Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Monday, August 21, 2023
As we look at another surge, another variant, and another school year of Covid, it might be worth thinking about the conditions that made this situation possible. The conditions are, as is so often the case, multiple, including the nature of the virus itself, technological, and economic conditions. What I would like to focus on briefly are the ideological conditions, or the way in which the virus took advantage of social contradictions as much biological weakness.
Monday, August 14, 2023
Sunday, August 06, 2023
Watching Barbie reminded me of two essays that I had not read in a long time, Luce Irigaray's "Women on the Market " and "Commodities Among Themselves". In those essays Irigaray considers to what extent Marx's theory of the commodity form can be used to make sense of the status of women in society. Irigaray's texts takes as its start the idea of a society founded on an exchange of women, an idea integral to structural and psychoanalytic theories of kinship. From this it is possible to posit that relations among women would have the fantastic character of Marx's brief foray into describing the world of commodities amongst themselves.
Tuesday, August 01, 2023
Humanism, and the debates for and against it, is less a perennial philosophical question, returned to again and again, than a moving target, one that reflects the different political, cultural, and economic situation of the moment. The humanism of the renaissance is not the same humanism that was at the center of debates about Stalin and Marx in the sixties. Moreover, I would argue that the question of the human now is profoundly transformed by the Anthropocene, by the awareness that human impact has had an ecological and geological impact on the planet, transforming it for the worst. This does not mean that old debates and discussions of different humanisms in the history of philosophy are relegated to the dustbin of history--just that they take on a different sense and meaning today. Spinoza and Marx's debates with the humanism of their time take on a different sense today.
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
To repeat something I have said before, if, as it has often been claimed, philosophy begins with Socrates then it also begins with its particular antagonism, its particular anti-philosophy in the sophist and sophistry. It seems to me that if one wanted to read the history of philosophy in this way, with a founding event and founding antagonism, then one might want to consider who is our anti-philosopher today, who is the contemporary equivalent of the sophist? The answer would seem to have to be the troll.
Sunday, July 16, 2023
One of the strange contradictions of living in a country where union membership is so low, something like six percent in the private sector, is that some of the professions that we associate with fame and fortune are unionized; major league baseball, NFL, and actors and writers for Hollywood all have unions. This combined with the fact that there is very little labor reporting in this country means that most people will no more about strikes of the (supposedly) and famous than any other labor actions--an entirely different sense of labor aristocracy.
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Thursday, July 06, 2023
I will begin with a story. When I was in graduate school I returned to Hampshire twice to teach as part of the Jan Plan. The college was interested in elevating its January term, which up until then had been a free for all of student led courses. I was looking to get out of Binghamton for a few weeks. Even in the bitter cold of January, Amherst has more to offer than Broome County. I saw the first Scream during one of those Januarys, and the next January I taught it.
Sunday, July 02, 2023
One fact stands out in the recent Supreme Court Decision 303 Creative LLC vs. Elenis and that is that the web hosting company in question has yet to sell wedding websites (see the passage from the dissenting opinion below). There is also news that the plaintiff, Lorie Smith may have fabricated a gay couple who supposedly enquired about web hosting. I believe that this little bit of legal trivia reveals something fundamental about our current era, it is one in which the fears and fantasies of the powerful are taken more seriously than the realities of the dispossessed.