Peripatetic Potpourri

I’ve been running around a lot lately, and I’ve gotten a little behind in my reading.  Let’s see what’s out there…perhaps some good advice….

The civic minded Karl Rove has taken to giving Barack Obama advice (Senator, I’d be careful about that, especially the part about “not attacking…”).  John C. Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell think all the candidates can get some good advice from the Corleone family (Lord, help us!).  Jenna Schaal-O’Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore who is majoring in cognitive science and linguistics, offers her advice that philosophy is “good for getting girlfriends” (among other things).  However, if you take the advice of Michael Filozov, an adjunct professor at Niagara Community College, you might consider another major if that’s all you’re concerned about.

Speaking of Karl Rove, Tom Mertes complains about the “American Duopoly” that Rove’s strategies leveraged so effectively while reviewing Changing Party Coalitions by Jerry Hough in the New Left Review.  And speaking of “left,” Alain Badiou argues for the “Communist Hypothesis” in the same journal.  Among the various provocations, Badiou writes this about courage:

First, I would retain the status of courage as a virtue—that is, not an innate disposition, but something that constructs itself, and which one constructs, in practice. Courage, then, is the virtue which manifests itself through endurance in the impossible. This is not simply a matter of a momentary encounter with the impossible: that would be heroism, not courage. Heroism has always been represented not as a virtue but as a posture: as the moment when one turns to meet the impossible face to face. The virtue of courage constructs itself through endurance within the impossible; time is its raw material. What takes courage is to operate in terms of a different durée to that imposed by the law of the world.

And speaking of French philosophy, Stanley Fish blogged that “French Theory in America” was really no big deal.  Apparently, 600 comments (and counting) suggest he’s wrong.  So Fish offers part two.  Here’s a profile of Brian Leiter, “the most powerful man in academic philosophy” [Lord, help us!]  Leiter doesn’t have much good to say about “continental philosophy” and has a marked preference for “analytic philosophy.”  For a painful (to Leiter, I’d guess) assessment of analytic philosophy, have a look at Aaron Preston’s Analytic Philosophy:  The History of an Illusion.  (You can read William Larkin’s critical review of Preston’s book here.) 

And speaking of revolution, over at The Edge Stuart Kauffman takes aim at “reinventing the sacred” by “Breaking the Galilean Spell.”  The “Galilean” he has in mind is not that famous teacher from Galilee.  Kauffman writes:

Even deeper than emergence and its challenge to reductionism in this new scientific worldview is what I call breaking the Galilean spell. Galileo rolled balls down incline planes and showed that the distance traveled varied as the square of the time elapsed. From this he obtained a universal law of motion. Newton followed with his Principia, setting the stage for all of modern science. With these triumphs, the Western world came to the view that all that happens in the universe is governed by natural law. Indeed, this is the heart of reductionism. Another Nobel laureate physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, has defined a natural law as a compressed description, available beforehand, of the regularities of a phenomenon. The Galilean spell that has driven so much science is the faith that all aspects of the natural world can be described by such laws. Perhaps my most radical scientific claim is that we can and must break the Galilean spell. Evolution of the biosphere, human economic life, and human history are partially indescribable by natural law. This claim flies in the face of our settled convictions since Galileo, Newton, and the Enlightenment.

And Australian sociologist Michael Casey gives an interview about the meaning of life.  Terry Eagleton weighs in on Slavoj Zizek and his lost causes.  Roger Scruton says conservatives make good conservationists.  Jessa Crispin, book slut (her words!), spent a few days at the London Book Fair.

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