What’s not to like about analytic philosophy?

I’m detaching the author’s name from a piece that’s been around on email a bit. I think the view is worth discussing and I hope you do too.

Haslanger’s article mentions the view that there’s something very masculine about the abstract, formal nature of philosophy that a lot of women don’t like. I think this view may be being misdescribed; that is, when people say that’s something they don’t like about philosophy, I think it may actually be something related but different. Studies in other disciplines – such as the study of the poor lot of women in computer science at Carnegie Mellon (which was subsequently vastly improved) – suggest that a lot of women are not particularly interested in highly narrowly focused problems. In fact, a number of women, other work suggests, are strongly attracted to interdisciplinary work. Much of philosophy is large and grand, but journals and conferences in philosophy do contain a lot of work that is, e.g., F’s criticism of A’s rejection of B’s third formulation of the problem for C’s revision of the D’s attempted refutation of E’s theory.

Haslanger also notes that men in philosophy are very often poorly socialized … and that philosophy departments are socially very difficult. I expect everyone … is aware of hypothesized connections between being very narrowly focused, being socially pretty disconnected and being male (as Baron-Cohen has made much of). So it’s possible that this is more what is behind a supposed dislike of the abstract and formalized.

I don’t want to endorse Baron-Cohen’s work, which we’ve criticized here and elsewhere, but perhaps part of the idea above is that analytic philosophy can too often turn grand questions into trivial disputes.

On thinking about this, I’m wondering whether the following is relevant: a lot of philosophy of perception is concernedwith the truth-maker for “S sees that P.” More and more, cognitive computational neuroscience is looking at questions about vision such as: how does vision work to enable a creature to move successful through its environment? I’m not sure the first pursuit tells us that much about vision. It’s philosophy of perception, but it is really about something more like the logic of perceptual statements and the ontology of vision (e.g., physicalism, reductionism, etc). But the points are essentially general and scarcely at all about vision itself.

NEH Summer grants for 2009: correction

This may seem early, but usually institutions require that grant application for this sort of award  be submitted to the research office a month in advance of the date due.  Note that staff and – in  fairly limited circumstances  – graduate students may apply. 

I can’t find any  mention of independent scholars.  If any one knows about their eligibility, I’d appreciate your letting us know.  It may be that they’re just omitted from this notice, which is for colleges  and universities. Thanks to Emeritus for pointing out that independent scholars are covered by “c” below.

2009 SUMMER STIPENDS AWARDS: $6,000  April, 2008   DEADLINE: October 1, 2008

SUBJECT:                   NEH Summer Stipends Program
           The National Endowment for the Humanities is again preparing for its Summer Stipends competition. The deadline is October 1, 2008. Over the past four years, NEH has awarded almost 350 Summer Stipends to allow faculty members to pursue their scholarship during the summer months. While the program remains consistent with previous years, I would like to call your attention to two important changes:

–An increased stipend. Last year NEH increased the amount of a Summer Stipends award to $6,000.

–A new method of applying. Beginning last year, just as with NEH Fellowships, Summer Stipends will be accepting applications online only through Grants.gov
Because of these changes, potential applicants and grants administrators are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves early with the new application instructions and guidelines posted on the NEH website at


The act that established the NEH in 1965 says: “The term `humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, theory and criticism of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

NOTE: This long post has now been edited (May 27). Please follow the web link for more details.

The Best of the Booker

The Booker is an extremely prestigious prize. I’ve no idea why voting for the best of the booker is open to the public, but it is. You vote on this page, where the information below can also be found. A third of the candidates are women, which beats just about anything in philosophy.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Booker Prize, six authors are in the running to win a one-off award and be titled The Best of the Booker.

The six authors with the opportunity to be called Best of the Booker are Pat Barker, Peter Carey, JM Coetzee, JG Farrell, Nadine Gordimer and Salman Rushdie.

Closing date for the Best of the Booker Prize vote is 12 noon 8 July 2008.
Voting is open to residents worldwide and there is only one vote per person. Please feel free to read the website privacy policy before voting or supplying your email address.