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Why philosophers are so weird Professors now act like pompous, puzzled aliens

“I think I’m in love with you, too.” (Aeon Video, YouTube)

“I think I’m in love with you, too.” (Aeon Video, YouTube)


March 10, 2023   6 mins

Not for the first time, an academic philosopher has been causing mirth on Twitter. No, not Jason Stanley, the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University — this time it’s the turn of Professor Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago, earnestly talking about her affair with a graduate student, the subsequent dissolution of her marriage to a fellow philosopher, and the fact that she now lives amicably with both of them.

In a New Yorker profile published this week, Callard is presented as “often baffled by the human conventions that the rest of us have accepted”. She relates how she and the graduate student first discovered their mutual love when she gave him a cookie in class, and she saw “just this incredibly weird expression on his face. I couldn’t understand that expression. I’d never seen it before.” She asked him why he was making that face. The student declared love as an explanation. Callard considered for a minute, and then told him: “I think I’m in love with you, too.” Next, she went home to tell her parents and husband.

New Yorker subscribers who haven’t encountered philosophers before may wonder whether they have inadvertently opened a satirical short story by mistake — or perhaps at least a story about love among the robots. Callard now feels herself confronted with a forceful moral dilemma: harm her children by seeking divorce, or become a bad person “corrupted by staying in a marriage” while loving someone else. She opts for the former. A mere three weeks after that first fateful cookie, she and her husband are divorced by mutual agreement, and Callard is preparing a talk about her experience for her students entitled “On the Kind of Love Into Which One Falls”. Her husband gives her feedback on her presentation; on the day of the talk, he and her new lover sit “next to each other in the front row”. Callard is delighted to be able to share her newfound wisdom with her students. “I felt like I had all this knowledge. And it was wonderful. It was an opportunity to say something truthful about love.”

The New Yorker article makes all three dramatis personae sound very strange — like puzzled aliens, deliberately exposing themselves to earthling human experiences in order to take the information back home to their planet. They also seem prone to frequent shattering revelations. At one point, the graduate student says of the first time Callard’s sons visited his apartment: “I remember watching them play on the furniture and suddenly realising: this is the point of furniture.”

I recognise this type very well, though. For a long time, courtesy of my former profession, puzzled aliens were my people. For those not versed in the oddities of modern philosophers, a new book, written by fellow initiate and Cambridge philosopher Nikhil Krishnan, serendipitously offers some marvellously entertaining context about the spiritual and intellectual forebears of Callard and co. — and indeed my own.

In Krishnan’s A Terribly Serious Adventure, we meet the eccentric luminaries of the 20th-century Anglo-American philosophical tradition in Britain: G.E. Moore, Gilbert Ryle, J.L. Austin, A.J. Ayer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Elizabeth Anscombe, R.M. Hare, Peter Strawson, Bernard Williams, and lots of others too. We learn how, over the course of a century, and though differing profoundly in their ideas otherwise, these thinkers collectively forged a new philosophical methodology. This was “analysis” or “analytical philosophy”, described by Bertrand Russell as “watching an object approaching through a thick fog: at first it is only a vague darkness, but as it approaches articulations appear and one discovers that it is a man or a woman, or a horse or a cow or what not”. The general aim was to clarify and strip down the things we ordinarily say about the world, the more precisely to discern the truth commitments beneath. Essentially, you had to become a puzzled alien on purpose — though some intellects are more suited to this task than others.

After the First World War, a new kind of energy and ambition had begun to infuse students of philosophy in Oxford and Cambridge. Metaphysical idealism, as practiced for years by the likes of F.H. Bradley and T.H. Green, was on its way out — it being hard to maintain that the world is composed only of mind-dependent ideas when you’d personally come up smack bang against tanks and trenches.

Enthused by recent visits to logical positivists in Vienna, younger Oxford men such as Ryle and Ayer started to wonder whether it was possible to dissolve old metaphysical puzzles about reality into nothingness, simply by attending closely to the language in which they were described. Vigorous, ingenious, and with minds like steel traps, a new generation of philosophical upstarts met in tea rooms, pubs, and common rooms to thrash it all out. The aged and reclusive Bradley was reduced to shuffling irrelevantly around Merton College garden, murdering the occasional cat for psychological relief.

Ordinary ways of speaking began to be scrutinised to the point of collapse. Tutorials started to ring to the sound of the soon-to-be familiar demand: “But what exactly do you mean by that?” Hours would be spent arguing about the word “the”, or pondering “How is my thought about Cambridge a thought about Cambridge?” J.L. Austin was particularly good at turning everyday thoughts and feelings into objects of rigorous investigation: “If a landlady complained about her lodger’s ‘nasty habits’, would we take her to be complaining about the same kind of thing if she’d spoken instead of his ‘nasty ways’? Why can we speak of someone as a ‘good’ batsman but not as a ‘right’ batsman? Could someone complain of a pain in the waist?”

Verbal confrontations would often occur, between, as Isaiah Berlin called them, “the people mending the wall” and “the people knocking holes in it”. Temperamentally, Austin was a hole-knocker, prone to glaring at interlocutors in seminars, and asking with quiet menace: “Would you mind saying that again?” Ayer, meanwhile, was a wall-mender, and resented Austin’s powers of destruction, complaining bitterly of him: “You are like a greyhound who doesn’t want to run himself, and bites the other greyhounds, so that they cannot run either.”

For those who have suffered through the anguished pauses, sudden waspish outbursts, and surreal flights into the imaginary of the average philosophy tutorial, Krishnan’s book offers many opportunities to nod with an affectionate grimace at the recollection. There is the mandatory gladiatorial verbal sparring, rendering some poor souls so anxiously beset with possible counterexamples to every idea that they can barely write a word afterwards. There’s also the desire to talk exclusively to other philosophers who understand the highly technical background, rather than to communicate to the general public. This resulted in what Krishnan euphemistically calls “a new and strikingly unessayistic style of prose” (translation: some of the most godawfully impenetrable texts in the English language).

Other parts of this philosophical culture inherited from its elders have proved more fruitful, however. To this day, the best of analytic philosophy exemplifies a refusal to accept ideas just because powerful or clever people say that they are true. There was, and still is, a cultural expectation that every great thinker of the past is bound to be wrong in some way. Relatedly, there is what Ernest Nagel recognised in Vienna in the Thirties as a refusal to be explicitly ideological: “its professors do not indoctrinate their students with dogmas as to life, religion, race, or society”, and “no doctrines and no institutions are free from critical reappraisals”.

Today, when you study philosophy in Britain, this translates into the conceit that the dry and tortuous philosophical ideas you are being asked to assess have no history. You are to act as if they have just landed from the moon. Indeed, this is precisely what the analytic method encourages you to pretend. The question is not where or when the ideas come from, but whether they are true or false. In a similar vein, you’re encouraged to believe that a thinker’s personality is irrelevant to their thoughts.

Part of the delight of Krishnan’s book, then — with its focus on highly entertaining personalities, career achievements, and relationships — is to realise how utterly contingent the intellectual trajectory of analytical philosophy has been: dependent all the while on the character traits, foibles, and personal obsessions of a particular group of people. Had the thinkers been very different, so too would the body of thought.

More — had the personalities involved been different, we would not have had the contemporary stereotype of the public philosopher: unshakeably confident in the realm of abstract reasoning; able to say preposterous-sounding things without laughing; content with displaying a child-like naivety about many obvious aspects of the world; but also able to suddenly illuminate the ordinary, and place order into the chaotic, in ways few other minds can match. In short, we would not have had the likes of Professor Agnes Callard and her friends — and philosophy would not have become so wonderfully and enlightening alien.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

we would not have had the contemporary stereotype of the public philosopher: unshakeably confident in the realm of abstract reasoning; able to say preposterous-sounding things without laughing; content with displaying a child-like naivety about many obvious aspects of the world; but also able to suddenly illuminate the ordinary, and place order into the chaotic, in ways few other minds can match.
That characterization of a modern, public philosopher doesn’t ring true for me, and certainly not as a description of Prof. Callard. I can certainly imagine the type, though: it’s a man who bears a striking resemblance to Stephen Frye complete with tweed jacket and pipe. It’s a century ago and he’s in a quad at Cambridge idly chatting to Ramanujan who’s struggling with one of his more complex mathematical proofs. The philosopher is absent-mindedly discoursing on the nature of bird song, then remembers a lunch appointment and as he leaves says, “Oh, by the way, R., I think you’ll find if you set y to zero the problem will solve itself.” Ramanujan is left astounded. Such is the rarefied, child-like, illuminating genius of yesteryear (assuming it ever existed).
What about today’s philosophers? I don’t regard them in a similar light. They appear to be the wokest of the woke, as Prof. Stock can attest. Their discipline, in my view, is hopelessly politicized. However quaint or abstract their predecessors might seem, they at least sincerely tried to make sense of human existence. Nowadays it’s pure ideology.
I wonder if Prof. Stock would write an essay about modern philosophy’s commitment to scholarship? I’d be particularly interested to learn about current philosophy students. Do they even bother studying the great philosophical works and acquire the techniques of reasoned analysis, or are they rewarded simply for reciting ideology? Are they still encouraged to question every assertion, as mentioned in the article, or mindlessly accept whatever under-cooked idea is thrown at them by their politicized professors? Are able students, capable of profound abstraction, still attracted to philosophy or do mediocrities mouth platitudes on their way to a First?

