Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Vestiges of Identity: Provenance by Ann Leckie

After reading Ancillary Justice and now Provenance, I think Ann Leckie may be one of those authors that just doesn't click with me.  Something about her writing style feels ... murky to me, like an impressionist painting.  Leckie seems to be one of those authors who take their writing teachers' "show don't tell" rule way too seriously (although even the showing is a bit murky).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Pre-Prolegomena to Future Discussions of Including Non-Western Philosophy in the Curriculum

If you come here for the science fiction or you aren't an academic philosopher, you may be surprised to learn that the academic discipline of philosophy is extremely Eurocentric. I've discussed this odd state of affairs on the blog before (for instance, here and here).

Over at the philosophy blog Daily Nous, the discussion of whether philosophy should try to be more inclusive came up yet again this week in a post called "End Philosophical Protectionism," which is in turn based on an interview with my friend and colleague Anand Vaidya at 3:AM MagazineAnd, as prophesied by Amy Olberding in an earlier post, the discussion in the Daily Nous comments section quickly took on some familiar beats.

Against my better judgment, I dipped my toes into the comments section.  As I read the comments, it occurred to me that maybe before the next one of these discussions takes place, we might stop to think about some things (we are, after all, philosophers!).  Maybe it's worth rethinking about some presuppositions and unquestioned assumptions that serve to make the familiar beats so annoyingly counter-productive.  To help, I came up with the following "Pre-Prolegomena to Future Discussions of Including Non-Western Philosophy in the Curriculum."  Enjoy!  Feel free to add your own pre-prolegomena in the comments.  (And thanks to Anand Vaidya, Amy Olberding, and Justin Weinberg for inspiring this post!)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Three Book Reviews: Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor, The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem, and Among Others by Jo Walton

Sometimes I can go on for awhile (see: the past three and a half years of this blog!).  But sometimes I get more to the point, as in the following three relatively short book reviews.  I really enjoyed all of these books, so the shortness of my reviews should not be taken to reflect my estimation of their quality.  So, in the spirit of getting to the point, here are my reviews of Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor, The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem, and Among Others by Jo Walton!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mysterious Clones: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty is a well-constructed mystery narrative set aboard a spaceship with clones, mind mapping, and heavy doses of personal identity thought experiments.  It's not perfect, but I really enjoyed it.

Lafferty's biggest accomplishment is a carefully and intricately constructed plot.  The basic idea: several clones awaken with their previous clones having been murdered and nobody (not even the ship's AI) remembers what happened.  We learn enough to keep the mystery going exactly when we need to learn it.  People who are more fans of traditional mystery novels rather than science fiction might even appreciate this book for its structure alone.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Auschwitz, Immigration, and the Currents of Cruelty

The infamous "Arbeit macht frei" gate at Auschwitz (June 2018)

Last week I visited Auschwitz.  I was in Kraków, Poland for a conference (details here).  Visiting the site of a former Nazi death camp is not exactly a fun vacation activity, but I thought visiting would be well, what, exactly?  Meaningful? Worthwhile? Important?

It was all of that and more: deeply moving, educational, horrifying, profoundly unsettling…

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Book is Coming Soon! -- Three Pillars of Skepticism in Classical India: Nāgārjuna, Jayarāśi, and Śrī Harṣa

This week I'm reading the proofs and preparing the index for my forthcoming book, Three Pillars of Skepticism in Classical India: Nāgārjuna, Jayarāśi, and Śrī Harṣa, which will be available in September.  It's nice to see something I've been working on for years finally come together.  And preparing the index is weirdly kind of fun as part of that process, although it is a bit time-consuming.

Check out the publisher's website here for more information.  The book is also mentioned on the Indian Philosophy Blog and it's already listed on Goodreads, which as a frequent Goodreads user I find really cool.  Also, I'm now officially a Goodreads author!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Travels to Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary 2018

A selfie in front of St. Mary's Church in Kraków, advertising my department via t-shirt

Academic conferences are a great way to meet colleagues and present your research.  They also give academics a good excuse to travel!  I didn't have a lot of travel opportunities growing up, so as an adult I really appreciate the opportunities my academic career has given me to see new parts of the world.

I recently returned from a trip to Europe: Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary (with a stop at the Amsterdam airport for some Dutch cheese).  The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy Conference in Kraków, Poland, which took place June 8-11, 2018 (you can find out more about the conference in a previous post, which includes the abstract for the talk I gave).

Kraków is a beautiful city.  I recommend visiting if you can!  I think a lot of Americans overlook Poland when they visit Europe, but it has a lot going for it: great food (pierogies!), interesting history, beautiful scenery, not to mention being a bit cheaper than western Europe.