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Archive for the ‘Comparative Philosophy’ Category

I have been in Madrid, Spain for nearly a week now. From this stay I have made some generalizations, of which the philosophy related ones I´d like to share here. Notions of what Philosophy “is” are different in Spain, and perhaps this applies to all of continental Europe as well. Here, the Philosopher is closer to what I would consider, back in the States, an anthropologist, sociologist, literary theorist, or even amateur psychologist. Back home, Quine is the standard, here it is Foucault. Get into a conversation about Philosophy with an English speaking native and you´ll be likely discussing literary theory, capitalist oppression, or the recent unfolding of history. Here, Philosophy of Langauge, of Mind, of Science, of Mathematics, of Logic, and non-political ethics simply are nowhere to be found. Unfortunate.

However, the average Spaniard is more likely to have heard of Nietzsche, Benjamin, Heidegger, Foucault, and Adorno. The Spanish teach their children the virtues of art much more than Americans do and it is usually through discussions of art that people here hear of the said philosophers. In Spain, philosophers are better respected than they are in the States. There is a respect of the willingness to spend so much time reading, thinking, discussing and writing. No burger flipping jokes here. The philosopher is held in high regard, he is a public intellectual.

I´ll close with this photo that I took today from an exhibit called “Atlas” at the Museo Reina Sofía. Those are the type of bar room conversations I have gotten into, even at the English pub.

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Thick concepts are generally thought of as concepts that are both descriptive and normative. They describe something and, at the same time, say what something should be. Thinner concepts are concepts, then, that pull apart the normative and descriptive. In this essay, I want to use ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ in different ways than these terms of art. I shall be using the terms thick and thin to mean equivocal concepts that are bundled together and can be pulled apart.

The notion of the ‘ideal’ American Indian is a concept, in my terms, that is very thick; very loaded. As I have explained before, there are at least five different ways American Indians are conceived; in religious, cultural, racial, genetic and political terms. The idea of what I shall call ‘the ideal American Indian’ merges all of these together into one single body. The ideal American Indian, then, (that is, the particular individual or concept that epitomizes the American Indian) includes all of these different forms of identity. (We could include, too, that the ideal American Indian is generally understood to be male.)

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 At Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates     
30 May to 1 June 2009     

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With the Fall semester fully in swing there are great articles and discussions abound. Here are some for your consideration:

In his most recent post, Efficiency and Value, Richard from Philosophy, Etc. wonders whether supporting high-efficiency superstores provides more value than less efficient craft oriented systems.

Over at Brains, the most recent post is a discussion on Analytic vs. Continental Philosophy.

Brian Leiter’s Nietzsche blog is picking up steam.

In Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone). Sally Haslanger addresses the issue of women in academic philosophy. Here is Brian Leiter’s brief comment on the essay.

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As my studies in Philosophy have broadened and shifted, I’ve been considering the role of Philosophy; not only for philosophers, but also in society in general. Often my thoughts on the subject are sparked by surprise and jest at my choice of major in college. I would like this post to appear more as an (admittedly limited) exploration of the changing roles of Philosophy, than as simple apologetics, but my own interests may shine through…

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