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I fear the latter. I work in a bike shop in South London. We employed someone a couple of years ago who had a first in philosophy from Sussex – Kathleen‘s old uni. As a dabbler myself, I asked him if he’d read any Montaigne, Seneca, Schopenhauer and what he thought of them? He’d read none of them.
It’s not much of a job, but it does have the singular virtue of being an environment where people can say exactly what they think. He didn’t like this at all and was constantly assailing us with accusations of wrongthink. He left after a few months because he said some of the things I said made him ‘uncomfortable’. So much for philosophy toughening the mind…

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

There is overall a tangible lack of robust disagreement going on in academia right now, and it is something that has been consistently worsening over the last few decades.

I have made the mistake of being the person unable to read the room on a number of occasions and dared to make such challenges, and academics either look like they’ve been slapped round the face with a dead fish, or promptly change the subject to avoid any chance that the students might get upset. When I’ve produced the former response, it has always shocked me, because in spite of such academics being well into their post-doctoral careers, they have never really had that level of challenge aimed at their woke ideas.

The latter response never surprises me though, as universities seem to view students as ticking time bombs liable to have a complete mental breakdown if they aren’t protected from ideas they strongly disagree with, thus academics who work with students are put under tremendous pressure to avoid any discussions that might upset anyone.

It is hardly surprising that such bubble wrapped students leave their studies unable to cope with a world free of sugar coating, and those that remain are doomed to become yet more supposedly senior academics who’ve never experienced more than a gentle prodding of their ideas.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

I think it’s because these people don’t feel they are in possession of opinions but THE TRUTH. So for them there is no discussion necessary. Reality, on the other hand, is nearly always a messy compromise.
What bothered me about this bloke we employed the most though was his utter lack of humour. I work in quite a rough and ready all-male environment where the day is leavened with coarse humour and slapstick.
He took himself very very seriously and yet seemed incapable of grasping that you could joke about, say, H*tler without inferring you were a member of the National Socialist Party.
Just to mention something that was verboten in his eyes rendered you somehow suspect, like you had the whiff of treachery lingering somewhere about your person…

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Or it may be that they don’t think there _is_ any TRUTH, or if it exists, it’s not very relevant. There is nothing but opinions, and there is no discussion necessary, because what is the point? I’m not looking for the truth, I am looking for where the power is, so I can be sure to have the opinions that align with powerful.

Russ W
Russ W
1 year ago

Correct but I cannot bring myself to hit the thumbs up button. The reality is too disgusting.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russ W
Russ W
Russ W
1 year ago

Correct but I cannot bring myself to hit the thumbs up button. The reality is too disgusting.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russ W
Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Sounds about as enjoyable as being stuck in a lift with Billy Bragg. I imagine you all breathed a sigh of relief.

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I think you’re right about their thinking they are in possession of the truth and it tells us great deal about the nature of academia and philosophy in particular i.e. that it is possible in this enlightened age to complete three years’ undergraduate study without any concept of epistemology let alone empiricism and formal logic. It occurred to me to ask whether one could one imagine these people in power until I realised in a microsecond that, of course, we are seeing right now the products of the discussions that pass for intellectual discourse at our universities. It is not a pretty sight; and worse, it is positively dangerous.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Crikey, are you Robert Persig incarnate, ruminating about brass and ball?

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

The decline of religion means these kinds of people have simply transferred their instincts of blind faith and acceptance of dogma to their secular opinions and beliefs. It’s as if pushing a floating cork down in one place simply means it pops back up in another!

Last edited 1 year ago by John Ramsden
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Or it may be that they don’t think there _is_ any TRUTH, or if it exists, it’s not very relevant. There is nothing but opinions, and there is no discussion necessary, because what is the point? I’m not looking for the truth, I am looking for where the power is, so I can be sure to have the opinions that align with powerful.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Sounds about as enjoyable as being stuck in a lift with Billy Bragg. I imagine you all breathed a sigh of relief.

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I think you’re right about their thinking they are in possession of the truth and it tells us great deal about the nature of academia and philosophy in particular i.e. that it is possible in this enlightened age to complete three years’ undergraduate study without any concept of epistemology let alone empiricism and formal logic. It occurred to me to ask whether one could one imagine these people in power until I realised in a microsecond that, of course, we are seeing right now the products of the discussions that pass for intellectual discourse at our universities. It is not a pretty sight; and worse, it is positively dangerous.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Crikey, are you Robert Persig incarnate, ruminating about brass and ball?

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

The decline of religion means these kinds of people have simply transferred their instincts of blind faith and acceptance of dogma to their secular opinions and beliefs. It’s as if pushing a floating cork down in one place simply means it pops back up in another!

Last edited 1 year ago by John Ramsden
Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

I’m hoping Unherd will pick this up, but Jonathan Haidt has a very interesting article suggesting that academic bubble-wrapping plus social media use might be amplifying, rather than reducing, mental health problems among young people.
https://jonathanhaidt.substack.com/p/mental-health-liberal-girls?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Thank you for the link. Just read it, and I think it’s spot on.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I’d absolutely agree with that conclusion. The academic bubble wrapping combined with the critical theory that is being consistently prioritised in universities is actively promoting dysfunctional and hypervigilant behaviours and a distorted sense of what persecution actually is.

I heard one student describing the recent women’s march in Scotland as a “pro-trans genocide rally” in absolute seriousness, and another wondering if a lecturer glanced at them whilst mentioning Ramadan because they were brown.

My university also spent much of last year constantly mailing everyone trying to get them to participate in “racial micro-aggressions” training that was being conducted by an external company whose own website prominently featured an article about how toddlers are racist.

Brad Mountz
Brad Mountz
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Appreciate you sharing this link. It’s an enlightening read and needs to be shared acrosss multiple channels to harness some momentum around the damage this type of thinking does to people and ultimately society. I also wonder how the pharmaceutical company’s fueled and capitalized on these trends, driving the mentally vunerable from confused about reality to addiction. Great read. Best so far this year on this topic.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Thanks for that, Saul. A genuinely worrying article which goes a long way towards explaining why everyone seems so crazy nowadays

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

On a similar though tangential theme, Heather MacDonald has written an essay in the American City Journal titled “The Great Feminisation of the American University”.
https://www.city-journal.org/the-great-feminization-of-the-american-university?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
Christopher Rufo wrote a commentary on it, based on his experiences dealing with education administrations etc.
https://rufo.substack.com/p/the-great-feminization-of-the-american?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=1248321&post_id=107282132&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

Nicolas Fricia
Nicolas Fricia
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Come on… these people do not bother to factor in that most college students come from American-style suburbs that are devoid of life and intellectual stimulation. Students do not have debate-style educational instruction in public/state schools and there is little ability in their personal life to actually come in contact with various kinds of diversity particularly (intellectual and socio-economic), so students are not accustomed to a more chaotic and lively environment that traditional style cities offer them.
American-style suburbs are devoid of community life and what sociologists call “third places” where members of a community hang out at little to no cost (so they socialize way less than people who live in cities). Children in car-dependent environments do not have any freedom to develop independence until they are 16 or 17 and only if their parents can afford a car. So of course many students are narrow-minded! American-style suburban developments stunt intellectual development!
Most people in America are raised in these suburban developments and I know much of Western Europe followed in this disastrous style of development to various degrees. Also, don’t you think suburbs reduce resilience? I tend to think of each generation a product of previous generations’ decisions so if there is something terribly wrong with current students, then it’s a reflection of older generations.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nicolas Fricia
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Thank you for the link. Just read it, and I think it’s spot on.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I’d absolutely agree with that conclusion. The academic bubble wrapping combined with the critical theory that is being consistently prioritised in universities is actively promoting dysfunctional and hypervigilant behaviours and a distorted sense of what persecution actually is.

