The Economic Philosopher.
A guest authored edgy essay by Jeremy Tauzer
APP Editors’ Note:
Jeremy Tauzer is a PhD student in philosophy at Saint Louis University.
The power of suggestion which is exerted through things and persons and which, instead of telling the child what he must do, tells him what he is, and thus leads him to become durably what he has to be, is the condition for the effectiveness of all kinds of symbolic power that will subsequently be able to operate on a habitus predisposed to respond to them. (Bourdieu 1991, p. 52)
1. A Stranger in a Strange Land
There have been various occasions in my philosophy PhD program when I have heard things uttered which have the initial effect of delivering a peculiar sort of shock. A salient aspect of this shock is the distance from which the utterance arises. It is as if the words have embarked from some far away alien land, have traversed mighty chasms, and have arrived with a certain air about them, as if the new land they are treading on has already been claimed by the motherland, as if the hearers must have been awaiting them and must already be eager to receive them with open arms and (one-directionally) open minds.
Some examples: a distinguished professor advises the grad students to research and write for “love and money” in a way analogous to how a good Jane Austen character might go about marriage. Another professor advises sending out articles as if you are throwing stuff at a wall until something sticks. Various professors refer to this enterprise of academic philosophy as a “game” or a “racket.” A grad student colleague of mine reacted to my criticism of my department by suggesting that I might appear ungrateful for “the many finite resources the department has invested in you.” When I asked my prospectus committee to discuss writing standards, I was met with a glaring silence.
Further up the hierarchy, this foreign land is ruled by administrators, who boast of increasing their power and control over professors and departments (see, e.g., the “accomplishments” of Tulsa University’s late president Gerard Clancy in Howland 2019 April 17) and may reach for increasing control over class software platforms, grading distributions, faculty firing, and even textbooks, as seen/rumored in the case of Arizona State (Lengang 2019 April 18, McKenzie 2019 April 22, McKenzie 2019 April 26). (I am interpreting department chairs or assistant chairs as acting in an administrative role rather than as peers collaborating with other faculty over departmental policy.)
“So,” I respond to these visitors from afar, “where are you from? Tell me more about this strange land and its customs, and why you seem to think I am longing for citizenship there, as if I accept its hegemony and have won the lottery merely to obtain a visa to visit, though not yet won the more difficult lottery for citizenship?”
As it turns out, direct conversation doesn’t go too far with the foreigners, who hail from a place called Proflandia. They usually aren’t the sort to enjoy a good self-critical and self-diagnostic chat. But other outsiders have asked these questions and engaged in studying and understanding this strange land with its hegemonic culture — a motley crew including the likes of Henry Giroux, Jeff Schmidt, Wendy Brown, William Deresiewicz, and various writers for the Against Professional Philosophy blog.
One of the experiences I mentioned above struck me in a particular way, namely this grossly economic idea of “the many finite resources the department has invested in you.” This gave me the inspiration to examine the sort of philosopher who would say or think or imagine such a thought, to gaze into the mind of this economic figure, this economic philosopher. Not to say that this notion of an economic philosopher hasn’t been glimpsed by the aforementioned motley crew, but rather, my intention is to give this figure a closer work; to put this figure under closer scrutiny, and to do so in light of my own close encounters of the third kind.
2. The Economic
Let me start with this concept of the economic. I don’t mean economic in an ancient Greek sense; the term in English has taken a whole cartful of meaning in the past few hundred years, and when I am thinking of the economic philosopher, I am thinking in connection with the idea of homo economicus. It’s not that there hadn’t been people living a way of life characterized by monetary pursuit or a recognition of such people in ancient times (see Nicomachean Ethics 1096a). But this sort of life gained a sort of commonality or expectation or normality, together with its new name homo economicus — a full supporting discourse — with the rise of capitalism. And then this homo economicus evolved and transformed into a neoliberal homo economicus. This new creature “extend[s] the economic model of supply and demand and of investment-costs-profit so as to make it a model of social relations and of existence itself, a form of relationship of the individual to himself, time, those around him, the group, and the family” (Foucault 2008, 242); put more simply, “Homo economicus approaches everything as a market and knows only market conduct” (Brown 2015, p. 39). If we have been too immersed in neoliberal culture, we may not notice the richness of this notion — how it carries with it notions of private individualized property and public transactions, viewing every good as translatable into money and as transactable (pulling all goods towards quantification and commodification), and carrying with it the imperative to maximize. Marketization and commodification erodes away social connectedness, society, any notion of a common good, and any relationship wherein you might identify with another’s good or sacrifice your good for that of another. Every exchange becomes impersonal business; the market is a meeting of impersonal forces, namely supply and demand, rather than a meeting-place of persons.
