The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.
**This was originally posted within a Facebook group, I apologise for the poor wording.
Should political activism and philosophy mix? This might seem like a silly question. Philosophy and politics have always been connected: philosophers develop theories of ethics, justice and political legitimacy after all. However, I want to draw a distinction between a philosophical perspective on political and economic conditions, and that of an activist who uses philosophical “status” to push a position.
This sprang to mind whilst I was reading this New York Times piece on “What Work is Really For” by Gary Gutting.
What I thought would be a really interesting discussion on the experience of “work” as opposed to “leisure” quickly turned into a -not very well defined – criticism of consumer driven economy. Rather than engage with ideas, Gutting appears to have jumped straight toward critique. Whilst I am not a fan of his politics, my offence stemmed from the appearance of *bad* philosophy. But is it? What is the proper relationship between philosophy and activism?
I want to contrast this ‘activism masquerading as philosophy’ from what I see as the proper use of philosophy in political causes.
This speech by the late writer David Foster Wallace is such a wonderfully articulate defence of a liberal education through an existentialist lens. Needed a share. Here is an extract:
I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete.
Here is a link to renowned political theorist Judith Shklar outlining her well known concept of the ‘Liberalism of Fear’. Shklar, following the tradition of political realism, develops a theory of liberalism without illusions, without morality and free of ahistorical concepts of ‘social justice’. Her work was praised and cooped by intellectual heavyweights such as Bernard Williams, and appears to develop a coherent and pragmatic response to “idealist” and utopian perspectives on liberal theory. In my eyes it strikes an excellent balance between affixing toleration as the basis of liberalism and fighting against illiberal ideas as an integral part of liberal politics.
Here are a couple of short extracts:
This post is just a plug for this piece on Online Opinion by Dr Rob Cover, Associate Professor in the School of Social and Cultural Studies at The University of Western Australia (who kind of looks like a gang rapist in the photo, but I’m sure is lovely). The article is entitled “Is same-sex marriage an adequate response to queer youth suicide?” and argues that the rhetoric regarding gay youth suicide and its connection with gay marriage has been oversold at the expense of more targeted campaigns..
Here is hoping it is one of many new voices to come forward.
Many of you would have read today about Charlotte Dawson’s hospitalisation following some pretty horrible harassment on Twitter. Threats, insults and mockery seem to be a large part of online discourse, and have on many occasions posed questions as to whether new law should come to force hosting websites to reveal the identity of online harassers or shutdown toxic accounts and pages. The kinds of harassment found online ranges from the mildly troublesome – such as the recently shut down ‘Root Rater’ website – to the downright sickening – such as the vandalising Facebook pages memorialising dead children. All of this tends to demonstrate that a horrible combination of elements: anonymity, distance and isolation, can result it some pretty abhorrent behaviour by people online.
Who is the victim?
A very interesting book on this issue is The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy and Reputation which has several contributions from academics in the areas of law, sociology and philosophy. A point I remember sticking out in the book was that cyber-harassment is not quarantined to the exchanges of 4-Chan boys and foul-mouth commentators, but is most commonly targeted toward women, with astoundingly high harassment rates toward lesbian women. The commonality of rape threats online has been extensively catalogued by people far more schooled on the subject than me, but I’ve been online enough to know there is a particular brand of online “dude” species which gets a certain sick enjoyment of tormenting women. The gendered nature of much of this harassment is important to keep in mind when considering any new laws in the area.
I come from a generation that greatly admires the idea of a 1960s “sexual revolution” – an era supposedly marked by increased freedoms in sexual pleasure by throwing off authoritarian cultural, legal and biological (If you think of the pill) constraints. This is often viewed as a progression from frigid, repressed individuals into free thinking, self aware pleasure seekers.
As well as a general nostalgia, an affinity with “sexual liberation” drives the agenda of many modern “left-libertarian” policies and movements popular with fellow Gen-Y’s such as pro-sex feminist and queer movements, political ‘Sex parties‘ and calls for “sex positive education”.
But there are plenty of problems with taking this “sexual liberation” approach seriously.