I heard one student describing the recent women’s march in Scotland as a “pro-trans genocide rally” in absolute seriousness, and another wondering if a lecturer glanced at them whilst mentioning Ramadan because they were brown.

My university also spent much of last year constantly mailing everyone trying to get them to participate in “racial micro-aggressions” training that was being conducted by an external company whose own website prominently featured an article about how toddlers are racist.

Brad Mountz
Brad Mountz
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Appreciate you sharing this link. It’s an enlightening read and needs to be shared acrosss multiple channels to harness some momentum around the damage this type of thinking does to people and ultimately society. I also wonder how the pharmaceutical company’s fueled and capitalized on these trends, driving the mentally vunerable from confused about reality to addiction. Great read. Best so far this year on this topic.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Thanks for that, Saul. A genuinely worrying article which goes a long way towards explaining why everyone seems so crazy nowadays

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

On a similar though tangential theme, Heather MacDonald has written an essay in the American City Journal titled “The Great Feminisation of the American University”.
https://www.city-journal.org/the-great-feminization-of-the-american-university?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
Christopher Rufo wrote a commentary on it, based on his experiences dealing with education administrations etc.
https://rufo.substack.com/p/the-great-feminization-of-the-american?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=1248321&post_id=107282132&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

Nicolas Fricia
Nicolas Fricia
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

Come on… these people do not bother to factor in that most college students come from American-style suburbs that are devoid of life and intellectual stimulation. Students do not have debate-style educational instruction in public/state schools and there is little ability in their personal life to actually come in contact with various kinds of diversity particularly (intellectual and socio-economic), so students are not accustomed to a more chaotic and lively environment that traditional style cities offer them.
American-style suburbs are devoid of community life and what sociologists call “third places” where members of a community hang out at little to no cost (so they socialize way less than people who live in cities). Children in car-dependent environments do not have any freedom to develop independence until they are 16 or 17 and only if their parents can afford a car. So of course many students are narrow-minded! American-style suburban developments stunt intellectual development!
Most people in America are raised in these suburban developments and I know much of Western Europe followed in this disastrous style of development to various degrees. Also, don’t you think suburbs reduce resilience? I tend to think of each generation a product of previous generations’ decisions so if there is something terribly wrong with current students, then it’s a reflection of older generations.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nicolas Fricia
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

I think it’s because these people don’t feel they are in possession of opinions but THE TRUTH. So for them there is no discussion necessary. Reality, on the other hand, is nearly always a messy compromise.
What bothered me about this bloke we employed the most though was his utter lack of humour. I work in quite a rough and ready all-male environment where the day is leavened with coarse humour and slapstick.
He took himself very very seriously and yet seemed incapable of grasping that you could joke about, say, H*tler without inferring you were a member of the National Socialist Party.
Just to mention something that was verboten in his eyes rendered you somehow suspect, like you had the whiff of treachery lingering somewhere about your person…

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

I’m hoping Unherd will pick this up, but Jonathan Haidt has a very interesting article suggesting that academic bubble-wrapping plus social media use might be amplifying, rather than reducing, mental health problems among young people.
https://jonathanhaidt.substack.com/p/mental-health-liberal-girls?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email

Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Time for Matthew Crawford to put aside his wrenches, pick up his cudgels of clear thinking and, with Kathleen riding pillion, rescue the hard-of-thinking!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Too bad the kid left. He might have learned an actual skill, an therefore something about real life.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

The sad thing is he was being taught by some of the best mechanics in London – he just didn’t think there was anything he needed to learn.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

The sad thing is he was being taught by some of the best mechanics in London – he just didn’t think there was anything he needed to learn.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

It’s all so sad. Think how far the University of Chicago has fallen, since the years after WWII and through the late sixties or early seventies. Strauss, Arendt, Bloom, Hutchins, Russell, and so many others were there. Saul Bellow was there too, and his Ravelstein shows what a towering figure a professor like Bloom was. Read Bloom’s commentary on John Rawls A Theory of Justice to see what I mean.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

There is overall a tangible lack of robust disagreement going on in academia right now, and it is something that has been consistently worsening over the last few decades.

I have made the mistake of being the person unable to read the room on a number of occasions and dared to make such challenges, and academics either look like they’ve been slapped round the face with a dead fish, or promptly change the subject to avoid any chance that the students might get upset. When I’ve produced the former response, it has always shocked me, because in spite of such academics being well into their post-doctoral careers, they have never really had that level of challenge aimed at their woke ideas.

The latter response never surprises me though, as universities seem to view students as ticking time bombs liable to have a complete mental breakdown if they aren’t protected from ideas they strongly disagree with, thus academics who work with students are put under tremendous pressure to avoid any discussions that might upset anyone.

It is hardly surprising that such bubble wrapped students leave their studies unable to cope with a world free of sugar coating, and those that remain are doomed to become yet more supposedly senior academics who’ve never experienced more than a gentle prodding of their ideas.

Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Time for Matthew Crawford to put aside his wrenches, pick up his cudgels of clear thinking and, with Kathleen riding pillion, rescue the hard-of-thinking!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Too bad the kid left. He might have learned an actual skill, an therefore something about real life.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

It’s all so sad. Think how far the University of Chicago has fallen, since the years after WWII and through the late sixties or early seventies. Strauss, Arendt, Bloom, Hutchins, Russell, and so many others were there. Saul Bellow was there too, and his Ravelstein shows what a towering figure a professor like Bloom was. Read Bloom’s commentary on John Rawls A Theory of Justice to see what I mean.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Philosophy has two rather sharply contrasting groupings, the former is the weird child-like philosophers who Stock describes here, and they seem to be rather avoidant of wokeness overall, preferring to navel gaze over some very niche concern. The latter is the newer and younger group of philosophers, and they do tend to be rather more of the woke variety, but they are also rather naive, struggling with robust disagreement with their ideas because next to nobody ever attempts it, and those who do generally regret it, as Stock herself has experienced.

Philosophy actually isn’t actually that high on the list of humanities subject areas that suffer from an excess of wokeness though, English and History are far worse, and Media Studies is one of the worst (the academics at Sussex who were particularly vocal in their public nastiness towards Stock were not from the philosophy department, although I suspect that the whole philosophy department was advised to keep quiet as allegations of bullying had already been made about certain philosophy academics).

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

I can understand English and Media Studies being hotbeds of woke as they are not particularly intellectually grounded. But surely a rigorous study of history explodes the idea that white nations are particularly unique in displaying unpleasant aggressive and domineering behaviour from time to time.

In the recent Archers episode one of the characters comments on an EastIndiaman ship in the background of a painting on display suggesting it was a slave ship. The East India Company had plenty of rapacious officials but the trade in slaves was not part of their business. There are still communities of former African slaves in India but they were imported by Indians as part of the Arab slave trade and had nothing to do with the East India Company. It is the general ignorance of the behaviour of people generally in the past that allows a distorted version of the unique awfulness of the white population of the world to flourish. Proper History should be the antidote to woke. Why are University History Faculties not doing their job giving their student a broader view of the past beyond the woke comic book version?

It is one thing for the ignorant writers of the Archers to perpetrate such a myth (although perhaps a future episode might reveal the truth) but historians should be able to do better.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

I can understand English and Media Studies being hotbeds of woke as they are not particularly intellectually grounded. But surely a rigorous study of history explodes the idea that white nations are particularly unique in displaying unpleasant aggressive and domineering behaviour from time to time.

In the recent Archers episode one of the characters comments on an EastIndiaman ship in the background of a painting on display suggesting it was a slave ship. The East India Company had plenty of rapacious officials but the trade in slaves was not part of their business. There are still communities of former African slaves in India but they were imported by Indians as part of the Arab slave trade and had nothing to do with the East India Company. It is the general ignorance of the behaviour of people generally in the past that allows a distorted version of the unique awfulness of the white population of the world to flourish. Proper History should be the antidote to woke. Why are University History Faculties not doing their job giving their student a broader view of the past beyond the woke comic book version?

It is one thing for the ignorant writers of the Archers to perpetrate such a myth (although perhaps a future episode might reveal the truth) but historians should be able to do better.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“What about today’s philosophers? I don’t regard them in a similar light. They appear to be the wokest of the woke, as Prof. Stock can attest. Their discipline, in my view, is hopelessly politicized. However quaint or abstract their predecessors might seem, they at least sincerely tried to make sense of human existence. Nowadays it’s pure ideology.”
Have an upvote with my compliments.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Seconded.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Seconded.

