Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Georgia State and Post-Kantian Philosophy

Sebastian Rand from Georgia State University asked me to link to this flyer about their MA program. Readers thinking about graduate school or advising students applying should check out the program. It's great to see that they offer funding for students working on Kant and Post-Kantian philosophy. As far as I know, it can be very difficult to get funding at the MA level, but Georgia State appears to have a number of good funding opportunities. If you know about other similar programs, feel free to mention them in the comments. As PhD programs get to be more and more competitive, MAs at places like Georgia State are becoming more valuable.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NY German Idealism Workshop

On behalf of the NY German Idealism Workshop, I would like to announce the final meeting of the semester on Friday, December 11th. Jens Rometsch (University of Bonn) will be giving a paper entitled, “Hegel's Point About Knowledge of What We Are Doing”. Rocío Zambrana (The New School for Social Research) will respond.

Date: Friday, December 11th
Location: The New School for Social Research, 6 East 16th St. Room 906
Time: 4:00-6:00pm

please email karen.ng92@gmail.com for a copy of the paper.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is Obama a Kantian?

In his speech at his first state dinner honoring the prime minister of India, Obama approvingly quotes Kant: "For it's been said that 'the most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us.' Mr. Prime Minister, today we worked to fulfill our duty --bring our countries closer together than ever before. Tonight, under the stars, we celebrate the spirit that will sustain our partnership -- the bonds of friendship between our people." Transcript here.

Maybe this is the influence of Rahm Emanuel, who happened to admire Hegel and "the nineteenth-century German thinkers" during his student days.

(Thanks to David Wood for the tip)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NY German Idealism Workshop, Nov. 20th

The NY German Idealism Workshop will hold its next meeting on Friday, November 20th. Patricia Kitcher (Columbia University) will be giving a paper entitled:

“Kant’s Spontaneous Thinker and (More) Spontaneous Agent.” Robert Howell (SUNY Albany) will respond.

Date: Friday, November 20th
Location: Columbia University, Philosophy Hall, Room 716
Time: 4:30-6:30pm

Light refreshments will be served.

To receive a copy of Kitcher's paper in advance, email Matt Congdon at matt.congdon@gmail.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hegel and Herder

Mitchell Verter, a student at the New School for Social Research, is creating an online bilingual edition of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. I'm sure many will find this useful.

For the many readers in the NY area, Katie Terezakis, a graduate of the New School and now at Rochester Institute of Technology, will give a talk October 15, 2009 at Columbia University: "Meaning and Authority in the Thought of J.G. Herder".

Thursday, October 1, 2009

German Idealism Workshop

The NY German Idealism Workshop, organized this year jointly by The New School for Social Research and Columbia, will hold its next meeting on Friday, October 16th.

Allegra de Laurentiis (Stonybrook) will be giving a paper entitled, "Garve, Kant and Hegel on the Right and the Useful in International Politics." Martin Stone (Cardozo and The New School) will respond.

Date: Friday, October 16th
Location: The New School, 80 Fifth Ave., Rm. 529
Time: 4-6pm

Light refreshments will be served.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New SEP Articles

There are some new Kant and Kant related articles up at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Kant's Transcendental Arguments

Kant's Views on Space and Time

Peter Frederick Strawson

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hegel After Spinoza (CFP)

Here you will find a CFP for a volume of essays on the topic of Hegel and Spinoza.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Relevance of Romanticism (CFP)

The Relevance of Romanticism

A conference sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium (GPPC)

April 16-17, 2010

Villanova University


Manfred Frank, Universität Tübingen

Frederick Beiser, Syracuse University

With the recent increase of interest in philosophical romanticism, it seems appropriate to ask the question, why romanticism now. What were the philosophical questions and concerns of Romanticism, and why do they seem particularly apt for contemporary philosophical and non-philosophical discussions? What is the value of Romanticism as a philosophical movement, both within the history of philosophy, and for philosophy today? Is Romanticism a fundamentally distinct movement, which offers something to the history of philosophy or to contemporary philosophical discussions, which other movements (Idealism, for example) do not? Can we speak of “philosophical Romanticism” at all? What is philosophical about Romanticism?

