Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More academic idiocy

The Distinguished Professor and his ilk seemingly can't avoid getting their digs in against Ayn Rand whenever possible. The DP - vile, creepy coward that he is - quotes a "senior philosopher" regarding the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

There is no question that SEP is fantastic, but if the recent entries I’ve noted are the new standard, there is an emphasis on something other than the importance of the possible entry that made SEP fantastic in the first place. The entry that set me off was the Ayn Rand one—the bibliography alone is one of the most embarrassing I’ve ever seen: outlets of questionable merit at best, etc.

I should mention right off the bat that my book will be out in some format or other within a matter of weeks. It will fucking blow away whatever "product" these academic jackasses have been churning out for decades. There will be a veritable bukkake of egg to be wiped off these people's smug faces, it will be so embarrassing to them and their tired old pretentious ways. (I will only mention at this point that the book will vastly exceed the scope and effectiveness of that of the tentative outline I made back in February.)

As to the "outlets of questionable merit," we can cut the bullshit and translate that snooty weasel-wording into: "Not from the most elite academic presses." Best as I can determine, that means: Oxford University Press, Harvard University Press, and Princeton University Press. According to the Distinguished Professor, Cambridge University Press doesn't reliably produce "first-rate" material - and he would cite Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics as one example of why it doesn't.

(I am curious, why hasn't the Distinguished Professor published a stand-alone book on Nietzsche from one of these most "elite" presses? Routledge surely qualifies as "second-tier" at best, correct? Leiter has an established "elite" publishing record and reputation in the field of law or philosophy of law, but is he really that "elite" a philosopher, pathologically elitist creep that he is?)

Now, as to those most elite of presses, I can cite books from those presses offering essentially the same substantive conclusions that Rand delivered: David Norton's Personal Destinies: A Philosophy of Ethical Individualism (Princeton), Philippa Foot's Natural Goodness (Oxford), A. John Simmons's On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke, Consent, and the Limits of Society (Princeton).

Now, let's comment on the cowardice, second-handerism and social metaphysics of "the caliber of outlet," shall we? Leiter as well as anyone knows that Nietzsche stood against a whole tradition of philosophy that was quite thoroughly academic in nature. The irony here, of course, is that the likes of Leiter, comfortably ensconced in academia, represent the very phenomenon Nietzsche was against. The politicking, the snootiness, the conformity to the established ways, the "Professor X says" over the "it is" . . . Nietzsche blasted right through all that. ("But it's the Parthenon!" And so it is.) Leiter as well as anyone should remember how tenured Princeton philosophy professor Walter Kaufmann (Critique of Religion and Philosophy) blasted through the whole charade that passed for philosophy as it was done in the mid-20th century. What exactly has changed, other than some sluggish progress in an Aristotelian direction?

Let's also further comment on the nature of the academic intelligentsia: for over 100 years, the academy was (still is? still?) fervently pro-socialistic, despite there being no sound basis on which to argue for socialism. We already know how Marxian pseudo-scientific anti-capitalist dialectics fell flat on its face. We know how socialism has proven to be a massive and utter failure, just as Mises predicted back in 1922. As the whole intellectual world was engulfed in socialistic ideology, Mises was a virtual lone voice of sanity - as was Ayn Rand later on when it came to philosophy as such (before being joined in that regard independently by Kaufmann in the '50s). The academy's reaction to Mises' absolutely sound argumentation: to ignore it.

Now, something about the sociological-institutional-psychological tendencies within the academy would explain this hostility to capitalism and to open and honest debate about it.

But it's not just about capitalism. Let's take another instance of the academy's failure: the stale, worn-out, dead-end debate up until only recently between "deontological" and "consequentialist" schools of ethics. I mean, before Anscombe's essay came along (concurrently with epochal works by Rand and Kaufmann), modern moral philosophy was truly a shithole, but it was academics doing the shitting, so I guess the only rational thing to do was to genuflect towards the academics, right? Their shitty works were, after all, being published by the elite academic presses, right?

One might conclude from the myriad failures of the academy when it comes to philosophy that academia stinks. Actually, no, academia per se does not stink. It is the academic humanities that (for the most part) stink. And I'm not talking only about the lit-crit wankers, the ultimate manifestation of the wafting stench. I'm talking about the default on philosophy by the academy, philosophy being the ultimate uniting discipline of the humanities (and, ultimately, of all fields). The main problem here is the lack of objective standards within the humanities despite (or because of?) the fact of peer-review methods - methods ostensibly similar to those found also within the hard sciences (which continue to make all kinds of strides while the Leiters and affiliated Senior Philosophers wallow in the muck and whine helplessly about Ayn Rand's continuing and expanding cultural influence). Only with a lack of objective standards do you get interminable debates about deontology-vs.-consequentialism and whether "social justice" should have a Rawlsian or more egalitarian flavor.

This is dysfunction, sickness and madness that urgently needs being called out as such, rather than being placated. It is exactly the same sort of madness that led to Marxism and socialism being the fad for decades in the intelligentsia - and which led directly and inevitably to decades of mass murder perpetrated by the governments of Russia, Germany, and China. When Ludwig von Mises is the lone voice of sanity ca. 1922, the ghastly and deadly period stretching from 1914 to 1945 (and stretching on into roughly the '70s in a somewhat less ghastly form) was inevitable. And the fucks like Leiter still, still, still refuse to learn the lesson or re-examine their unobjective premises.

What I would like to know is how a magnificent book such as Norton's Personal Destinies, published by Princeton University Press, still managed to become obscure within the profession. Here's a possible clue: back in the '70s, all the rage was about Rawls, and this wonderful book simply got drowned out by all the wanking to Rawls. The fundamental elements of a correct theory of justice are there in Norton, and don't require the silly rationalistic constructions of Rawls ("original position"; "veil of ignorance"; "reflective equilibrium"; "the natural lottery") where justice is divorced from productive achievement (which Ayn Rand regarded as man's noblest activity, but which really doesn't seem to play much of a role, if any, in Rawls's theory). Hell, how did Kaufmann's excellent Critique of Religion and Philosophy manage to fall into relative obscurity?

So isn't it really about fucking time that Aristotle, Mises, Rand, Kaufmann, Norton, and Rasmussen and Den Uyl got their full due amongst those people - the academic philosophers - charged with the sacred responsibility of doing philosophy as opposed to sneering, politicking and evading?

ADDENDUM: Note to self: study Henry Veatch to see if he should be added to this last list of greats.

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