Thursday, 31 March 2011

Another Philosophy Department Closure

This from the Chair and Programme Leader of Philosophy at the University of Greenwich, Kath Jones:
The situation: The management of the School of Humanities has closed recruitment to the Philosophy programme with immediate effect and are writing to students who have already been given places for Sept 2011 to tell them that these are no longer available. The management are recommending that the Philosophy BA be closed down. This recommendation has to pass through the Academic Planning Committee before it is formally set in stone (but this is only a formality unless we can interrupt it). The Philosophy team were not invited to take part in any of the discussions leading up to this decision, and they have not been presented with any written document detailing the argument for the closure of the programme. The partial statistics that were presented at a school meeting yesterday are out of date and do not in any obvious way support the decision. We have requested proper documentation from the Head of School, but have still not received it. The British Philosophy Association is writing a letter asking the University not to close the programme, which will be signed by Heads of Philosophy departments at other Universities. Past and present students are meeting at the Student Union on Monday at 5pm to discuss how best to protest against the decision. Letters from past students are available (from me) to use for letters to newspapers or anything else.
Increasingly I am of the view that thinking is seen as a dangerous luxury item by neoliberalism and capitalism. If it can't turn an obvious/quick profit, or generate short-term wealth, it can and should be sacrificed. Gah ... lifeboat economics of the worst kind. Facebook group here.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Nothing Lasts, not even Goddess

I wake to an interesting post from Tim Morton, wherein he is responding to Hägglund and radical atheism.
...I'm still not convinced that impermanence implies radical atheism. I keep returning to the possibility, which Hägglund simply doesn't consider, that there is a god, and that she is mortal, and that she created the Universe, or that she is the Universe. Such a god would exist as much as a pear or a floating iceberg exists—not that much, according to the deconstructive view, but existence nevertheless.

Inevitable self-promotion here, but this is precisely the position that I develop in Goddess as Nature. Most Goddess feminists and many Pagans, of the Starhawk, Z. Budapest variety, both view and value the Universe/Nature as a mortal, impermanent deity, who is also in some sense female, and whose existence is little different than that of the pear or iceberg that Tim deploys.

This Goddess as Nature and Pagan worldview is most readily characterised as a form of pantheism, a religious/philosophical position that atheists such as Dawkins rapidly dismiss as simply "sexed up atheism". It seems, though, as philosophers such as Michael Levine and Grace Jantzen have argued, that pantheism is an eminently defensible religious and metaphysical worldview that far, far too many simply reject in a knee-jerk fashion.

Quite amazing how many of these new and radical atheist arguments only play out as responses to an ontotheology that is shackled to the triad of Abrahamic monotheisms.

[Addendum: I should add that I am not aware if Hägglund claims or argues that radical atheism follows from impermananence (not being familiar with his work). I merely note that impermanence is assimilated into many theistic worldviews, and the degree of success probably warrants examination on a case by case basis.]