Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Does Leiter Use the PGR to Punish his Enemies? [Updated on 10-2-14]

I was reading the comments on this post at Daily Nous (whose coverage of this episode has been excellent, in my opinion), when I was, I don't know, let's say 'bemused,' yes, I was bemused to see this comment, which reads in part:
I don’t see how he has used his authority as editor of the PGR to threaten, etc. His name calling is childish and the legal threats are probably without merit, but he’s not doing anything that you or I couldn’t do. To make your case you’d need examples of him skewing the PGR to punish his enemies. And I haven’t seen evidence of that.
The reason for all this bemusement is that I thought it was abundantly obvious that Brian Leiter absolutely skews the PGR to punish his enemies, at least in one key area. He doesn't hide it. This behavior isn't the basis for the current controversy, of course, but the fact is that he totally does that, openly and in full view of everyone who pays attention.

I guess I'd like to preface this by saying that I have no interest or training in continental philosophy. I was educated in thoroughly analytic departments; my teachers mentioned continental philosophy with derision when they mentioned it at all. Once, when I was an undergraduate, my roommate's friend left a copy of Being and Nothingness on my pillow, but I can't say I gave it the old college try--I gave up when I couldn't figure out what he was talking about after not more than a few of pages. I'm not the least bit informed about continental philosophy in any of its incarnations, and I have no interest in defending it as a serious intellectual enterprise. I'm not informed enough to know whether it is or not.

My own lack of interest in and engagement with SPEP-style, "party line" continental philosophy notwithstanding, that type of philosophy clearly exists, and is clearly philosophy. Its practitioners are typically trained in philosophy, have Ph.D. degrees in it, work in philosophy departments, and publish in philosophy journals. The historical figures they study and/or regard as their intellectual forebears were philosophers. If it's anything at all, it's philosophy.

But you wouldn't know this by looking at the PGR. If your department is strong in SPEP-style continental philosophy, you will not be rewarded for this strength with a position in the overall rankings. Nor will you see this strength reflected in specialty rankings. There are no SPEP-affiliated philosophers on the Advisory Board (which is hand-picked by Leiter), nor have any SPEP-affiliated philosophers serve as evaluators (who are nominated by the advisory board but subject to approval by Leiter). If you're a student who's interested in this kind of philosophy, the PGR will not help you in any way. (The PGR has specialty rankings for 19th- and 20th century continental philosophy, but Leiter doesn't seem to intend this to represent the SPEP style, and the SPEP people don't seem to think it represents them. This is one of Noelle McAfee's complaints, and is one of the reasons why the Pluralist's Guide was created.) Although this kind of philosophy exists and has a real presence in the discipline--lots of people specialize in it; lots of departments regard themselves as strong in it--it is systematically excluded from the PGR because Brian Leiter thinks it's shitty, and not because there is a consensus among people who work in the continental tradition that he is right. And I know that this is the case because he says so.

[Update (10-2-14): Discussion below has convinced me that some of the language in the above paragraph is too strong. Decisions about which departments to evaluate and which specialties to include in the "Breakdown by Specialty" section are made by the advisory board, and not Leiter alone. So it would not be accurate to say that SPEP-style philosophy is excluded from the report simply because Leiter thinks its shitty.

However, as I say in comments below, the composition of the advisory board is at Leiter's sole discretion, and its composition therefore reflects his opinions about what is important, rather than a discipline-wide consensus. Although it would be too strong to say that the judgments of the advisory board reflect Leiter's opinions full stop, it would not be accurate to say that its judgments reflect the kind of broad cross-section of the discipline that could reveal anything approaching a consensus.]

Now, again, just to be clear. The thing that bothers me about this is not that SPEP-style philosophy isn't represented in the PGR's overall rankings (although I think it should be represented in the Specialty Rankings--it is a specialty, after all). The thing that bothers me is that this is accomplished by editorial fiat. [Update (10-2-14): Again, this is too strong. I should have said, "...by vote of an unrepresentative body whose members are selected at the sole discretion of the editor."] I think it would be better, more democratic, more fair, and a better editorial practice if SPEP-style philosophers were proportionally represented in the pool of evaluators and then outvoted. (If they deserve to be outvoted, which, again, I don't regard myself as being well-enough informed to comfortably assert.) Then he could say it's marginal because it's marginal, not because he, the editor, [Update (10-2-14): and an unrepresentative advisory board] thinks it sucks.

So I think this much is clear: Brian Leiter uses his authority as editor of the PGR to punish his "enemies" (are they his enemies? They are not his friends) in the SPEP by writing the Report so as to create the illusion that SPEP-style continental philosophy does not exist. Since SPEP-style continental philosophy does exist, I don't think it would be unfair to call that "skewing". If that's what it takes to show that Leiter has abused his authority as editor of the PGR, I think we can consider it shown.

I'm willing to be proven wrong about this--as I say, I don't really know anything about continental philosophy, so I could be misreading something or something. But it seems to me that he skews the report, because that's what he says he does.

--Mr. Zero

89 comments:

Anonymous said...

Threat of lawsuit in 3...2...1...

Nine Thumps said...

I certainly agree that Leiter does not include SPEP departments in the PGR because he thinks they suck. It seems rhetorically okay to call them "his enemies". But I don't see why you call this 'punishment'.
There are many, many philosophy departments that lack a philosopher of type X (that is, for many departments D there is a type X such that…) because the members of the department think philosophers of type X suck (although I imagine they generally put it in a different way). It just doesn't seem correct to say that these departments are "punishing" philosophers of type X. For many conference organizers there is some type Y such that the organizer would never consider inviting a philosopher of type Y to speak at the conference because the organizer thinks philosophers of type Y suck. But it doesn’t seem correct to say that the organizer is “punishing” philosophers of type Y.
So ‘punish’ just seems like the wrong verb. It makes it sound like SPEP has done him wrong and he’s being vindictive. (And he may well be vindictive, but I don’t think this is an instance.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is quite right.

As someone who teaches at a department historically associated with SPEP, I can assure you that my colleagues and I will never serve on the PGR editorial board as long as Brian Leiter has anything to do with it. This is yet another reason he should be forced to step down as co-editor.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to pick a nit here. Doesn't talk of punishment imply intent to cause harm or hardship?

I don't have enemies who are party line continentals, but I'd probably make the same decision that Brian did to basically exclude them from the PGR. I wouldn't invite the party line continentals to evaluate analytic philosophers and I wouldn't invite analytic philosophers to evaluate them. There are a number of reasons for this. The most obvious reason is that I don't understand their work, I have some sense that they don't have a clear understanding of what we do, and so I'd think that it would be best to keep these things separate.

Anonymous said...

Leiter doesn't just passively exclude vast areas of continental philosophy, he actively derogates them (much as he does his perceived enemies). He's very open about this. He's very proud of this. And the substantive difference between his practices of derogation and 'punishment' strikes me as negligible.

Either way his conduct is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the most damaging things that Leiter has done is basically reinstitute the Continental/Analytic divide within Continental philosophy itself. On the one side is Analytic-Continental that says Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and sometimes Foucault are worth studying and everyone else is excluded. That leaves something called Party-line Continental or maybe Continental-Continental philosophy that is apparently everything else in European philosophy in the last one hundred years, all of which is, apparently, crap. The fact that Leiter takes advantage of the fact that so many people don't know much about Continental philosophy to institute this kind of divide as some sort of natural kind of philosophical thinking is terrible and a paradigm case of being a bully.

Hey Nine-thumps: If we had a consensus about what sucks maybe I would agree with you. But we don't. I think contemporary metaphysics sucks. And I think people who argue using X and Y suck even more.

3:21, if you want to keep analytic and continental philosophy segregated in the rankings, fine. But then the ranking can't claim to be one for the entire profession.

Anonymous said...

"[P]erhaps philosophy as currently practiced in the U.S. is experienced by students as something closer to the study of a piece of ethnically European cultural history."
--Eric Schwitzgebel

In the spirit of this astute observation, why couldn't the PGR simply be renamed the Analytic Philosophical Gourmet Report? The renaming would be especially helpful to prospective graduate students, who are the officially intended audience for the rankings.

Nine Thumps said...

Hey Nine-thumps: If we had a consensus about what sucks maybe I would agree with you. But we don't.

I don't get it -- what does that have to do with it?

I think contemporary metaphysics sucks. And I think people who argue using X and Y suck even more.

Okay.
But so what? Why does that mean you are punishing contemporary metaphysicians when you don't hire them? It's just a non sequitur.

(The X and Y thing was to disambiguate scope. It's very useful. I was addressing Mr. Zero and I have no doubt he understood.)

Anonymous said...

I guess we could rename it the Analytic Gourmet Report but the Report did claim to rank a bunch of areas in the history of philosophy and other subfields. Part of the problem is that 'analytic' is thrown around now in ways that mean all kinds of things. Is it supposed to be synonymous with being good? So analytic history of modern philosophy is different than those bad modern philosophy scholars?

Why not just add a ranking of the continental parts of philosophy that actually solicit the views of a wider selection of continental thought.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem here has to do with 'continental philosophy' as a specialty label. In the discipline as a whole, 'continental philosophy' is treated as an area like epistemology or medieval philosophy. One sees it listed as an AOS on job ads, for example.

But, continental philosophy (even 20th century/contemporary continental philosophy) is really divided right now between what you're calling 'SPEP-style' continental philosophy and, well, the other kind. (Full disclosure, I do the other kind, and don't have a ton of patience for the SPEP kind).

