Month: November 2012

Quantification and the Vote

Pollsters face a myriad of problems: so many people not using landlines, so many people (less than 10%) actually answering the phone for pollsters, that you’d have to think one of these years–this year above all, given that many of those that voted (especially the younger voters that upped their vote in the US) are those least likely to answer the phone they don’t have (the old landline) or respond to a robocall—the pollsters would have it wrong, perhaps not by a lot, but by a few points to make a difference. Perhaps that’s what Romney let himself believe, but after much work when I was doing a Public Policy M.A. and an undergrad on statistical models, it’s still amazing, despite the above seeming major problems, all the models got them right. Except the Republican “wishing makes it happen” model, which keeps failing them on a quite regular basis.

Jockey Club and JIm Bradley Talk this week at Memorial

From Gil Shavel:

The weeks slotted for ‘The Bradley Memorial Lectures in Speculative Philosophy’, visiting speakers will, generally, also introduce a paper for the Jockey Club on that Friday. The next lecture will be this Thursday, November 15, given by Prof. Dr. Guenter Zoeller of the University of Munich., ‘Church and State: Schelling’s Political Philosophy of Religion’. 
Again, that is Thursday, Nov. 15, 7:00 – 8:30 PM,  AA-1046.  If you have not yet had a chance to look at the Lecture Series schedule, it is available here:
For Jockey Club on Friday, Nov. 16Professor Zoeller has chosen a piece byBenjamin ConstantThe Liberty of the Ancients Compared With That of the Moderns.” (Speech given at the Athenee Royal, Paris 1819).  [Taken from, Benjamin Constant, Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, 1988] We are meeting at the Peter Easton Pub, 5:00 PM.
PDF of the essay has been uploaded and is available for viewing/printing here:
We have had a great couple of recent meetings at the Peter Easton Pub, and it will interesting to see what our speakers in the JMB series and our George Storey Award speaker, Stuart Elden, choose for discussion at the weekly (quite informal) Jockey Club. This is a great year for talks at Memorial, not including many of our own who will be speaking in the Winter Colloquium Series, which is a weekly set of talks this year around the question “What is Metaphysics?” It’ll be a busy year at Memorial on campus, particularly the winter, but this is the kind of “busy” one can only hope for.

Bill Martin Scholar’s Panel

Last week I recorded the session on Bill Martin‘s work. Here is the link to the audio. I presented my paper, “An Apocalyptic Anti-Apocalypticism: Thinking What Will Have Been of Bill Martin’s Ethical Marxism,” followed by a response by him that is pure Bill. He gives his own intellectual trajectory, talks a bit of the effects of a bike accident that almost took his life last year, and then discusses where he thinks his work is going. My own task was to pull the red thread on Bill’s thinking of the future as it works its way from his earliest work to his last, which I then end by discussing the central sections of Ethical Marxism (2008) on the plight of the animal.

Bill and I plan to do an interview soon for Society and Space‘s open site and there I’ll do a better job of giving an overview of his intellectual trajectory, before turning to crucial questions his work continues to raise. Bill was my teacher and one of my readers for my dissertation, and it’s a rare but wonderful opportunity in academia to get to discuss the ways someone important to you has, well, been important to you.

And given the theme of my talk and Bill’s love for Yes, here’s a youvideo to go along with the lecture:

Open Access

Yesterday, we had a meeting of Faculty Council for the Arts (I have to go as chair of our undergrad studies committee). This poor librarian starts us off with a 15-minute presentation about open access publishing, and it was excellent: all the global justice and other reasons for opting, if one can, for open access. Then she finishes, and this guy lights into her like I haven’t seen. So he goes on and she asks, “Can you tell me what you think is wrong with open access?” And he says, “One word: crud.” And then he says something about it being “pay to publish.” Then our new dean pipes up and said she had “no idea” open access publishing included peer review.

So it was left to me to explain this thing called the internet and how Society and Space does as much open access as possible and how peer review works, such as, for example, in our department-based open-access journal Analectica Hermeneutica. I prefer publishing open access myself–I get much more feedback–and I have yet to pay to publish. But I share this only because I didn’t realize that this was a widely-held view that open-access = vanity press. And that some old guard is quite visceral in their anger over it.

Courses for the Winter

Here is what I’m teaching in the Winter, one an undergraduate course, and the second a combined senior-level/graduate seminar:

PHL 2500: Contemporary Issues
What is time? It’s almost a cliche to say that we are living in more “sped-up” times, that we are more or less forced to make decisions in continual modes of crisis. In this class, we will look to how different conceptions of time in modernity are behind major cultural shifts in capitalism as well as our relationship to the past and future. We will begin with canonical readings in the philosophy of time, then turn to recent philosophical work on the changing considerations of time in modernity, especially as it relates to the political.

PHL 4843: Seminar in 20/21st Century Continental Philosophy
This course will take up the important work of Jacques Derrida. In particular, we will be focusing on his challenging reconceptions of time, in order to combat readings that would make Derrida merely as part of the “linguistic turn.” Derrida’s work will be related to thinkers such as Heidegger, Luce Irigaray, and Jean-Luc Nancy. Since Derrida’s work often was itself a reading of various canonical figures, we will read from these figures to set up Derrida’s own texts and to think through the validity of these readings.