studies too. Who cares if they do crazy things with Deleuze, so long as philosophers do sane things with Deleuze. But that means that such a thing is possible, but that can’t be because Deleuze is one of those guys beloved by the SPEP cadre. Now I’m confused.
Dear Brian: could you please approve my pending comment?
[Update: Leiter has approved my second comment, but not my first. He also asks for SPEP-affiliated philosophers who have done good work on Deleuze!]