It’d be hard to believe if the administration at Middlesex University wasn’t so predictable in their pattern of cowardly bullying. Today, Profs Peter Hallward and Peter Osbourne were suspended along with some students due to activities in the recent occupation at Middlesex. A clear pattern of cowardly deceit and strongarming is emerging from the administration, who initially called a meeting with students to discuss the decision only to cancel at the last minute with no notice. Later, misinformation was given to the media about protesters causing broken bones, and now, in a move that should incite all of us committed to academic freedom, the administration has suspended two Professors from having entering the premises of Middlesex or having contact with other faculty or students without the permission of Ed Esche.

Sadly, Mr. Esche asked for no one’s permission when he set out on a path of neoliberal destruction against his own University. He also did not seek permission from anyone to cancel the meeting that he called.

The assault on education must be resisted.

I’ll probably be here for the foreseeable future. It’s been a whirlwind lately with graduation from college and various transitions. I’ll be preparing to move as soon as I can find a place, and doing some leisure reading and prep for Kierkegaard camp this summer. Blogging will probably be sparse for a while, as I’m generally trying to relax and recollect as I move into a new stage in life.

Some bad news today about Middlesex University, who announced that they will be shutting down the philosophy department. The department is widely known to most everyone working in Continental philosophy, and is an exemplary place of scholarship–easily one of the top schools in the UK for Continental thought.

Since the handful of people who read this blog are Americans, I’m not sure there is much we can do. Nina Power has a lot more info on the whole thing.

Here is a link to join the Facebook group. Help spread the word as philosophers and friends-of-philosophers stand against this disaster that is creeping to becoming the norm in our Universities.

Update: Due props to Brian Leiter, who has posted about this on his blog, which is of course among the most popular philosophy blogs on the web (it may be the most popular, I’m not sure).

Also, if you are looking to send a letter of protest, you can direct it to Professor Edward Esche, who is the dean of the school of arts and education. His email is e.esche@mdx.ac.uk. For the benefit of those actively working to fight this decision, please copy the following email address when you send a letter to Prof. Esche: savemdxphil@gmail.com.

Here is very good post by Tim Wise.

This, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

In the fall

Although I’ve already communicated this to several friends of the blog, the lack of substance to post about amidst my final few weeks as an undergrad compels me to make a public announcement on the blog: I have accepted an offer to work towards an MA in philosophy at Duquesne University this fall. This still feels rather surreal, after the whirlwind process, and I’m not quite sure how to adjust to being finished with the search/waiting. I’m excited to get started at Duquesne, and also excited that I will have the opportunity to do coursework on Kierkegaard immediately.

In the end, I had offers from 5 MA programs to choose from, and eliminating any one of them wasn’t an easy choice. As I began to look at probable seminars, I came to realize that Duquesne was an even better fit than I imagined for myself when I started the search about 8 months ago. In conjunction with living costs and the fact that I love Pittsburgh and have always wanted to live in the city (I grew up in the suburbs), Duquesne became an obvious choice near the end. There are many other exciting opportunities at Duquesne, but more of that in due time. I am contemplating doing a series of posts on grad school in philosophy this summer, similar to some of the theology resources in the blogosphere.

Also, I’ve said this on the blog before, but now I have some official idea: this summer I will be studying at the Hong Kierkegaard Library in Northfield, Minnesota. I will first have the pleasure of attending the Sixth International Kierkegaard Conference from June 27th-July 1st. After this, I’ll spend the rest of July in Minnesota with a group of grad students and professors studying Kierkegaard. I will be working on questions about Kierkegaard and the political. I may possibly have some blog posts on that as I prepare early in the summer by reading The Point of View and Two Ages.

Adam Smith probably wouldn’t have looked like this if they had youtube in the eighteenth century, but who knows. Blankenship has certainly embodied the ethos very well.

In preparation for a paper on Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, I’ve been doing a good bit of reading in philosophy/animal studies over the past month. One of the most pervasive themes in contemporary continental discussions of the question of the animal is the human-animal distinction. Most philosophers, from Levinas to Lacan, or Derrida or Agamben, who have addressed this issue recently would not consider themselves to be metaphysical humanists. In the case of Agamben, one of his main tasks in The Open is to “jam the anthropological machine.”

One book that I’ve been reading which is particularly helpful in sorting out what various philosophers have written about animals, and more specifically how they have used animal metaphors in their philosophies, is Kelly Oliver’s Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to Be Human. Oliver summarizes several writers, such as Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Freud, Kristeva, and Agamben–to name a few–in her attempt to show how animals are perpetually used to reveal something about what it means to be human. I haven’t reached her concluding constructive chapter just yet, but I’m reading on Agamben now, and she seems to be critical of Agamben for using religious analogies in his work. She is critical of Judeo-Christian religion insofar as it affirms an abyss between (hu)man and animal. Here is a relevant passage:

Judeo-Christian religion could be said to represent the view that man and animals are separated by an abyss, that the divine providence of man is guaranteed only by his metaphysical separation from animals. This is the older version of the anthropological machine as producing the human by extracting the animal. Western science, however, insists on biological continuity between humans and animals, which Agamben identifies as the modern version of the anthropological machine that reduces humans to animals (or bare life) and thereby leaves them open to dissection and disposal. As we have seen, however, metaphysical separation and biological continuism are two sides of the same coin or, in Agamben’s parlance, two versions of the anthropological machine. Given the influence of religion on philosophy and science, we might discover that the opposition between science and religion has been behind the opposition between animal and man all along. Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons (New York: Columbia UP, 2009). p. 240.

I’m wondering what readers think of this passage, and specifically whether Judeo-Christian religion requires a metaphysical separation between (hu)man and animal. Are there theologians or philosophers who have argued otherwise?