Is this just cuckoo? Is this just the radical opposite of what trump is doing?

Like the old days...student activism has come back with a vengence. On the BBC:

Harvard abolishes 'master' in titles in slavery row

Harvard University in the US is going to remove the word "master" from academic titles, after protests from students who claimed the title had echoes of slavery.

House masters, in charge of residential halls at the university, will become known as "faculty deans".

Harvard Law School is also deciding whether to change its official seal, because of links to slavery.

US campuses have faced a series of protests over allegations of racism.

Harvard has not agreed that the use of "master" represented a link to slavery, but it has accepted campaigners' calls for a name change.

It will mean changing the job titles of 24 members of staff - but will not affect other uses of "master", such as a master's level degree.

Harvard academics say that the word "master" derives from the Latin term "magister" - a form of address for scholars or teachers. It is similar to terms such as "school master" or "head master".

[Full article]

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This is an example of the recent discussion here. An example of postmodern militants on university campuses in Candad, US and UK indeed.

I vote: totally cuckoo.

Views: 373

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 28, 2016 at 10:34am

Comment by SteveInCO on February 28, 2016 at 12:42pm

I guess by this logic, Newton is bad because he privileges two-body interactions, leaving polyamory marginalized.

No, it's because there's no mathematical closed form solution for gravitational interactions with more than two bodies involved. Which is to say, I can take initial conditions for a satellite and a planet, and simply run a formula to tell you where they will be a million years from now. When there are three more more bodies involved, except in some highly contrived scenarios, the only way to do it is by starting with your initial conditions, predicting where everything will be a short time later, putting everything in those new positions... and repeating, over and over. The precision of your answer depends greatly on how short that "step size" is. This is the method that was used, for instance, to make those movies of what happens when two galaxies collide.

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 28, 2016 at 12:51pm

Okay...then...well still...even if sceince isn't as sexist as it seems...music is. Take Beethoven (you know the major proponent of freedom, anti-facism, equality, strong women characters in songs and his opera) his 9th symphony (you know about peace with all man kind) in the first movement is outrageously sexist. How do I know? One of the most important and respected and hauntingly poignant post-modern-theorist proved it:

The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release.

But just take me seriously for a moment because math is far more inherantly sexist than you think. 0 is considered nothing (like the empty slate of the womb of woman) while 1 is intrinsically of value (the full, complete, protruding, dominating whole). When you multiply 0 with 1 ... men would have you believe that the answer is 0. That's right...combining with the woman brings the man down to her womb like emptiness. Something to be filled up. Yet...if a woman tries to remove herself from the man...he still dominates. It's no coincidence that 1-0=1 The man is unscathed. The woman is still trapped inside the sexist equal signs. Sexist patriarchal hegemony pervades every word and number in the subtext of the universe!

Comment by Pope Beanie on February 28, 2016 at 3:10pm

@Davis, thank you very much for your very informative narrative [sic] on what is meant (or can be meant) by "post-modernism".

I'm kindof surprised how the term is used often as if it should have commonly, definitely understood meaning... or maybe the point is that much of time the term is used tongue-in-cheek (esp. because it lumps any and all deconstructionist narratives with the most absurd and comical deconstructionist narratives)? I haven't read your Chompsky reference yet... maybe later when I'm not afraid of jumping into a Chomsky can of worms that eventually turns meaningless for me. 'Spose I should see what Pinker has to say about post-modernism, too.

Anyways, I still have reservations about what are a few of the supposed, undesirable aspects of PMism. E.g., over-use of the word "narrative". It is, after all, one of your favorite words (in TA posts, at least). A narrative can be like propaganda, but it can also be positively enlightening. (Right?) Also, wrt deconstructionism, isn't is sometimes useful, as when employed during healthy exercise of skepticism while picking apart someone's reasoning? Or is deconstructionism always mockable too, or just always bad by definition?

So I'm not really asking you to understand or respond to my above paragraphs... mostly, I wonder if perhaps in the future you could be more specific wrt which one or more of the many kinds of "post-modernist trope" is informing your criticism when you're thinking of simply using the term. You know, for post-modernist idiots like me, still willing to learn.

Comment by matt.clerke on February 28, 2016 at 5:42pm

Just FYI, chefs still use the word faggot to refer to a bundle of herbs. See Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage series for an example.

Also, by my deduced rules of the English language: fagot should be pronounced "fay-got". It's the double consonant which shortens the vowel in faggot... same with nigger, actually: there's a country called Niger and we pronounce it "nigh-ger"

If I had to guess as to the meaning of the word niggardly, I would guess it meant "like a nigger", and would thus assume it is racist.