The two branches of continental philosophy function practically like different traditions. They don't cite each other's work much, don't go to each other's conferences much, etc. Most importantly, they have very different criteria for what makes for 'good philosophy' (with the non-SPEP branch's criteria being pretty similar to the ones analytic philosophers use [clarity, rigor, etc]), and very different criteria for what are reliable markers that one is doing good philosophy. Non-SPEP continentalists, for example, try to publish in places like Nous, PPR, etc, and they take it that succeeding in doing so is (generally) a good sign that one is doing good work. SPEP-style continentalists generally publish in completely different venues, and would be more likely to be suspicious of you than impressed if you got a paper on, say, Heidegger into Phil Review.

Probably the best solution for specialty rankings would be to have two for continental: one for SPEP-style and one for non-SPEP style. But that would be really weird and controversial, since that's not a division that the discipline generally recognizes.

Absent that, one is pretty much forced to marginalize one branch or the other. If one wants to find the 'best' or 'most respected' continental philosophers to do the rankings, one will have to use some criteria for deciding who is the 'best'. And in choosing these criteria, one will already have already effectively sided with one branch or the other.

Obviously, Leiter does not feel this difficulty particularly forcefully. But even someone without such strong feelings about SPEP would still, I think, inevitably exclude one branch or the other at the end of the day.

(By the way, most people interested in SPEP philosophy know this, and don't look at the PGR. They use the list that SPEP itself publishes.)

Anonymous said...

"In the spirit of this astute observation, why couldn't the PGR simply be renamed the Analytic Philosophical Gourmet Report?"

I don't think this point is quite right, although I recognize that some people who work in Continental areas seem slighted by the Gourmet Report. In my opinion it is worth keeping in mind two facts about Leiter's views of Continental philosophy. First, Leiter is editor of The Oxford Volume of Continental Philosophy. He can hardly be accused of being opposed to Continental work in general. Second, I think Leiter says somewhere in his report (if I remember) that "the best work in Continental thought is done in Analytic departments." If that's correct, then this is not to priveledge Analytic over Continental programs in the way some people have suggested. In this vein is it worth pointing out that Foucault taught at Berkeley and Rorty taught at Stanford? The Heidegger scholar Dreyfus was also at Berkeley?

6:06 said...

The responses suggest further reason for renaming the PGR the Analytic Philosophical Gourmet Report.

The "analytic" designation is, of course, a rough marker in the Anglo-American philosophy profession -- and doesn't strictly suggest content. Leiter's use of "continental" has been an openly partisan effort to occupy the space. History of (Western) philosophy is included in almost every analytic-oriented department.

More surprising about the responses is their indifference to the main subject of the occasion for Schwitzgebel's observation: the overwhelming assumption in the Western philosophy world that "philosophy" means or properly covers, in effect, almost exclusively Western philosophy. Any philosophical "gourmet" could recognize that this assumption is foolish -- even if he's hardly interested for real in non-Western philosophies.

All that the "APGR" rebrand would do is explicitly specify the actual orientation of the report. SPEP-type continentalists, non-Western philosophies scholars, critical social identity theorists, etc. would have no reason to feel disrespected, since the report by declaration wouldn't be interested in their subject matter or approaches.

Were this discussion not taking place on the Internet and the reference to Schwitzgebel's observation not given, the continued indifference to the issue of non-Western philosophies might be more understandable. Instead, we get more on the analytic/continental divide. I don't really understand the contemporary importance of that debate -- for much the same reason that the Protestant/Catholic split hardly seems an issue of much urgency at this point, even if some members of each group have an obnoxious tendency to claim or imply the "Christian" label for themselves.

Anonymous said...

7:37 and 8:11: this is the single best comment I've read (and I've read a lot of them!) on the PGR and its author's relation to continental philosophy and its two modes: http://jdrabinski.com/leiter-philosophy-a-too-early-post-mortem/#comment-204

Anonymous said...

As someone who actually studies Continental philosophy and is currently on the job market, I'm a little taken aback by some of the lines of reasoning going on in this thread.

I agree with the person who posted that the biggest harm that Leiter has done to Continental thought is to have basically re-instituted the Continental/Analytic divide within Continental thought itself. It is a strong normative claim. It is acceptable to study Nietzsche, Hegel, Heidegger and maybe Marx and Foucault. The rest is not worthy of study, you should not study it, and you are worthy of ridicule if you do. Why? Because its crap, or not rigorous, or obscure. Of course, there is crap obscure Analytic philosophy but we do not throw out the whole category because of it.

This division is apparently so instantiated that poster 7:37 can rather breezily just rehash that split of the rigorous Continental-Analytic types and the SPEP types as if this is just as obvious as can be.

I have presented at both SPEP and the APA. I studied at a largely Analytic department but have very profitably conversations with SPEP-oriented departments who do, by any standard measure, rigorous philosophy. I have met many other people like me. But apparently Leiter has so succeeded in driving this distinction home that it is almost unthinkable to want to consider looking at Continental thought in a different way.

I find the last post about how the Analytic Gourmet would show the SPEP people they have no reason to be disrespected because they are now officially now kicked out the group to just be this whole pile of bullshit brought to its logical conclusion. And that's a fucking disgrace.

And to 8:11, while Richard Rorty did teach at Stanford, it was in the Comp. Lit dept. and he also quite famously wrote a number of essays on Derrida. And he signed a letter against Leiter the last time everyone tried to oust him.

Much of these debate seem to be predicated on just not knowing very much outside of your own field. Good thing we have Brian Leiter to tell us what to think and how to judge the worth of those things.

Anonymous said...

I got my undergrad at a SPEP department, did my doctorate at a middle ground school where I worked with some SPEP-affiliated people, and did my time at some SPEP conferences and even published in places where they often appear.

I have a lot of problems with Leiter, but his perceived (not real) perceived of the divide inside of continental isn't one of them. I'm grateful.

The real divide once worked this way: I you worked on continental philosophy, you were in the SPEP ghetto. And the SPEP ghetto wasn't "continental" philosophy, it was a fundamentalist cult that had in the 80s and 90s (i.e. representing just a handful of thinkers in two decades out of 200 years of continental philosophy)*coopted the entire field*. They were a doctrinaire bunch with a very narrow view of what continental philosophy was who insisted everyone do it their way. You couldn't present or publish or get a job with their crowd unless you mimicked their obnoxious style and used their latest trendy jargon and only cared about the last faddish figures. More importantly, you had to accept, without question, whatever historical presuppositions were stylish at the moment as givens beyond critical dispute (doctrinaire phenomenology, or doctrinaire Lacanianism etc.)

The OPs story gave me flashbacks: your roommate putting Sartre on your pillow like a religious roommate would put a Bible or a religious tract to nudge you into the cult.

Given this past, the influence of Leiter has been liberating. I can do continental philosophy however the fuck I want now. In some cases, what I do may be more appreciated by the SPEPs, in some cases more by the Leiterites, and in most cases, more by the ever growing legions of continental philosophers who do not fall into either of the two, increasingly small cult groups. I'm most grateful to Leiter because he's marginalizing *both* extremes (he's killing off his own kind by accident, too!), allowing for continental philosophers to just be philosophers, not fundamentalists.

Now, having said that, his charges of charlatanism, 'not philosophy' and the like against philosophers he doesn't like are empty (even where they're bad philosophers, they're philosophers), and he is indeed using PGR not to report on the state of continental philosophy but to shape and define it. I wouldn't call this "punishment" but it is a serious problem with the PGR.

Ironically, Leiter's attempt to use PGR to personally shape the future of the entire discipline and to control the definition of continental philosophy reminds of a certain philosopher whose vanity led him to think he could shape an entire country's future by becoming a university rector. But he was one of those "bad" continentals, so I'm sure that's a false comparison.

Jon Cogburn said...

Leiter on "continental philosophy" is a little bit like Donald Rumsfeld on "old Europe" versus "new Europe." The biggest target of his animosity is French Phenomenology and French post-structuralism more narrowly. However, this material is part of the canon for even French analytic philosophers. So the result is that you have a narrative of "continental philosophy" that is extraordinarily misleading about one of the two most important countries relevant to the tradition.

I agree with the commentator above who takes the proposed recreation of the PGR as a guide to analytic philosophy to be a terrible idea. A lot of the exiting stuff in Europe concerns people who work in both traditions and there are some really great American philosophers doing the same (e.g. Braver, Livingston, Wheeler). Further institutional ghettoization will not be good for anyone.

It's a real shame how one man's obsession (that, from what my friends tell me about a really ugly period at the University of Texas when he was there, goes back over fifteen years) has effected both the PGR and the relation between American and French philosophical communities. At least House Republicans let us keep eating deep fried potato wedges after they rechristened them "Freedom Fries." How many American metaphysicians have even heard of Frederic Nef?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: 7:37 here. I think you took my comment as being more negative toward the SPEP-style continentals that I meant it to be. I wasn't trying to claim that such work is 'crap' or that people deserve 'ridicule' if they study it. I wasn't trying to say that if you don't place a high priority on rigor and clarity then your work is worthless. There might be other virtues work can have that are just as valuable as these.

But it seems hard to deny that features like clarity and rigor aren't high priorities for a significant number of people currently working on continental philosophy. They prioritize other things (like 'opening spaces of thinking' and 'transgressing the boundaries of thought.') In my experience, many people working in the field readily say that this is the case, and object to their work being judged by what they take to be 'analytic' criteria of success.