The conference is dedicated to raising and attempting to answer some of these questions, in light of the work of the two keynote speakers, Manfred Frank and Frederick Beiser. We are seeking papers which address the theme of philosophical Romanticism and its relevance, from a historical or a contemporary perspective. Interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between philosophical Romanticism and other disciplines (art, science, literature, theology) are also welcome. Papers should exhibit some familiarity with the works of Manfred Frank and/or Frederick Beiser, and, to some degree, engage with their contributions to the field.

In addition to the keynote addresses, Manfred Frank and Frederick Beiser will participate in a roundtable discussion with the conference participants.

Submissions: Please submit a completed paper (3,500 words) no later than January 31, 2010 to dalia.nassar@villanova.edu. Papers should be prepared for blind-review. Submissions should be in .doc or .pdf format. Questions: contact Dalia Nassar at:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Analytic Kantianism

The new issue of Philosophical Topics is dedicated to Kant and it includes essays by excellent philosophers.

Philosophical Topics, Volume 34, Numbers 1 & 2
Analytic Kantianism

Issue Editor: James Conant

Contributors: Robert Brandom, Eli Friedlander, Michael Friedman, Hannah Ginsborg, Arata Hamawaki, Andrea Kern, Michael Kremer, Thomas Land, Thomas Lockhart, Béatrice Longuenesse, John McDowell, A.W. Moore, Sebastian Rödl, and Clinton Tolley.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Notes from Hamann Conference

Jonathan Gray posted his notes from the Hamann Conference hosted by Hunter College in the spring. I was only able to attend the first day, but it was a great line up and it is clear there is some strong scholarship being done on Hamann. Hopefully more events like this will be organized in the future.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Subscription

I'm a big fan of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I noticed they have a new initiative that I think many readers will be interested in. For a very reasonable sum of money, you can subscribe to the encyclopedia and download clean Pdfs of their articles. More here.

Also, check out the new Novalis entry by Kristin Gjedal.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Posting has been light over the last month or so, and I expect light posting to continue. I'm moving to Cincinnati in a month for a visiting position at Xavier University, and I need to get a lot of writing done before and just after the move. If you have any news you would like posted contact me by email and I'd be happy to post it here. Happy Summer!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Fichte Fugue

Exposition: Fichtestube, a Fichte themed restaurant.

Development: A new edition of Fichte's Attempt at at Critique of All Revelation is being edited by Allen Wood and expected sometime next year.

Recapitulation: Fichte TV.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kant Congress (CFP)

Here the CFP for the International Kant Congress is posted. The deadline for papers has been extended to September 15, 2009.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fichte Conference on Vocation of Man

The new Fichtenana, the newsletter of the North American Fichte Society, is now available online. Check it out to see what's new in the world of Fichte studies. Below I'm posting from the newsletter the call for papers for the next conference hosted by NAFS.

Fichte's Vocation of Man (1800)

Tenth Biannual Meeting of the North American Fichte Society
Lisbon, Portugal
April 27-30 2010

The Tenth Biennial Meeting of the North American Fichte Society will be held at Lisbon, Portugal from April 27-30, 2010. Local arrangements will be coordinated by Professor Mário Jorge de Almeida Carvalho (University of Lisbon). The theme of this conference will be Fichte's Bestimmung des Menschen (Vocation of Man) of 1800. Historical, comparative, and systematic approaches to and interpretations of the text are all welcome.

As is the practice of the North American Fichte Society, this event is open to all interested Fichte scholars, both in North America and elsewhere, though English will be the language of the conference and of the presentations. Please send paper proposals, including titles and brief descriptions of contents to Daniel Breazeale, Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40508 USA <breazeal@uky.edu> no later than September 1, 2009.

Conference papers should have a maximum reading time of 30 minutes. As in the past, we intend to publish a volume of selected papers from this conference. Though it may not prove possible to publish all of the conference papers, we nevertheless request that anyone presenting a paper formally grant the North American Fichte Society the "right of first refusal" for the publication of the same.