Mashie Niblick
Mashie Niblick
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, and what about the enormous number of so-called professors who, on the strength of a few articles and, perhaps a book, are appointed to chairs?
Second rate academics in third rate ‘universities’

Nicolas Fricia
Nicolas Fricia
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It is funny that you use the word ‘woke’ in the most bastardized-political-philistinistic way possible while criticizing philosophy as “Their discipline, in my view, is hopelessly politicized.” Politicizing something does not make philosophy less intellectual and it seems incredibly assumptuous to think that’s even a criticism. As someone who studied an insane amount of political theory and philosophy, so much of the great works are deeply political for their time.
Also, everyone has an ideology, the problem is the unwillingness to challenge it, which I find a bigger problem with conservatives than people on the left.
There are many ways to know if students are reading great works of philosophy, but this comment section seems devoid of any real research skills so just use google and see what the algorithm fishes up for you!

Last edited 1 year ago by Nicolas Fricia
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I fear the latter. I work in a bike shop in South London. We employed someone a couple of years ago who had a first in philosophy from Sussex – Kathleen‘s old uni. As a dabbler myself, I asked him if he’d read any Montaigne, Seneca, Schopenhauer and what he thought of them? He’d read none of them.
It’s not much of a job, but it does have the singular virtue of being an environment where people can say exactly what they think. He didn’t like this at all and was constantly assailing us with accusations of wrongthink. He left after a few months because he said some of the things I said made him ‘uncomfortable’. So much for philosophy toughening the mind…

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Philosophy has two rather sharply contrasting groupings, the former is the weird child-like philosophers who Stock describes here, and they seem to be rather avoidant of wokeness overall, preferring to navel gaze over some very niche concern. The latter is the newer and younger group of philosophers, and they do tend to be rather more of the woke variety, but they are also rather naive, struggling with robust disagreement with their ideas because next to nobody ever attempts it, and those who do generally regret it, as Stock herself has experienced.

Philosophy actually isn’t actually that high on the list of humanities subject areas that suffer from an excess of wokeness though, English and History are far worse, and Media Studies is one of the worst (the academics at Sussex who were particularly vocal in their public nastiness towards Stock were not from the philosophy department, although I suspect that the whole philosophy department was advised to keep quiet as allegations of bullying had already been made about certain philosophy academics).

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“What about today’s philosophers? I don’t regard them in a similar light. They appear to be the wokest of the woke, as Prof. Stock can attest. Their discipline, in my view, is hopelessly politicized. However quaint or abstract their predecessors might seem, they at least sincerely tried to make sense of human existence. Nowadays it’s pure ideology.”
Have an upvote with my compliments.

Mashie Niblick
Mashie Niblick
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, and what about the enormous number of so-called professors who, on the strength of a few articles and, perhaps a book, are appointed to chairs?
Second rate academics in third rate ‘universities’

Nicolas Fricia
Nicolas Fricia
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It is funny that you use the word ‘woke’ in the most bastardized-political-philistinistic way possible while criticizing philosophy as “Their discipline, in my view, is hopelessly politicized.” Politicizing something does not make philosophy less intellectual and it seems incredibly assumptuous to think that’s even a criticism. As someone who studied an insane amount of political theory and philosophy, so much of the great works are deeply political for their time.
Also, everyone has an ideology, the problem is the unwillingness to challenge it, which I find a bigger problem with conservatives than people on the left.
There are many ways to know if students are reading great works of philosophy, but this comment section seems devoid of any real research skills so just use google and see what the algorithm fishes up for you!

Last edited 1 year ago by Nicolas Fricia
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

we would not have had the contemporary stereotype of the public philosopher: unshakeably confident in the realm of abstract reasoning; able to say preposterous-sounding things without laughing; content with displaying a child-like naivety about many obvious aspects of the world; but also able to suddenly illuminate the ordinary, and place order into the chaotic, in ways few other minds can match.
That characterization of a modern, public philosopher doesn’t ring true for me, and certainly not as a description of Prof. Callard. I can certainly imagine the type, though: it’s a man who bears a striking resemblance to Stephen Frye complete with tweed jacket and pipe. It’s a century ago and he’s in a quad at Cambridge idly chatting to Ramanujan who’s struggling with one of his more complex mathematical proofs. The philosopher is absent-mindedly discoursing on the nature of bird song, then remembers a lunch appointment and as he leaves says, “Oh, by the way, R., I think you’ll find if you set y to zero the problem will solve itself.” Ramanujan is left astounded. Such is the rarefied, child-like, illuminating genius of yesteryear (assuming it ever existed).
What about today’s philosophers? I don’t regard them in a similar light. They appear to be the wokest of the woke, as Prof. Stock can attest. Their discipline, in my view, is hopelessly politicized. However quaint or abstract their predecessors might seem, they at least sincerely tried to make sense of human existence. Nowadays it’s pure ideology.
I wonder if Prof. Stock would write an essay about modern philosophy’s commitment to scholarship? I’d be particularly interested to learn about current philosophy students. Do they even bother studying the great philosophical works and acquire the techniques of reasoned analysis, or are they rewarded simply for reciting ideology? Are they still encouraged to question every assertion, as mentioned in the article, or mindlessly accept whatever under-cooked idea is thrown at them by their politicized professors? Are able students, capable of profound abstraction, still attracted to philosophy or do mediocrities mouth platitudes on their way to a First?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Callard is not really a philosopher here she is just a naughty girl revelling in her ability to be naughty without any push back because she is a “philosopher” and she is not going to get cancelled the way she would if she broke one of the taboos against “racism” or “trans ideology”.

Nothing clever, bold or philosophical to see.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Not mention having a menage a trois with one of her students.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Agreed. The entire “profession” of philosophy seems similar to what ESG is today. A once fashionable bad idea that became ensconced in society and never went away. Sort of like the “sport” of half pipe snowboarding being in the Olympics.
The line in the article that sums it all up for me is, The aged and reclusive Bradley was reduced to shuffling irrelevantly around Merton College garden, murdering the occasional cat for psychological relief.”
If this is the end of the road for most of these head cases, which I imagine is true, then why bother with them in the first place?

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Not mention having a menage a trois with one of her students.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Agreed. The entire “profession” of philosophy seems similar to what ESG is today. A once fashionable bad idea that became ensconced in society and never went away. Sort of like the “sport” of half pipe snowboarding being in the Olympics.
The line in the article that sums it all up for me is, The aged and reclusive Bradley was reduced to shuffling irrelevantly around Merton College garden, murdering the occasional cat for psychological relief.”
If this is the end of the road for most of these head cases, which I imagine is true, then why bother with them in the first place?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Callard is not really a philosopher here she is just a naughty girl revelling in her ability to be naughty without any push back because she is a “philosopher” and she is not going to get cancelled the way she would if she broke one of the taboos against “racism” or “trans ideology”.

Nothing clever, bold or philosophical to see.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

I have hung with a bunch of philosophers, been drunk with them a lot (they tell good jokes when drinking – clever and odd ones)

I think it was the movie ‘Rude Boy’ about The Clash, played by them selves, the lead singer is asked by some reporter what Punks really are about – and he tells them

” Punks are just a bunch of Wan *ers.”

haha – you see where this is going….

But really – this is not the case. First – Philosophers are going to be at some point on the Asperger scale – they are not normal people.

The other thing is the harm they do – people think they are just Wan *ers but most of the great evil in the world if from these modern bunch of Philosophers – and If you know me you know I will be talking of Modernism, Postmodernist, Post-Structuralists, Neo-Marxism, and I would toss in Freud.

Really they began their destruction of the Modern west in Warmer Germany at the Gothe Institute and what became the ‘Frankfurt School’ drawing on Utilitarianism, Existentialism, Nihilism, Marxism, Freud, and the big dose of Atheism.

These wicked and pernicious people gave us all the degeneracy of Woke – the evil of Liberal Lefty – the destruction of the Family, Faith, Ethics and Morality……. after they captured Columbia University first in the 1930s and then 1980 the took it fully…and Focoult and Derrida et al have loosened their despair and amorality….

Being Aspies they do not quite really get the whole good and evil thing unless that take that fork – I would say like so many Christian Philosophers, say Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, and Simone Weil who took the fork with God, they produced Good Works… but ones who turn to Secular Humanism – they can produce the philosophies of the greatest evil man has ever known, they produce Evil works.

Anyway – a funny bunch – but as deadly to humanity when they go to the dark side..say like Yuval Harari – basically Satan’s Saint…..

So yea, they are just some Wan*ers – and fun to get drunk with – but when absent from god, the devil can lead them, and have loosened darker forces on the world than any other kind of person in history.

