The APA is a PAC for Hyper-Disciplining Your Mind (APA.org Re-Post, With an Afterword by Z).

1. From: APA@apaonline.org <APA@apaonline.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 12:48 PM
To: Z
Subject: A letter from Robert Audi to all APA members

American Philosophical Association
Dear Colleagues,

I am writing you about opportunities and needs of the profession of philosophy and the APA. As you know, the APA sponsors three international meetings a year, supports teaching and research in philosophy, awards prizes and lectureships, and now has an excellent journal freely given to all members. The APA is expanding its work in support of the profession, but there is much that it cannot do for the profession without the help of members and friends. This is a crucial time for the profession, a time when our professional association needs more resources to address issues such as overreliance on and exploitation of adjunct faculty, and public perceptions of philosophy and the humanities as impractical or unnecessary. The need is urgent.

The APA is asking your help in the first sustained effort it has ever undertaken to enlist the support of the profession in expanding its opportunities and meeting its needs. You probably know of the many APA committees, which focus on teaching, research, career opportunities, defense of professional rights, and much more. You likely also know of such activities as services for philosophy departments and students, summer institutes, and publications in support of teaching and research, now including the Journal of the APA. And you are probably aware of the many grants, prizes, and travel assistance funds the APA provides. We are asking your help and donations in support of these and many other projects.

Donations to the general fund are always welcome and can be used where the need is greatest, and donations can also be directed to Teaching Fund, the Fund for Diversity and Inclusiveness, and the Berry Fund for Public Philosophy. We also need donations for programs we hope to launch with your help: fellowships, curricular development (including teaching at the pre-college level), lectures, prizes, conferences, research support, media training, summer seminars for students, new publications, and more.

Visit the APA’s website to learn more about the programs your donation will support:

Donate today.

I want to conclude by telling you why I myself am supporting the APA and donating to it. I see philosophy as having a unique and essential role in education, in strengthening democracy, and in advancing human knowledge. We have distinctive ways of approaching reasoning, definition, explanation, and theory building. We frame and appraise moral positions in ways no other discipline does. We examine worldviews in a unique and systematic way.As teachers, we require critical writing and practice in formula­ting and solving intellectual problems. We teach the appraisal of arguments, introduce standards of evidence important in any field whatever, and heighten students’ capacity to articulate their own views. There is no realm of human existence we do not explore, no difficult question we are afraid to face, no serious idea we will not consider. Philosophy is essential for the education of citizens, uniquely rewarding for anyone who cares about ideas, and a distinctive contributor to the growth of knowledge.

The APA serves philosophy as no one else does or can, and it needs our support now.

Sincerely,

Robert Audi
John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Chair, APA Development Committee
raudi@nd.edu

For the Development Committee: Robert Audi (Chair), Ann Cudd, Stephen Darwall, Richard Foley, Karen Hanson, Kenneth Taylor, and (ex officio) Cheshire Calhoun and Amy Ferrer

American Philosophical Association

The American Philosophical Association
University of Delaware
31 Amstel Avenue, Newark, DE 19716

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2. Afterword by Z.

Yes, good little professional do-bee, DONATE NOW!

But, before you do, please (re)read this–

Hyper-Disciplined Minds: The Professionalization of Philosophy and the Death of Dissent.

and now let’s look critically at what Audi wrote by way of justification, sentence by sentence.

1. “I see philosophy as having a unique and essential role in education, in strengthening democracy, and in advancing human knowledge.”

In other words, contemporary professional academic philosophy is an ideological underlaborer for (neo)liberal politics and the natural sciences.

2. “We have distinctive ways of approaching reasoning, definition, explanation, and theory building. We frame and appraise moral positions in ways no other discipline does.”

Really? No one outside of contemporary professional academic philosophy has done, is doing, or could ever do, this?

3. “We examine worldviews in a unique and systematic way.”

Again, really? No one outside of contemporary professional academic philosophy has done, is doing, or could ever do, this?

4. “As teachers, we require critical writing and practice in formula­ting and solving intellectual problems. We teach the appraisal of arguments, introduce standards of evidence important in any field whatever, and heighten students’ capacity to articulate their own views.”

In other words, the really big selling-point of professional academic philosophy is that it teaches “critical thinking,” i.e, Enlightenment Lite.

–“Argue and write as much as you like, but obey!”

