Monday, October 09, 2006

Back in the Saddle

I've been gone for a long, long time. Now I'm back, and it already feels good. I'm looking forward to seeing how my projects and Yusef's intertwine, communicate -- and fail to communicate -- the silences will be deafening.

In the past several months, since I've been gone, I've been thinking and writing about issues in contemporary neo-pragmatism (e.g. Rorty, Putnam, McDowell) and in critical theory (e.g. Adorno, Habermas) -- about objectivity as an ideal for rational actiivity, about the relation between virtue and reason, and about the status and content of "naturalism," a much-contested term. (One of the things I like about Deleuze is that he shows a genuine respect for natural science, and for the thought that science does reveal a face of being.)

I've been thinking about the idea of "a decent society," recently developed by the
Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit, and how this differs from the idea of a just society, as developed by John Rawls -- and I'll be thinking about the institutionalized and psychic restrictions which prevent us from having a decent society.

I'm now teaching Locke and Leibniz, and trying to understand how the sweeping breadth and depth of Leibniz's metaphysical vision brings him into conflict with Locke's proto-pragmatist epistemological humility. In the course of working out where I see the stakes in the conflict between empiricism and rationalism, I'll be setting up my own reading of what Kant does and doesn't do, and what it would take to have an epistemology of modernity. The course is supposed to tell a story about the rise and fall of the idea of objectivity, from Plato through Descartes and Kant to Nietzsche and Rorty, and in due time I'll have a lot to say about the relation between objectivity, rationality, and ethical maturity.

Apart from these staid, if not stale, issues, I've been thinking about the intelligent design movement as a sort of anti-scientific scientism, the problem of "disenchantment of the world," and what it is in the idea of "modernity" which is worth saving.

In the next few days and weeks I'll come back to all these issues, I hope. But if you're reading this, and you're interested in a conversation about something specific mentioned above, let me know.

Thanks for dragging me out of retirement, Yusef.


Anonymous Yusef said...

I'm glad you're back in the saddle, and I know it's going to be blazing.

I've really missed your counter-weight here.

11:47 AM  

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