My point isn't to say that one set of values is better or worse than the other (though, as I intimated above, I have opinions on that), but simply that they are importantly different, and that those differences make it exceedingly difficult to treat 'continental philosophy' or even 'contemporary continental philosophy' as one thing in the way we do 'metaphysics' or 'Ancient'.

(By the way, I used to work exclusively in the SPEP-style continental stuff, graduated from a program that specializes in it, and have many good friends who work in it, so I do know what I'm talking about, at least a little.)

Anonymous said...

8:11 here. This is a quick reply to 6:25. Rorty's position was in both Compt Lit AND Philosophy. See here: http://web.stanford.edu/~mvr2j/rr/

There are some other examples to mention that are similar. Taylor Carmon is a leading scholar teaching Phenomenology and Merleau-Ponty at Barnard-Columbia Univ. (Stanford PhD)

Also Fred Neuhouser does Hegel, Fichte, and German thought. He's teaches at Barnard-Columbia Univ. (Columbia PhD) There are probably other examples.

6:06 said...

"I find the last post about how the Analytic Gourmet would show the SPEP people they have no reason to be disrespected because they are now officially now kicked out the group to just be this whole pile of bullshit brought to its logical conclusion. And that's a fucking disgrace."
--6:25

"I agree with the commentator above who takes the proposed recreation of the PGR as a guide to analytic philosophy to be a terrible idea. A lot of the exiting stuff in Europe concerns people who work in both traditions...."
--7:30

Sad but only slightly unexpected. These rejoinders refuse to engage with, or even acknowledge, the underlying point of the APGR proposal. In a profession almost exclusively dominated by Western philosophy and overwhelmingly white -- and once these facts and the stakes have been called to attention for a while now -- is there truly no self-awareness, shame, or modesty?

How could constituencies be "kicked out of" a group that they claim they basically aren't included in? Why wouldn't a rebranding of the PGR to reflect its heavily analytic orientation be sincere and transparent? [More broadly, I take seriously the idea that the vast majority of philosophy departments in the Western world should be rebranded "Department of Western Philosophy."] Why couldn't people focused on other methodologies or traditions develop the own reports/rankings? Unqualified offense toward such questions says far more about the offended, their assumptions, and their imaginations than it does about me.

One also might note the irony of commenters who, despite their own pious calls for respectful tolerance of different (e.g., religious and conservative) viewpoints, endorse flatly rejecting "a terrible idea" characterized as a "whole pile of bullshit" and "a fucking disgrace."

I could apologize for intruding on the Anglo-American/European family dispute about the analytic/continental divide. (Maybe I simply don't get it, since I'm not ancestrally one of you.) I could backtrack and say that my APGR proposal was meant in jest; that the Schwitzgebel commentary I alluded to is largely pointless; and that we should keep our focus on real philosophy, with its exciting connections between the Anglo-American and European branches. I could accept the studious silence or shouting down of challenges about lack of inclusiveness and diversity, in content and participation, as marginal issues of distraction to real philosophers.

But that apology would be grossly insincere. I simply proposed relabeling the PGR for what it basically is: a report/ranking of analytic-oriented philosophy departments. The proposal was offered sincerely and respectfully. So PFO.

Anonymous said...

Of course, there are other examples of people doing Continental philosophy in largely Analytic departments. All you have to do is go to the Gourmet report to find them or read any of Leiter's suggestions on where to study Continental thought.

But that sort of misses the point. I thought the question at stake was whether the claim "the best work done in Continental philosophy is done in Analytic departments" is as self-evident as Leiter takes it to be. Merely showing me that there are Continental philosophers in largely Analytic departments hardly proves to me that normative claim.

And Rorty, at least, was outright hostile to Leiter's narrow vision of what should count as Continental thought and where it should be studied. For example, he thought Derrida was not a charlatan, disgrace, or was somehow not worthy of study.

Anonymous said...

Dear 8:43,

Much of the work done by SPEP philosophers (and SAAP philosophers, for that matter) focus on contemporary issues about the challenges of "lack of inclusiveness and diversity" and lament the fact that this is only a "marginal issue of distraction to real philosophers." So you should check them out. I think they are your friends in this fight. And I'm pretty sure that they come from a wide variety of 'Ancestral Backgrounds'

Anonymous said...

"I simply proposed relabeling the PGR for what it basically is: a report/ranking of analytic-oriented philosophy departments."

This seems a bit misleading, since there's an extraordinary amount of disagreement about what "analytic philosophy" means and if that meaning excludes "continental philosophy."

This goes back to the problem that some (not all) SPEP continentals hold a very narrow, far from inclusive definition of "continental": you have to study primarily those figures that have been trendy among their clique for the last 30 years, you are only allowed to write in an annoying post-structuralist style (that has its roots in only a very small handful of major figures in the tradition), and you are only allowed to care about other traditions and figures if you write about them through the lense of their poststructualist pantheon of deities.

To say the PGR is in any simple sense "analytic" philosophy is to screw over a lot of continental philosophers. It is to hand control of the field back over to the small, loud, doctrinaire clique that once ruled it tyrannically. Most of us don't want the old king any more than we want Leiter as king.

It's to allow a small clique of narrow specialists (post-structuralists) to co-opt the entire category of a 200 year continental tradition and kick out anyone who disagrees with them for being "too analytic," where "analytic" is so generically defined (caring about clarity, arguments, etc) or so narrowly defined (failing to write in the style of Derrida), as to exclude the greatest continental philosophers of all time.

On the fundamentalist ("party-line" is too soft) definition of continental philosophy, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Husserl, Marx, Adorno, Marx, to name just a few, should all be kicked out of the club.

Many of them cared about clarity and rigor, none of them share a single "continental" method or style, many of them preceded the existence of phenomenology and post-structuralism, many who were alive for those movements didn't give a rat's ass about them.

Yeah, Leiter's opinions about continental philosophy he doesn't like are foolish. But that doesn't make the opinions of the opposite extreme any less foolish.

Anonymous said...

To those who self-identify as continental, think back to when you first learned about the divide.

I suspect many of you will have had the same absurd experience I did. I think it reveals just how artificially--and retroactively--we have to reinterpret our philosophical education, experience, views in order to situate ourselves in the divide.

For years I happily studied philosophy, focusing on whatever figures and topics I found compelling. One day, my SPEP professor explained that there are two opposed kinds of philosophy that were deeply different in important ways, and that I was doing "continental."

How about that? All along I was practicing a very specific method with very substantially different set of presuppositions and goals and *I supposedly did not even know it*!

And now my SPEP prof expected me, after having revealed to me my true nature and purpose (Althusserian ideology shout-out, for you continental folks!) to explicitly take sides and fight the good fight.

All along, silly me, I just thought I was studying philosophy.

6:06 said...

Thanks, 9:13. I am familiar with and have appreciated some of "the work" you allude to. In any case, I wasn't taking SPEP-type continentalists to be generally representative of continentalists.

Anonymous said...

Spot on, 10:05.

Mr. Zero said...

Thanks for the helpful feedback, everyone. A couple of things:

-I'm not wedded to the word 'punish'. I used it only because the commenter to whom I was responding used it. I agree that it normally has a retributive/disciplinary connotation. But I was thinking of a more neutral sense that would merely mean "rough treatment" or "harm" or something like that, as in "this Timex can sure take a lot of punishment."

-The "Sartre on the Pillow" was nothing as sinister as 7:24 imagines. The dude is a funny guy, and he wanted to leave it someplace where I'd be sure to find it. I still keep in touch with him; he's good people. He just wanted me to expand my horizons a little.

-Thanks to the people who remarked on the various divisions and controversies within the continental tradition. It seems that Leiter's conception of what is and isn't continental philosophy, or good continental philosophy, is more controversial than I thought. Or am I getting the wrong idea?

Nine Thumps said...

So, 'punish' in the sense that Penn State's philosophy department is punishing formal epistemologists and meta-ethicists, and people who publish papers in Analysis or Phil. Review, by not hiring any of them.

In that case I'm not sure Leiter's administering 'punishment' is very troubling, and I guess I doubt that's the sense that others have had in mind when they denied that Leiter was 'punishing' his enemies.

Mr. Zero said...

So, 'punish' in the sense that Penn State's philosophy department is punishing formal epistemologists and meta-ethicists, and people who publish papers in Analysis or Phil. Review, by not hiring any of them.

I don't know; I'd like to hear more about the situation before I form a judgment. Is the Penn State Philosophy Department's refusal to hire formal epistemologists, meta-ethicists, Analysis authors, and Phil Review authors part of an attempt to marginalize or ghettoize those groups? Has this attempt been at all effective? Are any of those groups, as a group, marginalized or ghettoized by the actions of Penn State Philosophy? Is it "punishing," in that sense, that those groups are not represented at Penn State?

Nine Thumps said...

Oh, no, I guess not. Before you gave a much more lenient sense of 'punish' than that. Now you're adding conditions.

So to 'punish' a group is to ghettoize and marginalize them, is that it? I think that's a fairly unusual sense of 'punish', and I'm surprised you think the person you were responding to was using it in that sense.

But Leiter hasn't marginalized SPEP philosophy at all, has he? I thought SPEP philosophy was doing extremely well -- alive and kicking. I don't know what 'ghettoize' means in this context so I can't answer that part.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi Nine Thumps,

So to 'punish' a group is to ghettoize and marginalize them, is that it?

Not as a matter of definition, if that's what you mean. I was trying to specify some of the ways in which continental philosophers take themselves to have been harmed by continental philosophy's exclusion from the PGR (not that I think there's any consensus on this point). Was I really that unclear? If so, I apologize.