Please note that no funds will be available from the conference sponsors to support either travel costs or living expenses of the conference participants. However, an official "letter of invitation" for the purposes of obtaining travel support from one's own institution, can easily be arranged. Further details concerning lodging, program, etc. will be circulated at a later date to those who have expressed interest in participating.

Monday, April 27, 2009

End the University as We Know It?

Today there is an op-ed piece in the The New York Times titled "End the University as we know it" by Mark C. Taylor, a professor in the religion department at Columbia. He employs the old argument that specialization has destroyed the idea of the university that is built around faculties functioning somewhat autonomously. He even cites Kant, a figure he sees as defending a "mass production" view of the university that requires a certain "division of labor" among the faculties. Kant's essays that make up his Conflict of the Faculties were written in response to threats of censorship on the part of Frederick II. Kant's aim, in part, is to defend academic freedom for the broadly conceived philosophical faculty.

Taylor's essay is far too nearsighted. He anchors a number of suggestions directed at revising the university structure in people's fears of an unknown economic future. He has six suggestions: 1) Restructure the curriculum (the idea is to get rid of specialization and the division of labor model, and put in its place an interdisciplinary model); 2) Abolish permanent departments; 3) Increase collaboration among institutions; 4) Transform the dissertation (by taking advantage of new technologies); 5) Expand the range of professional options for graduate students; 6) Impose mandatory retirement and abolish tenure.

The problem with many of these suggestions is that they would place constraints on academic research and destroy academic freedom. I think there is a misunderstanding of the problem of specialization motivating Taylor's piece. He seems to think that when research, dissertations, essays, and books become so focused they lose all practical import. It is as if this is an essential element of specialization. That is just absurd. Certainly, many books and dissertations do have little practical import. My dissertation on Fichte will not solve the world's water problems, racism, or even the mind/body problem. There may be only a few scholars who have a serious interest in it. That's fine. Why must everything have an immediate practical import? What specialization provides is not solutions, but ways of looking at larger issues from unique perspectives. The hope is that these varying perspectives provide a deeper analysis of the issues. Sometimes they don't. That's fine too. I also find the idea of interdisciplinary work based on the destruction of faculties where disciplines emerge and debates, methodologies, and theses are developed and revised to be an incoherent idea. Taylor's remarks on abolishing tenure, the very institution meant to maintain academic freedom, I think are unfortunate. If the problem with tenure is that older faculty do not publish or "develop professionally" then some internal mechanism could be established to encourage such things. Faculty turnover is a problem, but destroying tenure does not seem to be the right response at all. As far as turnover goes, do we really want our universities to takeover the business model of Walmart? Taylor essentially has an applied and instrumental idea of the university, and I think his suggestions are deeply troubling.

The major problem with the university system is its cost. Education is a right, not a luxury. Making universities affordable (or just free) would solve some of these problems.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ameriks on Fichtean Influences

I spent a good bit of this afternoon reading a series of exchanges between Karl Ameriks, Daniel Breazeale, and Charles Larmore published by Inquiry in 2003. The exchange is over Ameriks' book Kant and the Fate of Autonomy (Cambridge, 2000), a book that takes issue with how Reinhold, Fichte, and Hegel understood, interpreted, and appropriated Kant. Ameriks blames the influence of Reinhold and Fichte for muddying the waters of Kant interpretation by taking Kant's starting point in his Transcendental Deduction to be the concept of representation, and not, what Ameriks calls "common sense judgment", that is, judgments about public objects found in space and time. The issue here is that Reinhold and Fichte have set up a shortcut to their idealist conclusions, one that bypasses the complexities of Kant's own argument for Transcendental Idealism. Ameriks is well-known for introducing the short arguments to idealism, and his book is largely an attempt to show why this mode of argumentation obscures the meaning and importance of Kant’s project.

