A preferential option against Christian apologists

I should have known better. Over the years, this blog has drifted away from its initial primary focus on theology, and I thought we had finally reached a point where it might be possible to discuss abortion without being mobbed by Christians. I was wrong, and the resulting discussion was a great example of the ways that typical Christian argumentative tactics clog and ultimately shut down any genuine conversation. (Disclaimer: not every individual who identifies as a Christian is guilty of all this, etc., etc., etc.)

The two key moves are, first, to presuppose some established orthodoxy and, second, to attempt to make people feel guilty for not adhering to it. Read the rest of this entry »

Should using your real name be allowed?

[Stanley Fish has a column up that I assume includes typical hand-wringing about the place of anonymity on the internet -- I haven't actually read the article, because I find Stanley Fish's writing in the Times to be really annoying. Nevertheless, I'm going to riff on the basic topic, citing Fish's unread column only because it's what brought this topic to mind.]

One often hears complaints about the use of anonymity on the internet, usually from people in the mainstream media who worry about people using anonymity irresponsibly, to say things they wouldn’t be willing to say in their own name. Abuse of anonymity, it is often assumed, is one of the things that make the internet such a toxic, uncivil place, and therefore allowing its use is highly questionable.

What I’d like to argue here is that allowing the use of real names in internet discourse is equally questionable if not moreso. Read the rest of this entry »

Martyr Complex Lite

Is it possible to be an American Christian without being self-pitying? Sometimes I wonder. American Christians are either being pushed to the margins of culture or else dissatisfied when a key holiday of their religion — namely the ever-commercialized Christmas whose “true meaning” is always in danger of being forgotten altogether — becomes so popular that they can’t control the use people make of it. Oh the torture of not being quite powerful enough, or powerful in precisely the right way!

The “war on Christmas” idiocy and the prickliness surrounding “happy holidays” is a case in point. As Tom Tomorrow points out, even if you leave aside inclusiveness concerns, this time of year has multiple Christian-celebrated holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It is, indeed, the “holiday season,” not because we’re all politically correct liberals but because there are several widely-embraced holidays in rapid succession.

Middlesex University Drops Philosophy Department

[Update: The campaign has now set up a blog and a twitter account (@saveMDXphil). Please don't forget to send the dean an email to register your anger at their decision to both destroy an excellent department and turn Middlesex into a university that prizes mediocrity. -APS]

[Update: I've added the other addresses of the university management and the petition that is circulating. - Alex]

As I am sure many of you are already aware, in their infinite neoliberal wisdom through a vomiting forth of corporate speak, the management of Middlesex University have decided to cut their entire philosophy department. The Department of Philosophy at Middlesex is an absolutely exceptional place, whose work on continental/European philosophy has been exemplary, with 65% of its research assesment scores that judge the department to be producing ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ work, indeed, it is the highest RAE rated department in the University, as Brian Leiter notes. On this very blog we have discussed the work of Peter Hallward, whose work on Badiou, post-colonialism and Deleuze is among the best in the world, and whose work on Haiti has proved vitally important in understanding recent tragedies there. Only last week we noted their From Structure to Rhizome conference and cataloguing of the influential French journal Cahiers pour l’analyse. Not only will this be a huge loss to philosophy research in the UK, but the entire situation bodes extremely badly for the fate of all research into continental thought, regardless of department.

An attack on one is an attack on all and as far as I am concerned we will not allow this to pass. I ask that those interested in continental philosophy, be they philosophers, theologians, political theorists or sociologists, or, indeed, anyone concerned with the fate of education in the United Kingdom or real education generally under the neoliberal regime, take immediate action.

You can sign up to the Facebook group and can also sign the petition. The campaign also ask that you e-mail the Dean of Arts and Education at e.esche@mdx.ac.uk alongside other members of the university management team: Vice-Chancellor of the University, Michael Driscoll, m.driscoll@mdx.ac.uk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, Waqar Ahmad, w.ahmad@mdx.ac.uk and Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Margaret House, m.house@mdx.ac.uk.

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