Nine Thumps said...

Well, yes, it was indeed unclear.
So, ghettoizing and marginalizing aren't necessary conditions of punishing; only harming is, and you were giving examples of kinds of harm.

But it is pretty obvious that Penn State harms meta-ethicists and formal epistemologists by hiring none of them, so I don't see why you are asking about marginalization and ghettoization. (I also pointed out that SPEP philosophy does not appear to be marginalized at all; but since marginalization isn't necessary for punishment I see now that this doesn't matter much.)

Mobius Trip said...

Since when did it become a crime for an editorial to be about an opinion, and for a philosopher to have an opinion, much less a Nietzsche scholar (N.B. : Nietzsche reinvigorated the ad hominem) editing his own private publication. The thought police are having a field day!

6:06 said...

"This seems a bit misleading, since there's an extraordinary amount of disagreement about what 'analytic philosophy' means and if that meaning excludes 'continental philosophy'.... To say the PGR is in any simple sense 'analytic' philosophy is to screw over a lot of continental philosophers."
--10:05

I'm puzzled and perhaps also somewhat dense. As you quote, "I simply proposed relabeling the PGR for what it basically is: a report/ranking of analytic-oriented philosophy departments." I don't see how this use of "simply" implies that there is "in any simple sense 'analytic' philosophy." I don't believe there is, either.

But I don't believe there's much doubt that we have some idea about how to roughly distinguish between analytic-oriented and continental-oriented departments. Presumably, if we couldn't do that, there couldn't be endless discussion about the supposed analytic/continental divide, since we'd have no idea whether there was even a real divide, since we'd hardly have an idea what "analytic" and "continental" philosophy are.

Still, here's a simple and maybe simpleminded notion: if we want to have a pretty good idea what is meant, in practice, by analytic-oriented and continental-oriented, just look at how departments might most plausibly be characterized overall, given their faculty.

Indeed, isn't a major complaint that the PGR is dominated by analytic-oriented departments. No one takes this to mean that they generally have no one interested in Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Husserl, Marx, or Adorno (your list). These figures fall within "history." But this history isn't a focus in departments that might plausibly be characterized as analytic-oriented. Presumably, if the type of departments that have dominated the PGR wanted such a focus, they could and would have it. Long before the PGR, most decided not to. And if there's "an extraordinary amount of disagreement" about what the boundaries of "analytic" and "continental" are, how would reflecting that disagreement more inclusively via the PGR rankings help to resolve such disagreement or provide more useful rankings?

In general, the PGR probably hurts, to some modest extent, areas that were already marginalized in "analytic-oriented" departments. Why a merely modest extent? Because such departments were already not very interested in these areas--including (historical) "continental" philosophy. So I'm not understanding how labeling issues threaten "to screw over a lot of continental philosophers." (As should be obvious by now, my perspective doesn't represent a backdoor argument for construing philosophy narrowly as Western and analytic.)

[PSA: please stop imposing some view whereby SPEP-type continentalists are taken to be generally representative of continentalists, to the extent that we can roughly identify "continental" philosophy at all.]

I still find it interesting that the response to my comments has fixated on the analytic/continental divide. I didn't anticipate such special pleading by continentalists, of whatever stripe, to keep the "PGR" label, on grounds that a "APGR" relabeling might further marginalize them -- even though they refuse to acknowledge the virtually complete exclusion of non-Western philosophies under the "PGR" label they prefer. Whew!

Jon Cogburn said...

One more thing. I've hosted panels at two SPEPs now and am giving a paper at the one this October. I'm also an analtyic philosopher who has published in Analysis, Synthese, Australasian, Canadian, Phil. Studies, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, etc.

When analytic philosophers take the time to try to charitably understand the best stuff coming out of SPEP (and I mean the stuff that people at SPEP take to be the best, such as is covered in the keynotes), they don't end saying things like Leiter does. In some cases, as with Graham Priest, they write chapters of their books about philosophers that Leiter denigrates.

I can't speak about the past in the way that anon 7:24 has, but at least SPEP now really is far more diverse than people outside of SPEP realize. Nearly everyone doing scholarship related to huge swaths of continental philosophy write and present in ways that are accessible to analytic philosophers. This includes nearly everyone who writes on: pre-structuralist French historical epistemology, Foucault, Deleuze (and/or Simondon), Badiou, phenomenology as transcendental epistemology, Husserl, the German Idealists, Zizek, the new French philosophers of immanence (Laurelle, Henry, etc.), German Critical Theory, and Speculative Realism. Note that many of these topics are ones that Leiter repeatedly assures us are only worked on only by charlatans.

There are still people very well placed such as Michael Marder doing the performative thing (with varying degrees of success) where you instantiate some of the writerly affectations of Hegel, Heidegger, and (especially) Derrida. I don't understand this stuff well enough to have an opinion on it, other than to say that some people who I can have a good philosophical conversations with find it very worthwhile. On Derrida, skeptics should read Samuel Wheeler, Lee Braver, Paul Livingston, Graham Priest, Richard Rorty, Martin Hagglund, and Catherine Malibou. None of these people try to incarnate Derrida's pen and all find really interesting positions and arguments in the wide Sargasso Sea of his prose (my new colleague Deborah Goldgaber is doing dynamite stuff with Derrida and Husserl too).

Analytics tend to think that the problem with writing like Derrida is that it's a tick that people can fake so as to do bad philosophy. Given the work by the people I listed above, I don't think this is a plausible thing to say about Derrida himself anymore. I also don't think it's at all clear with respect to people who write like Derrida. First, at least as far as SPEP is going today, the continentals I've gotten beers with are absolutely merciless about people they perceive as pretentious posers with respect to those ticks. On the other hand, these same people can verbally do for someone like John Sallis (who is probably *the* most influential American figure who writes the way Leiter hates) exactly what the named people above can do for Derrida.

Anyhow, the main point is that people who don't actually go to SPEP have no idea what "SPEP style continental philosophy" is. It really is quite pluralistic, and does not fit any kind of good, bad, ugly typology we might glean from Leiter's ravings.

Just to put my cards on the table, I think it's bad for philosophy when huge chunks of the Western tradition are not taught in graduate school. I think this is bad at NYU and at Dusquense, though I think each school is great at what it does cover. Leiter is in part so toxic because to the extent that his insults and putting his finger on the PGR scale has any effect, it's been to help create the situation where students at Dusquene don't get the kind of stuff you find in a standard philosophy of language book (e.g. Lycan's) and students at NYU don't get in a standard phenomenology book (e.g. Moran's). I think that nearly everyone who actually understands both will take this to be a very bad thing, and that no quibbling over the semantics of 'punish' will cover over this fact.

Jon Cogburn said...

9:14

My main argument against your proposal is that sharply separating the two ends up ghettoizing much of the most interesting recent work in Europe, which draws from figures in both traditions. If you went to SPEP or the right APA sessions, you'd see that there are lots of us in the United States too.

Take, for example a school like University of New Mexico. If you insist on a sharp division, the school wouldn't rank very high. But it's a great place where people actually learn both traditions pretty well. Moreover, the program is not balkanized into two warring factions, because you have so many people conversant in and sympathetic to both traditions.

If you don't think post-divide programs like UNM are good things (and I'm not saying that it would be desirable for every department to be just like them), then your view is perfectly reasonable.

But please understand how people like me and the writers above interpret your view as marginalizing philosophers (and punishing programs) that draw on both traditions and further marginalizing English language philosophy from what is actually going on in Germany and France.

Just to be clear, I'd rather we didn't have reputational surveys at all. I think that area rankings can be covered by citation metrics and that all purpose rankings should be in terms of graduation rate and job placement. When everyone has access to these things (combined with acceptance rate and TA renumeration) there will be no point in a reputational survey.

Fritz J. McDonald said...

"it is systematically excluded from the PGR because Brian Leiter thinks it's shitty"

That is not how the Gourmet Report works.

Look at the list of evaluators for 19th Century continental & 20th Century continental on the Gourmet Report. That is a *very* distinguished list of scholars. The only thing the Gourmet Report is supposed to tell us is what people in the field think of departments in the field. If those scholars on the evaluator lists leave off certain deparrments, that is useful information for people to have. Certainly Leiter plays a role in inviting evaluators. However, to act as if the inclusion and exclusion of certain departments is Leiter's work alone is to overlook the facts that (a) he's only one voter in these groups and (b) the scholars on those lists are very well-qualified to offer opinions on this matter.

Jamie Dreier said...

Fritz, just to be a little more careful: I don't think the evaluators leave departments off; it's the board who does that. Evaluators only get to see and rate departments the board puts on the list. Is that what you meant?

Jon Cogburn, when you say people who don't actually go to SPEP have no idea what "SPEP style continental philosophy" is, do you mean it's not possible to get a good idea of what it is by reading it? Or do you just mean, those people who don't attend are (likely) not reading seriously either?

Anonymous said...

I would second what 3:31 wrote about what gets excluded and by whom. There is a recent post up over at Leiter's blog which explains the role of the advisory board and how this affects which programs get evaluated.

Anonymous said...

http://www.spep.org/website/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SPEP2014ProgramFinalWeb.pdf
http://www.spep.org/about/the-archives/

Jon Cogburn said...

Jamie,

Thanks for that.

I might be wrong about this, but I think it would be impossible for anyone to just read deeply enough to get an informed view about all of the different things going on stuff going on at SPEP, but if you charitably read in one of the areas and take in enough papers then you can get a pretty good overview from attending the conference.