What I find interesting about Ameriks' take on Fichte is that he sees his influence on contemporary philosophy to be more profound than most philosophers and scholars are willing to recognize. The problem with this Fichtean influence, for Ameriks, is that he takes Fichte to be at best a bad Kantian, and at worst a bad philosopher, so his influence can only be deleterious. Breazeale admirably comes to the defense of Fichte, but in doing so he questions Ameriks' assumption that Fichte's work has been influential:
I am deeply gratified—as well as somewhat amused—by Ameriks' undisguised alarm at the 'growing interest' among contemporary philosophers in post-Kant idealism in general and in Fichte in particular. Even if it represents a considerable exaggeration of the actual situation, I am still flattered to read that 'enough has been written in recent years to make this one-exotic strand of thought familiar and even attractive to many English-language readers' (Ameriks, p. 4). Indeed, it seems to be part of Ameriks' rhetorical strategy to exaggerate in this way the threat represented by contemporary interest in the work of the post-Kantians in order thereby to emphasize the timeliness and significance of his effort to vindicate 'orthodox Kantianism'. (Breazeale, "Two Cheers for Post Kantianism", Inquiry, v. 46, p. 240)
Ameriks finds Fichtean influences in the way in which scholars like Robert Pippin interpret Kant. A lot of this criticism from Ameriks is aimed at defending what he takes to be the right interpretation of Kant’s work, one that is not metaphysically deflationary in its orientation. Ameriks takes issue with more than just scholars of Kant and post-Kantianism. He also finds that a certain kind of Fichteanism has begun to take hold in analytic circles. In a footnote he writes, "An impressive recent indication of the 'analytic' trend I have in mind is Susan Hurley aptly titled Consciousness in Action, a work that does not directly invoke Fichte but provides an extensive discussion of 'action-oriented' readings of Kantian apperception, with an insightful critique of 'the myth of the giving'"(Ameriks, 188). Hurley also defends another thesis, one Hector-Neri Castañeda called 'the Fichtean thesis': a necessary condition of consciousness is self-consciousness. Action-oriented theories of apperception, perception, knowledge, and consciousness are becoming more and more influential in certain circles in philosophy of mind. I think Breazeale is probably right to be skeptical about such trends resulting from philosophers having read Fichte. However, Ameriks is, I think, right to insist that there is a post-Kantian influence on contemporary analytic philosophy. This influence should be traced back to the post-Kantianism of Sellars. Post-Kantianism of the Sellarisan variety is quite influential today. Ameriks book was published in 2000, just a few years after the wave making works of McDowell and Brandom. I think in this respect Ameriks is right to see Fichtean influences in contemporary analytic philosophy and Kant interpretation, even when they come by way of Hegel and Sellars rather than directly from Fichte himself. Like Breazeale, I don't, however, takes these influences to be toxic.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Reviews

Two reviews at NDPR:

Béatrice Longuenesse, Hegel's Critique of Metaphysics, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Scott Stapleford, Kant's Transcendental Arguments: Disciplining Pure Reason, Continuum, 2008.

Pete Mandik posted an entry on transcendental arguments he wrote for a book he is working on. And over at Philosophy, et cetra, Richard Chappell has created a feed for NDPR so you can receive their reviews through your blog reader, rather than via email.

Monday, April 13, 2009

German Idealism Workshop, April 17

On Friday, April 17, the next German Idealism Workshop will take place at the New School. Below are the details:

Andreja Novakovic (Columbia) will present a paper on Hegel titled, "Second Nature and Ethical Life".

Matt Congdon (New School) will respond.

Time: 4:30
Place: The New School, 65 5th Ave (14th St. and 5th ave).
Room: Wolf Conference Room, 2nd Floor (This is the old Wolf, not the new one)

If you plan to attend and would like to receive a copy of the paper, email me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation

Cambridge recently published a new edition of Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation (Ed. Gregory Moore).

