Very much looking forward to giving a talk on science policy in liberal democracy at the CEU in Budapest on Tuesday. -- And to learning more about science policy in illiberal democracy in the process.
According to the BBC, David Cameron is ready to return to the front benches. -- Not quite sure how best to comment on this news. Perhaps: "When it rains, it pours." Or: "Just when you thought things couldn't get worse ..." Or: "David who?" Or: "Who next? John McCririck?"
Dammit! -- How can us Anglophiles focus on writing our papers when in the U.K. a minister resigns every few minutes?
Oscar Wilde's Comment on Theresa May. -- "To lose one minister may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose twenty (over two years) looks like carelessness.”
The main downside of having an ERC project. -- Having to fill out timesheets. Takes me back to the days when I worked on Surveiller et punir.
Ballet in the Musikverein. -- At last-night's wonderful performance of Berlioz' "Symphonie fantastique" and "Lélio", we had seats in the balcony behind the orchestra. The only bit of the stage we could see was the conductor's stand. But that was more than enough: Philippe Jordan directs the orchestra with every part of his body.
November 11th. -- Growing up in a Catholic household meant that my "saint's day" was more important than my birthday. Thus I got presents on the occasion of the former, not the latter. To add to the fun, the "Carnival" season in the Rhineland starts on the same day. People dress up in funny costumes. -- It took until my teens for me to recognize that November 9th-11th are forever inseparable from the horrors of the Holocaust and World War One: Reichskristallnacht (November 9th-10th) and Armistice Day (November 11th). -- Not really the time to celebrate my life, or don cardboard-noses ...
Prediction. -- Carlsen will win with a one-point lead. Of the twelve games, only one will have a winner.
Drama. -- It sure is possible to combine ...
(i) being a "philosophers' historian of philosophy"
... with ...
(ii) being a philosopher working ahistorically on currently contested issues.
But can one combine (ii) with (iii), that is ...
(iii) being a historians' historian of philosophy?
Or even (iv) ...
(iv) being a sociologists' historian of philosophy?
There you have it: the drama of my life in one thought.
Dear Echo Chamber. -- I will soon be heading for a week-long (conference) trip to Sao Paulo. It would be great to get some tips as to what to see or do in my spare time. (But please remember that I am not the bungee-jumping type ...)
Re Bruno Latour, part II. -- I've been reading his *Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime* (2018). I suspect there is considerable truth in his analysis of where we are: During the last 20 years or so, Western "elites" have come to accept that in order to maintain their lavish lifestyle, large parts of world's ecosystem have to be "sacrificed", and the population brainwashed into denying climate-change. Sure thing. -- I am less clear on his antidote of creating new alliances between rich and poor, left and right, green and red, humans and their dwelling places ... I am equally dubious about what is gained by calling ourselves and everything else "terrestrials." The book ends by celebrating Angela Merkel's "We Europeans must take charge of our own fate." All a bit too wishy-washy for my taste. -- Must do better.
Re Bruno Latour, part I. -- I have finally read the *New York Times* piece about him. Wow: I am speechless! How can the NYT publish a portrait of a philosopher so one-sided, so uncritical, so idolizing? Everyone interviewed for the piece adores Latour's work. Latour is and was always right, and decades ahead of his time. And he has such a marvellous dress-sense. And he might yet save the planet. Oh dear ...
Mixed musical emotions. -- We were lucky last night at the Konzerthaus: since many (expensive) seats had not been sold, we were allowed to move up, and ended up in row 17. The accoustics was great, and we were able to see Barbara Hannigan's every move. Unfortunately, next to us sat an eldery couple who did not appreciate Abrahamsen's music. They kept making disparaging comments and refused to applause at the end. Which pushed up my blood pressure into unfamiliar territory. Fortunately the second half of programme was more to their liking: Brahms' second symphony. -- Horses for courses.
Where would I be without my students? -- Take my Master students for example. I am currently supervising theses on: Dilthey's historical writings; Simmel and Kant; scientific pluralism (in development studies); the "minimal self" in Strawson; epistemic injustice; and the epistemology of scientific testimony. -- My learning curve is so steep, I keep falling off.
Unfamiliar terrain. -- I am almost always days -- nay, weeks -- behind my work schedule. Not so at the moment: I am actually ahead ... Which makes me very nervous. I keep wondering: What have I overlooked? (Fortunately, the ERC Fincancial Reporting should start any day now, and sixty contributions to the *Routledge Handbook on Relativism* are on their way. That should take care of my "problem".)
The Postmodern Condition. -- Today I re-read Lyotard's classic from 1979. In many of the books and papers that blame postmodernism for Trump and post-truth culture, Lyotard figures as the central villain. His views tend to be summarized as "there are no facts, only narratives, and none is better than any other." Complete nonsense! He doesn't even come close to saying that. Indeed, much of what he says about science was radical and insightful in 1979, though it is now widely accepted in HPS. For instance, that natural science too often features texts with a clear narrative structure. Or that the justifications for science as an institution tend to be narratives. Or that big data will change many aspects of scientific work.
Indian hunters have finally shot a tigress that killed thirteen people. Hooray, well done! And my heart goes out to the families of the victims. -- I hope it will not be interpreted as frivolous and disrespectful if I add that the hunt had a funny aspect, too: according to the BBC, the tigress was lured with “bottles of Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein”. Obsession contains “civetone”, a pheromone that “attracts wild beasts.” -- Which raises all sorts of questions in my mind ...
All things considered ... -- ... I am better at putting together arguments than putting together IKEA furniture. (It's been one of those mornings ...)
“Idée vient en parlant.” -- I vividly recall the “Aha!” moment when first reading, as a adolescent, Kleist’s “Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden” (“On the Gradual Completion of Thoughts while Speaking”). -- I recently had a closely related “Aha!” moment: some academics can talk for five minutes without ever getting close to completing anything, least of all a thought. -- Call me “intolerant”, but I find this slightly off-putting.
Musical discovery of the week. -- Hans Abrahamsen's "Let me tell you", with Barbara Hannigan as the soprano. We'll hear her singing this piece live on Saturday in the Wiener Konzerthaus.
Prediction. -- It won't be long until a member of the far-right "Freedom [sic!] Party" (in the Austrian government) will announce that "we" do not want the "left-wing Soros-financed" CEU in Vienna. -- Am I a pessimist or a realist? Wait and see ...
The CEU move to Vienna. -- I cannot remember any other event that has stirred such conflicting emotions in me. I am sad, angry, appalled, furious ... that the CEU is forced out of Hungary. -- And I am happy, excited, over-the-moon, enthusiastic ... about gaining so many brilliant new interlocutors just a short tram-ride away.