I'm of two minds about this with respect to analytic philosophy. On the one hand, I really do believe (unfashionably) that there is a core defined by the stuff that everyone has to use. Someone who really understands the core in analytic philosophy probably can make a pretty good judgment about it as a discipline. The mirror image of Leiter are uninformed continentals who make quick dismissals of analytic philosophy without having the requisite background.

It's even less fashionable in continental circles to assert that there is a continental core, but I think there is: German Idealism, Phenomenology, and French Post-structuralism. These areas form a sort of background horizon to nearly everything that goes on at SPEP.

I should note that some of the continentals that Leiter finds perfectly respectable (some of the people working in German Idealism and/or phenomenology) go to SPEP every year, go to lots of papers and ask great questions. There's a weird lack of transitivity one would expect from such putdowns.

Jon Cogburn said...

I think that McDonald and two of the anonymous posters above are pretty misleading with respect to the PGR. David Chalmers explained as much to Berit Brogaard (weird how the new co-editor, like many of the people involved who have weighed in on this, apparently don't have a clear grasp of the mechanisms) in Catarina Novaes' public facebook feed:

------------
berit: actually, brian makes additions to the advisory board and tells the board about them. board members can nominate PGR evaluators, but they don't nominate or vote on board members. in my experience the main (possibly the only) things that the board votes on are (i) which additional specialty areas that the PGR should rank, and (ii) which "borderline" departments should be included in the survey. for what it's worth, i think that control of the evaluator pool is the most significant source of power over the results of the survey, so brian's indirect control of that pool does give him significant power.
------------------
The whole string is at https://www.facebook.com/catarina.dutilhnovaes/posts/531819273628513 Chalmers quote
.

As far as selecting which schools get ranked, anyone managing the thing will have outsized power. I know people who have reported in department meetings Leiter's assurances that if they hired in certain ways they would get evaluated. This is certainly of a piece with much of his blogging concerning these departments as well. I don't read his blog much after he started insulting me, but other people have claimed that he makes posts of the "with this hire X is poised to move into the top 50." Now there might be a great wall between that and the running of the report, but I know for a fact that borderline departments don't think that there is one, and I know philosophers who swear that Leiter has presented himself as the relevant efficient cause.

I'm sorry, but as far as I can tell it's just bad faith to think that Leiter has nothing to do with the exclusion of of contemporary French Philosophy. Chalmers perfectly explains why this is the case, and Leiter's own persistent history of vitriolic disdain (to put it nicely) for people working in the area is clearly also explanatory.

Anonymous said...

As someone who presents (fairly) regularly at both SPEP and APA session, I completely agree with Jon Cogburn. Part of what is so weird about this thread is the amount of people who are speculating about the 'true' nature of continental philosophy who also seem to have little first-hand experience with the area or are basing their judgments on the worst cases of 'bad' continental thought. But that could just as easily be leveled against the 'rigors and clarity' of Analytic philosophy (or whatever.) One time I saw an Analytic philosophy who wrote very obscurely.....so

Fritz J. McDonald said...

1003Jamie,

You're right. I didn't fully understand the process.

Mr. Zero said...

That [i.e. systematic exclusion from the PGR because Brian Leiter thinks it's shitty] is not how the Gourmet Report works. Look at the list of evaluators for 19th Century continental & 20th Century continental on the Gourmet Report. That is a *very* distinguished list of scholars.

With respect, I think that it's exactly how it works, the high caliber of the PGR's continental evaluators notwithstanding.

One of the interesting things that emerges from this thread is that there seems not to be any clear consensus as to how the landscape of continental philosophy should be organized, or which sectors of continental philosophy are interesting/worthwhile/potentially fruitful. In particular, there is no consensus (among people who study continental philosophy [or who say they do]) in favor of Brian Leiter's preferred way of organizing the landscape and opinions about which sectors are worthwhile. But the advisory board and evaluators are all subject to Leiter's sole discretion, the composition of the board and evaluator pool, and this creates the illusion of a consensus when there is none. So, in essence, the complaint is not that the continental-area evaluators are undistinguished; it's that they are unrepresentative.

And it seems to me that, even if none of the SPEP-style departments have reputations that are strong enough to crack the top 50, many of them have strong reputations within that niche. It therefore seems to me that it would be good if the existence of SPEP-style philosophy were reflected in the "Breakdown by Specialty" section of the Report. At the very least, this would be useful for students who are interested in studying that kind of philosophy. And, whatever procedures are followed, the absence of this specialty ranking in the PGR is ultimately due to the fact that Brian Leiter thinks SPEP-style philosophy is shitty.

Fritz J. McDonald said...

I'm grateful for Profs. Cogburn's and Dreier's corrections to my naive understanding of the PGR, and I was too confident in my understanding of these matters in my initial disagreement with Mr. Zero.

Let me make a different point: I think it's telling that a very distinguished advisory board (and not Leiter *alone*) doesn't include these departments and a very distinguished list of evaluators (and not Leiter *alone*) seem to think the departments they do rank are the best departments in 19th/20th century continental. I think that's relevant information. It's only relevant information on what scholars in the field think of different departments, and it's not supposed to tell you anything more than that.

If I were running the PGR (not that anyone's asking and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy) I think it would make more sense to let the specialty ranking evaluators include any PhD programs they want to. It would make more sense to let any of the evaluators include any PhD programs they want to.

Fritz J. McDonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Zero said...

Hi Fritz,

I think I am basically in agreement with your posts at 8:52 and 8:56, with one caveat. (As I stress at 8:42) the composition of the advisory board is at Leiter's sole discretion, and its composition therefore reflects his opinions about what is important, rather than a discipline-wide consensus. Although it would be too strong to say that the judgments of the advisory board reflect Leiter's opinions full stop, it would not be accurate to say that its judgments reflect the kind of broad cross-section of the discipline that could reveal anything approaching a consensus.

But perhaps, in light of this, the language I use in the original post is too strong.

Fritz J. McDonald said...

I wanted to fix this comment up:

PS:

As regards the *specialty* rankings, I think I might have been a little bit more on track than Profs. Dreier's and Cogburn's comments suggest.

Leiter writes:

"Faculties not included in the 2014 surveys can still be included in the specialty rankings, based on past PGR performance and/or recommendations of members of the Advisory Board in the relevant specialties."

See here:

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2014/07/pgr-survey-update.html

So people on the Advisory Board in continental philosophy can add departments not in the main survey for consideration for the specialty list.

Jon Cogburn said...

Fritz,

I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone meant to deny that the members of the advisory board are distinguished (FWIW, I'm a huge fan of some of them). The problem is that (as John Protevi documented http://www.newappsblog.com/2011/12/2011-pgr-20th-c-cp-board.html ) German philosophy is vastly over represented relative to French. This is a key case of Leiter putting his thumb on the scale in exactly the way Chalmers notes. When added to his role in helping determine what programs get ranked, the fix is exactly what you would expect from someone who writes the things he does on his blog.

Here's the upshot from Protevi's post:
------------
OMMENTS: I think it’s fair to say the list has a heavy German orientation. Of twenty-four evaluators, only two can be said to be specialists in contemporary French philosophy (Gutting and Han-Pile). The rest are Germanists, with Kant, Nietzsche and Heidegger being the key figures, with some Hegel and Husserl.

Some of the evaluators (Crowell, Dudrick, Guignon, Poellner, Schear, Thomson, Wrathall) mention French figures among their interests, although their stated major research focus is German philosophy. These evaluators mention Sartre four times (Crowell, Poellner, Schear, Wrathall), Merleau-Ponty twice (Crowell, Schear), Foucault twice (Dudrick, Guignon), Derrida twice (Crowell, Thomson), Levinas twice (Crowell, Thomson), and Lyotard once (Crowell).

These are however only mentions of secondary interests; a quick, non-systematic, but I believe accurate survey of their posted CVs show that none have consistent publishing records on these figures – at most an article here and there. Such consistent publishing is I think a good indicator of those cognizant of the relevant contemporary secondary literature – that is, that produced by people actively working in contemporary French philosophy.
------------------

If French philosophy was a tiny niche thing, I would understand. It's not possible to include everything. But it's not. At least with respect to American continental philosophy post-structuralism and contemporary French phenomenology is equally as important as German Idealism, 19th century, and classical phenomenology.

The deformations wrought constitute a major international embarrassment to the profession, and also cut our field off from other better funded humanities departments who are very happy to interact with people who have a smidgeon of understanding of contemporary French philosophy.

Just to be clear- there is great analytic philosophy going on in France. And you some weirdly nationalistic non-analytics there trying their best to be mirror images of Brian Leiter. But none of them have the influence that he does.

6:06 said...

"9:14 My main argument against your proposal is that sharply separating the two ends up ghettoizing much of the most interesting recent work in Europe, which draws from figures in both traditions."

"Just to put my cards on the table, I think it's bad for philosophy when huge chunks of the Western tradition are not taught in graduate school."
--Jon Cogburn

As you know, I've been "6:06." I'll provisionally move on, for the sake of a productive exchange here.

I appreciate your putting your "Western tradition" cards on the table. As I said earlier, and in the spirit of Schwitzgebel's commentary, I favor relabeling the vast majority of "Philosophy" departments in the Anglo-American and European worlds as "Western Philosophy" departments. That is what they are; and I believe in honesty and transparency. More importantly, I believe that it's profoundly disrespectful and even reactionary to continue to invoke "philosophy" with the implicature, through their de facto exclusion, that non-Western philosophies aren't really philosophy--or, recalling BL's recent commentary, even worth raising the question as to their status and quality as "philosophy."

