Friday, August 28, 2009


I continue to read The Morality of Freedom and I submitted my article to another journal which, hopefully, is a more appropriate venue. Raz' work continues to be interesting and dense. There isn't much of coherence I can say beyond that except if I have any skill it's recognizing when someone else is doing something interesting and important - as I think Raz is. I say that I have this skill because others apparently have reached the same conclusion (others in the know) and I reached mine without relying on them.

My big accomplishment in this area (and why there is no place on a cv for this sort of accomplishment, I do not know) is with Karen Warren's "The Power and Promise of Ecofeminism." I found this article when it had just been published for the first time in a journal. I had heard the term ecofeminism and wanted to find something for my Intro to Women's Studies class. I found Warren's article, loved it and thought it significant. This article has now ended up being anthologized all over the place and is widely viewed as one of the defining articles of the movement....and I recognized its importance on my own. If anyone can figure out how to put this on a cv or otherwise make it possible for me to take advantage of this little skill of mine, please feel free to share.

But, "citations." As I read through Raz' work, I realize that the likelihood that I will ever write such a book is, at best, miniscule. It isn't quite literally inconceivable but it's quite close to being practically inconceivable. Not a big deal for me or, I suspect, a huge loss to the world (though we'll never really know, will we?). Anyway, you can tell a big deal philosopher (and I'm realizing I have a tiered conception of philosophers with me being onthe 3rd tier) when their writing makes virtually no reference to anyone else's work. All they're doing is articulating their position and the reasons for it. Of course they bring up possible objections and then respond, but the need for citations is minimal given the fact that what they are doing is not derivative at all on someone else's work. Now, I think I could fairly easily write such a work but the likelihood that anyone would either (a) take me seriously or (b) need to take me seriously is rather low. Further, even if such a work were brilliant, the likelihood that some no name out of no where is going to get something like that published seems, to me, rather low. But perhaps I underestimate both myself and the publishing world. Who knows.

Anyway, my tiering system. On the top is the 'royalty.' These folks are putting forth original work, are at the center of the conversation and not paying a huge amount of attention to anyone but the other royalty (I'm going to generously assume that this is for lack of time not because of any character flaw). Then there are the folks who are wanna-be royalty. They spend their time looking for theoretical implications, inconsistencies, etc. One might say that they are the scholars of the royalty. They spend their time discussing the work of the royalty and may, at some point, move up to being royalty. Again, they are paying attention mainly to the royalty and each other (again, lack of time, not character flaws). Then there's folks like me. I have little desire to be royalty (not that I'd refuse the honor if bestowed upon me, but I'm not really actively pursuing it - not for lack of time but lack of self-esteem & interest) but I am interested in what the real world implications are for non-academics of what the work done by those 'above' me in the hierarchy. So, I spend my time, when writing, trying to connect ideas to each other and make them accessible and relevant to folks who don't have the time or inclination to read this stuff.

Of course, I do think that some of my stuff is mildly original and worth looking at by those higher up, but, in all honesty, I wonder how original it really is -- I mean, seriously, there's thousands of years of thinking and I've barely read any of it; what's the likelihood that I've arrived at some conclusion that's never been reached before? Statistically remote, at best.

I suppose this puts me in the position of being a perpetual student and translator for those who are not students (perpetual or otherwise). It all works out okay because I really like what I do.

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