It’s the late twentieth century. A mob of graduate students and professors of philosophy walking through a dark wood come upon a tarnished, weather-beaten plaque set into a crumbling stone wall. It reads:
Language can never adequately render the cosmic symbolism of music, because music stands in symbolic relation to the primordial contradiction and primordial pain in the heart of the primal unity, and therefore symbolizes a sphere which is beyond and prior to all phenomena. Rather, all phenomena, compared with it, are merely symbols: hence language, as the organ and symbol of phenomena, can never by any means disclose the innermost heart of music; language, in its attempts to imitate it, can only be superficial in contact with music… (Nietzsche Birth of Tragedy 6)
They look at each other in puzzlement, then walk on in silence.
This essay will deal with the way that thought presents itself in academe, especially within philosophy. My claim is a simple one: that philosophy as it is presently studied and taught in our universities is in a sickly state, due in large part to the way the academic system filters out the strong and independent spirits needed for a renewal of the discipline. Its once mighty empire has disintegrated into a collection of isolated medieval villages (e.g. analytic thought, existentialism, semiology, post-modernism, logic), ruled by aging lords who have, by and large, long lost the old synoptic view of the discipline. To remedy this I call on popular culture for a contrary spirit, one that could inject healthy antibodies into the dying body of academic philosophy.
1. The Gadfly
Two thousand years of Western philosophy can be seen as one long series of responses to what Nietzsche calls “the problem of Socrates”. Socrates had it right in the first place: philosophy is no idle pursuit, no sophistical game, but a calling that draws one away from the marketplace, only to return as a gadfly stinging the rump of the lazy beast of the polis. Collingwood echoes this thought in Speculum Mentis:
All thought exists for the sake of action. We try to understand ourselves and our world only in order that we may learn how to live. The end of our self-knowledge is not the contemplation by enlightened intellects of their own mysterious nature, but the freer and more effectual self-revelation of that nature in a vigourous practical life. If thought were the mere discovery of interesting facts, its indulgence, in a world full of desperate evils and among men crushed beneath the burden of daily tasks too hard for their solitary strength, would be the act of a traitor… (1924: 15)
Philosophers must stand apart from both state and multitude, not as an elite, but as hungry beasts in the jungle of the critical, as white blood cells to the viruses to the dull conformity and media manipulation of mass consumer society, as high magistrates judging and if necessary sentencing to death leading or elevated tastes and morals (especially those in the larger surrounding intellectual community). As Nietzsche says, the philosopher is always a man of tomorrow, the bad conscience of his times (Genealogy 10). Yet even in the age of Rortyan ironism, the philosopher must be guided by a cool and harsh mistress, Truth, even if this guiding is only an epistemological illusion that serves to spur one on to thinking/action. In the social and political realm, this requires a clear, honest, and often cynical approach to the ages and its dilemmas. Everything with a thought content is fair game. As a general rule, this involves shooting sacred cows on sight, asking questions later, by means of a brisk autopsy. The polis is a strange sort of beast. Its degree of health is to a great extent a product of the number and persistence of the insects stinging its hide.
Yet in its present sad state of specialization, professionalization, and general yuppification in the university, philosophy has become a tame puppy leaping gleefully at the rewards of a tenured position while the beast snorts approvingly. It lives in a cozy cage lined with wine and cheese receptions for visiting dignitaries, e-mail networks, country cottages, and fat government grants. It is a dead poets’ society that for the most part pays homage to the strong poets of its own communal history, rearing up on occasion in a clumsy bovine salute to such present-day mediocrities as Foucault, Derrida, and Quine.
At the core of philosophy is its potential to question and when necessary challenge the existing state of affairs. Why was Socrates liked by but a few? But why should anyone who has freely taken on the mission of the gadfly expect to be liked? -the philosopher must always have his boots on and be ready, figuratively speaking, to kick in the doors of the existing order, whether it be intellectual, social, political, or economic. The old Marxist saw about both interpreting and changing the world is a renewal of Socratic philosophy. But present-day academe produces too many devious sheep, who look with suspicion on those few vigourous beasts of prey that dare to roam into their charmed circle. Quo vadis?
2. The Phenomenology of Punk
Popular culture in the West has spawned some bizarre subcultures since the Second World War. These have been largely ignored in academe, except by a few isolated cultural studies types and offbeat sociologists. I now turn the clock back almost twenty years to unearth one these subcultures – the punks – to start a critical hermeneutic that will continue throughout this paper.
