I have been too busy finishing my last couple of grad school papers to write a proper post. But there has been some interesting new school and philosophy-related news in the last few months.
Remembering Ary Zolberg: reminiscences of former students about the on Jeffrey Goldfarb’s blog.
On San Jose State Philosophers’ protest of online courses. There are nice -if understated- treatments in the Chronicle and the Times. I agree with almost everything in the letter, and especially the concern that we are witnessing the development of an academic caste system consisting of celebrities one one side and adjuncts or TAs on the other. However, I wish they had qualified their statement that “the thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various philosophy departments across the country is downright scary- something out of a dystopian novel.” An argument could be made that Plato envisions just such a unified pedagogy concerning justice in his Republic.
A new defense of absolute time: Alan Lightman reviews Lee Smolin’s new book. Smolin, a physicist at Toronto, is an interesting character. He has previously argued for a kind of evolutionary view of the physical universe, propounded a theory of “Loop Quantum Gravity,” and engaged in a somewhat high-profile debate on the anthropic principle in physics. He also wrote a nice review a few years back on our obsession with Einstein. Time is, of course, a topic that physics shares with philosophy. And I would argue that a purely physical concept of time will never answer the “ti estin?” question about time. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to reading the book. Time is a topic in which we there could be a rich dialogue between philosophy and physics.
Jeremy Bentham’s defense of homosexuality has been published for the first time, online. According to Kris Grint, of the Bentham Project at the UCL, the defense comes in volume 3 of Bentham’s Not Paul, but Jesus, an attempt to “drive a wedge” between the religion of Paul and that of Jesus. Obviously a bit controversial at the time it was written, Bentham published the first volumes under a pseudonym. I found out about it through Marginal Revolution, often a good source for philosophical news (despite their evident support for online courses!)