From the publisher:

This is the first translation of Fichte’s addresses to the German nation for almost 100 years. The series of 14 speeches, delivered whilst Berlin was under French occupation after Prussia’s disastrous defeat at the Battle of Jena in 1806, is widely regarded as a founding document of German nationalism, celebrated and reviled in equal measure. Fichte’s account of the distinctiveness of the German people and his belief in the native superiority of its culture helped to shape German national identity throughout the nineteenth century and beyond. With an extensive introduction that puts Fichte’s argument in its intellectual and historical context, this edition brings an important and seminal work to a modern readership. All of the usual series features are provided, including notes for further reading, chronology, and brief biographies of key individuals.

• Selection of key writings, with introduction, notes and chronology aimed at students • Fichte is the second most important 19th-century German political theorist after Marx • Moore is a leading scholar in the field


Foreword; Acknowledgements; Introduction; Chronology; Notes on the text and translation; Suggestions for further reading; Abbreviations; Addresses to the German Nation; Notes; Glossary.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kant and Non-Conceptual Content

Dietmar Heidemann (Luxembourg) has organized an exciting conference around the work of Robert Hanna. Hanna has published a number of important works on Kant, but this event appears to be organized around issues addressed in his essay "Kant and Non-Conceptual Content" in European Journal of Philosophy, 13:2 pp. 247–290. I also noticed Hanna has co-authored with Michelle Maiese a new book called Embodied Minds in Action (Oxford, 2008), which looks quite good.

Workshop with Robert Hanna

28-29 May 2009
University of Luxembourg (Campus Walferdange)
Department of Philosophy

28 May 2009

Professor Dr. Robert Hanna (University of Colorado at Boulder/Cambridge University):
Kant’s Non-Conceptualism and the Gap in the B Deduction

Comment: Dr. Stefanie Grüne (University of Heidelberg)

Professor Dr. Robert Hanna (University of Colorado at Boulder/Cambridge University):
Kantian Non-Conceptualism and the Myth of the Myth of the Given

Comment: Dr. Tobias Schlicht (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

29 May 2009

Professor Dr. Robert Hanna (University of Colorado at Boulder/Cambridge University):
Kantian Non-Conceptualism and Naive Perceptual Realism

Comment: Professor Dr. Brady Bowman (Penn State)

Professor Dr. Robert Hanna (University of Colorado at Boulder/Cambridge University):
Kantian Non-Conceptualism and a Positive Solution for Benacerraf’s Dilemma

Comment: Professor Dr. Terry Godlove (Hofstra University, New York)

All talks will be given Room X2.33 (IPSE Building), University of Luxembourg-Campus Walferdange, Faculty of Language and Literature, Department of Philosophy, Route de Diekirch, L-7220 Walferdange/Luxembourg (http://wwwen.uni.lu/Contact/Campus-Walferdange)

For further information and registration (no fees), please contact the organizer Dietmar Heidemann (dietmar.heidemann@uni.lu)

Professor Dr. Dietmar Heidemann
University of Luxembourg
Faculté des Lettres
Department of Philosophy
Campus Walferdange
Route de Diekirch / B.P. 2
L-7220 Walferdange

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself

I came across this Wallace Stevens video today. I'll refrain from making any connections between Stevens and romanticism or idealism.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Reviews: Hume, Hegel, Thompson

Here are three book reviews I thought readers might find interesting:

Frederick C. Beiser (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Henry E. Allison, Custom and Reason in Hume: A Kantian Reading of the First Book of the Treatise, Oxford University Press, 2008.

Michael Thompson, Life and Action: Elementary Structures of Practice and Practical Thought, Harvard University Press, 2008.

If you are not familiar with Thompson yet, his work claims to take up a logical treatment of the concept of life in a manner meant to capture, to some extent, the spirit of Hegel's own reflections on life. Thompson's work on life, action, and practice has caused some strong reactions, ranging from the skeptical to the over zealous. In part this is due to his intention to establish some a priori status for concepts like life and life-form. I'm sure we can expect some intersting responses to his work in the years to come.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Examined Life (Film)

Though not related to German Idealism, this new film might be of interest to some readers: The Examined Life. The film is by Astra Taylor, the director of the film Zizek!. Here is some info about the film.

