Archive | March 2011

1) My chapter for Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy is well underway. I have about 6000 words so far. Hopefully I’ll finish a draft this weekend.

2) My paper “Aesthetics and Logic, Critique and Science: Problems in Kant’s Aesthetics” has been accepted at the workshop “Kant on Method as a Demarcation of the Sciences” (University of Groningen, The Netherlands, May 30-31, 2011). My paper, which deals with the dim prospects of a science of aesthetics, is sure to stand out at a workshop full of papers on physics and mathematics.

3) I’m  trying to finish a couple of book reviews and my paper on Benjamin’s concept of criticism for the Critical Theory conference in Rome.  A couple of weeks traveling in Europe with Verena and her family will be my reward.


1) Scary things are happening in British universities. Distinguished and productive philosophy departments are being threatened. See Storm Breaking upon the University and Save Keele Philosophy.

2) Worthwhile contributions to discussions about the value of the history of philosophy can be found here, here, here, here,  and here. I’m particularly fond of Catarina Dutilh Novaes’ New Apps post History of philosophy as antidote to philosophical intuitions.She also has a very astute critique of “intuition-based” approaches to philosophy here. Doxastic conservativeness is the devil.

3) I’m not one of those people who think philosophy is useless,* but I acknowledge the difficulty of making the case for a long-term investment like the history of philosophy** against the short-sightedness of government and industry. I worry about what’s described in 1) because of the threat it poses to 2) and all the things that are likely to fall with 2).

*Philosophers who defend this view have horribly misread and misunderstood Book VI of Plato’s Republic.

**Or the humanities in general…

My chapter “Kant, Critique, and Enlightenment” will be included in Conceptions of Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy, Edited by Ruth Sonderegger and Karin de Boer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). Other contributors include Judith Butler, Maeve Cook, Oliver Custer, Robin Celikates, Fabian Freyenhagen, Thijs Lijster, Christina Hendricks, Philip Andrew Quadrio, and Elizabeth Rottenberg.

My chapter is, essentially, the “Kant” chapter in the book, though Butler, Quadrio, and de Boer will be discussing Kant to some extent as well. I will be arguing that Kantian critique is not intended to establish the limits of reason but is, on the contrary, a demonstration of the possibility of the a priori cognition that makes metaphysics possible as a science.

Alex Cooper found an old copy of Emory’s “grey book” (student handbook) for philosophy. It contains the complete reading list for the comprehensive exams Alex and I took in 2006, so I’ve been able to update the comprehensive exams page. (NB: It’s a good idea to keep a hard copy of these things. Valuable information can disappear when programs change and websites are updated).

I’ve also been in contact with Karin de Boer at the University of Groningen about 1)  a volume on critique and modern philosophy that she’s editing and 2) the workshop described below. It’s nice to find people working on similar problems in different places…


May 30-31, 2011

Faculty of Philosophy
University of Groningen
The Netherlands


Dr. Birgitta-Sophie von Wolff-Metternich (Heidelberg)
Dr. Arnaud Pelletier (Hannover)
Prof. dr. dr. Brigitte Falkenburg (Dortmund; to be confirmed)

Theme of the Workshop

Already in his Prize Essay of 1764 Kant opposed the Leibnizian-Wolffian
tradition by arguing that the methodology of mathematics is not
suitable for disciplines such as philosophy. The Critique of Pure
Reason demarcates philosophy from mathematics along the same lines.
Kant’s contrast between traditional philosophy as analysis of concepts
and mathematics as a priori synthesis of concepts is relatively clear.
Yet this cannot be said of the way in which the first Critique
conceives of the relation between general logic, special logics,
transcendental logic, transcendental philosophy, and the sciences.
Traditionally, disciplines were often distinguished by their object or
domain of investigation. By contrast, Kant’s demarcation of mathematics
and philosophy seems to concern the methods these disciplines employ.
To which extent does Kant’s methodological approach replace the
traditional way of demarcating the various disciplines?  What is the
precise nature of Kant’s distinction between general, transcendental,
and special logic? To what extent do the differences between the
disciplines stem from the specific cognitive faculties involved in
them? Do philosophy and the sciences depend on logic (of some sort) for
their method and, if so, for their method alone? We invite
contributions that address these and related questions.

Call for Papers
The programme leaves room for a limited number of short presentations
(20 minutes per paper). Abstracts (no more than 400 words) can be sent
to Johan Blok ( before March 15. Those selected will be
notified by April 1. Unfortunately, we cannot provide for travel and
lodging costs. For any questions, please contact Johan Blok.

Organizing Committee

Dr. Karin de Boer
Drs. Johan Blok
Drs. Job Zinkstok
Prof. dr. Detlev Pätzold
Prof. dr. Pauline Kleingeld