Highs Lows and Prospects for the Future, Jamming, 30/05/2014

After four straight days of philosophizing and networking whose average working length was eleven hours, I needed something of a break. For one thing, the blogging symposium that ended the CPA’s sessions for me was generally too exciting and filled with interesting conversation to take any time during the session itself to blog. 

My thanks to Kathryn Norlock, Patricia Marino, Samantha Brennan, and Tracy Isaacs for getting that symposium together and leading a conversation about taking philosophical discourse and ideas into a public forum that escapes the disciplinary echo chamber. All their experiments in blogging have found interesting ways to articulate philosophical ideas in new ways, and I’m glad that I can now add my name to that community.

Most of the posts that I published during the CPA were largely composed during sessions that grew slightly boring for me. There was one presentation in particular on Monday that, ostensibly defended that there was a ‘right to be ruled.’ I found this title quite provocative, though I knew nothing of the other work of the speaker. Given the title and my presuppositions from my own work, I thought I was going to see a robust defence of subservience to one’s state come hell or Glenn Greenwald. I was looking forward to a vibrant discussion, my intense disagreement with which would fuel some of my own thoughts for the Utopias project. 

But I ended up listening to a rather dry legal theory talk that spent a lot of time discussing the implications for obedience norms of our tendency to voluntarily submit to the decision of legal arbitrators. It’s entirely possible — and by that, I mean it’s really quite likely — that I’ve missed some more important implication. But the whole paper struck me as rather pedantic.

I'm one of those people who read people like
Jürgen Habermas for fun. If you've been reading
this blog, you shouldn't be surprised.
This contrast is my way of saying that no conference is ever absolutely perfect. Sometimes the conversations with your friend who studies a lot of Jürgen Habermas is more enlightening to you than the formal presentation you both had just seen about the philosophy of Jürgen Habermas. And it puts the idea in your mind that you should read some more Habermas sometime soon, if only just for fun, so you have a better grip on some of his concepts and approaches. 

I learned this week that University of Toronto's Dan Goldstick has been attending every CPA since 1966. He told me so himself at the conference beer tent. He can't hear as well as he used to, but he's still at the top of his game. We all should hope to be.

I was also glad that the CPA’s paper awards for junior and senior faculty both went to people I knew, and that the papers were so deserving. My colleague from the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective read a provocative piece about the importance of feminine and feminist perspectives in university philosophy departments, and the importance of understanding the difference between those. One of my old professors at McMaster won the senior faculty prize for a tight paper offering a further foundation for her larger project of systematizing collective duties, obligations and responsibilities. She runs at the problem of material deprivation and inequities on a global scale from a very different perspective than my own concerns, theorizing rights and obligations while I focus on networks of material interdependence and ecologically destructive processes. But I think we both share the same concerns, hoping that humanity can learn to exist a little more peacefully and fairly in the world. Apparently, that makes me naive.

So after a hectic four days at an overstuffed Brock University and a relaxing day at home, I’m back to work tomorrow at my editing job. I’ve made some edits to my proposal to publish the Ecophilosophy project, and I’ll start promoting Under the Trees, Eaten throughout the summer, preparing a multimedia show based on its passages, which I hope will launch this Fall. And I started reading Antonio Gramsci, finally. Enlightening already, after only a few brief essays. More thoughts on that tomorrow, I think. Same with what I’ve been reading for fun in African literature.

Maybe you could give some money to my two favourite Kickstarters as well. Reading Rainbow doesn’t exactly need a lot of help, but it's probably the ethically best cause on the whole site. You should definitely support Phil Sandifer’s Last War in Albion project, funding a massive, beautiful, and fascinating study of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison’s contributions to and place in comics and human culture as a whole.

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