Anthony Devonshire
Anthony Devonshire
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Think you’ll find the truly “wicked” ones were those that drove for example many of the Frankfurt School to exile in the US.
Besides, “woke” as it is distortedly used today is more likely a line in the end game of liberalism vs conservatism rather than anything to do with the continental tradition.
Any post that invokes “wokeism” can be dismissed as political and agenda-driven, not a contribution to an albeit frivolous article about analytic philosophy to be taken seriously. Whenever I hear or read “woke”, I instantly think of the Daily Mail with a kind of sad sense of despair.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

I do agree that the word “woke” is over-used, often just as an epithet for someone one disagrees with, much like “fascist” is used, too. However, it is a term which can be useful, if used with care, to denote a person holding a certain tranche of views and attitudes; in much the same way one would use the term “conservative” to denote a person who might also hold some distinctly unconservative views, too, I have been called woke by a number of people (including on this site), but I would not view myself as such as I oppose too many of “wokedom’s”sacredly held viewpoints. So, what I’m saying is don’t give up on something just because the word “woke” is used, provided it is only being used as a shorthand and not a general insult.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Awaiting for approval

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Second time now. More asterisks needed.
I don’t quite agree with you. Please bear with me as I belabour my point.
If I say to you that you are talking nonsense because you are a woman, that would indeed be labelled as right-wing, fas**st, despicable, unseemly.
If you say to me that I am talking nonsense because I’m a Boomer. That would be OK.
You might be upset. I might be upset. But Boomer = old. The first statement is a pseudo-crime. The second is not. You can call me an old f*rt. Still OK.
This is why people don’t like woke.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The terms F@acism derives from F@ces. This is essentially a set of rules that must be obeyed.
Whilst many academics and historians play up the nationalist, rascist and violent ideals which are characteristic of the movements, at the root is an authoritarianism that pledges obedience to a creed.
You obey, you do not question.
This is very similar to the behaviour that modern socialist movements, and particularly Woke movements, have come to expect.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

The fasces comprised a w bundle of rods and the ax carried by a lictor who accompanied a magistrate in ancient Rome. The ax and rods symbolised the magistrate’s power to punish and execute.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago

The Rods are an emblem of Roman citizenship…individual sticks being pliable&can break, but bound together strong indeed unbreakable(the ultimate State.)

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago

The Rods are an emblem of Roman citizenship…individual sticks being pliable&can break, but bound together strong indeed unbreakable(the ultimate State.)

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

The fasces comprised a w bundle of rods and the ax carried by a lictor who accompanied a magistrate in ancient Rome. The ax and rods symbolised the magistrate’s power to punish and execute.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I see that your first post is still awaiting approval; what did you write that warranted this censorship? 🙂 The word “fascist” is ok as I’ve written that before, perhaps it was f*rt; I wish there was some place where we could see all the words that are not permitted. Although, come to think of it, we all know what the word is anyway so, why add asteriks, also context matters. As far as I’m concerned all that should be removed are threats and verbal abuse. But, the latter should be extreme: calling someone an id*ot is not really that bad, rude certainly, one should address the argument not the person, and I wouldn’t want this site to degenerate into name-calling. What is important is that you say why you think that person to be an id*ot, as I said addressing the argument.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

If Dostoyevsky is right, “idiot” may even be some sort of compliment. Nietzsche wanted to use that word to describe Christ but his sister wouldn’t let him. An “idiot” is a person removed from the political. Is that not where “progress” would have us all land?

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

If Dostoyevsky is right, “idiot” may even be some sort of compliment. Nietzsche wanted to use that word to describe Christ but his sister wouldn’t let him. An “idiot” is a person removed from the political. Is that not where “progress” would have us all land?

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The terms F@acism derives from F@ces. This is essentially a set of rules that must be obeyed.
Whilst many academics and historians play up the nationalist, rascist and violent ideals which are characteristic of the movements, at the root is an authoritarianism that pledges obedience to a creed.
You obey, you do not question.
This is very similar to the behaviour that modern socialist movements, and particularly Woke movements, have come to expect.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I see that your first post is still awaiting approval; what did you write that warranted this censorship? 🙂 The word “fascist” is ok as I’ve written that before, perhaps it was f*rt; I wish there was some place where we could see all the words that are not permitted. Although, come to think of it, we all know what the word is anyway so, why add asteriks, also context matters. As far as I’m concerned all that should be removed are threats and verbal abuse. But, the latter should be extreme: calling someone an id*ot is not really that bad, rude certainly, one should address the argument not the person, and I wouldn’t want this site to degenerate into name-calling. What is important is that you say why you think that person to be an id*ot, as I said addressing the argument.

Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
1 year ago

Woke is actually used to describe those who delude themselves that they have a monopoly on moral views, and hence castigate anyone who disagrees with them as fascist, nazi scum, etc.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago

Exactly the attitude of real historic nazis..

Nicolas Fricia
Nicolas Fricia
1 year ago

Name a single ‘woke’ person who has that view. The term emerged as slang from the African-American community in the 1930s in the USA to refer to being aware of the different ways racism affects their lives.
Of course when the conservative white community caught wind of this word they decided to trash it with loads of nonsense…

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago

Exactly the attitude of real historic nazis..

Nicolas Fricia
Nicolas Fricia
1 year ago

Name a single ‘woke’ person who has that view. The term emerged as slang from the African-American community in the 1930s in the USA to refer to being aware of the different ways racism affects their lives.
Of course when the conservative white community caught wind of this word they decided to trash it with loads of nonsense…

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Awaiting for approval

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Second time now. More asterisks needed.
I don’t quite agree with you. Please bear with me as I belabour my point.
If I say to you that you are talking nonsense because you are a woman, that would indeed be labelled as right-wing, fas**st, despicable, unseemly.
If you say to me that I am talking nonsense because I’m a Boomer. That would be OK.
You might be upset. I might be upset. But Boomer = old. The first statement is a pseudo-crime. The second is not. You can call me an old f*rt. Still OK.
This is why people don’t like woke.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
1 year ago

Woke is actually used to describe those who delude themselves that they have a monopoly on moral views, and hence castigate anyone who disagrees with them as fascist, nazi scum, etc.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

And whenever I see the Daily Mail invoked in the arguments about woke I think ‘snob’.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Why not engage rather than dismiss with a label? Fear of wokeism is a properly thought through position of the thinking right, why not look for a better understanding?

Like many words, Nazi and Fascist, come to mind, it is misused, exaggerated and spread thin, but to most of the people on here its philosophical roots are well understood.

Those are laid out in Cynical Theory by Pluckrose and Lyndsey, which describes the philosophical development and underpinning of the various branches of critical theory. As the book makes clear, the philosophical grounding has some interest and validity but it has escaped from being one way of thinking to become a quasi religion for many.

Wokeism as I, and many on here understand it, is a reified version of critical theory. At root it is nihilistic and actively attacks many things that make human life flourish – community, family, personal integrity. That’s visible in its virulent assault on social cohesion, through identity politics, It’s demonisation of the western working and middle classes (deplorables, Daily Mail readers), it’s attacks on free speech and it’s denial of rational analysis in favour of lived experience. The impacts on mental health are already manifesting throughout the west.

If you are of the left, you would presumably blame those ills on capitalism. Many on the right would now partially agree, seeing wokeism as something the corporate world is actively using to divide and rule the man in the street, and stifle innovation and initiative.

“You said ‘woke’ so you’re a Daily Mail reader, and therefore not worthy of debate,“ isn’t really very sensible, is it? This isn’t Twitter.

carl taylor
carl taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

This is the sense in which I personally use the term ‘woke’, as a short-hand. I’m on the Left and I employ it to criticise neo-liberal social justice warrior types for whom ‘class’ is at best an irrelevance, at worst something morally distasteful.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I prefer the term ‘practical deconstructivism’ to woke. It is the application of 1960s philosophical ideas to overthrowing Order. It is an inarticulate quasi-religion of destruction that conveniently enables a wider industry of grifters.

carl taylor
carl taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

This is the sense in which I personally use the term ‘woke’, as a short-hand. I’m on the Left and I employ it to criticise neo-liberal social justice warrior types for whom ‘class’ is at best an irrelevance, at worst something morally distasteful.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I prefer the term ‘practical deconstructivism’ to woke. It is the application of 1960s philosophical ideas to overthrowing Order. It is an inarticulate quasi-religion of destruction that conveniently enables a wider industry of grifters.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Disliking something because the daily mail likes it (or vice versa) is a good example of mid wit tribal thought.