Please indulge me with one literary example of this that I find especially compelling, although of course there are many such literary examples.
In the book Jayber Crow Wendell Berry depicts the small town of Port William as having largely been run in the same way for generations, and having a general character of being more concerned with loyalty and respect and finding one’s place in the community than in increasing profit. This is demonstrated in how business is conducted in various local venues, including the nature of how Athey Keith runs and views his farm. Under Athey, “The farm, so to speak, desired all of its lives to flourish” (Berry 2000, 182). But then Athey’s son-in-law Troy Chatam takes over the farm. Troy looks at the farm and its lives, as well as his own life, with a whole different perspective — he concerned with profit and subjecting everything — land, tools, investment, his time — to maximizing expected (or hoped-for) profit, despite the distress this causes in those around him and the erosive effects of his decisions on the soil, the land, and his relationships. Troy Chatam is great illustration of a homo economicus. Technically he might not illustrate all the facets of a neo-liberal homo economicus, but in the novel he provides a good example of how economic thinking and living contrasts with an essentially community-oriented alternative.
Troy brings up one issue to flag before continuing on to how this homo economicus invades and conquers the land of philosophy. The concept of homo economicus doesn’t have a single clear definition. If it means that all interaction and exchange is treated as self-interested individuals transacting private property in a market, then that leaves untouched the “private” life of the person. In that case, a philosopher can love what they study and think they are “not in it for the money” while behaving as a homo economicus in the way that philosopher approaches the production and exchange of ideas, the competitive (non-cooperative) markets for jobs, the publication industry (or “racket”), and the accumulation or hoarding of status and recognition. But even that private-love/public-marketization picture doesn’t fully capture the spirit of Troy Chatam, whose greed and obsession with profits takes over his whole life. In this article I am not intending to offer finalized definitions of a modern homo economicus or a neo-liberal homo economicus, though hopefully my thoughts will be helpful in thinking about this issue.
Another issue to note is that in reality people are complicated and are often a hodgepodge of habits and values, so it would be strange to actually find a purely economic philosopher. The better question to ask about a particular philosopher would be how economized they have become.
Anyways, let’s hypothesize that we have found an exemplary economic philosopher and give them a closer look.
3. The Economic Philosopher: Starting with the Obvious
Let’s first ask how an economic philosopher is economic most obviously and directly, before digging up deeper structural features of the economic philosopher’s modes of thought.
I remember entering grad school and being hit quickly by the omnipresence of pragmatic worries: by the anxiety of hitting the rough academic job market upon graduation, by the desire to prepare extensively for that, and by the recurrent wondering and strategizing about how to best have a shot at this market. This is honestly a difficult question for me: how I might fit these practical concerns into my authentic pursuit of philosophy, truth, and teaching together into an integral life. It’s not easy pursuing these ideals while worrying about all sorts of pressures about how things affect your chances at getting a job or at getting a renewed appointment or at receiving hell from administrators. Simply having these worries and desires and questions does not make one an economic philosopher. A non-economized philosopher can take up the issue of what kind of person they are becoming as they decide which accommodations or compromises they are or are not making in response to the academic job market; they might worry as much about the corruption which might come from their accommodating themselves to an academic job or job market as the economic philosopher worries about not landing an academic job. But the distinguishing mark of the economic philosopher is the self-importance of the economic worries; they take on a substantiality, an essentiality, a sine qua non quality, even if they are not consciously articulated, and even if they are wrapped up as an essential feature of the packaged necessity of the academic position. Such a position, essentially including funding, is not the only measure of success or the final goal, but it is the base; without it, life loses its dignity. Those among us who graduate and fail to acquire academic positions are mourned as lost; they pass out of all thought and time.
