Sunday, February 28, 2010

Way to go

"That [Henry Horace] Williams succeeded in salvaging a place for religion in student minds is clear from the cult that flourished around him for decades. (He is probably the only American philosopher to have an airport named after him — the one in Chapel Hill.)"

— Jon H. Roberts & James Turner, The Sacred & the Secular University, 109

Monday, February 15, 2010

Canis economicus

"[Exchange] is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals, which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts. Two greyhounds, in running down the same hare, have sometimes the appearance of acting in some sort of concert. … This, however, is not the effect of any contract, but of the accidental occurrence of their passions in the same object at that particular time. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one animal by its gesture and natural cries signify to another, this is mine, this is yours; I am willing to give this for that."

— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, quoted by Luc Boltanski & Laurent Thévenot in On Justification, 47

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"No man is just an island."

— John Ashbery, "Surprising Announcement"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hypocrite lecteur

By the way, Internet, I will be speaking at this conference in Santa Cruz next month. My paper is entitled "Unreal City: T.S. Eliot Between Oxford and Cambridge." I'll have to thank the organizers for putting together a conference on my dissertation topic!

Friday, February 5, 2010


"…one also sees that it has almost never happened that any of [the great philosophers'] followers had ever surpassed them, and I am sure that the most impassioned of those who now follow Aristotle would believe themselves fortunate, if they had as much knowledge of nature as he had, even if it were on the condition that they would never have any more. They are like ivy, which never stretches any higher than the trees supporting it, and which often even descends again after it has reached their tops, for it seems to me that they too are redescending, that is, they are making themselves somehow less knowledgeable than if they abstained from studying; not content with knowing all that is intelligibly explained in their author, they want in addition to find the solutions there to many difficulties about which he says nothing and about which he has perhaps never thought."

— René Descartes, Discourse on Method, trans. Donald A. Cress, 39

Delay in connection

"[Facebook offers] the comfort of only having to talk to someone in little bursts, when most internet-based technology provides, fundamentally, too-instantaneous of a connection. It's as if these people are trying to work out a new form of technologized familiarity, one that works on the level of weeks rather than seconds, and lets you live side-by-side across huge distances — like future astronauts on the way to a distant planet calling home, only not minding at all that delay of a few minutes... since the delay in connection has become not a feature of the technology but of our lives themselves, which are pauses in the flow."

From Mike's thoughtful post on how, and why, to get off Facebook.