The seventies ushered in, after the rebellious discontent of the sixties, a period of self-contentment and navel-gazing egoism that became associated in popular culture with disco music and its lifestyle. Popular music became self-absorbed, splitting between the “singer-songwriter” and the pretentiousness and flamboyance of the so-called “progressive rock”. The punks exploded onto the scene in 1976, like cultural terrorists, acting as a “savage counterpoint to the bland popular music then in vogue” (Henry 1989: 65). It was a musical, life-style and social revolt against the status-quo, the ugliness of late industrial capitalism, and especially the frustration felt by British youth against the lack of an economic future in the welfare state in decline. Punk music was fast, loud, and crude; the lyrics cynical, defiant, and occasionally pornographic. Bands like the Sex Pistols, The Damned, and the Clash had little musical training, and used an amateur, raw style whose trademark was hyperactive energy and a cacaphonous wall of sound. They wore garish fashions designed to shock. They spoke to each other through the fanzine, where punk humour showed in outrageous graphics and content whose point was to alienate the general public (Henry 1989: 77, 111).
The punks staged the last real subcultural rebellion in the West against kitsch, bland mass taste and commercial commodification. Like modern-day Luddites they smashed what they could of machinery of pop culture, without any great concern for the rebuilding process. Their rhetoric was “drenched in apocalypse”; they put forward a fully-fledged nihilist aesthetic, with a willfully perverse sexuality, an obsessive individualism, and a fragmented self. (Hebdige 1979: 27,28) This dark nihilism despaired of a future, despaired of consumerism and late techno-industrialism, of mass culture in general, and of sentimentality as the engine of social conformity. There were no clarion calls for new social order – they saw life as frustrating, meaningless, and ugly. (Henry 1989: 66) On their banners was inscribed no future. It was The Decline of the West, Part II, in the streets and bars of Britain and North America.
There was a strong (only semi-conscious) link between the punk aesthetic and other twentieth-century avant garde movements like Dada, Futurism, and Expressionism. Like expressionism, the punks tried to invoke a sympathetic response from the audience by being assertive and assaultive, aiming at sensory attack and emotional overload. (Henry 1989: 5) They shared the bravado and irony of Futurists like Marinetti, substituting thrashing guitars for radio cuisine and aero poems. Yet despite punk’s proletarian accents, its rhetoric was steeped in irony, its guttersnipe positioning designed to undercut the intellectual posturing of previous generations of musicians. (Hebdige 1979: 63) In the end, of course, many of the more superficial aspects of the punk aesthetic were coopted by consumerism. But the attitude and drive of the music resisted commercialization to the end, eventually withering away, giving way in the eighties to sweet technopop and the not-so-sweet Gordon Gekko-style ruthlessly selfish capitalism.
Dick Hebdige sees the punks as one of several post-war subcultures that have offered oblique challenges to the status-quo through style. They are the bricoleurs of consumer society. They converted safety pins, ripped and otherwise abused T-shirts, ransom note posters, etc. into icons which lived out a double life, which reflected in a heightened form their perceived condition of exile (1979: 17,65). The general point behind subcultural style is the communication of significant difference (and a parallel communication of group identity) (102). This difference was reflected in music, fashion, writing, and general attitude. Punk even went so far as to undermine “the discourse of dance”, turning it into a “dumbshow of blank robotics” – with the pogo a reduction ad absurdum of all rock dance styles (108). However, there was a point to all of this: the punk subculture projected a spirit-cleansing nihilism, anarchism, and cynicism that helped to clear the cluttered deck of the ship of seventies pop culture of accumulated refuse.
3. Dionysians and Strong Poets
As Camille Paglia points out, our pop culture is the “eruption of the never-defeated paganism of the West”, its two greatest art forms in the twentieth century being music and film. Popular music is especially significant, for no art form, “not even Greek tragedy in Athen’s Theater of Dionysus, ever gave full voice to the Dionysian until our own rock and roll, a racous development of Romanticism” (1992: vii,19,106). The punks were Dionysians of a Ludditic nature. Philosophy needs more of these Dionysian Luddites, and fewer careerist yuppies, fewer willing to stand alongside the conveyor belt of received wisdom, sorting out the scraps of insight from the more generic material suitable for public consumption. We need more who can sing along (metaphorically) with Johnny Rotten to society at large “We’re the flowers in the dustbin/We’re the poison in your human machine (Sex Pistols, “God Save the Queen”). We need, in short, more strong poets in the halls of academe.