At Saint Louis University I happen to have encountered many more worries connected to supporting one’s family than at my alma mater Berkeley. It is far easier to consider philosophical alternatives to academic philosophy (like living in a co-op or tent in Berkeley while crashing classes or dialoguing in cafes) when one doesn’t have children to take care of. However, fundamental structural differences persist between the economic philosopher-parent and the non-economized philosopher-parent. The economic philosopher-parent has an economized picture of the family: monetary support and financial security are basic and essential to parental care. To fail to have a certain level of income with a certain level of stability is to essentially fail as a parent; it is to neglect your child’s welfare. There is an analogy with economized political evaluation of a policy or politician or nation: care for the nation is to be measured by GDP growth and jobs provided.
The non-economized philosopher-parent is a non-concept in Proflandia; it’s hard enough to be either non-economized or to be a good parent, not to mention discussing what it means to be either or both. If the non-economized philosopher becomes a parent, then, hopefully, they ponder the value of narrating to their child about their conscientious struggles with academic pressures and how that challenged their philosophy of work, perhaps leading to academic exile or to taking up non-academic work or to relying on social services — all of which is better than becoming an economic philosopher. The way they narrate and discuss their life and their decisions with their child takes on a substantial weight; the how and why matters concerning their decisions, and income, and spurned income. The non-economized philosopher-parent doesn’t measure themselves by income quantity or income stability; these are, perhaps, two factors or means-of-care among many. (Honestly how many of us just really appreciate our own parents primarily because of how much money they made to provide for the family?) The non-economized philosopher-parent, together with other non-economized philosophers, are open to discussion about the place of practical needs and income and the pursuit of income in a life of integrity, rather than assuming certain economic attainments as non-questioned essentials.
4. An Economized Imaginary
But how does economized thought change a philosopher — what is going on with the structure of their mental life; how does being economic affect or shape their conceptualizations, their attentiveness, their patterns of thought and focus? A concept which might help us here is that of one’s imaginary or social/academic imaginary: “imaginaries are patterned convocations of the social whole. These deep-seated modes of understanding provide largely pre-reflexive parameters within which people imagine their social existence — expressed, for example, in conceptions of ‘the global,’ ‘the national,’ ‘the moral order of our time’” (Steger and James 2013, p. 23). For the economic philosopher, there are deep-seated conceptions and assumptions and horizons about the social setting in which philosophy is “done”; this imaginary shapes (and is shaped by) discourse about practicing philosophy; it is wrapped up with conceptions of what it means to be a “real philosopher,” a “successful philosopher,” or a “failure”; with how to relate to students or other academics, and with what is of significance or value or worthy of sharing or praising in students or colleagues. It is what led to my colleague’s comment about “the many finite resources the department has invested in you,” having shaped this background view of the reality and importance of the “department” for a philosopher, and to how it relates to grad students (unilaterally, asymmetrically, via “investing”), of what it invests (“finite resources,” perhaps funding, classes, units), of what it expects or hopes for in me (return on investment), which I may perhaps owe to it, and to which we may all be obligated for any resources it has provided. Typically the sort of remarks which illustrate an imaginary are given with a air of confidence and shared viewpoint, with a kind of stability, without room for questioning. An imaginary is the background setting; it is what frames one’s thoughts and discourse and behavior; what sets the scene, assigns the roles, writes the script, and lets one know where one can and cannot improvise.
Mathesis, measurement, quantification, objectivity, scientification, technology, economization, commodification, instrumentality, individualism, alienation, utilitarianism — delving into the undercurrents of our culture’s imaginary, and our academic culture’s imaginary, begs an inquiry into elements such as these and their interconnection. Which came first? Did they emerge independently or interdependently? Are we enslaved to them or limited by them, are some of them in retreat? How deeply are they ingrained? To give several interesting examples exploring such issues: Husserl believed “From Descartes on, the new idea [of universal philosophy] governs the total development of philosophical movements and becomes the inner motive behind all their tensions” (Husserl 1970, 21) and he basically characterized this new drive as mathematizion. Heidegger claimed “Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology” (1954, 100). More recently, Laval (2017) connects measurement to utilitarianism: “Bentham broke new ground when he approached the moral, political and social sphere not in terms of its measuring up to some natural end of man and the political community, but in terms of the efficient production of measurable results and of countable, computable effects.” (51)
I can’t give a full diagnostic picture of our culture in this article, but I intend to make headway by discussing five elements which have taken up residence within Proflandia’s economized academic imaginary: measurement, instrumentality, individualism, alienation, and unreflectiveness. The first three of these have deep roots in western modes of thought, whereas I picture alienation and unreflectiveness more as unforeseen results of such modes of thought. Also, the first two, measurement and instrumentality, can be seen as two aspects of commodification. I claim that all of these elements have a relationship with the economic and homo economicus which leads me to call them economic extensions (though the exact nature of this relationship is worthy of further thought).