5. “There is no realm of human existence we do not explore, no difficult question we are afraid to face, no serious idea we will not consider.”

Really? Who inside contemporary professional academic philosophy is seriously challenging (neo)liberal politics?

Crispin Sartwell? Oh no, they just drove him out for having “mental health issues”!

–Or was it actually because he seriously challenged the APA Statement on Bullying and Harassment, and then seriously pissed off two well-known professional philosophers? How fucking insane can you be?

How many inside contemporary professional academic philosophy are seriously challenging scientism?

–Look, e.g., at what happened to Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos.

Is anyone inside contemporary professional academic philosophy but Harry Frankfurt (in On Inequality) really taking non-egalitarian respect for people oppressed by poverty and its consequences seriously, and arguing that we owe everyone, everywhere, NOT equal treatment, equal pay, equal rewards, etc. etc., but instead enough to satisfy the requirements of respect for human dignity?

More generally, is anyone inside contemporary professional academic philosophy seriously challenging “sanitized” social justice goals?

Is anyone challenging “diversity” and “inclusion,” not by recommending homogeneity and exclusion, but instead by recommending that everyone, no matter what their race, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, gender, etc, etc., etc., would be much better off studying, talking, writing, and teaching philosophy outside professional academic philosophy?

6. “Philosophy is essential for the education of citizens, uniquely rewarding for anyone who cares about ideas, and a distinctive contributor to the growth of knowledge.”

This is true of real philosophy IF you substitute “all of humanity” for “citizens.”

But with or even without that substitution, is this actually true of contemporary professional academic philosophy? Audi already conceded that

[t]his is a crucial time for the profession, a time when our professional association needs more resources to address issues such as over-reliance on and exploitation of adjunct faculty, and public perceptions of philosophy and the humanities as impractical or unnecessary.

Yes!, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Audi, this is

a time when our professional association needs more resources to address issues such as over-reliance on and exploitation of adjunct faculty.

So contemporary professional academic philosophy is busily exploiting its own young and non-Ivy, non-NYC, non-Cali philosophers like crazy, while card-carrying members of The Fortune 500 Philosophy Club enjoy their big-ass, big-bucks named professorships AND pay hypocritical lip-service to the huge problems.

One real solution to the huge problems is:

(i) to shut down the current system completely,

(ii) provide a generous one-time payoff for those already-tenured people who want to opt out,

then take all the rest of the money now spent, and

(iii) offer $80,000.00 per year, plus health care benefits, plus regular cost-of-living increases, plus good retirement benefits,

(iv) to anyone with a philosophy PhD or who has taught 24 philosophy courses (i.e., the equivalent of 6 years x four courses per year, i.e., the normal period/acceptable teaching load from tenure-track start-up to tenure),

(v) who loves philosophy with all their heart, and

(vi) who wants to study, talk, write, and teach philosophy full-time, as a life-time calling, till voluntary retirement,

(vii) with no strings attached about precisely how and where they study, talk, write, and teach what they love.

And you could easily (viii) add a same-spirited supplementary funding system for apprentice philosophers, until they’d met the 24-course requirement and qualified for the full-time, life-time calling.

The only further requirement would be that you couldn’t charge students for teaching them philosophy–that’s sophistry.

I wonder how many members of The Fortune 500 Philosophy Club would opt for the one-time payoff and quit doing philosophy?

But anyhow, it ain’t gonna happen. It makes too much goddamned sense.

In any case, most people outside contemporary professional academic philosophy in particular and professional academics more generally, and an increasing number inside the Professional Academic State too, think that contemporary professional academic philosophy is nothing but hyper-specialized crap. Indeed, there are

public perceptions of philosophy and the humanities as impractical or unnecessary.

Yo! John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Audi.

9. “The APA serves philosophy as no one else does or can…”

This is just dogmatic philosophical bullshit.

Where is the argument that philosophy is not, or cannot be, better served by people who are studying, talking, writing, and teaching philosophy outside the Professional Academic State?

10.and it needs our support now.”

Here’s the bottom line: reach for your wallet!, what they really want is your money.

So the APA is essentially a Political Action Committee, a PAC, for hyper-disciplining your mind.

Therefore, says APP, please seriously consider becoming a big bad don’t-bee.

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Z

About Z

Z is a 50-something cosmopolitan anarcho-philosopher, and previously was a tenured full professor of philosophy at a public university somewhere in North America, but still managed to escape with his life.