I’m fairly strongly old left, and I’m finding myself more in common with anti elite right wingers these days on many subjects. Leftwingers i grew up with hated the Iraq war, are now full on nato loving conservatives. In fact unless some of your views are outside a left or right tribal boundary you probably aren’t really thinking about anything.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

I do agree that the word “woke” is over-used, often just as an epithet for someone one disagrees with, much like “fascist” is used, too. However, it is a term which can be useful, if used with care, to denote a person holding a certain tranche of views and attitudes; in much the same way one would use the term “conservative” to denote a person who might also hold some distinctly unconservative views, too, I have been called woke by a number of people (including on this site), but I would not view myself as such as I oppose too many of “wokedom’s”sacredly held viewpoints. So, what I’m saying is don’t give up on something just because the word “woke” is used, provided it is only being used as a shorthand and not a general insult.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

And whenever I see the Daily Mail invoked in the arguments about woke I think ‘snob’.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Why not engage rather than dismiss with a label? Fear of wokeism is a properly thought through position of the thinking right, why not look for a better understanding?

Like many words, Nazi and Fascist, come to mind, it is misused, exaggerated and spread thin, but to most of the people on here its philosophical roots are well understood.

Those are laid out in Cynical Theory by Pluckrose and Lyndsey, which describes the philosophical development and underpinning of the various branches of critical theory. As the book makes clear, the philosophical grounding has some interest and validity but it has escaped from being one way of thinking to become a quasi religion for many.

Wokeism as I, and many on here understand it, is a reified version of critical theory. At root it is nihilistic and actively attacks many things that make human life flourish – community, family, personal integrity. That’s visible in its virulent assault on social cohesion, through identity politics, It’s demonisation of the western working and middle classes (deplorables, Daily Mail readers), it’s attacks on free speech and it’s denial of rational analysis in favour of lived experience. The impacts on mental health are already manifesting throughout the west.

If you are of the left, you would presumably blame those ills on capitalism. Many on the right would now partially agree, seeing wokeism as something the corporate world is actively using to divide and rule the man in the street, and stifle innovation and initiative.

“You said ‘woke’ so you’re a Daily Mail reader, and therefore not worthy of debate,“ isn’t really very sensible, is it? This isn’t Twitter.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Disliking something because the daily mail likes it (or vice versa) is a good example of mid wit tribal thought.

I’m fairly strongly old left, and I’m finding myself more in common with anti elite right wingers these days on many subjects. Leftwingers i grew up with hated the Iraq war, are now full on nato loving conservatives. In fact unless some of your views are outside a left or right tribal boundary you probably aren’t really thinking about anything.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Hear hear.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Why Harari? Seems innocuous.

Anthony Devonshire
Anthony Devonshire
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Think you’ll find the truly “wicked” ones were those that drove for example many of the Frankfurt School to exile in the US.
Besides, “woke” as it is distortedly used today is more likely a line in the end game of liberalism vs conservatism rather than anything to do with the continental tradition.
Any post that invokes “wokeism” can be dismissed as political and agenda-driven, not a contribution to an albeit frivolous article about analytic philosophy to be taken seriously. Whenever I hear or read “woke”, I instantly think of the Daily Mail with a kind of sad sense of despair.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Hear hear.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Why Harari? Seems innocuous.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

I have hung with a bunch of philosophers, been drunk with them a lot (they tell good jokes when drinking – clever and odd ones)

I think it was the movie ‘Rude Boy’ about The Clash, played by them selves, the lead singer is asked by some reporter what Punks really are about – and he tells them

” Punks are just a bunch of Wan *ers.”

haha – you see where this is going….

But really – this is not the case. First – Philosophers are going to be at some point on the Asperger scale – they are not normal people.

The other thing is the harm they do – people think they are just Wan *ers but most of the great evil in the world if from these modern bunch of Philosophers – and If you know me you know I will be talking of Modernism, Postmodernist, Post-Structuralists, Neo-Marxism, and I would toss in Freud.

Really they began their destruction of the Modern west in Warmer Germany at the Gothe Institute and what became the ‘Frankfurt School’ drawing on Utilitarianism, Existentialism, Nihilism, Marxism, Freud, and the big dose of Atheism.

These wicked and pernicious people gave us all the degeneracy of Woke – the evil of Liberal Lefty – the destruction of the Family, Faith, Ethics and Morality……. after they captured Columbia University first in the 1930s and then 1980 the took it fully…and Focoult and Derrida et al have loosened their despair and amorality….

Being Aspies they do not quite really get the whole good and evil thing unless that take that fork – I would say like so many Christian Philosophers, say Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, and Simone Weil who took the fork with God, they produced Good Works… but ones who turn to Secular Humanism – they can produce the philosophies of the greatest evil man has ever known, they produce Evil works.

Anyway – a funny bunch – but as deadly to humanity when they go to the dark side..say like Yuval Harari – basically Satan’s Saint…..

So yea, they are just some Wan*ers – and fun to get drunk with – but when absent from god, the devil can lead them, and have loosened darker forces on the world than any other kind of person in history.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

The story of Professor Callard, I feel, may be not yet complete. There may possibly come a time when she gets to discover the heartbreak and humiliation of being left by her new love, the graduate student, and realising how foolish she was to sacrifice her position in her family for him. She would doubtless also find it near impossible to square her own sacrifice with the inevitable truth that the graduate student was experiencing an infatuation, not the sort of mutual love that adults can feel which is the basis for a long-term relationship.

Would this experience, too, be described from a position of abstraction, as if her emotional self is something she can observe dispassionately from within? I have my doubts.

As to the rest, I think Professor Stock has a book in her on this subject herself. She is ideally placed to describe how the abstraction of the academic world can lead to destructive consequences far outside itself. Yes, I get that academia must be free to pursue rational inquiry without fear of immediate practical consequences (we’ll leave aside the question of how much this principle is honoured in practice for now), but the protections given to academics in this respect can be abused, and it is fair to say that Kathleen Stock knows first-hand how badly this can go wrong.

Nassim Taleb’s book, Skin in the Game, possesses some relevance here, I suspect. There must be some ways in which a degree of accountability can be restored to academia without endangering its legitimate right to independence of thought. I wonder how Professor Stock would feel about assisting with this?

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I’d agree with that, especially your point about the emotional self being viewed dispassionately from within. I think that’s possibly what Kathleen Stock may be alluding to. It does beg the question though, of how far our temperament influences our view of the world and other human beings – or is it vice versa? – which is what i was alluding to in my original comment regarding the inclusion of this tale.
Great comment about Kathleen Stock (is she still a Professor?) having a book in her regarding the academic world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

When she discovers this truth, she can write a book about it as if she has singularly discovered the secret to a successful society.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I’d agree with that, especially your point about the emotional self being viewed dispassionately from within. I think that’s possibly what Kathleen Stock may be alluding to. It does beg the question though, of how far our temperament influences our view of the world and other human beings – or is it vice versa? – which is what i was alluding to in my original comment regarding the inclusion of this tale.
Great comment about Kathleen Stock (is she still a Professor?) having a book in her regarding the academic world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

When she discovers this truth, she can write a book about it as if she has singularly discovered the secret to a successful society.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

The story of Professor Callard, I feel, may be not yet complete. There may possibly come a time when she gets to discover the heartbreak and humiliation of being left by her new love, the graduate student, and realising how foolish she was to sacrifice her position in her family for him. She would doubtless also find it near impossible to square her own sacrifice with the inevitable truth that the graduate student was experiencing an infatuation, not the sort of mutual love that adults can feel which is the basis for a long-term relationship.

Would this experience, too, be described from a position of abstraction, as if her emotional self is something she can observe dispassionately from within? I have my doubts.

As to the rest, I think Professor Stock has a book in her on this subject herself. She is ideally placed to describe how the abstraction of the academic world can lead to destructive consequences far outside itself. Yes, I get that academia must be free to pursue rational inquiry without fear of immediate practical consequences (we’ll leave aside the question of how much this principle is honoured in practice for now), but the protections given to academics in this respect can be abused, and it is fair to say that Kathleen Stock knows first-hand how badly this can go wrong.

Nassim Taleb’s book, Skin in the Game, possesses some relevance here, I suspect. There must be some ways in which a degree of accountability can be restored to academia without endangering its legitimate right to independence of thought. I wonder how Professor Stock would feel about assisting with this?

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Matthew Salter
Matthew Salter
1 year ago

Interested in all the comments of course, but another thing that struck me is the male-female asymmetry in the original story. Imagine if it had been a male professor who had declared his feeling for a female student and ended up leaving his wife and marrying the student. The outcry would have been deafening and he’d likely have lost his job. I’m not saying that male professors should be allowed to prey on female students, but there does seem to be a double standard at work here.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Salter

Maybe. Ferguson was involved in something a bit similar wasn’t he and nobody in academia cared.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Salter

Maybe. Ferguson was involved in something a bit similar wasn’t he and nobody in academia cared.

