Peripatetic Potpouri

Peripatetic Potpouri

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Slavoj éiûek reminds us that resistance is not futile (in the London Review of Books):

The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist on ‘infinite’ demands we know those in power cannot fulfil. Since they know that we know it, such an ‘infinitely demanding’ attitude presents no problem for those in power: ‘So wonderful that, with your critical demands, you remind us what kind of world we would all like to live in. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where we have to make do with what is possible.’ The thing to do is, on the contrary, to bombard those in power with strategically well-selected, precise, finite demands, which can’t be met with the same excuse.

James Seaton critiques Jeffrey Hart’s version of “prudential conservatism” in The University Bookman:

It is true that prudence is a great virtue in politics, and there is a good deal to be said in favor of “prudential conservatism.” Unfortunately, however, when prudence is detached from principle, it becomes mere expediency. The effect of Hart’s lively book is to commend a “prudential, effective conservatism” whose effectiveness would, one fears, be measured not by its success in putting conservative principles into practice—prudently of course—but simply by its success in winning elections.

Roger Kimball throws prudence to the wind, daring to speak ill of the dead (Norman Mailer).  Not so Jürgen Habermas on Richard Rorty.  Rorty would have certainly agreed with Mailer when he (Mailer) said in a recent interview:

The point is that the purpose of life may be to find higher and better questions.

This might make good advice for a (possibly) “great infidel,” Simon Blackburn, featured in a piece in the Financial Times, who’s a smart guy who proves he’s not immune from the unsubtleties of fashionable (and literarily lucrative) atheism.  Blah, blah, blah…

Carlin Romano reports on philosopher Anita Allen, and the situation in philosophy for African American women like herself.  Allen says,

“I have not been able to encourage other people like me to go into philosophy because I don’t think it has enough to offer them.

“The salaries aren’t that great, the prestige isn’t that great, the ability to interact with the world isn’t that great, the career options aren’t that great, the methodologies are narrow.

“Why would you do that when you could be in an African American studies department, a law school, a history department, and have so many more people to interact with who are more like you, a place where so many more methods are acceptable, so many more topics are going to be written about? Why would you close yourself off in philosophy?

“I feel that philosophy is hoisting itself by its own petard. Its unwillingness to be more inclusive in terms of issues, methods, demographics, means that it’s losing out on a lot of vibrancy, a lot of intellectual power.”

“I don’t think I would encourage a black woman who has big ideas necessarily to go into philosophy Why? What’s the point? Go out and win the Pulitzer Prize! Don’t worry about academic philosophy. On the other hand, I would like to see that world open up to more women and women of color.”

There you have it.