NSSR Philosophy

Month: December, 2013

new year resources

It’s almost the end of the year and I have plenty of academic writing to do. So this will be the last post of 2013 – a list of online resources I’m looking forward to using – i.e. reading – in the New Year.

The Vatican and Oxford University’s Bodliean Library are putting important manuscripts online. Here is an article with explanations and links.

The faculty of the New School for Social Research has released a major online publication, “Public Seminar,” ostensibly based on the general seminar given at the original University in Exile. I am hopeful but also a little skeptical. On the one hand, the graduate faculty has done a lot to bring critical theory and philosophy into the public discourse with books and, notably, Critchley’s column The Stone. It’s rare for an academic philosophy department to take an interest in the reading public and I think it’s great that New School philosophers write things in addition to essential specialized scholarship. On the other hand, insofar as the website is supposed to be the public face of NSSR, there is a distinct possibility that this project could end up being a flashy advertisement for philosophy and social science at the New School rather than a locus of real intellectual discussion and interest. Popularizing theory always risks dumbing it down and it could look pretty bad for an entire institution to be associated with a billboard. I plan to give the site a thorough read in the New Year.

Finally, a couple of great online resources other than gutenberg and perseus. First, hist-analytic has a bunch of the major works of early analytic philosophy. Some of these are actually quite rare but nevertheless important. For example, reading Meinong’s “theory of objects” really helped me see classical phenomenology from a new (not necessarily Husserlian) perspective. Second, wilbour hall has a great collection of ancient and medieval mathematical and scientific texts. I’m looking forward to reading a bunch of the texts from each website.

Happy new year.


women at nssr

Recently there has been some public recognition – unusual for our discipline – surrounding the situation women face in academic philosophy. Indeed both women and minorities are strikingly underrepresented in the field. Why has the public suddenly taken an interest in something in that is in… the public interest? The proximate cause seems to be a sexual harassment scandal, though the discussion within philosophy has been going on for years and years. But regardless of the immediate source of this publicity, it should serve as an opportunity for academic philosophers and students of philosophy to reflect on ourselves as professional and as thinking communities.

I have already reported on and indulged in some speculation about why women and minorities are grossly underrepresented in the field in general. Yet the point of this blog is not to indulge a theoretical interest (there is ample opportunity for that in philosophical writing) but to share information that is public but has been incoherently formulated, insufficiently collated, or not made readily accessible. In this spirit I’m going to use this post to point readers toward some of that information concerning women at the New School rather than to express my own views.

Of the philosophy department’s 11 full-time, non-Emeritus faculty, four are women. Nancy Fraser, who has a joint appointment with the department of Politics, works on social and political theory, contemporary continental philosophy, and feminist theory. A sample of her work on feminism is available here. Here is a recent article against anarchismAlice Crary works on moral philosophy, philosophy and literature, feminism and philosophy, and Wittgenstein. A recent interest of hers has been philosophy and animals – here is one piece on that theme.

Two female professors have come to the New School relatively recently. Cinzia Arruzza studies Plato, focusing especially twentieth century interpretations of Plato’s political thought, and is working on a Marxian critique of women’s oppression and social reproduction. Chiara Bottici teaches and writes on the topics of myth, imagination, and social and political philosophy. One of her current interests is “imaginal politics” (rather than trying to give an explanation in my own words, here is a description of her new book).

A major figure, Ágnes Heller, is now a professor emerita, and no longer teaches courses. Nevertheless, her influence is widely felt at the New School. Doing justice to even a piece of her work is far beyond what I can do here – but read her Wikipedia entry to get a feel for the breadth and depth of her work and life.

In addition to full time faculty, the new school has lots of visiting professors and scholars. Julia Kristeva, Maria Pia Lara, Judith Butler have spent semesters teaching at the New School. There is also, of course, a broader community of philosophers in New York, which can be a great resource. An important group in this community is the New York Society for Women in Philosophy.

Since I am not a woman, I’m not going to try to describe the experience of women at the New School (indeed how could there be a single “woman’s experience,” when there are as many different experiences as there are different people?). Nevertheless, for new or prospective students interested in gender dynamics at the New School, it might be beneficial to contact with get in touch with People in Support of Women in Philosophy (PSWIP). PSWIP is a publication group consisting of both female and male graduate students that meets once a week and publishes an annual journal of papers. The general goal of the group is “the advancement of women and minorities in philosophy via professional development” and the weekly meetings are intended to be a forum in which “women’s voices are privileged and rigorous discussion of women’s philosophical work can take place.” From time to time, PSWIP also hosts excellent conferences. The group can be contacted at pswip@newschool.edu.

To summarize: the philosophy faculty at the new school is majority male, especially the senior faculty. However, if the numbers quoted in the my previous post on women in philosophy are correct, the New School comes out looking relatively good when compared to some of its peers. Furthermore, as I have tried to show with my extremely short summaries of the female professors’ research interests, the philosophical work being done by women at the new school is remarkably rich and diverse. Finally interested prospective students should get in touch with PSWIP, which is both a good intellectual and social resource and a consistently welcoming community.