Saturday, August 01, 2015

Brian Leiter and Joseph Heath on "Me Studies"

   I actually think these guys go a little too easy on their targets...  And Heath is under the mistaken impression that political correctness is on the decline in academia...largely because he seems unaware that (a) it's rather recently resurgent and (b) it now goes under the label "social justice (warrior...ism?)" So, yeah..."political correctness" so called isn't that common anymore...but that's a merely nominal point...
   Heath is right--and I've long argued for this claim--that there are radicalizing social pressures in the politicized sectors of academia. These pressures make you're not radical enough basically the only acceptable criticism. Heath thinks that "jerks" also tend to voice criticisms to the effect that the relevant kind of oppression isn't real...  All I can say is that I've never seen such criticisms in academia...
   Some of what has prompted this is the fact that the grad student who leveled insane Title IX-related charges against Laura Kipnis at Northwestern was a philosophy student... Ugh.
   I used to think that philosophy was better than most of the humanities and social sciences at resisting the insane left...  But I'm far less confident now...
   At any rate...and sorry for the hasty writing and bad organization: Heath gets something really, really right with the "Me studies" thought:
[S]ome people take the advice, to “follow your passion,” as an invitation to choose a thesis project that is essentially about themselves. For example, an old friend of mine in Montreal studying anthropology wrote her Master’s thesis on, I can’t remember the exact title, but it was something like, “Negotiations of difference in Quebecois-Jewish couples on the Montreal Plateau.” At the time, she was living with a Jewish guy on – you guessed it – the Plateau. So she basically wrote an MA thesis about issues in her own relationship. This is classic “me” studies....
I think this is roughly the same phenomenon that leads to things like feminist metaphysics. People come into philosophy, they're interested in metaphysics and they're interested in feminism...and then we end up with a sub-sub-sub-area of metaphysics that makes basically no sense at all...
   Finally, as for the dust-up over this between Leiter and Yap: Leiter is right, Yap is wrong.


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