4.1 Economic Extension 1: Measurement
One deep-seated requirement behind economic frameworks is the requirement that things be comparable, commensurable, or measurable. Even if different people haven’t yet compared, evaluated, or quantified things, we can in principle get a person to compare things, to prefer things according to a single order, and these preferences can be converted to a quantity, a utility. Based on all the personal utilities, and based on treating the things in question as goods/services to be transacted, we can derive things like personal costs of producing such goods/services and personal gains of consuming such goods/services and arrive at a market equilibrium price. It’s not just that this can be done; in a market society, this must be done, there must be a market for any sanctioned transaction to occur. So one might distinguish two or three elements within this economic element of measurement: measurability, the mandate to measure, and the mandate to transact based on such measurements.
In professional philosophy, one measurable is time. Time in the program, time until graduation, time it takes to read a paper, time it takes to write a paper, time scheduled for a class, time to prepare a lecture, time to grade papers. Rather than making time flex to serve the activity or needs of the topic or discussion, like Euthyphro one must cut short the discussion; rather than considering the quality of the time in writing a paper or the time it takes to graduate, our thoughts gravitate toward the quantity of time.
In teaching, the measurables are the number of classes and the number of students, and then the number of words or pages in the assigned papers, and finally the grades assigned and the average (numerical) student evaluation.
In research, the measurables are numbers of published papers and books, and number of citations, feeding into a plurality of bibliometric indices to measure the researcher. And journals are measured for impact based on citation data.
Finally, a department gets measured by the beloved Leiter score (https://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/overall-rankings/), a classic derivation of common evaluation based on surveying different Proflandians. We could talk all day about its methodology, such as how only professional philosophers are surveyed, but in relationship to measurement, note for example that “Because evaluators do not have reliable access to information about the quality of graduate teaching and mentoring for most departments, this was not a component of the evaluation.” The drive to measure will force qualities to either be quantified or to disappear.
To the economic philosopher, questions like “When will you finish?” or “How many pages have you written?” or “How many articles have you published?” or “What is the department ranking?” roll off the tongue naturally; qualitative questions like “What kind of philosopher are you becoming?” or “What kinds of virtues are you working on in this research?” or “What are these assignments forming your students into?” are outlandish and foreign.
4.2 Economic Extension 2: Instrumentality
Homo economicus was begotten of an unholy union of Hobbesianism (the thesis that human beings are, either by culture or by nature, essentially egoistic or self-interested and mutually antogonistic) and Utilitarianism (the thesis that we always ought to act in such a way as to produce the greatest amount of pleasure or preference-satisfaction — or so as most greatly to reduce pain or preference-frustration — for either the individual [private utility] or the greatest number of people [public utility]). Instrumentality also arose with this too: but is instrumentality simply the full practical expression of Hobbesianism and Utilitarianism? This is certainly one view, but perhaps there is more to instrumentality. Perhaps Hobbesianism and Utilitarianism combine with something else to bring about an instrumental mode of being, a tendency to erase or co-opt any substantial values or deontic considerations by subordinating them to market logic: an epiphenomenalizing of any private or common end under the real phenomena of the market’s evaluation qua measured utility. Perhaps instrumentality results from marketized Hobbesianism and Utilitarianism under capitalism.
Anyhow, instrumentality has indeed emerged as a powerful cultural force, a sandy base upon which a myriad of values attempt to stand, only to find that the sand cannot hold their weight in any stable or sustainable manner, but instead the sand forces itself into the cracks of the structure, compromising and eventually toppling it.
One of the deepest changes undergone in the professionalization process is the submerging of everything under the opaque waters of instrumentality. When I talk to engaged undergraduate philosophy student about their goals or motives, I get responses like “I want to become a better person,” “I want to learn (or figure out X),” “I want to teach in a developing country,” or, recently, “I was reading Horkheimer’s Eclipse of Reason and found the argument compelling” (true story!). Their responses are almost all characterized by a substantial non-instrumentalized value, such as self-formation, self-reflection, understanding, etc. But in graduate school, these values start to retreat into the background. The all-imposing demand to publish, to survive as an academic, to create a CV which has a chance at not getting lost when it gets squished into a stack of 300 other CVs, to get tenure — this becomes the sand which sticks into all the cracks of grad school, surrounding the grad student’s values and passions.
