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.