A defense of Contemporaneanism

For adherents of the ground-breaking philosophical school of Contemporaneanism, it’s been a wild ride. Side-stepping traditional academic institutions, we stepped directly into the public sphere by using online technologies like blog posts and Twitter links to blog posts. The results have been astounding: in the last couple minutes alone, Contemporaneanism has gone from zero adherents to one. That rate of growth puts us on pace to take over every academic field within thirty minutes. And not unexpectedly, the powers that be in the Ivory Tower are nervous.

Some people are still asking themselves, “What is Contemporaneanism?” Questions like that always make me impatient. If too many people ask, I start to wonder if there’s a coordinated campaign to discredit Contemporaneanism. I certainly wouldn’t put such a thing past the adherents of Pastism (a blanket term I literally just coined to cover all previous philosophers insofar as they reject the main tenets of Contemporaneanism). With their comfortable tenured bon-bons, they have the most to lose when Contemporaneanism completely changes the intellectual landscape. Sure, they cover up their systematic persecution with specious claims like “We’ve never even heard of Contemporaneanism” — but we see right through that. They’re running scared.

We continually remind ourselves that radical new schools of thought always face opposition. What if Plato, Kant, and someone you’ve never heard of whom I’m putting forth as a self-evident part of the philosophical canon just gave up the first time someone asked them what they were talking about? And really, are we even properly a “school” at all? Isn’t Contemporaneanism more of a sensibility, a shared set of concerns, than a “movement” — at least a “movement” in the sense that we could be held responsible for some determinate positions and arguments? What’s striking to me is the radical diversity of Contemporaneanism. And you know what? It’s not my job to point out examples of the many people who adhere to Contemporaneanism (in such a way that it doesn’t constitute a determinate “movement” that can be criticized). If you don’t keep up with the most important and exciting developments in your field, that’s on you.

God. Can’t someone start a philosophical movement without having to constantly argue with people?!

17 Responses to “A defense of Contemporaneanism”

  1. Robert Saler Says:

    Really, what’s lacking here is love.

    At the end of the day, love itself is the crazy risk of Contemporaneanism.

    I can’t expect you to understand that.

  2. Steven Shakespeare Says:

    Contemporaneanism has clearly run its course. It was always a foot-dragging, reactive parasite on a forward looking philosophy that was so much more dynamic, revolutionary, universal and – let’s just say it – cool. Yes, my mind is made up: the only way forward is back to Futurism.

  3. Aaron Says:

    Temporally-oriented schools of thought are so last week. Time itself is a pretty outdated concept for that matter. I’m all for Atemporal Simultaneityism, a school of thought which I never came up with at any particular moment in time.

  4. bultmanniac Says:

    @ Rob: “Love itself is the crazy risk of Contemporaneansim…” lol in the refectory.

  5. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Now this is snark I can co-sign!

  6. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    (Seriously, it’s brilliant.)

  7. Robert Saler Says:

    Although how the bon-bons got tenure is anyone’s guess.

  8. Hill Says:

    Conceptually incoherent swipes against tenure are an essential feature of this genre.

  9. Brennan Breed Says:

    I’m really into the Future Perfect movement right now, because it will always have already been cool.

  10. Jon Cogburn Says:

    I think that this is a fair satire of various neo-Contemporaneism “movements” that proliferate in the blogosphere, but I don’t think it says anything about prospects for a revival of old school Contemporaneist thinking of the sort that characterized my blog until about two weeks ago. So, even though I think what you write is a little bit unfair, it might ultimately be in the service of a Contemporaneist renaissance? I’ll be posting a new manifesto and presentation later this afternoon.

  11. Thursday Night Links! | Gerry Canavan Says:

    […] A defense of Contemporaneanism. Typical tripe from the rearguard forces of retro-Contemporaneanism. Search my blog archives for a […]

  12. Eric Says:

    Unfortunately “post-contemporary” is already an actual term. It’s not good satire unless somebody, somewhere, is actually gonna take it seriously.

  13. Jon Cogburn Says:

    Gerry, your comments are so uncharitable as to make me question the extent to which you are writing them in good will.

    Retro-Contemporaeanism is a broad movement, or rather set of concerns, and it’s demonstrably unfair to try to present it in such cartoonish terms. Would one try to pin Kant to the wall by saying one’s own construal of certain theses or arguments gets what is essential about Kant? And we’re not even talking about one person here, but a group of people with an astonishing diversity all bringing their talents to the retro-Contemporaneist movement.

    Really, shame on you. Did you even read Adam’s original post?

  14. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    Wait a minute, this is sarcasm, right? And I don’t mean Adam’s post, I mean Jon Cogburn’s comments. I remember making very similar (but not as funny) jabs at “Contemporaneanism” a while back and, as a result, what I thought was a very productive exchange of philosophical ideas between normal individuals ended with (almost literally) “I like you but I’ve chosen Contemporaneanism because we used to be buddies with the main guru when I was in college and now he is confronting me with ‘you are either with us, Jon, or with the devil’ and it’s getting awkward, so yeah can’t talk to you anymore.”

    Side note: I am sad to see the post did not use the most favorite tool to frame questions about Contemporaneanism: “Hordes of random strangers approach me on the street and fall at my feet all begging for a simple answer to a question [insert a question no one in their fucking right mind has ever bothered to think up to ask].”

  15. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Contemporaneanism is no one movement!

  16. Daniel Lindquist Says:

    The embarrassing mess that Contemporaneanism has turned into makes clear how badly a return to Kant is needed.

  17. Alexius Wyman Says:

    Pfffffft, silly Continental types! The *real* way to make yourself look like an idiot with an academic blog is to threaten junior faculty with lawsuits because you read personal insults into their innocuous posts.

    Oh, and explain that your colleague lost a libel suit because the judge graduated from an unprestigious law school and thus has it in for well-placed academics like you and your friends. Can’t forget that!


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