As Bloom says of Nietzsche, nihilism is dangerous but necessary: it can act as a powerful tonic, heartening one to construct new worlds of meaning (1987: 198). Added to this, we can find a certain truth in poetry and song denied us by prose, as the Romantics knew all too well. They also knew that truth is made, not found, leading Richard Rorty to conclude that a “sense of human history as the history of successive metaphors would lead us to see the poet, in the generic sense of the make of new worlds, as the vanguard of the species” (1989: 7,20). This leads me to Rorty’s notion of the strong poet, which I will link analogically to the punk subculture.
In his Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Rorty tells us that the ideal liberal polity is one where the cultural hero is the strong poet, rather than the warrior, priest, or scientist (1989: 53). Rorty puts forward the idea that what makes us different from each other is not the fear of nonexistence but of the loss of one’s idiosyncratic “lading list”. The poet’s true horror is of finding himself only a copy or replica. A strong poet will want to get his words/images/sounds down on paper, film, or magnetic tape to demonstrate that he is not just a replica of those who’ve come before (23-24). The strong poet’s central capacity is his ability to redescribe something with revolutionary metaphors, just as Kuhn’s revolutionary scientist redescribes nature with the metaphors of a new paradigm. To fail as a poet or human being is to accept someone else’s description of oneself, to execute old programs, to write elegant variations on old poems (28). One’s fear of death is really a fear of losing that individuality that is you, your own lading list. The punk aesthetic was driven by a similar fear, by the fear that they would all end up looking and sounding like the previous generation or like the not so far away hippies they by and large despised. Punk performances, like Sid Vicious covering the Sinatra anthem “My Way”, are drenched in Rortyan ironism and idiosyncratic lading lists. Both the punk’s and the strong poet’s fear of death came from the fact that any redescription must be marginal and parasitic on old metaphors (41). This horror of being a replica could act as a healthy corrective to academic blandness.
Alan Bloom tells us of the supposedly corrupting effect of rock music in his concluding broadside The Closing of the American Mind: he says of the modern student that “as long as they have the Walkman on, they cannot hear what the great tradition has to say. And, after its prolonged use, when they take it off, they find they are deaf” (1987: 81). For Bloom rock has one appeal: to untutored sexual desire, being like a nonstop, commercially prepackaged masturbational fantasy (71,75). But even if this were true, it doesn’t affect my central argument, for I’m not suggesting that by slipping a Clash tape into their Walkman and pogoing home that academics will undergo a emotional and intellectual sea-change. Instead, I would like to borrow, like the bricoleur, something of the energy and drive of popular music as a corrective to the ills I will outline in the sections to come. In the end, one must agree with Hebdige that youth cultural styles “may begin by issuing symbolic challenges, but they must inevitably end by establishing new sets of conventions” (1979: 96). But these challenges sometimes have a brief, flourescent authenticity from which there is something to be learned.
4. How to Churn out a Philosopher, or, Career Opportunities
From a doctoral examination. ‘What is the task of all higher education?’ To turn men into machines. ‘What are the means?’ Man must learn to be bored. (Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Skirmishes 29)
The process of producing a professional philosopher churns out a conservative beast, down to his or her very pores. All the impetus on the graduate student is to play the academic game carefully, to chose the “right” professors and classes and interests, to deal in small truths, to become a scholar in the narrower sense of that term. It’s amazing that any really original thinking comes out of humanities graduate schools these days, especially at the bigger universities. The graduate student looks around and above him, and sees in print mostly lexicons, book reviews, and articles on niggling fine points, taking the place of even failed attempts at vigourous individuality. The motto is that one must walk before running, but the most the majority ever achieve is a brisk trot, usually just before their academic careers run out. As Paglia reminds us, academic life is enfeebled by a genteel code of professorial deportment, where promotion requires respectability and spirit-killing restraints and an entering into a passionless and humourless wasp ethic (1992: 121). The highest virtue becomes the Christian one of humility, papering over subterranean oceans of ressentiment. We can see all of this in miniature at academic conferences:
The self-made Inferno of the academic junk-bond era is the conferences, where the din of ambition is as deafening as on the floor of the stock exchange… The huge post-Sixties proliferation of conferences, used as an administrative marketing tool by colleges and universities, produced a diversion of professional energy away from study and toward performance, networking, advertisement, cruising, hustling, glad-handing, back-scratching, chit-chat, groupthink… The conferences are all about… jockeying for power by fast-track travelling salesmen pushing their shrink- wrapped product and tooting new commercial slogans… [They] are where people meet in an airless bubble to confirm each other’s false assumptions and certitudes (Paglia 1992: 221).
