Nineteen posts away from the 1,000th

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6 Responses

  1. Hi all,

    Just a quick note: Kudos on your site; the regular postings and provocative ideas are fruitful (to me, and I’m sure, to others). I read it regularly and find it well-thought (even if I don’t always agree). Keep up the excellent work, and mainly, keep it up!

    -Melissa Shew (Professor, Philosophy Department)

    • Prof. Shew:
      Thank you very much! It’s always a thrill to be reminded actual persons of the Marquette community participate or overhear our conversation. I get so many hits from people looking for pictures of Ernst Mach or peacocks, the whole project can feel a little solipsistic at times.
      Just how provocative I am has always been a source of concern. I of course want to present my own perspectives unapologetically, even while recognizing how far removed some are from the usual array of opinions and metaphysical convictions of the Marquette community. On the most delicate matters, I try to go out of my way not to *provoke* readers into a defensive stance. I hope it shows when I try to exercise restraint.
      (That is, *when* I do go out of my way. I also hope I still appear reasonable when I suspend restraint. It should be obvious to any regular reader I have no patience for Palin, Bachmann, or torture apologists. The former I take to be far and gone removed from responsible public discourse. The latter faction I believe is arguing over an issue settled by any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution and international law.)
      Incidentally, I read your piece on “Chance and Human Error in Lucretius and Spinoza” for “Philosophy Now.” I need refreshment on the particulars of the article, but did admire it.
      Also, if you don’t mind my asking (or, for that matter, taking the time to explain), how did you come across this blog? I’ve always wondered idly how many members of the faculty have ever come across us, and whether it was by word of mouth or the contingencies of Google. (The terms “Marquette,” “Lucretius” and “Spinoza” appear in this space rather more frequently than one would expect from a blog that’s theoretically about feminism.)

  2. Wow, Bento; thanks for such a thoughtful reply. I hope that you (and your fellow bloggers) know that I didn’t mean “provocative” in a negative way–in fact, the opposite. And my differences of opinion with some thoughts here have nothing to do with the lack of substantive reflection on your part; furthermore, I think that your questions (as a group, individuals, and otherwise) are spot-on. Appreciated too is the interspersed humor, especially the Sunday morning Surrealism.

    I got on to your blog some time ago (two years, perhaps?), and have been lurking as opposed to posting, frankly, mainly because I think it can be beneficial for students to “do their thing” without the pressure of a (perceived) authority of a professor. I have quite a long history (well, I’m not that old, but you know) of trying to keep up and in current conversations, particularly on college campuses, and specifically on the ones I happen to find myself at. I’ve moved a lot, and I find it best to set up shop where I find myself, which entails everything from getting out and abut in the city of Milwaukee to participating in as many varieties of events as I can and speaking with worthwhile interlocutors on campus. Read, and read widely, I think. And talk, of course. And most importantly–listen. So I found your blog because I *wanted* to find it. I was hoping that something like it would turn up, and poof! A thoughtful and articulate group, right at my fingertips.

    Incidentally, your concern about being “provocative” is understandable, but if you don’t mind, I’ll end with a reference to something my Phil of Ed class was talking about today regarding Plato’s Meno. Basically, Socrates tells Meno that what’s important *above all* is being “energetic and keen on the search” in one’s pursuits, and that doing so takes courage; the manner in which one proceeds is paramount. So mindful posts–yes (of which there are plenty here). And risking new interpretations/ideas? Also a yes, especially if they abide mindfulness. The hope is to gain a deeper understanding, after all. (At least that’s my hope.)

    Take care, Bento et alia, whomever you are.

    MS

    PS: I rewrote that Lucretius article top to bottom and framed it from a line that Beauvoir says instead. She says, it’s not as though human life is “as stupid as the clinamen” (reference to Lucretius); I take issue with this statement, actually. The essay will come out in a book on Lucretius in the Spring and will emphasize the existential aspects of Lucretius’ thought with reference to 20th century philosophy. It’s a much sturdier piece than the one in Philosophy Now (and how did–or WHY–did you find that, by the way?), which is aimed at a very general readership.

    PPS: Nerd.

    • Thanks again. Energy and keenness are what I hope to inspire in conversation. I accepted the offer to blog here knowing I would find much disagreement even in my own camp, but always tried to elicit the articulation of the reason for our held positions. If we cannot convince, we can at least force one another deeper into the heart of matters, from which we will hopefully draw up truer things.
      While I of course am grateful for your readership, I am equally grateful for the “hands-off” approach you mentioned. I say this not just because I have in mind a certain Marquette instructor and fellow blogger who was calling Democrats fascists years before it was cool. It could create weird and unpredictable power imbalances, even between friends. It’s one thing to have an argumentative discussion with a professor in a lecture hall or their office; it’s another to make a public record of it anyone on the Internet could read. But again; thank you for overhearing!
      Have a good year!
      PS.
      Is there a title yet attached to the book in which the revised Lucretius article will appear? (Although knowing it might be a moot point, as it’s unclear I’ll have access to a university library next year. Sad face.) I am part of the “general audience” for which Philosophy Now is aimed. I’m not sure if I’ve even broadcasted this information before, but I’m not a philosophy student, despite what my name-dropping would suggest. I’m in journalism, with a secondary major in writing-intensive English. I’ve assembled for myself a piecemeal knowledge of Western philosophical traditions from primary sources, criticisms, Stanford Encyclopedia articles, and pieces for “the general audience” which happen to interest me. (“Philosophy Now” I only pick up a few times a quarter to see if I’m missing anything. That I happened across your article when I did was happy happenstance.) I read so far outside my discipline for two main reasons:
      I. Firstly, because philosophy informs and shapes the bodies of literature which attract the most attention from English departments. (For example, my readings of Schopenhauer and Berkeley were inspired by my contact with Borges.) Moreover, it seems arbitrary to segregate philosophy from “literature”. Like the more explicitly aesthetic humanisms, philosophy attempts to create a representation that does justice to some facet of the human condition, for the purpose of edifying and enriching that condition.
      II. Secondly, and primarily, it cannot be denied I am engaging in my own highly informal philosophical project. I cannot help but think of myself as irresponsible if I do not try to develop and explicitly articulate my underlying theory of ontology, meta- and normative ethics, meta- and normative politics, aesthetics (see I), and consciousness, with especial reference to human action and responsibility. These are to me the most interesting questions of existence, and also the ones I will be most likely to pressed into answering given my cosmology.
      PPS.
      I am nerd all compact.

  3. I meant “Monday Morning Surrealism,” of course–oops.

  4. Yes, Bento, about literature and philosophy. Yes, yes, yes.

    *back to lurking*

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