Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Leisure is the mother of philosophy."

Happy birthday, Hobbes.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the "Brutish" and "War" labels

Anonymous said...

Just a quick plug for Hume's tercentenary in 32 days!!!
-random Hume nerd

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me what Leiter is getting at with this post: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2011/04/graduates-by-school-at-the-top-20-departments.html
??
Maybe if there were some years, and it was graphed out, we could see some trends or something - though the numbers are definitely too small for any statistical relevance - but I just don't get what this info is for.
How does the fact that Kripke did his graduate work at Harvard almost fifty years ago, and ended up working at CUNY, have anything to do with the fact that James Shaw did a couple of years ago, and landed a job at Pittsburgh...?
Is it a scandal that NYU only has 13 "top 20" placements and Princeton has 60?
How about some stats on how many none-top-20 grads got placements at top-20 departments?
Seems like Leiter's either going for elitist navel gazing or just plain groupy-ism... I can't tell.

Anonymous said...

This blog is hardly a war of all against all, though it sure makes me feel like my life is nasty, brutish and short. For some real fun, check out Leiter Reports.

BunnyHugger said...

Mom never calls anymore.

Anonymous said...

"Is it a scandal that NYU only has 13 'top 20' placements and Princeton has 60?"

Bad example. NYU's PhD program is less than fifteen years old. Considering the time it takes for students to go through a graduate program, as well as how NYU has continually succeeded at improving an already excellent faculty, their placement record is both quite extraordinary and no surprise.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:28: If you just count up the asterisked faculty and assume that this roughly captures recent placement, then NYU is DESTROYING the competition in this weird little game.

Very strange post. Odd use of time.

zombie said...

Yeah, that's an odd and pointless exercise. Given how long some of those profs have been in the game, they were hired long, long ago, when the job market was (I'm told) a very different beast, and just graduating from (say) Princeton, pretty much guaranteed you a good job. They really don't belong in the same category as recent hires -- there's just no relevant comparison.

If you look at the Leiter TT hires list for this year, it's obvious that the top programs still dominate the field in the number of placements, but the placements are obviously not all in top programs. (But given the self-reporting nature of that list, there may be a bias towards Leiter-conscious, top programs.)

Anonymous said...

Bunny, it's your mother. Why haven't you called me?

G.B. Sadler said...

"Seems like Leiter's either going for elitist navel gazing or just plain groupy-ism... I can't tell."

Sure. That goes on constantly in rating, ranking, or comparing programs. Early on in my career, I was very disappointed to discover through interactions in projects, conferences, fellowships, etc. that on the whole, the populations of profs and grad students at prestigious schools contained just as high a proportion of duds and dullards, and just a few more high-quality scholars and teachers than at my own lower-tier program.

It was disheartening at first, because it revealed that there is clearly an irrational class-system at work in the profession one would assume more rational. but, one must deal with realities of social and academic life as they are.

It no longer surprises me to see the "elitist navel gazing or just plain groupy-ism" -- nor even rally bothers me. When I do see it, the person engaging in it drops down a peg in my estimation.

There are definitely exceptions -- that is, exceptional places where philosophy is really being fostered. But, those also tend to escape the rankings, don't they? -- perhaps NYU for the reasons the anonymous commenter gives -- perhaps.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure it is a class system on purpose, but an accident of funding and design.

For example, I went to a program where I was the top person during a three year period. One or two of us got jobs every year. Not a big academic family tree. Not a lot of colleagues to help read my stuff and get comments to make stuff better.

I met a young faculty member who came form a *huge* academic family. This person had more than a handful of friends get jobs the year they did. So, when they have a new paper, it goes out to seven people and comments come back swiftly. Then the paper eventually gets published.

Now, I only have a few colleagues who aren't particularly interested in publishing or moving on. They teach and collect their paychecks. We have an okay group, but not very helpful in terms of reading each other's stuff. For example, I asked one colleague to read a paper 7 months ago. Still haven't heard back from him, but he keeps promising.

So, I send the paper out to a journal. Six months later, I have one good comment, with a reject and one reject with comments that don't even make sense. Six months for basically no feedback.

The point is: bigger academic family lends itself to more success by its very nature. It isn't that these people are so much better it's that they are getting so much better feedback to help them make their stuff better.

In the way, I think that many of the lower tier Leiter schools and unranked programs should befriend each other and help each other to get better. The problem is that you can do it anonymously via a blog. It takes real action, and I cannot seem to figure out how to make that work.

If anyone has ideas on how to do that, I would participate. Philosophy is very difficult to do in a vacuum or by oneself.

Anonymous said...

One funny thing about the Leiter post under discussion here is that he is usually good about attaching some more (often genuinely) noble purpose to his exercises in elitism and ego stroking that he can then use to defend himself against criticism. (The most common version of this is the claim that the PGR is helping potential grad students make informed decisions). But the "graduates by school" post doesn't seem to have any such defensible purpose behind it. (And it is interesting to note that "navel gazing" isn't one of its tags--but rather "PGR" and "philosophy in the news"(?))

Then again, I am not sure that the post is that sinister, either. It is kind of fun to look over, I think. And there is some information that can be divined from it (for instance, it is mildly interesting to see that while Pitt has produced a number of faculty in top programs, most of them are relatively old...).

Anonymous said...

The case of Kripke is even more mystifying because Kripke only has a BA in math. He doesn't have a graduate degree in philosophy. So his inclusion is just utterly mystifying.

Anonymous said...

Leiter's trying to justify the accuracy of his Gourmet rankings.... OMFG!!! MIT should be ranked higher based on this data!!!

The PGS has obvious benefits (giving students an idea of the pecking order, etc.). But its biggest drawback is that it further marginalizes marginalized areas of philosophy/ and further entrenches traditional areas by only identifying certain areas of philosophy (the "areas of specialty") as worthy of study; departments who care about their rankings will only hire in those areas. This is a recipe for stopping innovation in the field and reinforcing tradition

This was one of the complaints stated in the anti-PGS campaign organized by Richard Heck

http://web.archive.org/web/20041127092842/http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~heck/aboutpgr/

http://frege.brown.edu/heck/philosophy/aboutpgr.php

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:01: it's not a bad example, but a good example of how useless this ridiculous collection of random data is.
I wonder how long it took Leiter to collect this info, covetousness pouring over faculty webpages, tallying up the numbers.
What a sadly pointless exercise.

Anonymous said...

"One funny thing about the Leiter post under discussion here is that he is usually good about attaching some more (often genuinely) noble purpose to his exercises in elitism and ego stroking that he can then use to defend himself against criticism. (The most common version of this is the claim that the PGR is helping potential grad students make informed decisions). But the "graduates by school" post doesn't seem to have any such defensible purpose behind it."

Isn't the fact that it's fun to look at a reason?

If that's not a good enough reason, isn't the information it gives you about your prospects helpful?

It would be nice if he did a slumdog millionaire post.

wv: chila

Chila out, I'm sure BL has his reasons.