Re: using words traditionally used as insults... isn't it the intent behind the word that causes offence? Like I feel the way I've used the word "nigger" above is entirely appropriate and inoffensive, and I'm as white as any Australian. I don't think it's a good idea to censor specific words just because there is a context in which that word is offensive. To put it another way... white Australians are sometimes called "top deck" (after the chocolate by the same name, consisting of a layer of white chocolate and a layer of regular chocolate) because of the way we tend to burn and tan unevenly, with a pale white underside and heavily tanned top... we don't get offended when we hear about people on a cruise ship going to the "top deck" or when we see that chocolate in the shops. It's the intent behind the words that may or may not cause offence.

Well, I'm all caught up on this conversation now... @Davis: please post this sort of thing as a discussion rather than a blog post so that I can respond to specific posts more easily... It's one of the features I love about this web site.

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 28, 2016 at 5:45pm

While chomsky certainly has great moments and bad ones where he stretches evidence to fit his theory...he put it best:

What do you mean with the terms you use? By what means can I evaluate and test your theory? How to you explain the disconnect between A: stating everything is relative and no one narrative trumps another with B: repeating the same theory again and again using some evidence and passionate or even angry writing form?

If you cannot offer a method by which you can fairly and objectively critique their claims...then their texts are useless chunks of blather. They are worse than fiction...because at least most fiction isn't monumentally boring and repetitive. Post-modernists duck and dodge these questions better than Dr. Bob ever did. They are masters at either not giving such parameters or claiming that such parameters are absurd (remind you of someone?)

________________________

When I wave my hand at postmodernists...it is almost always about those who make broad claims and never back it up with useful evidence (remind you of someone who used to be here?), who shout down and bully those who want to find a balance between progressive ideas and the reality (spoiled college kids harassing lecturers and professors out of campus if they aren't as radical as they are), their general war on science...and their one sided sense of moral relativism.

It is almost never directed at PM art or music or anything fusing creativity with "breaking rules". I love much of it. However...post modernism should remain in the domain of the creative...instead of pseudo-intellectualism.

Deconstruction makes sense if you mean...pick apart the arguments and critique it. Deconstruction is not useful when you spend all your time hunting down references in some novel or academic reading racism, misogyny, colonialism and global-capitalist-slavery in a way that couldn't possibly be so. (think e=mc2 is racist).

I'll try to be more clear in the future.

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 28, 2016 at 6:03pm

As for useful philosophy since Sartre...gotta pick up a book or two and read them before dismissing latter half 20th century and 21st century philosophy no?

To make an extremely short list of useful philosophy since sartre's earlier works...how about the following:

  • Karl Popper: rationalist approach to science and knowledge, the open society
  • Nussbaum: objective ways to evaluate art
  • Russel: Everything he wrote
  • Nicolas Taleb: Black swan theory
  • Mark Blaguer: free will
  • Daniel Dennet: free will and much more
  • Dennis Dutton: evolution and fiction
  • John Rawls: theory of justice
  • Boghossian: A rationally explained critique against relativism
  • J Nelson: Family ethics and bioethics
  • Burghess: Formal logic
  • Raymond Tallis, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, Hoch: Neuro-philosophy
  • Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, Ayer, M. Martin, Quine: Understanding and criticism of religion 
Comment by Pope Beanie on February 28, 2016 at 6:04pm

claiming that such parameters are absurd (remind you of someone?)

I'm not... that's... crazy talk.

When I wave my hand at postmodernists...it is almost always about those who make broad claims and never back it up with useful evidence (remind you of someone who used to be here?), who shout down and bully those who want to find a balance between progressive ideas and the reality (spoiled college kids harassing lecturers and professors out of campus if they aren't as radical as they are), their general war on science...and their one sided sense of moral relativism.

Yeah, but are you waving your hand at all of those people even if they have just one or two of those features, or are you limiting the wave only to those who exhibit every one of those features? I can't tell, in each case. Label: Post Modernist = [Them. Just THEM.]

Deconstruction is not useful when you spend all your time hunting down references in some novel or academic reading racism, misogyny, colonialism and global-capitalist-slavery in a way that couldn't possibly be so. (think e=mc2 is racist).

Yeah, the e=mc2 folly I get. I just can't figure out who all's getting painted with that brush.

Comment by SteveInCO on February 28, 2016 at 6:27pm

I've been known to use "faggot" to refer specifically to people like Ted Haggard and other gay-bashing-but-themselves-gay bigots.

Comment by Pope Beanie on February 28, 2016 at 6:33pm

Coal is no longer black. It's very very dark gray.

Took me over 24 hours to fricken get that.

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