Sunday, April 28, 2013

Democratic Experimentalism Workshop

Democratic Experimentalism Workshop

UNC Asheville Laurel Forum

April 26, 2013

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.   Reception and Provost's Welcome

Jane Fernandes

9 - 10:15 a.m.   Conversation 1: Foundations

Charles Sabel, Columbia University
William H. Simon, Columbia University
Brian E. Butler, University of North Carolina, Asheville

10:30 - 12 p.m.   Conversation 2: Questions

Gregory Fernando Pappas, Texas A&M University
Tom Burke, University of South Carolina
Justin Desautels-Stein, University of Colorado, Boulder
Heidi Li Feldman, Georgetown University

12 - 1:30 p.m.   Lunch

1:30 - 3 p.m.   Conversation 3: Instantiation

Keya Maitra, University of North Carolina, Asheville
Jamison E. Colburn, Pennsylvania State University
Michael Sullivan, Emory University
Chris Ansell, University of California, Berkley

3:15 - 4:45 p.m.   Conversation 4: Possibilities

Amy J. Cohen, Ohio State University
James Bohman, St. Louis University
Lenart Škof, University of Primorska
Amanda Lusky, University of Kentucky

6:30 p.m.   Reception at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

Dinner Downtown Asheville time and place TBD

Sponsorship and Thanks

This workshop is made possible by the sponsorship of the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies, the Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, the Thomas A. Howerton Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, the UNC Asheville Philosophy Society, Phi Sigma Tau, and Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership.
Special thanks is extended to Kyle Cavagnini, Monika Chao, John Fate Faherty, Carson Nickels, and Michael Jay Raymond for their participation in the Democratic Experimentalism reading group, as well as their participation and help in facilitating the workshop.
The readings for this workshop can be downloaded here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fellowship: Idealism and Pragmatism

Idealism & Pragmatism: Convergence or Contestation — Visitng Research Fellowship

Please see below for more information on a two-week visiting research fellowship at the University of Sheffield.
Visiting Research Fellowship, in conjunction with the Leverhulme network project on ‘Idealism and Pragmatism: Convergence or Contestation?’
Applications are invited for a two-week visiting research fellowship at the Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield. The fellowship is funded as part of the Leverhulme network project on ‘Idealism and Pragmatism’, and is to be held around the period of the first workshop, 25th-26th October 2013.The fellowship will cover travel, subsistence and accommodation for a two-week period. The fellow will be expected to attend the workshop, and also to present their work at some point during their stay.
The successful applicant should have completed their PhD by the time of the fellowship, and should have a demonstrable interest in the themes of the project.
Applications from both junior and senior scholars in the field are equally welcome.To apply, please send (1) a CV (2) a writing sample (3) a short statement of how your work relates to the themes of the project (no more than 1000 words). If possible, please submit this material electronically to the project administrator, Kim Redgrave <> by4.00pm on Monday 20th May 2013. If electronic submission is not possible, please contact Ms Redgrave for further instructions.
For any academic queries, please contact Robert Stern <>
For further details of the project, see:
For details of the 2013 Sheffield workshop, see:
For details of the Sheffield University Philosophy department, see:

Monday, April 22, 2013

New York Pragmatist Forum: Kitcher on Preludes to Pragmatism

Columbus (9th) Ave & 60th St
New York, New York, USA
- - - - - - -
Friday, April 26, 2013, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
- - - - - - -
*Philip Kitcher, Preludes to Pragmatism*

Dominic Balestra, Fordham University
Jacoby Carter, John Jay College
Devin Fitzpatrick, New School University
Judith Green, Fordham University
Kamili Posey, CUNY Graduate Center
S. Joshua Thomas, St. John’s University
Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
Refreshments Will Be Served

For More Information: JMGreen@ Fordham.Edu or HMcDonald@CityTech.CUNY.Edu

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Doors without Walls: On a Cultured Blindness

I have a favored weapon of cultural criticism.

When causally discussing cultural problems, say corporal punishment, privilege masquerading as meritocracy, or the socio-economic effects of otherness (race, ethnicity, gender, social status, etc.), I have noted a common blindness. Structural and institutional effects.  So many problems come from how an institution or culture is organized and not from any intentional decision. In so many discussions, I find myself talking about the institutional issues because--except among intellectuals--people overlook structural causes. Even in cases of intergenerational poverty, in which structural problems are the white elephant in the room, "people are lazy" or "people just want free money from the government" are common sayings.

We live in a building in which we see the doors but not the walls. We see "choices," but not the structures that support (not not) those choices.

