Thursday, May 25, 2017

Made in America

The response to James Lindsay is Charlie Pierce's:  "It's not about race, because it's never about race."  It's worth noting Lindsay describes himself (on Twitter) as "A thinker, not a philosopher," and his banner shows a partial skull and the legend "Life in the Light of Death." Which tells me all I need to know about his views on religion (blinkered, blinded, and severely reduced to a daube glace caricature of American Christianity).

The response to Peter Boghossian is that he needs to read more Wittgenstein; and mathematicians who think you are daft to critique mathematics (at all?  on some grounds?) are not very good thinkers themselves.  Notably, there are only two responses to Lindsay's tweet, and of the eight to Boghossian's, four are from Lindsay, two from the author himself.

Which is to say, making a great stir in the world they are not.  Which may explain their "conceptual penis hoax" better than they meant to.  Yes, these are the authors of the "conceptual penis" hoax.  Seems the hoax is actually on them.

I understand from Slate that Boghossian and Lindsay are part of the "New Atheist" movement, which Slate notes is "an overwhelmingly male scene."  Yes, yes it is, and its godfather is Richard Dawkins, of whom Slate notes:

 “It isn't only in America that you'll find salaried academics paid to regale students with gems like, 'The penis is shaping up to be the central metaphor of the gender crisis of the Nineties,’” prominent New Atheist Richard Dawkins warned back in the mid-1990s, when he was best known as a zoologist. “Look out for new courses with names like 'Gender Studies.’”
Yeah, leopards never change their spots, do they?  James Lindsay is the author of one of the more unfortunately titled books in print (alongside Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained, which failed if only because nobody has stopped trying to explain consciousness since he published):  Everybody is Wrong About God.  Frankly, it's a title I can imagine more than a few Christian using, but it's really more akin to The Whole World is Wrong Except Me! Nice work if you can get it, in other words; and again, Mr. Lindsay has yet to cause the world to shut down its mosques, temples, sanctuaries, and other places of worship and be guided by his singular light.

So there's that.

I was going to follow the link to the Inside Higher Education article about the publication of the "conceptual penis" article, but honestly, life's too short and who cares anyway?  This is an example of two people seeking fame and glory for their vanity.  Boghossian hasn't authored a philosophical work equivalent to that of Derrida or Foucault (and again I point out the philosophical underpinning of fields like "gender studies" is on the Continent, not in Anglo-American schools of philosophy, which is why they produce so much friction in the "wrong" context.  Yes, it has to do with men being dicks, but it also has to do with fundamental disagreements about how the world is understood.  Boghossian thinks his insight about mathematics is clever; most Continental philosophers wouldn't even pay attention to it.  It's of no meaning at all to them.), or more obscurely Levinas.  Perhaps my standards for "obscure" are a bit off, of course, since the Unemployed Philosophers Guild lodges its finger puppets of Derrida and Foucault in the "Most Obscure" section (with the Foucault puppet asking "Who am I?"  Sadly, I not only know, I have both puppets, along with the Kierkegaard one.)  But Boghossian isn't as known as the translators of Derrida, so he has to get his words to fork lightning somehow, lest he go gentle into that good night.

But from this effort, one can not only overlook his hoax as something not even worth exposing, but one can urge him, in the line of musicians telling a wannabe just how far from fame he is:  "Don't quit your day job."

Rage, rage against the dying of the light; but do it less publicly, okay?  The rest of us have lives you clearly don't understand a thing about.  And no, they aren't the measure of our public intellectuals; just a marker as to how paltry our public discourse is.

1 comment:

  1. I believe I had exchanges with Lindsay before, he's a boob. I'm not sure if I've ever exchanged comments with Boghossian - they all say the same things over and over again.

    The new atheism has a pedegree that goes back through "skepticism" CSICOP which calls itself CSI due to its continual generation of scandals of scientific and academic integrity. It, in turn, is an outgrowth of the magazine of the Humanists, through Paul Kurtz, who, for a time was both the editor of the Humanist magazine and what Dennis Rawlins called "The President for Life" of CSICOP and one of the major figures who caused the first big scandal that CSICOP never recovered from because either people left in disgust or they stayed and never admitted that it had been an intellectual fraud. There are lots of such frauds in its history.

    In turn the Humanists are the old outfit that folks like John Dewey started in the 30s but which was bought out by the Trust Fund Stalinist, Last of the Stalinists, atheist self-promoter and all round dolt Corliss Lamont. I strongly suspect it's his money that funds a lot of the stuff only tech billionaires are probably funding a lot of it now.

    And, yes, it's always been a boys club. Boys, not men. They have always had real issues with maturity.