Sometimes I feel like nobody is out there. Blogging is a shot in the dark, an empty vessel adrift a sea of many people who could come to the shore. These people could offer ropes to pull the boat in. They could explore it and take a look around. The fact that people don’t is striking to me (because, like any academic, it’s impossible for me to imagine that you couldn’t find philosophy fascinating). The internet has become an echo chamber for one’s thoughts, including my own.
Perhaps, blogging was only fun when it concerned one’s dissertation, or possible speculations grad students make into the night. There was a time when Heidegger, Scheler, and Husserl were new to me. I had to tell the world about why I thought Heidegger’s avoidance of values in a fundamental ontology was a mistake and defend the prospect of a moral phenomenology against Walter Sinnot Armstrong. . I still remember reading an essay by Daniel Dahlstrom on Heidegger and Scheler and feeling stunned that someone could read both philosophers so closely. At that point I was envious of the knowledge it took to write that essay.
Not many people read the philosophers I’ve devoted so much time to. My interests in philosophy are not that well represented from process-thinkers (admittedly even Scheler and James are and not just thinkers like Whitehead) to pragmatism, Boston personalism, and back to phenomenology. I even wrote a chapter employing Scheler to correct Ross’s intuitionism, which I think is the most impressive thing I have ever written as it concerns a way that phenomenology and metaethics intersect. Nobody hardly notices this piece, yet it stands as the one piece I am most proud of since it reflected the choice to get an analytic MA and a Continental Ph.D.
This is not to say that I’m way off the deep end and have no mainline interests. I’ve been attracted to debates in applied ethics about drones in war, health care policy, and genetic enhancement not to mention more applied issues about gender, sexuality, and race that pervade what we might call social and political philosophy.
I am, as it were, at a loss as to find conversational partners. Conferences seem like the best way to exercise one’s energy nowadays. At least there, everyone has gone with the explicit purpose of trying to make one’s paper better and perhaps help you with yours. Again, however, this is a hit or miss. I have bad experiences at the APA, but wonderful experiences from groups like the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. Working papers conferences have been a blessing; the Pittsburgh Area Philosophy Conference Continental group has been a place to share my thoughts and revise for publication. Also, I have published papers that came out of Midsouth Philosophy Conference held in Memphis.
As I grow older and have four sections with 124 students, I now know what others were talking about. During my Ph.D., a professor remarked, “Ed you’ve never worked this hard.” It’s true. It’s hard to be productive at a teaching intensive position, and blogs were a way to share our creativity with the world. I’m wondering if I should continue with this one.
My favorite blog for years was New APPS, but sadly that blog has fallen away like a shell discarded for a creature to big to fit inside. Nobody but Gordon Hull contributes. Philpercs became that way too after Jon Cogburn left. Now, there are two or three who post at moderate intervals. Leiter’s blog is more a professional gossip blog, and it’s clear that even Justin is monetizing Daily Nous. These are not good blogs to share one’s ideas concerning developing a conception of pragmatic phenomenology, or why Dewey is not wrong about democracy against so many Continental-leaning leftists who rob the pragmatic center of its starting power before it begins.
My students do not blog anymore either. If they write at all, they are creative works or only write as much as they need in order to survive the classroom. There is little exception, but this reflects a growing trend in the university where the liberal arts feel like they are continually dying and being reborn as career training. That’s the subject of another post, or should I even write it?