(I happen not to be particularly interested myself in non-Western philosophies. I'd favor relabeling my own department as a "Western Philosophy" department--though we're starting to teach some non-Western philosophy.)

I might not disagree that departments of "Western Philosophy" should be more broadly representative of both the analytic and continental "cores." As I suggested earlier, I have no existential-cultural dog in that fight, which is a family dispute.

But I do find disturbing the casual attitude toward inclusion for "me" (Western philosophy) but not for "thee" (non-Western philosophies). Indeed, there has been a persistent refusal to even engage that issue--which recalls the quiet response to Schwitzgebel's commentary. I can only assume that many Western philosophers cannot grasp how alienating to existential-cultural outsiders, even those working within Western philosophy, this type of attitude of indifference can be (especially when combined with special pleading for European philosophies).

My APGR proposal was simply supposed to reflect professional reality. I have no partisan ulterior motives. But, yes, I can understand that my proposal could have a "ghettoizing" effect re "recent work in Europe" and other continental work not favored by analytic-oriented departments. I get why you'd reject my proposal on that basis.

So if that were my fight, or a fight I could get myself to care enough about, I'd amend my proposal in support of relabeling the "PGR" the "WPGR," i.e., Western Philosophical Gourmet Report. I see no legitimate basis for rejecting this amended proposal.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to agree with Cogburn's comments about SPEP today--it has improved greatly since my first encounters with it.

However, I think that's in part thanks to Leiter's influence: it now includes a growing number of people in continental philosophy who don't identify with the divide. I think it's also in part due to the impossibility of making such a big society toe any party line. There are still smaller societies in continental subfields that give me the same cliquish, our way or get out, vibe.

6:06 said...
"But I don't believe there's much doubt that we have some idea about how to roughly distinguish between analytic-oriented and continental-oriented departments."

I agree, but the problem is that I think that distinction is, thankfully, disappearing. So I worry that categorizing departments in this way reinforces it, working against that good progress. More importantly, it polarizes the categories, so that those of us who aren't obviously one or the other get marginalized by both.

"[PSA: please stop imposing some view whereby SPEP-type continentalists are taken to be generally representative of continentalists, to the extent that we can roughly identify "continental" philosophy at all.]"

This is precisely my point: I am tired of (the Leitery depiction of, which is not accurate) SPEP being equated with continental philosophy. It gives people the false impression that continental philosophy is narrower and more uniform than it is, ignoring that there are many of us in continental philosophy don't fit that mold.

I think by calling the PGR a ranking of analytic philosophy, you imply that continentalists in those departments are not "really" continental, and let a minority of continentalist control and limit the meaning.

Anonymous said...

In regard to Western and Non-Western philosophy. From my observations of university academic life, at least part of the reason things are divided up the way they are right now is because many Non-Western philosophical topics of interest are often taught and pursued within World Religion departments. For example, as an undergraduate I took both an Eastern Philosophy class and an African Philosophy class in the dept. of Religion and not in the department of philosophy. Maybe that's a bad thing. But it reflects a more structural defect in the division of the labor of the Humanities rather than willful neglect on behalf of just philosophy departments.

bjdubbs said...

Why do the critics of PGR have to bend over backwards to be reasonable and even-handed when Leiter clearly never feels the same responsibility? Of course he's got an axe to grind. That couldn't be clearer. See how easy it is?

Anonymous said...

Jon,

"German philosophy is vastly over represented relative to French. This is a key case of Leiter putting his thumb on the scale in exactly the way Chalmers notes."

This is another case of Leiter having, almost despite himself, a good influence on continental philosophy, at least in some respects. For a long time the French were vastly overrepresented in the conception of continental philosophy, so his admitted biases here help tip it back into balance. He goes too far, to be sure.

It's not that uncommon for people to forget that German and non-phenomenological continental philosophy continues throughout the 20th century.

For example, DailyNous posted a link to a great history of philosophy chart, but it skips this entirely: no German or Italian Marxism, no Frankfurt School, no Habermas or Marcuse.

Even your first instinct is similar:
"It's even less fashionable in continental circles to assert that there is a continental core, but I think there is: German Idealism, Phenomenology, and French Post-structuralism."

I'd say German Idealism and Phenomenology are the core, but if you include Post-Structuralism, I'd include Critical Theory, too. That there is such a divergence in directions: German v. French, Political v. Epistemological/Ethical, Realist v. semi-Idealist (a reversal of sides, recently challenged, admittedly!), etc. seems important. It suggests a deep disagreement in the continental tradition that hasn't been resolved.

(It's probably not unrelated to the fact that analytically trained philosophers interested in continental gravitate more often to the German side, though I'm not sure how or why!)

Anonymous said...

"Why do the critics of PGR have to bend over backwards to be reasonable and even-handed when Leiter clearly never feels the same responsibility?"

Because he always threatens to sue people, and we never threaten to sue him. It sucks to get sued even if the guy suing you knows he has no case. And although he doesn't seem to have ever actually sued anyone, no one wants to volunteer to go first.

zombie said...

"It's only relevant information on what scholars in the field think of different departments, and it's not supposed to tell you anything more than that."

I have to take issue with that, Fritz. It is limited to telling you what the evaluating scholars in philosophy think of different departments, but the fact that the PGR is (purportedly) for grad students tells you that it is more than a mere survey of the field. Those scholars also hire people, and it would be odd if they did not favor grads from the "best" departments. Other non-Gourmet hiring departments also care about getting grads from the "best" departments. If SPEP style philosophy departments are systematically marginalized or ignored by PGR, they are not the "best" departments (if best is defined by PGR ranking), and that tells grad students something -- SPEP is not what you want to do. You won't get a job in that marginal area. Which, of course, further marginalizes SPEP.

I have no opinion about the quality of SPEP style philosophy (well, I have an opinion, but not an informed one), but I don't find it credible that all of SPEP is bollocks.

Jon Cogburn said...

Anon 10:29,

I should say that I think what you say about the importance of Italian and German Marxism (and Frankfurt School critical theory more narrowly) is true. We might add a Freudian tradition to that, though this is hard because the biggest Freudians are either post-structuralists or critical theorists, so in some way they are already covered. If we are talking Europeans that influence what's going on in SPEP, we should probably also add hermeneutics as another tradition that is part of the core.

I actually studied Marxism and Critical Theory with Harry Cleaver (classes on Das Kapital and Italian Marxism) and Douglas Kellner (classes on Marx, the Frankfurt School, critical media studies, and postmodernism) at the University of Texas when I was an undergraduate there.

There's a weird synchronicity here in that Kellner actually left U.T. and accepted a job in the UCLA ed. school in part because of the culture wars in the department at U.T., the same ones that Leiter was centrally involved in. Kellner refers to it obliquely in this nice autobiographical statement: http://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/philosophicadventures.pdf .

I was just a kid, so what do I know, but my experience of continental philosophy then wasn't in terms of a hegemony of Derrideans that you are describing. Louis Mackie was the Derridean. Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins did 19th Century. And Kelly Oliver did feminism. However, U.T. used to be pluralistic in the way that UNM is now so maybe I had a skewed perspective.

In many ways the critical theorists were much closer to analytic philosophy than deconstructionists were in their heydey of writing articles saturated with puns, chiasmus, a certain kind of Nietzschean loftiness of tone, and what strike the rest of us as superfluous (paren)theses (again, Hagglund, Malibou, Braver, etc. completely eschew this kind of thing).

But I think the relative decline of performative writing probably has much more to do with what's been happening in Europe these last few decades and how these are (to the immense credit of the overworked SPEP organizing committee) reflected by European keynote speakers at SPEP. Moreover, in addition to the critical theorists already there, you also have new metaphysicians (orig. Deleuzians and Speculative Realists) and a less French strain of phenomenologists (e.g. giants like Crowell) who are happy to cite articles and books by analytic philosophers.

From talking with people I suspect that for years Leiter actually radically increased a kind of ghetto mentality among some people at SPEP, and in this sense actually made the things you found off-putting a lot worse. I mean, I have friends who still insist (absurdly, I think) that Meillassoux and Badiou aren't really continental philosophers. This is mirror-image Leiterism partially occasioned by the original thing.

All this being said, I should say that I quite enjoy Leiter's "Handbook of Continental Philosophy" in a way that makes me admit that he might have played a causal role in helping accomplish what you attribute to him. If so, I think that this is in spite of the invective, which (all else being equal) has made things worse in the same respects. This is all pretty speculative though.

Anonymous said...

It's nice that Leiter posted that post about what the advisory board does, but it's totally fucked up that there's no similarly detailed statement of its role on the actual PGR itself, and that it took him 14 years to finally publish that information.

Seriously. this whole thing is totally fucked. Complete lack of transparency. Who knows how the PGR works? Not me. Not Fritz McDonald (with all due respect). Not Berit Brogaard. Nobody.

Fuck that.

Anonymous said...

Jon, 10:29 here,

"From talking with people I suspect that for years Leiter actually radically increased a kind of ghetto mentality among some people at SPEP, and in this sense actually made the things you found off-putting a lot worse."

Yes, I definitely have to grant you that. It's hard to say whether his overall effect has been for better or worse, since I think his behavior converted a small group of continentals who were desperate for wider professional recognition, and made a small group of continentals who felt more marginalized become more defensive.

For a while, that led to a situation where those who did not expressly align themselves with SPEPs were automatically perceived as Leiter converts.