Conference papers are too often just ways of stuffing the CVs of those hungry for academic hubris. They are followed by long-winded questions that act as exercises in ego-gratification or free advertising space for personal research projects rather than as part of an honest search for truth and meaning. Within this phenomenon we find a polite refusal to go to the heart of the matter under discussion or to call cant what it is (unless the speaker is an old adversary). This is part and parcel of a general movement to subterraneanize both meaning and dissent (hence postmodernism). Derrida’s “il n’y a pas de hors texte” is best translated as “there is nothing outside the academy”.
A few solutions come to mind here: discourage conference globtrotting, re-emphasize the communal roots of academe by focussing on the local (institutional) exposure of research, and make a radical distinction between quantity and quality when judging a person’s publishing record.[ii] Make the university once more a community of scholars, and not just a collection of mail boxes and computer terminals. This would, to start with, involve forging links between departments within the university, as opposed to those between individual scholars in the same discipline in distant locales. The university is ill-served by the model of the globetrotting man or woman of business, their desktop computer and appointment book neatly packed into their briefcase, right besides their airline ticket and toothbrush.
Graduate schools, even in the humanities, are now churning out technician-specialists, slotted into cubby-holes of thought. The new rule is, the bigger the picture, the less respectable it is. This is partly due to a false analogy with the natural sciences, where the solution of small problems can indeed be progressive. Earlier in this century, Collingwood outlined the nature of the modern disease as the separation of the basic forms of experience – of art, religion, science, history, and philosophy. We need a reunion of these in a complete, undivided life (1924: 36). More narrowly, within academe, we need to smash down the Berlin wall dividing the disciplines and thereby reunify the Geisteswissenschaften under one flag.
5. Public Image: Styles Old and New
What is the public image of the average academic? Fine wines, classical music or cool jazz, foreign cars, business suits, the draping of haute couture on the coffin of philosophical vigour. It is the consumerism of a self-appointed cultural elite. The McDonaldization of academe means a standardization that produces briskly efficient academics who look and sound alike (Paglia 1992: 220). Around us we find an excessive formality, hypocritical politeness, superficial camaraderie, and a leaden seriousness. Needless to say, these things filter down to the graduate students, perhaps symbiotically. But the place for this formality and seriousness is the printed page, not in public academic forums, where it tends to forestall forever the addressing of important questions. Added to this is the fact that all too often younger academics are rootless and soulless people who have lost contact with their own ethnic traditions. They are “citizens of the world”, in the worst sense of this phrase. These uprooted people are like Swift’s Laputans, navigating their flying island high above all history and culture.
And the undergraduate students are no help here. As Bloom notes, students of the last decade or more are often “nice”, but their primary preoccupations are themselves taken in the narrowest sense (1987: 82). Their consent is manufactured by a puerile sense of political correctness and the glossy seductions of consumer culture. Their highest moral purpose is usually their present “relationships” and their future careers; their elevated vistas are paved with engineering and business degrees. They come to academe in its present state not imagining it could be any different.
The feminists have somehow convinced large segments of the male populace that male sexual passion is sinful and sexist. As Bloom notes, we’re now living in the feminist-inspired Reign of Terror after the brief liberation of the sexual revolution (1987: 101). These new Robespierres have created a situation where “high” culture and academic life are being desexualized at the very moment when women are entering en masse the university faculties traditionally closed to them. The elastic concept “gender” has taken the place of the more primordial term “sex”. In this new age, we find a world of the senses unadorned by the imagination, and a sexual wisdom that conspires to make the flat soul universal (Bloom 1987: 134). In the interest of including social fringes, e.g. those offended by frank avowals of hetersexual desire, we wind up collapsing the center.