Matthew Salter
Matthew Salter
1 year ago

Interested in all the comments of course, but another thing that struck me is the male-female asymmetry in the original story. Imagine if it had been a male professor who had declared his feeling for a female student and ended up leaving his wife and marrying the student. The outcry would have been deafening and he’d likely have lost his job. I’m not saying that male professors should be allowed to prey on female students, but there does seem to be a double standard at work here.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
1 year ago

To quote that great titan of investigative journalism Kent Brockman: “things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for Philosophy majors – useful people are starting to feel the pinch.”

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

Brilliant! If I may reference a British Tv show that sprang to mind when reading this. Alas Smith and Jones had a recurring sketch which was a parody of late night discussion shows involving a group of slightly inebriated ‘intellectuals.’ The parody show was titled “Talking Bo**ocks.”

andy young
andy young
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

Wasn’t there a representative of the Hackney Lesbian Collective (or some such, played by Brenda Blethyn I think) on that sketch? Great stuff. I also remember two characters in PhoneShop having a conversation which contained phrases like: “what is a t’ing in itself?” “Is I a t’ing?” I really liked that show.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

Wasn’t Talking Ballcocks a sketch on Spitting Image, featuring puppets of Jonathan Miller and Bernard Levin? Think it’s on YouTube.

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

Jonathan Miller and John Cleese in a brilliant philosopher sketch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUvf3fOmTTk

andy young
andy young
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

Wasn’t there a representative of the Hackney Lesbian Collective (or some such, played by Brenda Blethyn I think) on that sketch? Great stuff. I also remember two characters in PhoneShop having a conversation which contained phrases like: “what is a t’ing in itself?” “Is I a t’ing?” I really liked that show.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

Wasn’t Talking Ballcocks a sketch on Spitting Image, featuring puppets of Jonathan Miller and Bernard Levin? Think it’s on YouTube.

John Ramsden
John Ramsden
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

Jonathan Miller and John Cleese in a brilliant philosopher sketch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUvf3fOmTTk

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

Brilliant! If I may reference a British Tv show that sprang to mind when reading this. Alas Smith and Jones had a recurring sketch which was a parody of late night discussion shows involving a group of slightly inebriated ‘intellectuals.’ The parody show was titled “Talking Bo**ocks.”

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
1 year ago

To quote that great titan of investigative journalism Kent Brockman: “things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for Philosophy majors – useful people are starting to feel the pinch.”

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

I had a run-in with Jason Stanley 15 years ago as a philo PhD student. I can’t remember what it was about, but my impression of him as singularly unpleasant was reinforced by his subsequent participation in the witch hunt against Kathleen Stock.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

I had a run-in with Jason Stanley 15 years ago as a philo PhD student. I can’t remember what it was about, but my impression of him as singularly unpleasant was reinforced by his subsequent participation in the witch hunt against Kathleen Stock.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

OK, I am a philosophical ignoramus, but the philosophers covered in Krishnan’s book can be summed up, in the words of Ford Prefect, as “mostly harmless”. I am not so sure about Prof. Callard and her like. Their mix of pseudo-psychology and philosophical reflection just provides a smokescreen for them to be dishonest about themselves in an honest-sounding way. Prof Callard’s confession come across as even more excruciating than Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions.
Many thanks, as always, to Dr. Stock for her consistently brilliant writing!

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

That’s very apt.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

That’s very apt.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago

OK, I am a philosophical ignoramus, but the philosophers covered in Krishnan’s book can be summed up, in the words of Ford Prefect, as “mostly harmless”. I am not so sure about Prof. Callard and her like. Their mix of pseudo-psychology and philosophical reflection just provides a smokescreen for them to be dishonest about themselves in an honest-sounding way. Prof Callard’s confession come across as even more excruciating than Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions.
Many thanks, as always, to Dr. Stock for her consistently brilliant writing!

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago

When I did my degree I avoided philosophy and philosophers like the plague. The lecturers (all male) were perma-smoking wannabe Left-Bankers (also rhyming slang) who seemed to use their strange views to justify sleeping with anyone they felt like and generally behaving like spoilt children. They could only exist within the confines of academia and would be utterly unemployable anywhere else. My view hasn’t much changed in the 35 years since.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Freud was right.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Freud was right.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago

When I did my degree I avoided philosophy and philosophers like the plague. The lecturers (all male) were perma-smoking wannabe Left-Bankers (also rhyming slang) who seemed to use their strange views to justify sleeping with anyone they felt like and generally behaving like spoilt children. They could only exist within the confines of academia and would be utterly unemployable anywhere else. My view hasn’t much changed in the 35 years since.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

The oddest thing: I cannot make out if this is a hagiography or a (mildly self-loathing) pisstake of the genus. The author is a Brit, so I will assume the latter.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think you are right, but neither you, I or Kathleen are sure.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Hole in one!

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think you are right, but neither you, I or Kathleen are sure.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Hole in one!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

The oddest thing: I cannot make out if this is a hagiography or a (mildly self-loathing) pisstake of the genus. The author is a Brit, so I will assume the latter.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

The whole of modernity is characterized by confusion about the what are the rules and what do they mean:

Philosophers don’t think nowadays, they analyse thinking, musicians don’t write (classical) music, they investigate soundscapes, journalists don’t report they challenge stereotypical (rule based) culture.

Everywhere what were traditional rules are seen as the enemy. When society was more traditionally rule based it was in fact more creative and dynamic, but now that these rules are a kind of anathema, the only ones that are allowed are flattening ones, flatten society, flatten race relations, flatten musical structures, flatten thinking to a kind of algorithm. It’s all just escape from what we really are. It’s completely end game stuff in my opinion.

It all started with the enlightenment, when we began to reject the divine and moral order of the universe. For example Bach believed he (i.e. was) in communication of the creator of the universe and so was deeply invested in the rules that governed musical harmony and structure. He had no qualms with that fact and felt that he was unveiling Gods work. But this enlightenment period was one of rapid deconstruction of real religion and spirit.

Then came science – the analytical method par excellence – and began tearing apart traditional views and methods. Nietzsche neatly summarizes this in his work but despite realizing this is a catastrophe decides that there is no way back. In madness he offers Dionysian religion – a kind of religion for geniuses and the best of the best. This is clearly not going to work in a democratizing world. What happens instead is a religion of analysts and super intellectuals decide that meaning will exist in technology and industrial landscapes, now the Gods are google and Apple and heaven is silicon valley.

So it seems to be like this: any analytical field or enterprise can survive this kind of shedding of rules and order because analytical subjects can survive a shedding of axiomatic rules. It does have axioms of course (e.g. big bang is one for physics) but they are negligible compared to the methods compound structure and so the method survives and has to be built upon past work, as science obviously is. Music however, though clearly capable of being rule based and expansive, is not simply an analytical method. It does have some analytical aspects but fundamentally isn’t that, it’s expressive, emotional, purposeful and human. As such it can’t survive this shedding of human rules and order; when axioms such as melody are left in the waste bin it collapses into degenerate noise making. What here Nietzsche would call values rather than method count for everything, values (axioms) mean order that is imposed for the benefit of our and out interests growth rather than merely wallowing in disorganized valueless folly.

Ultimately philosophy is similar, it is not simply an analytical endeavor, Nietzsche proves that, Wittgenstein proves that, Voltaire proves that, Shakespeare proves that…they can all philosophise with more power than pretty much all modern philosophers, but each followed various sets of artistic and methodological rules for producing work, rules as well as using their deep knowledge of the past and from the human condition and intuition, rather than mechanical analyses.

I don’t know what the answer is other than courageousness from those that know better than these big whig fools in high towers, and I really do believe they are laughing at most of us, since they have the power to spout nothing and to win and of course live equally in luxury and meaninglessness whilst others toil away.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Anthony Seyforth
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

Excellent comment.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

Well said. You remind me of Bach’s statement that music addresses itself “to the permissible delectations of the human soul.”

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

Excellent comment.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

Well said. You remind me of Bach’s statement that music addresses itself “to the permissible delectations of the human soul.”

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 year ago

The whole of modernity is characterized by confusion about the what are the rules and what do they mean:

Philosophers don’t think nowadays, they analyse thinking, musicians don’t write (classical) music, they investigate soundscapes, journalists don’t report they challenge stereotypical (rule based) culture.