On the other hand, as his behavior got worse, I think people of all backgrounds stopped seeing him as a figurehead of either tradition, which freed up a lot of people to stop identifying with either side, without worrying that would align them with one group or another. Does that outweigh the bad influence? I suppose probably not, but I'm happy to have the counterweight anyway.

Anonymous said...

12:50's comments seem true to my experience. I wasn't particularly affiliated with SPEP and so people automatically assumed I was the opposite: Leiter-inspired Analytic-Continental who, you know, uses acronyms and X's and Y's when I do my continental philosophy. But I'm neither. I'm just me: somebody who thought Hegel and Nietzsche were interesting. It gets frustrating. So I would welcome liberation from both categories. I guess I just define myself as someone who does the history of philosophy with an eye towards how that history might help us understand the shape of contemporary problems.

Fritz J. McDonald said...

"I think it would be better, more democratic, more fair, and a better editorial practice if SPEP-style philosophers were proportionally represented in the pool of evaluators and then outvoted."

The trick is: what is the proportion? Who decides that? Who should decide that? Right now (according to the Leiter post about the advisory board and what I can find in the report) it's Leiter's advisory board and Leiter himself (as far as I know, thanks Anon 11:56 for reminding us of the limits of my and our knowledge). Should the proportion be just be based on the number of PhD programs there are in the English-speaking world? The number of students in various PhD programs? The quality of the PhD programs according to some measure? What would that measure be? To make this whole discussion constructive it would be nice to see somebody offer a good opinion on this. Jon Cogburn's points on the relative emphasis of French and German continental philosophy, I think, are useful suggestions in this direction.

Like I said above, I think it would be better if every PhD program was on the list of programs that people could vote on for the top 50 and for the specialty rankings (although I guess the latter is a possibility if the continental people on the advisory board suggested it). Then, if somehow one were able to develop the appropriately representative list, then it would be nice to see where all of the programs rank. This would be useful information because it would let people know the opinions of scholars on the reputation of a certain department.

I have no idea how whoever does a ranking of this kind should figure out this proportion.
(I'm not trying to make a point, I really am just asking questions here).

Zombie (weird to address someone like that), obviously people use the Gourmet Report like that. Perhaps they shouldn't given what kind of raw data it is offering. All it really offers is the attitude of a number of scholars on the reputations of the faculty at certain schools. Leiter's own description of it as a measure of "faculty quality" is not quite right--it should be something like "perceived faculty quality." All that being said, once again, Leiter's advisors are significant figures in their fields. Having a public record of their opinion is some kind of useful information.

You wrote:

"If SPEP style philosophy departments are systematically marginalized or ignored by PGR"

The PGR is not an agent. It can't act. As I've stressed repeatedly, it's not Leiter alone. If certain departments are ignored, it's the advisory board ignoring them. If the report has the effect of marginalizing certain scholars, that's a result of the publication of the attitudes of the advisory board. (The PGR itself can't marginalize anything). Nobody in this thread has challenged the stature of the people on the 19th/20th century continental advisory boards. People in the field will have opinions on departments whether they are made public or not. That opinions will be reflected in hiring and other decisions whether or not a ranking exists. It's better, I think, to have these opinions made public and available people than not to. It's really useful for graduate students to know this when making decisions. People should understand the limits of this information. Leiter himself has stressed the limits of such a ranking, both in the report and on his blog. As an advisor of undergraduate students, I stress the importance of good funding to students interested in graduate school, and especially the match between a student's interests and the interests of the faculty at the relevant school. To me, the most important thing overall in getting a PhD is not measured by the Leiter report, and that's what kind of really good helpful advisor you will have for your dissertation.

Anon. 11:56AM, thanks for the due respect!

I like this blog. You guys are overdue for complaining about the job market more, though.

zombie said...

I think it's still a *little* premature to complain about the job market. Not that it has stopped me from complaining.

Jon Cogburn said...

Fritz,

I'm worried that we're talking past one another.

With respect to the point raised in the OP (Leiter's thumbs on the scales with respect to his personal vendettas) your point about nobody challenging the philosophical credentials of the continental advisory board is a non-sequitur. I think that this is pretty clear from Protevi's post that I linked to above.

Let me argue by analogy. Pick your favorite twenty four philosophers in analytic philosophy of language. To say that they are not a representative group to rank 20th century continental philosophy is not to cast aspersions on them as philosophers. It is entirely consistent with them being great philosophers that as a group they are not suited to rank 20th Century continental philosophy, which includes contemporary French philosophy as a central part.

Likewise, your point about the infelicity in attributing intentional states to groups is not the issue. For all that it's a fascinating philosophical topic (e.g. Deborah Tollefson's work), the original issue concerned the extent to which Leiter puts his thumb on the scales to guarantee a certain outcome. The felicity or not of expressing this in terms of the PGR's intentional states has nothing to do with this.

Finally, I don't understand why you are digging in your heels about how the various committees are actually doing all of the work, given what Chalmers wrote. Chalmers was explicitly criticizing Berit Brogaard for making similar claims as you make above. I can't see how anything you've said contradicts what Chalmers said or in some way shows that what Chalmers wrote isn't relevant to the OP. I'm sorry, but I just can't.

This is the internet, where it's distressingly easy for people to talk past one another. I'm really scared that the way I expressed myself here is going to lead to escalation of tone. I really don't mean to do that.

Let me thank you for posting under your own name. I know that in this climate that that even with tenure it takes guts to publicly stick up for unpopular views, and I respect you for both for doing so and for the lack of rancor in how you are doing so.

Fritz J. McDonald said...

Jon (if I may),

You may be right that, in some way, the lists of 19th/20th century continental evaluators are unrepresentative. As I said above, I found your comments on this point constructive. I am not sure exactly what is meant here by representative, because I am not sure what the group is supposed to be representative of. I expressed my genuine puzzlement about how to settle that above. One way to appoint a representative group might be to do what Leiter does, namely to appoint distinguished people who publish in really good places. I'm not saying that's the only or best way of doing this. (I honestly don't know the right way to do this). Also, I recognize people disagree about what places are the best places to publish or about who is a distinguished scholar of continental philosophy.

Here is my point about the PGR not being an agent: I was trying to figure out what Zombie meant. If Zombie meant Leiter is marginalizing certain departments, I still think that's unfair, because he's only one voter on the relevant specialty areas and he personally does not choose all of the evaluators. If Zombie meant that the evaluators are marginalizing certain departments in a troubling way, that may be a result of their votes on the matter. Perhaps you are right and the advisory board members are unrepresentative in some key way. If that has the effect of marginalizing departments, then it seems like that the problem is the unrepresentative groups of evaluators. If the group of evaluators is unrepresentative, that's Leiter's and the advisory board's fault.

Chalmers pointed out, as you noted, that Leiter has a lot of power insofar as he chooses many of the evaluators. (I have no idea what percentage of the evaluators Leiter picks. As far as I know that's not stated anywhere by Leiter). The advisory board, according to the Gurmet Report, chooses evaluators too. Still, sure, Leiter has a lot of power. I do not disagree with Chalmers's point on this. What is also at issue here is if Leiter uses that power to punish people through his work on the Gourmet Report. That was the claim in the original post. If your claim here is that Leiter "puts his thumb on the scale" out of a "personal vendetta" to marginalize departments that do contemporary French philosophy, perhaps that is true. To know that would be to have insight into Leiter's mind that I lack. I do not think the various remarks Leiter makes on his blog provide enough good evidence to support the claim that Leiter specifically has a vendetta against contemporary French philosophy as such.

If the report does a poor job of ranking the merits of programs with respect to 19th and 20th century continental (as a whole, French and German and Italian etc.), that is a directly a result of poor judgment by the voting evaluators and indirectly a result of either Leiter and the advisory board's (a) poor judgment in picking a representative group of evaluators or (b) if you are right, Leiter and the advisory board Leiter invited are deliberately choosing an unrepresentative evaluator pool out of a vendetta against contemporary French philosophy. Claim (b) strikes me as unlikely.

I keep stressing the role of the advisory board and various committees because I want to try to give an accurate account of the process we are discussing here.

Thanks for the nice stuff you said about me in your post. I strive to keep all of my conversations civil. If I'm still missing your point, let me know!

Anonymous said...

obtuse, Fritz, very obtuse.

Anonymous said...

"I think it would be better, more democratic, more fair, and a better editorial practice if...."

There's nothing stopping philosophers deeply dissatisfied with the current PGR from developing their own better, fairer reports/rankings of whatever philosophy they care enough about. Presumably, most philosophers would prefer a better, fairer, no less feasible approach to the PGR's -- when that good argument really has been made.

CDJ seems to be in the process of trying to develop a robust alternative. There was the Pluralists' Guide, which perhaps could be debugged. Reunificationists could go ahead and develop alternatives they prefer. Whatever alternative reports/rankings gained strong support in the profession would soon enough displace Leiter's lesser PGR -- and its "harmful" reign would be, at least, greatly weakened.

"You're so unfair and abusive: Come back to me!" makes for an awkward rallying cry.

Anonymous said...

Notably, some of the "abused" are not continental philosophers at all. Also of not, those "abused" by Lieter who are not continental philosophers ARE: (1) early career academics and (2) not male. Of course, this is why the latest string of attacks are so offensive.

Anonymous said...

Why put "abused" in scare quotes? What Leiter does is abuse people. He's open about it. He's proud of it. And for a long time, we've all put up with it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the reason the recent string is so offensive is that some of the targets were not male. Good point.

Exasperated said...

