Month: January 2012

MUN Colloquium Schedule

MUN’S graduate colloquium series on the topic of life is below, meeting Tuesday this semester a 2-3:15 in CHEM 4036. My own lecture will likely only touch briefly on Agamben (along with some Derrida and Esposito) before diving into Aristotle.

Philosophy Winter Colloquium 2012

Jan 17  Stephen Gardner         “The Form of Life: Pythagorean Reflections on Modern Biology”

Jan 24 Michelle Rebidoux     “The Greatest of These is Love: The Traditional Christian Virtues in Michel

Henry’s Phenomenology of Life”


Jan 26 Scott Johnson              “Why Kantian Constructivism Fails”

Jan 31 Walter Okshevsky       “Kant on Transcendental Self-Understanding and the Vocation of Moral Life”

Feb 7   Bernard Wills             “Parmenides, Heraclitus and the Theological Category of Life”

Feb 14 Peter Gratton              “Agamben on Aristotle”


Feb 16 Christopher Martin     TBA

Feb 21 BREAK

Feb 28 Seamus O’Neill          “Eritis sicut Dii: Theosis, Pride, and the Dialectic of the Devil in Platonic and Christian Thought”

Mar 6  Peter Harris                “Heidegger on Aristotle”


Mar 8  Suma Rajiva               “Life and Moral Agency”

Mar 13 David Thompson       “The Norms of Life”

Mar 20 Arthur Sullivan          “The Life of the Sign”

Mar 27 Darren Hynes             “The Many Lives of Rene Descartes”

Apr 3 Peter Trnka                   “Flavor Experience and Heterotrophic Life:  How to Chew Gum II”

Courses this Semester

My undergraduate course in Political Philosophy has its page here. I might lose some Rousseau to shoehorn in some Spinoza, given student interest.

The graduate course in political philosophy is here. It’s a survey course of what I’m framing in terms of post-Heideggerian Continental political philosophy. I’m going to try to round up figures to interview, based on grad student questions, scholars of these figures, which I’ll post on this page.

Review of Sloterdijk’s Spheres Vol. 1

In the THE by Constantine Sandis, who, like many readers of Sloterdijk, finds him wildly digressive and perhaps in the end superficial. I don’t share that view at all  (neither do the writers in new Sloterdijk Now), though I will say Sloterdijk’s prose, often beautiful, is actually at its best when it is digressive and literary, and I find his shorter, more polemical works not well argued and often provocative in the worst sense. (For a taste, see this English translation of what set off his row with Axel Honneth a couple of years ago, which should have gone all the way and just argued for the gold standard.)


IHE article on the APA Smoker

Here. (H/T Leiter) I tried to find online any pictures from the early APAs, which really did involve cigar smoking among an all-male club, but alas, couldn’t spot one. Two reforms are needed:

1. Committees should short list their candidates by using Skype. No one should have to spend $1000 or more to go the APA to have one interview when one is up against fifteen other candidates. The way this is handled in the U.S. is quite different than elsewhere. Memorial brought me to campus. No APA interview. They had a short list, invited the candidates and went from there. I know there’s a value to face-to-face conversations, but it seems to me you can invite more candidates to campus if you cut out the funding needed to send a faculty committee to the APA to do the interviews.

2. Whose idea is it to provide free booze on the first night of the smoker? It’s like a torture test for nervous graduate students. Also, it’s not a good idea for various drunk faculty I’ve seen wandering around, some of whom have been on hiring committees. David Shrader, the exec director of the APA, says as much:

Amidst this hubbub of anxiety, David Schrader, the executive director of the APA, walked around shaking hands and making conversation. …He noted the concerns of some women and said there had been informal discussions at the APA. Some had suggested a cash bar instead of free alcohol as a way of tempering bad behavior by making it a bit difficult to drink too much. …“There are a few who will misbehave,” he said. “We are not sure if we can do anything about the placement process spilling over to a reception or whether we can ask job candidates not to talk to an institution in a social setting.” Schrader said there were plenty of female philosophers who were comfortable at the reception and had not raised the issues mentioned in the blogs.

This a really unfortunate quote: what women have described is an atmosphere in which they are being propositioned by inebriated hiring committee members, which is beyond “misbehav[ing[,” but, you know, runs afoul of a slew of state and federal laws. And even if “plenty” of female philosophers don’t seem to mind (do I need to mention how similar wording has been used to defend many offensive practices far worse than this?), isn’t it enough if even a few say they do indeed mind and quite a bit so?

If women are writing on various blogs that they feel uncomfortable, well isn’t that enough reason to reform this? What could trump that? A reception is obviously fine, but get rid of the tables so that people are mixing more freely.

There are other good reasons anyway. The year I was on the market, I was exhausted from interviewing during the day and getting rid of the tables means you can perhaps give a “hi” or have a short conversation with a department without feeling the need to linger. Also, it means you can avoid having to meet other candidates, which always makes for awkward conversation. (I’ll never forget getting stared down by another candidate while talking to a member of the committee at a smoker. I was just trying to have a pleasant conversation about potential mutual interests and he stared at me, seeming without blinking for many minutes, as if I had killed his cat.)

Spinoza and Naturalism

Another link: Peter Wolfendale has a lengthy (but well worth it) discussion of Spinoza here.

Speaking of Spinoza, we’ll be doing a reading group on Spinoza’s Tractactus Theologico-Politicus at MUN during the winter quarter (if you’re in St. John’s, pop me an email and let me know you’re interested; we’re still figuring out a meeting time and place). Partly in preperation, I’ve been reading Steven Nadler’s A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age  and and look forward to getting my hands on, when I get back to St. John’s, Hasana Sharp’s Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization, both of which came out in the fall.