This blindness pervades many social, cultural, political, and economic issues, and I think it is one of the reasons why they remain issues. We Americans tend to reduce everything to intentions, free will, and self-determination--just like our action movies.

One last point. I made an exception for intellectuals, because they generally are aware of these issues. However, awareness of and insight into structural effects--especially when they are part of the fabric of one's own life--can be very difficult to spot. On that topic, and in those discussions, I find myself talking about practical wisdom and not structural organization.

Computers Grading Papers: What Could Be Lost?

David Hildebrand at Hildeblog asks an important question. Warning: we're hunting snarks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Scientism as Ressentiment

“Scientism” refers to the view that only scientific knowing is valuable or acceptable as truth. A problem with this view is that it devalues commonsense and every-day knowing, while treating all knowers as an average individual. However, the entire point of many philosophic traditions is to cultivate wisdom and expert knowing not captured by the statistical averages of science, as well as to address fields of study that cannot be a science.

For instance, the metaphysical foundations of science, which science must presume, cannot be a science, yet is the subject of philosophy. Likewise, analysis of science as a social practice reveals that science follows a regulatory ideal, yet the ideal is not the actual, although scientism treats pursuit of the ideal of scientific knowing as if it were its attainment. Hence, when someone denigrates philosophy as “fantasy” wishing it were science, I hear a resonance of ressentiment.

Ressentiment, per Friedrich Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, is an inversion of value hierarchy. The inversion is both experiential and formal: a person of ressentiment both experiences and theorizes the weaker as the stronger.

I name scientism to be ressentiment because it disavows its own weaknesses and proclaims itself strong, yet it accomplishes this through illogical means that reveal its weakness. The logic is clear: scientific knowing is the best for predicting and controlling the world, yet there is more to nature than what yields to such treatment. Moreover, scientific practice cannot be made wholly transparent to itself, and scientific pretends, even when it insists otherwise, that any opaqueness in its practice is irrelevant. Such insistences become the subject of satire in works such as The Golem.

Scientism doubles-down on its ressentiment when it proclaims scientific naturalism, the view that only the objects of science are real. Rather than tacitly claim that only what can be predicted and controlled is real, it raises the proclamation to ontological doctrine—and often disavows metaphysics while performing this ontological move.

I will you with a concluding thought from Nietzsche. At the end of the Genealogy of Morals, he proposed that the ascetic will to deny life has become the ascetic will to truth. That is, Christian ressentiment, supposing that Christians deny nature for the world of the spirit, has become a denial of anything that cannot be purely represented as truth. Yet once again, the ascetic will to truth denies anything that does not meet its own standard, and does so from its weakness rather than its strength, since it cannot admit that there is more to truth than science can achieve.

Monday, April 1, 2013

CFP: Midwest Pragmatist Study Group

of The Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy

Fifteenth Annual Meeting
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Indianapolis, Indiana USA

21–22 September 2013
Saturday Afternoon and Sunday Morning



The Midwest Pragmatist Study Group meets annually to promote interaction among scholars and students interested in classical and contemporary pragmatism broadly conceived. Papers on any aspect of pragmatist philosophy are welcome.

The annual meetings do not have themes or special topics. However, each year one session is devoted to analysis and discussion of a significant text in American philosophy. This year's texts are chosen to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of philosopher George Santayana: "Philosophical Heresy" (1915), "Normal Madness" (1925), and "Preface to Realms of Being" (1927).

There is no registration fee or formal registration. Interested persons from any field and students and faculty from any discipline are invited to participate. The meetings are small and friendly, and the sessions emphasize collegial conversation and helpful criticism.

Reading time for submitted papers should be around 30-45 minutes. Each session runs 90 minutes leaving time for plenty of discussion. Works in progress are particularly encouraged.

The Hans Seigfried Student Travel Fund will provide $50 to any student presenting a paper. The fund honors the memory of Professor Seigfried by encouraging new participants in the study group he founded. If you are a student, please indicate that in a message accompanying your submission.

Please submit a draft or a complete paper, suitable for blind review, as an e-mail attachment (MS Word .doc or Adobe .pdf files are preferred) to the chair of the local arrangements committee for forwarding to the program committee:

Martin Coleman
Email: m a r t c o l e [ a t ] i u p u i [ d o t ] e d u

Institute for American Thought
902 W. New York St, ES0010
Indianapolis, IN 46202

More on Internal and External Relations

Leon of After Nature has a follow-up post that includes more commentary from Hartshorne. It reminds me of why Hartshorne has been glaring at me from my reading list: whenever I do read his work I am stunned by how succinctly he sums up problems, addresses them, and targets critics.