In a country with vast resources, in a field of study with some of the brightest people on the planet, it amazes me that instead of constructing an alternative non-ranked survey of the various pathways in academic phil, the mob is trying to tear down a resource that could serve their efforts as a decent supplement. Weird. What's stopping Cogburn, Jennings, Jenkins, Protevii, Heck, Alcoff, McAfee, Winsberg, CDN, Kazarian from meeting in St. Louis or Kansas City or Atlanta to hash out something. What exactly is stopping you all? Condemn PGR and BL all you want. Tell everyone to ignore it. Then create something else that will consign it to irrelevancy. So much time here and on FP and New Apps is wasted on storming the Bastille, you guys have not taken the time to put in a serious effort to give us something useful as an alternative. With all due respect to CDJ, her feeling around in the dark will take forever until she comes up with something that is worth having. Help her or keep quiet. If not, all this is is a Bash Leiter party.

Anonymous said...

No one is more "Exasperated" than all of us, Brian, believe me. Oh, and hi! Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

1:07 is a great example of The Politburo Strikes Back, or what Foucault called "blackmail."

"The necessity of reform mustn't be allowed to become a form of blackmail serving to limit, reduce, or halt the exercise of criticism. Under no circumstances should one pay attention to those who tell one: "Don't criticize, since you're not capable of carrying out a reform." That's ministerial cabinet talk. Critique doesn’t have to be the premise of a deduction that concludes, "this, then, is what needs to be done." It should be an instrument for those for who fight, those who resist and refuse what is."

Anonymous said...

Re: Exasperated. Hard to know where to begin:

(1) There is no “mob,” only 600+ people who are concerned about the inappropriate conduct of Brian Leiter.

(2) What’s stopping these people from providing an alternative to the PGR is the simple fact that providing an alternative to the PGR is not their concern. Their concern is the inappropriate conduct of Brian Leiter.

(3) A public call for action to be taken in response to the inappropriate conduct of Brian Leiter is not a “Bash Leiter party.” It’s a public call for action to be taken in response to the inappropriate conduct of Brian Leiter.

All three of these points should be intelligible to anyone capable of acknowledging that the issue here is the inappropriate conduct of Brian Leiter.

Anonymous said...

2:48, why are Cogburn, Jennings, Jenkins, Protevii, Heck, Alcoff, McAfee, Winsberg, CDN, Kazarian incapable of carrying out reform?

Also, just out of curiosity, why did Foucault call that 'blackmail'? It's not blackmail.

Anonymous said...

A public call for action to be taken in response to the inappropriate conduct of Brian Leiter is not a “Bash Leiter party.”

This one is.
Imagine if someone posted a bill of complaints against the behavior of, say, Carolyn Dicey Jennings, and asked for further contributions of bad things she had done. That would be a bash CDJ party. Imagine if someone posted a list of bad behaviors by the Feminist Philosopher bloggers and asked for more contributions from the general public. That would be a Bash FP party.

It would be less disgusting if the bashers weren't so self-righteous about their Facebook frenzy. The Foucault quotation above suggesting that Heck and Yablo are "those who fight and those who resist" is particularly ripe.
Stick it to the man! Yeah! Fight the power!

Anonymous said...

No, 1:55, its not.

The September Statement is very clear, and endorsed by a wide array of individuals from all over the spectrum. To claim, as you do, that it represents the verdict of a mob of like-minded and self-righteous individuals is simply untenable.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is very clear! I certainly agree. How is that supposed to count against its being a bash? If I posted a very clear bill of complaints against CDJ or the FP and asked the philosophy public to contribute more, that would be a bashing. A very clear bashing, in fact.

I didn't say anything about a 'mob', and I didn't say anything about the bash-attendees being 'like-minded', so it's just flat-out false for you to add "as you do". I did say they are self-righteous, and they are. The respect in which they're like-minded is only (as far as I know) in their Leiterbashing mindset. No doubt in some cases it's "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

Anonymous said...

4:41 - Stop for a minute.

How do *you* know they are self-righteous? How do *you* know that this is case of "bashing" Leiter, as opposed to an appropriate attempt to call him to account ? How do *you* know that the individuals involved don't like Leiter personally, but are concerned about his conduct?

Answer: You don't know any of these things. Rather, you're projecting them onto an independent state of affairs.

My question to you is: "Why?'

Anonymous said...

The point of the "incidents" page is to demonstrate that the Jennings/McAfee emails were not an isolated incident, but are part of a longstanding pattern of abusive behavior. It would be silly to refuse to collaborate with Leiter on the PGR because Leiter was once a jerk to Jenkins; it is less silly to refuse to collaborate with Leiter the PGR because Leiter is pretty much always a jerk to everyone, all of the time. If that's bashing him, then I guess we're bashing him. But to me it is more of a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

Anonymous said...

Remember too that many of these SPEP departments -- as they're branded and as, it seems, they can never recover from in the eyes of BL, no matter whom they hire and how they evolve over time (to say nothing of how the profession evolves) [wow that's a long aside] -- feature many folks who do non-SPEP-type stuff.

Anonymous said...

5:51,
Hm, you mean, you *know* that they are not self-righteous and that what they are engaged in is not bashing, and I do not *know* that there is self-righteousness involved and that they are bashing? So why is that??
Or is the idea that I'm supposed to provide my justification and you needn't provide yours?

In support of my side, I gave two examples that I thought would clearly be 'bashing' and are not significantly different from the actual case. You have ignored those.

In support of my view that the bashers are self-righteous, I gave an instance, namely, the comment above mine invoking Foucault. I could certainly give more examples, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it would be pointless.

Anonymous said...

"Hm, you mean, you *know* that they are not self-righteous and that what they are engaged in is not bashing, and I do not *know* that there is self-righteousness involved and that they are bashing? So why is that??
Or is the idea that I'm supposed to provide my justification and you needn't provide yours?"

No, and yes. No, I don't know the things you claim to know. But it wouldn't matter if I did. The point is that as you are the one who is making the interpretation, it's up to you to support it.

Anonymous said...

"In support of my side, I gave two examples that I thought would clearly be 'bashing' and are not significantly different from the actual case. You have ignored those."

Yes, I have. I'm only concerned with the actual case, where 600+ people endorsed a (to my mind, legitimate) concern about Professor Leiter's conduct. I'd like to know how you know that this represent "bashing" as opposed to appropriate concern.

In support of my view that the bashers are self-righteous, I gave an instance, namely, the comment above mine invoking Foucault. I could certainly give more examples, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it would be pointless.

Given that I'm interested in how you appear to be interpreting the Sept Statement, how the post you mention ought to be interpreted is, for me, irrelevant. If your additional examples are of a like kind, I agree that providing them would be pointless

Anonymous said...

The point is that as you are the one who is making the interpretation, it's up to you to support it.

You announced what the concern of all the people who signed the September Statement is. You also announced that they are not bashing Leiter. So maybe you could say why those things are not interpretations, but what I said is an interpretation.

I'd like to know how you know that this represent "bashing" as opposed to appropriate concern.

You say you would like to know, but then (as you freely admit) you ignore the argument. So I suspect you do not want to know at all, and that this is just a tactic of yours.


Given that I'm interested in how you appear to be interpreting the Sept Statement, how the post you mention ought to be interpreted is, for me, irrelevant.

You responded to Exasperated (who is not me), and I responded to you. Exasperated posted about the combination of the September Statement *and its reaction here and on FP and at NewApps*. The post I mention is therefore not irrelevant.

It is becoming fairly clear that instead of responding directly, your strategy is to demand justification, claim to be exempt from any parallel requirement to provide justification, and then to ignore the justification when I provide it. That sure looks like bad faith.

Anonymous said...

"You announced what the concern of all the people who signed the September Statement is."

False. The authors of the september statement announced what their concerns are. If you have substantive reason not to take them at their word, it's up to you to provided it.

"You say you would like to know, but then (as you freely admit) you ignore the argument."

I freely admit that I ignore baseless disparaging interpretations, including those defended with arguments. This is a very bad way of arguing often employed by BL, and now emulated by many others. I choose to ignore it. And recommend that others ignore it also. If you see this as "bad faith," then that's how you see it. I can understand how it could appear that way. But I think you are mistaken.



comeonpeoplecomeupwithapseuditsnothard said...

With all these anonymouses responding to one another, would it be possible to ban anonymous? coming up with pseud not hard.

Anonymous said...

This is unrelated, but why do universities design their job ads so poorly? The recently-posted Sterling position is listed as an open/open. But then the job description reads

"The successful candidate will contribute to and complement our research strengths in Moral, Legal and Political Philosophy.
The appointee would be asked to teach undergraduate and postgraduate modules in this area."

I know this isn't a huge deal. I just wanted to complain.

Terence Blake said...

As a reward for daring to write a blog post on a subject about which he apparently has nothing insightful to say (recent and contemporary French post-structuralism) I was personally "ranked" by Professor Leiter at a very low level indeed: http://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/controversial-american-professor-tests-new-global-ranking-system-on-french-citizen/.

I wrote a reply in the form of an open letter as I feel that monologues should be contested and resisted: http://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/open-letter-to-brian-leiter-from-one-just-a-guy-with-a-blog-to-another/

Anonymous said...

Great. This absolutely needed to be said and, fifteen years after I applied to PhD programs while reading PGR very closely, I'm glad it's finally being said. One would think by reading PGR that continental philosophy didn't exist at all in the U.S.--or that, if it does, it's simply not worth talking about. It's a snobbery and an omission that are insupportable and that only help to bolster the hidebound, navel-gavel nature of analytic philosophy programs.