Vladimir Solovyov on the Tower of Babel

I have been working through Vladimir Solovyov’s Justification of the Good and wanted to get your thoughts on an interesting passage. Solovyov is great at making clever arguments, and this one about the Tower of Babel struck me as particularly clever.  Continue reading “Vladimir Solovyov on the Tower of Babel”

What’s Your Collaborative Research Platform?

The hardest part about being an academic ronin is the lack of conversation. People with traditional academic jobs end up talking to friends and colleagues in the hall or at the bar. It is an important stimulant for creative thinking and for providing one with resources one might not otherwise have known about.

“Have you read this article…?”

“There’s this great book by…”

“Let me send you a link to…”

You discuss what you are reading and thinking about, and you get suggestions on what to read and (thusly) think about.  Continue reading “What’s Your Collaborative Research Platform?”

Thoughts on Solovyov and the Social Trinity

This morning I was reading Vladimir Solovyov’s The Justification of the Good where he talks about pity being the foundation of altruism. He criticizes Shopenhauer, who said that pity arises out of an identification of the self with the other; the boundary between two separate things gets blurred. Solovyov criticizes this idea on the basis that there are not two purely separate things to begin with. Were that the case, and people were constantly confusing themselves with others, then not only would children eat while their mothers starved, but it is just as true that mothers could grow fat while their children starved. People would be in a constant state of confusion. That is manifestly not the case.  Continue reading “Thoughts on Solovyov and the Social Trinity”

Germany Day 1.0


I am sitting in my inlaws’ living room, waiting for my old iPad to restart, typing a blog post on my phone. I leave for Germany soon. My mom is picking me up in a couple of hours. We are going to drive with her coach to Chicago, and from there fly to Germany with a stop over in Ireland. We are going to stay a couple days in Berlin and then head up to Stralsund for the competition.

I am not sure of the competition schedule after that. I tend not to plan my itinerary when I travel. My mom has Berlin all planned out. I will be watching my mom compete, and apart from that I have no idea what I am doing. The adventure for me is in not having a plan, but when I arrive, looking for something non-touristy to do. Like last time I was in New York, I walked, looking for a diner, and wound up at the one that inspired Seinfeld and the song, “Tom’s Diner.” I enjoyed eavesdropping on the conversation between the guys behind the counter and a regular they called, “Professor.” I think he was from Columbia, doing something with political science, but the guys behind the counter seemed to think he was a meteorologist because they asked him if they were supposed to get a lot of snow this winter. It was charming.

So that is some of what I expect will happen, but I am really not sure. I have no plan. I do have my passport and will be updating my blog as I travel. Stay tuned.

The NRA is a Terrorist Organization

I am sitting in the Nashville airport, about to head out to a conference, and trying to bring myself to take some time to educate myself about the details of these latest domestic terror attacks. I seem unable to do it. I know I want to. I know I should. But all I can think about right now is Sandy Hook. 

The images in my mind of children terrified and dying as yet another deranged gunman tore through the lives of the innocent haunt me every time another one of these shootings happen. I thought then, “Well maybe this time we will finally do it. We will pass laws that we know work. That we know save lives.” 

And we didn’t. 

That is what I find so hard about these latest rounds of mass shootings. We know we can stop them. At least in theory. But in practice, our democracy is almost totally dead. How else could a powerful lobbying organization sponsor of domestic terror overwhelm the will of the majority of Americans?

I don’t have something profound to say. I just have a hard time when I feel helpless. Maybe I can think of some kind of response — something to say — that amounts to more than, “Can we pass laws this time?” If we couldn’t do it with Sandy Hook, we just cannot do it. Maybe instead of focusing on the laws we need to pass, we need to turn our outrage against the NRA that keeps them from passing. Its ideology is no less radical, no less inflexible, and no less dangerous than ISIS/Daesh.

A Mass Shooting Again

I find myself remarkably un-worked-up about the latest mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. It is not that I do not care. It is not that I do not grieve. I do care, and I do grieve! I am just not sure how to turn my grief into outrage. Outrage about this sort of thing used to come naturally for me. Now I hear a news report, see the pictures of grieving students and families, sigh, and curse. I just have no idea what to do or if anything can be done, really.

Continue reading “A Mass Shooting Again”

My Careless Comment about Closeted Trolls OR The Lumbergay

So I want to address something that I said the other day. In a kvetchy post about my ongoing struggle to balance blogging, book-writing, my family, and the job that actually supports all three, I made the following perfunctory remark: Continue reading “My Careless Comment about Closeted Trolls OR The Lumbergay”