Everywhere what were traditional rules are seen as the enemy. When society was more traditionally rule based it was in fact more creative and dynamic, but now that these rules are a kind of anathema, the only ones that are allowed are flattening ones, flatten society, flatten race relations, flatten musical structures, flatten thinking to a kind of algorithm. It’s all just escape from what we really are. It’s completely end game stuff in my opinion.

It all started with the enlightenment, when we began to reject the divine and moral order of the universe. For example Bach believed he (i.e. was) in communication of the creator of the universe and so was deeply invested in the rules that governed musical harmony and structure. He had no qualms with that fact and felt that he was unveiling Gods work. But this enlightenment period was one of rapid deconstruction of real religion and spirit.

Then came science – the analytical method par excellence – and began tearing apart traditional views and methods. Nietzsche neatly summarizes this in his work but despite realizing this is a catastrophe decides that there is no way back. In madness he offers Dionysian religion – a kind of religion for geniuses and the best of the best. This is clearly not going to work in a democratizing world. What happens instead is a religion of analysts and super intellectuals decide that meaning will exist in technology and industrial landscapes, now the Gods are google and Apple and heaven is silicon valley.

So it seems to be like this: any analytical field or enterprise can survive this kind of shedding of rules and order because analytical subjects can survive a shedding of axiomatic rules. It does have axioms of course (e.g. big bang is one for physics) but they are negligible compared to the methods compound structure and so the method survives and has to be built upon past work, as science obviously is. Music however, though clearly capable of being rule based and expansive, is not simply an analytical method. It does have some analytical aspects but fundamentally isn’t that, it’s expressive, emotional, purposeful and human. As such it can’t survive this shedding of human rules and order; when axioms such as melody are left in the waste bin it collapses into degenerate noise making. What here Nietzsche would call values rather than method count for everything, values (axioms) mean order that is imposed for the benefit of our and out interests growth rather than merely wallowing in disorganized valueless folly.

Ultimately philosophy is similar, it is not simply an analytical endeavor, Nietzsche proves that, Wittgenstein proves that, Voltaire proves that, Shakespeare proves that…they can all philosophise with more power than pretty much all modern philosophers, but each followed various sets of artistic and methodological rules for producing work, rules as well as using their deep knowledge of the past and from the human condition and intuition, rather than mechanical analyses.

I don’t know what the answer is other than courageousness from those that know better than these big whig fools in high towers, and I really do believe they are laughing at most of us, since they have the power to spout nothing and to win and of course live equally in luxury and meaninglessness whilst others toil away.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Anthony Seyforth
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago

Having taken my philosophy PhD about 15 years ago I understand what Stock is referring to. However, she is slightly unfair in failing to point out that the analytic method wasn’t simply in opposition to harmless old Bradley, but also to the whole of what was called ‘continental philosophy’. And my word, they were right. For it is the kind of metaphysical clap trap peddled by the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and others that led to Critical Race theory, identity politics, and the rejection of reason as bedrock, and hence the deep theory beneath trans extremist ideology.

I always felt that in intellectual terms analytic philosophy had won the battle, but clearly not as, in practical matters, the continental approach has (disastrously for the West generally) won hands down while analytic philosophy as practiced in UK and USA (taken there by Vienna Circle Jewish escapees in the late 1930s) has largely disappeared up pointless alleys of obfuscation.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

In terms of “winning the battle” my take is that many of those who adhere to CRT and Wokeism in general simply don’t understand the underlying philosophical excursions which give rise to them. Then there are those who do, but who find it less intellectually taxing than to follow analytic philosophy. Or perhaps, the tax involved is too high a rate for them.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Don’t blame the Vienna Circle for English linguistic analysis. At least people like Neurath addressed serious epistemological issues.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

I finished my philo PhD in 2012, and agree with you.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

In terms of “winning the battle” my take is that many of those who adhere to CRT and Wokeism in general simply don’t understand the underlying philosophical excursions which give rise to them. Then there are those who do, but who find it less intellectually taxing than to follow analytic philosophy. Or perhaps, the tax involved is too high a rate for them.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Don’t blame the Vienna Circle for English linguistic analysis. At least people like Neurath addressed serious epistemological issues.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

I finished my philo PhD in 2012, and agree with you.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago

Having taken my philosophy PhD about 15 years ago I understand what Stock is referring to. However, she is slightly unfair in failing to point out that the analytic method wasn’t simply in opposition to harmless old Bradley, but also to the whole of what was called ‘continental philosophy’. And my word, they were right. For it is the kind of metaphysical clap trap peddled by the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and others that led to Critical Race theory, identity politics, and the rejection of reason as bedrock, and hence the deep theory beneath trans extremist ideology.

I always felt that in intellectual terms analytic philosophy had won the battle, but clearly not as, in practical matters, the continental approach has (disastrously for the West generally) won hands down while analytic philosophy as practiced in UK and USA (taken there by Vienna Circle Jewish escapees in the late 1930s) has largely disappeared up pointless alleys of obfuscation.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

There’s a sense in which we’re all philosophers, even those who’d neither understand or be in the least bit interested in what this article is about (which isn’t just one thing). By doing these things: rejecting or not understanding, they’d be engaging in an act of philosophy.

By choosing to accept the world at face value, or even ridiculing the idea they were doing so if it were put to them, each human being who does so is using their experience, language skills and analytical ability.

Someone who kicks a football around with their mates, or even solo against a wall, is a footballer. Not a professional one, obviously, but nevertheless engaging with a football in exactly the same way. The pro footballer does so in a specifically codified way (with some very arcane methods) and in front of a crowd. That’s what a professional philosopher does, and this article takes us through some of the ways in which this occurs, which indeed might seem strange and alien to many. When a footballer stands guarding a football at the corner flag at 90+ minutes in order to secure a result, that’s not something you’d catch someone doing having a kick-around with their mates and with their coats as goalposts – there’s no corner flag for a start.

The professional philosopher simply engages with the world according to a codified way, whilst also having the option of critiquing, even changing the codification. This applies to the point made about current trends in philosophy. But like everyone else, professional philosophers are doing this even whilst “just living”, which is why the story that Kathleen Stock tells us about the philosopher, her erstwhile husband and her lover is significant, and a fascinating inclusion. The revelation about finding love as being the way we describe the connection with something outside ourselves, with otherness, is simply the most profound means of doing so. It’s what all philosophers (professional or otherwise) seek to do.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“Callard now feels herself confronted with a forceful moral dilemma: harm her children by seeking divorce, or become a bad person “corrupted by staying in a marriage” while loving someone else.”

For most people, the love they feel for their children is amongst the most profound connections they will feel for something outside themselves.

Having set up an entirely false choice, this woman immediately chooses the narcissistic option. Such an outcome couldn’t be in doubt in the philosophical environment she and her cohort have brought into being. Bradbury’s The History Man brilliantly takes apart the essential shallowness of these people.

Philosophers, perhaps, used to be to the general man’s mode of thinking, what Messi was to his football skills. Now they are Vinnie Jones.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Bollis
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I think you mean Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man. Gladwell is a different kettle of fish.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Quite right thanks, corrected

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Quite right thanks, corrected

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Bollis
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I concur with this. It did indeed have the whiff of a post hoc intellectual justification for narcissism.
BTW, should that be Malcolm Bradbury instead of Malcolm Gladwell?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Yes thanks corrected

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Yes thanks corrected

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

You’ve made the rather basic error of confusing the finding of love, through reaching out to another adult human being, with the profound yet natural attachment to one’s children. It’s the former i was referring to, so i’m content to demur from the disapproving tone of your reply.

In addition, your lumping of contemporary philosophers into the “Vinnie Jones” category not only does a disservice to such as Kathleen Stock herself, but many other fine thinkers of whom you appear to be ignorant, otherwise you wouldn’t make such a generalisation.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There was no intention to be disapproving. This was simply my take on the article. I should’ve posted it as a standalone comment, but the football analogy occurred to me whilst reading your post.

Mea culpa on Vinnie as a generalisation. Of course, there are many fine minds out there, Kathleen and Mary come immediately to mind. However, I do think the majority in current academia tend to the Stanley and Callard end, as evidenced by what happened to Kathleen. I believe such people are, to the real exploration of life’s mysteries, what Vinnie was to the beautiful game.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Thanks for your reply. I may have been too hasty in my response. The concern was that emphasising one aspect of the article (regarding love) detracted from the wider discussion, which wasn’t my intention either.
It might also be thought that Vinnie Jones is the epitome of a “professional” footballer. My wider point about “we’re all philosophers” therefore alluded to the professional aspect of being a philosopher, which makes the comparison rather apt!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago