Four roundtrips to Starkville this weekend!
The occasion was
and as Daughter C and The J-Man no longer live here on the Farm…, I was obligated to do those 3*45 minute trips between the Mill and the Farm in order to run and feed the dogs, let Tiger out, etc.
3*45 = 3 hours. Of the 14 talks, I missed three entirely, and was only present for the Q&A on two. So by my calculations, I missed about 3:45 worth of content. (My trips to The Farm were strategically planned to coincide with with long breaks.)
But I took notes! Here is what I learned.
[Aside. As with every academic discipline– indeed, the population of every exchange of knowledge between one individual and another– the quality of talks at philosophy conferences is almost always normally distributed. That is, some talks are stinkers, some are really good, and the rest are right there in the middle, minding their own business and having no influence whatsoever other than maybe helping Joe Blow get tenure in virtue of the fact that Joe Blow’s talk at the MPA is another notch in his CV, putting him over some arbitrary threshold of his department’s review/promotion/&tenure documents.)
What did I learn? Actually, quite a lot!
TALK 1: Strategic Presentism is the term for everything I loathe about the re-writing of history according to the “modern day” outlook. C.f., the idea that homemaking is drudgework, although that wasn’t the domain under investigation. Also, “showmanship” is no substitute for scholarship.
TALK 2: Objects are real. It was a grad student talk about Spinoza. Good for him for making it onto the program.
Talk 3: The Iroquois influenced the writing of the Constitution of the United States of America and therefore, the Great Law of Peace needs to be taught alongside Locke. Some little commentary is in order. In biology, the terms “homologous” and “analogous” mean something. So, too, it shouldn’t be surprising that thoughtful folk come up with similar ideas in very different contexts. Note to parents sending children off to college. Check for rubbish in syllabi. I’m not discounting what the Iroquois figured out in the 1700s. I’m discounting its influence on American history, given 1216.
Presidential Address. “Well Bing: Past, Present, and Future” This was a challenging talk because I know its author to be a serious person who looks critically at the results of studies that make their way into the popular culture as “Gross National Happiness” and conclude that all of us here in the good old US of A are seriously depressed on account of the fact that we are living in traumatic times. It’s complicated by the fact that its author thinks we live in the worst of times.
I have to say, sometimes Mr. Big Food surprises me. Rather than going for the jugular, his– the first question– tried to get her to appreciate the folk psychological failings of the project. I followed up with a comment about how the data were being presented in popular media. Presented in a way to promote the idea that no one is happy. (It’s a graph thing.)
That was Saturday.
I had hoped to make my way though today’s comments, but I– sigh– realize that after 3*45 miles, I’m tired.
There was an awesome talk about archives and historical research today.
Crappy old stuff!