The high crime of feminism is to sentence almost the whole history of Western art to the purgatory of patriarchy. These new feminists exhibit a social and political tunnel vision and a general indifference to aesthetics. But perhaps Paglia is right in nothing that their emotional imbalance is usually caused not by patriarchy but by chaotic family and personal misjudgements and by an excessively prudish view of sexual passion (1992: 50,112). Their public image is made all glittery by les vêtements déconstructionistes, newly imported from Paris. Lacan, Derrida and Foucault are the perfect prophets for the weak and anxious academic (including feminists) personality, for they offer “a self-exculpating cosmic explanation for the normal professorial state of resentment, alienation, dithery passivity, and inaction” (Paglia 1992: 211). All truths become subjective, and the text is everything. Power relations invade all facets of life, torpedoing Truth and Beauty as independent ideals. Feminism allied with French poststructuralism threaten to make the humanities like Orwell’s telescreens, alert all twenty-four hours to the potential thought-crimes of the locals. One fears that Nietzsche’s analysis of modern culture as a whole warns of the dangers ahead for those contemplating academic careers: “the meaning of all culture is the reduction of the beast of prey “man” to a tame and civilized animal” (Nietzsche, Genealogy I/11).
One of the saddest aspects of this reduction is the exclusion of a robust, good-natured humour from much of the academy. As Paglia notes, good writing and teaching require a creative sense of play, for humour is a sign of a balanced perspective on life. Unfortunately, playfulness and humour in academe are seen as a lack of seriousness, resulting in toleration being given more often to conformist clones rather than eccentric individualists (1992: 237). In the present dark night of academe, all cats seem equally grey.
6. The Institutional Space of Philosophy, or, Holidays in the Sun
The apparent ease of communication within and between university departments masks the basically feudal organization of knowledge there. Earls, barons, sheriffs, and peasants of the soul each extract a living out of their own piece of intellectual turf. Departments exist for the most part in splendid intellectual isolation from each other. The space between the disciplines is outside the law, “a wasteland where wolves run free.” (Paglia 1992: 191) Foraging parties venture into this wasteland only under heavy guard, and then only during the day, when the old spirits of intellectual unity are asleep in their graves.
Around the bastion of philosophy live various camp followers who beg, borrow, or steal a few scraps of intellectual meat from the citizens within. Looking down from the castle walls one can see the raggle-taggle banners of feminists, semioticians, deconstructionists, cognitive scientists, theologians, and other even more esoteric groups. Especially persistent in their desire to enter the citadel are those engaged in “women’s studies”, so much so that they have invented a canon overnight, and “puffed up clunky, mundane contemporary women authors into Oz-like, skywriting dirigibles.” (Paglia 1992: 243) But in the present troubled state of our citadel, we had best tend to the ack-ack guns, lest these latter-day zeppelins land and rob us of the dwindling supply of provisions we have stored up.
In short, philosophy exists within an amorphous, ill-defined territory, whose borders are under constant threat from jealous neighbours. The humanities in general, and philosophy in particular, need the services of Dionysian mercenaries to dance their Bacchic dances on the wastelands between the disciplines in the hopes of attracting the timid town dwellers out of their bastions as a first step to the forging of broad confederacies between their isolated communities. Yet in reality academic philosophers are among the most timid of beasts that roam the plains of academe, barely rising to hyena-status in their search for intellectual prey.[iii]
There is a sublimated but clear authority structure within a university department: the tenured, untenured, the graduate students, the undergraduates, with subtler shadings within each. This pseudo-class structure, like all class structures, perpetuates to a large degree the values of those in power. Even between universities there is an implicit class structure, with the arrogant mandarins of St. George Street ruling the Canadian scene, their bundles of cash buying them the illusion of being a world-class institution in all fields.
Each step up this ladder requires some sacrifice of originality and rebelliousness, until all spirit slithers away, only to return (perhaps) in a Pale Renaissance in one’s middle- or old-age professorship. Unfortunately, the old conservative habits become difficult to break. Part of the contemporary disintegration of philosophy, as Bloom suggests, is the disappearance of politics as one of the most salient aspects of modern thought, for the most part into either the subpolitical (namely economics) or the superpolitical (namely “culture” in general) (1987: 188). This is aggravated by the divisions of the spoils of political theory between political science and philosophy departments, one of the most artificial divisions in the academy. The political theorists must be the first of the wasteland’s tribes to re-enter philosophy’s citadel.