Examined Life features, in order of appearance, Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbuam, Michael Hardt, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor. Astra Taylor chronicles them in the streets of New York City, Chicago, in San Francisco's Mission District and in a London garbage dump amongst many others as they expound their thoughts on ethics, politics, cosmopolitanism, revolution, environmentalism, gender, disability and animal rights and the love of music in relation to philosophy.

Examined Life
opens February 25, 2009 at the IFC Film Center in New York with special guest appearances by Cornel West and Astra Taylor.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NY German Idealism Workshop

The next NY German Idealism Workshop will be Friday, February 20 at 4pm at the New School. Here are the details:

Sebastian Rand (Georgia State University)
"Animal Subjectivity in Hegel's Philosophy of Nature"

Place: The New School
4pm, Friday, February 20
Room: D912 (The building is located at 16th and 5th Ave. The main entrance is on 16th st. between 5th and Union Square. The address is 6 16th).

Karen Ng (New School) will respond.

If you plan to attend and would like to receive a copy of the paper, please email me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kant and the Early Moderns (Book Review)

Book Review at NDPR:

Daniel Garber and Béatrice Longuenesse (eds.), Kant and the Early Moderns, Princeton University Press, 2008.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jacobi in Google Books

Here are two links to some old texts on F. H. Jacobi. The first text is one of the few studies on Jacobi in English and serves as an introduction to his thought: Jacobi Norman Wilde, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi: A Study in the Origin of German Realism. I'm not familiar with the second; it looks to be a thesis: Alexander W. Crawford, The Philosophy of F. H. Jacobi. These are old texts, so here is also George di Giovanni's SEP article on Jacobi.

Why is there not more literature on Jacobi in English? The most recent works I know of that handle Jacobi in some detail are Paul Frank's
All or Nothing (Harvard, 2005) and Giovanni's Freedom and Religion in Kant and His Immediate Successors (Cambridge, 2005).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Philosophy Today's Fichte Issue

Below is the table of contents for the Fall 2008 issue of Philosophy Today. They published the proceedings of last spring's North American Fichte Society conference dedicated to Fichte's System of Ethics. The conference was held at DePaul University April 10-13, 2008. I attended the conference though chose not to publish my paper, Fichte on Freedom: How-Possible Questions and Transcendental Arguments, since it is, as I see it, still very much a work in progress. The conference was great, and all of these papers are worth reading.

Philosophy Today

Vol. 52, Iss. 3/4

1. Credits

2. Table of contents

Sebastian Rand

Arnold L Farr

Michael Steinberg

Isabelle Thomas- Fogiel

Howard Pollack-Milgate

Claude Piché

Benjamin D Crowe

F Scott Scribner

Tom Rockmore

Steven Hoeltzel

Liu Zhe

Tom Rockmore

Marina F Bykova

Violetta L Waibel

George J Seidel

Bärbel Frischmann

Mário Jorge de Carvalho

Jane Dryden


Daniel Breazeale

Adam Hankins

Jacinto Rivera de Rosales

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


David Chalmers has announced that PhilPapers has now gone public. PhilPapers is a database of philosophy papers maintained by Chalmers and David Bourget. The database is set up around a category system that organizes papers into various philosophical categories. Under the category History of Western Philosophy, for instance, you will find sub-categories like 19th Century Philosophy, 19th Century German Philosophy, Fichte, and Hegel. The groupings contain links to papers, abstracts, and books. Currently, the database has close to 200,000 entries, and it is expected to grow quickly. I imagine this will become an incredibly useful research tool, and an easy way to access online papers. The project grows out of the MindPapers database Chalmers also maintains, an excellent resource for people working in philosophy of mind.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hegel's Aesthetics

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a new entry by Stephen Houlgate on Hegel's Aesthetics.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Philosophical Gourmet and Specialty Rankings

Over the past two days, Brian Leiter has previewed some of the rankings (here and here) that will appear in the newest version of the Philosophical Gourmet. This includes the ranking of specialty areas, which can be quite helpful for undergraduates when applying to graduate programs. Looking over the specialty areas I was struck by one ranking in particular. NYU is listed as a top department in 19th Century Continental Philosophy.

It is perfectly clear that NYU has one of the strongest philosophy programs, and the consistency with which it tops Leiter’s general departmental rankings attests to that. However, I can not quite see why it should be considered top in 19th Century Continental Philosophy. If NYU deserves such a ranking, then I admit I must be out of touch with the current state of 19th Century Continental Philosophy in the academy. If it should not be so listed, then I suggest that Leiter take it off the 19th Century list since undergraduates, and certainly some graduates, will inevitably use the specialty rankings when making decisions about where to apply and eventually attend graduate school.

Here are three reasons NYU should not be on the 19th Century list:

1) According to their own graduate course listings, which date back to 1997, there has not been one course that generally counts as a 19th Century Continental course. The only possible course I saw listed that could reasonably fit in this category was in the Spring 2006. This was a course called “Consciousness and Self-Consciousness in Modern Philosophy” and was taught by Dan Garrett, who is well known for his work on Hume and the Moderns, and Beatrice Longuenesse, who has written an important book on Kant and one on Hegel. The course sounds more like a thematic Modern Philosophy course than a 19th Century Continental Course. According to the course description the readings range from Descartes to Hegel, so I imagine some Kant and Hegel were read, and, since one of the guest speakers included Wayne Martin (a Fichte scholar), there is even a chance Fichte was discussed.

2) Based on the listing of current students, there appears to be no current PhD students specializing in 19th Century Continental Philosophy.

3) According to their placement records, no past PhD students dating back to 2003 specialized in 19th Century Continental Philosophy. A 2008 graduate lists “Ethics, Epistemology, Early Modern, Kant” as his AOS.

Here are two reasons NYU should be on the list:

1) Béatrice Longuenesse. Longuenesse is a leading Kant scholar and has published an important book on Hegel. She is currently working on the topic of self-consciousness, an issue that animated German Idealism, and many of the philosophers the Idealist influenced like Sartre, someone Longuenesse has also written about. Since arriving at NYU her teaching has focused on Kant and topics related to self-consciousness.

2) John Richardson. Richardson is well known for his work on Nietzsche and Heidegger. He taught a course on Heidegger in the fall of 2005, but from the course listings, it does not appear he has taught a graduate course on Nietzsche since at least 1996. It is does not look like any of his students wrote on Nietzsche. This judgment is based on only the information on the website. I was not able to find dissertation titles. The placement records do not list them, although they do list AOS.

The Gourmet’s method of ranking programs focuses largely on the quality of faculty. No one can doubt that Longuenesse and Richardson deserve the esteemed reputation they have garnered. Is this enough to consider NYU as a top program with a specialty in 19th Century Continental Philosophy? Without any courses or students working in the field, it does not seem so to me.

I am unclear whether it is only specialists who rank the areas of specialty. It makes sense to have only specialists ranking the specialties of programs. It also makes sense to consider the course offerings and maybe even recent dissertation titles. Some of these points are standard criticisms of Philosophical Gourmet, so I don’t want to rehash them. Based on what I see in the 19th Century Continental category, it appears the specialty rankings could be improved.

Any thoughts?

New Books

Here are three book reviews recently published at NDPR.

Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Philosophical Legacies: Essays on the Thought of Kant, Hegel, and Their Contemporaries, Catholic University of America Press, 2008.

Jacqueline Mariña, Transformation of the Self in the Thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Oxford University Press, 2008.

Robert Wicks, Schopenhauer, Blackwell, 2008.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hamann Conference

I posted a few months back about the conference "Hamann and the Tradition", and since then the full program has been added online. Check out the program here. It is also worth noting that John R. Betz's book, After Enlightenment (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008) appeared recently. Betz's book looks to be one of the most exhaustive works on Hamann in English, and is certainly one of the few.

For those of you unfamilar with the work of Hamann, check out my previous posts here and here.