The dangers of submission are the dangers of internalizing too quickly the values of our surrounding world, especially those of the institutions immediately present to us. This comes most viciously by way of a breaking of the inner will to resist due to a lack of qualified sources of nonconforming principles or superior senses of right (Bloom 1987: 247). We are well served here to return to the punk hermeneutic of nihilist revolt. As the Sex Pistols put it, “Blind acceptance is a sign/Of stupid fools who stand in line” (“EMI”). All sub-missions should involve, even in the worst cases, sailing a few fathoms below the surface of conformity to the expected.
8. Goodbye (We Mean it, Man)
The bureaucratization of knowledge in the university helps the angry young men become cautious old men as they run the gauntlet of academic promotion. But anger is a sort of energy, and can compel one to intellectual vigour. As Collingwood notes in his Autobiography, there is a vulgar distinction of thinkers from men of action – for example, whether or not we sympathize with his project of proletarian revolution, we can cheer Marx as a fighting, gloves-off philosopher (150-153). Angry praxis, however, is out of fashion, its place taken by men in white suits sitting in summery gardens musing on “the great conversation”. Instead, one must have the predilection of strength for questions that no one has the courage for: the courage for the forbidden, the predestination for the labyrinth (Nietzsche, Antichrist, Preface).
As Paglia concludes, one of our central problems is collapsing manhood (1992: 37). Instead of petty debates over which personal pronoun is most proper, we need more phallocentric language, if this means honest, clear, vigourous prose. Philosophy once proudly proclaimed that it dared to survey the whole, that metaphysics was the Queen of the sciences, and that it could order and constitute the more specialized fields of knowledge. We need a return to such hubris, a flinging open of philosophy’s gate to the other humanities and to the social sciences, welcoming back these once regular visitors to her sanctuary.
Academe needs deprofessionalization and deyuppification, and a recovery of its clerical and spiritual roots (Paglia 1992: 235). Sadly, this is none too likely to occur. We have Weimar souls without the redeeming darkness and angst. Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome, meine Damen und Herrn, to the cabaret of academe. I wish I could say to some of the too elegantly attired regulars, no future for you, but this isn’t quite true. Perhaps it’s better, to paraphrase what one clever pundit said of Marlene Dietrich in her last days, to go down like a battleship firing on one’s would-be rescuers. Gentlemen, fire at will…
Bloom, Alan (1987). The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Collingwood, R.G. (1924). Speculum Mentis. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Collingwood, R.G. (1939). An Autobiography. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Hebdige, Dick (1979). Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen.
Henry, Tricia (1989). Break All the Rules! Punk Music and the Making of a Style. Ann Arbor: UMI Research.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1966). Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: The Modern Library. This collection includes: Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morals, and Ecce Homo.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1968). The Portable Nietzsche. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: The Viking Press. This collection includes Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist.
Paglia, Camille (1992). Sex, Art, and American Culture. New York: Vintage Books.
Richler, Daniel (1991). Kicking Tomorrow. Toronto: McClelland an Stewart.
Rorty, Richard (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
[i] This rant owes a lot to Camille Paglia’s critique of academe, a debt that I am all too ready to acknowledge. The rulers of the academy, those who came to their posts in the sixties or earlier, are like the pre-civil war Stuart monarchs, whose thrones (at least until recently) seemed safe and secure, guaranteed by divine right aka tenure. But out in the countryside there are little groups of diggers, levellers, and ranters questioning their right to rule, awaiting a Cromwell to bring them together to shake the foundations of this monarchical power. It is in this ranting spirit that I write this paper.
[ii] Ironically, one’s publishing record is one of the few quasi-objective and concrete ways for graduate students of being judged by the old boys’ clubs that are presently in control of many of the humanities and social science departments in our universities; too often graduates are judged according to the degree to which they follow out the master-plan of their intellectual mentors, or by such “positive” scholarly qualities as their general passivity and lack of creativity, their physical attractiveness, or their willingness to sleep with key professors. Occasionally hard work and thinking for oneself is rewarded, but this is more the exception than the rule.
APP EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the second in a six-part series featuring the work of Doug Mann.
This previously unpublished essay was written at the turn of the current millennium.
Like Marc Champagne’s essay, “We, the Professional Sages: Analytic Philosophy’s Arrogation of Argument,” Mann’s work in the 00s and early 10s of the 21st century remarkably anticipates many ideas and themes developed and explored by APP since 2013.
More information about Doug Mann’s work can be found HERE.
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