“Institutions put pressure on their subjects to be useful and efficient — and subjects put pressure on governments to be useful and efficient. This is the circle of economical government” (Laval 2017, 52): in Proflandia, this circle includes grad students, professors, and administrators, each pushing each other to be useful and efficient. One tangible example of this is that grad courses become places where teachers bring their research in order to get feedback to help them publish more, and the students use the classes to develop research papers which are publishable or can be made publishable (or to practice doing this). The class becomes a place of production: dialogue, readings, choosing to skip/skim some readings, etc. are pressed into service of this goal of production. Classes, papers, teaching, research, service — their substantiality dissolves into means, into pieces in a kingdom of means. “The best dissertation is a done dissertation,” and likewise, the best position is a landed and funded position at the highest ranked institution, the best paper is a published (and cited) paper, the best teaching load is the smallest, etc. Taking a class, teaching a class, researching, writing a paper, attending meetings, office hours, networking — all are pushed by the strength of instrumentality to sink into their assigned place as means.
4.3 Economic Extension 3: (Egoistic) Individualism
At the heart of the constellation that includes Hobbesianism, utilitarianism, homo economicus, economic thought, preferences, and transactions, lies the basic unit known as the individual; all value, all good, attaches to the individual. Over and above the individual, there are two types of conglomerations of individuals. One type is the bare collection of individuals, which are combined to calculate a measurement, such societal utility, GDP, average income, or a departmental-job-placement-rate. The other type of conglomeration is essentially contractual, whereby multiple individuals can buy or sell or hold ownership, such as via a corporation, or in the ownership of a paper with multiple authors. Critics of neoliberalism note that this kind of individualism denies a shared good or common good because it denies the reality of society or community. And though other flavors of individualism (like Kant’s or Singer’s) might offer different frameworks for the relationship between individuals, Hobbes, Bentham, and Smith depicted a characteristically egoistic individual, an individual so removed from other individuals that s/he could not but approach the world (or market) through self-interest; others are fundamentally excluded from being regarded as genuine ends. Cooperation is the epiphenomenon, competition is the reality.
Typically this self-centered-individualist mindset does not succeed in completely corrupting people, who are by nature social-relational. When it comes to close friends and family, people often do legitimately cooperate and actually care for the the other and share things without negotiating contracts, though even there egoistic individualism threatens (thanks in part to Becker, e.g., Becker 1973). But egoistic individualism is stronger in all workplaces, political environments, and marketplaces — including Proflandia.
Ancient conceptions of relationships between philosophers include midwifing (Socrates), a sort of erotic training (Socrates), complete friendship (Aristotle), and friendship (Epicureans, Stoics). But in Proflandia, the individuals are separated and in competition, and as Schmidt (2001) found that in this competition, “Those students most concerned about others were the most likely to disappear, whereas their self-centered, narrowly focused peers were set for success. The most friendly, sympathetic and loyal individuals, those who stubbornly continued to value human contact, were handicapped in the competition” (4). In my program we were told to think of grad school as an apprenticeship, which does sound better than a cold contractual arrangement, but which essentially meant that the professors only cared about our learning the craft of professional philosophical research, an accomplishment which would in turn enhance their reputation and the reputation of the department, while instrumentalizing grad school. Perhaps some of these professors cared for us, but not exactly us as humans or philosophers; they cared for us as developing professionals, and more specifically as professional researchers rather than as professional instructors. Of course, many grad students have worse tales to tell, such as harassment, professors stealing their research, and the more mundane and ubiquitous practice of professors ignoring those grad students in whom they lose interest.
Another manifestation of selfish individualism is what happens to the nature of dialogue. It’s not quite the case that individualism has completely destroyed friendly cooperative dialogue in academic philosophy; rather, in a space which could have been a fertile ground for philosophical friendship, that space has often become primarily characterized by the desire to compete for recognition or to critically tear down others while asserting one’s superiority. Plato tried to raise awareness of dialogical ethos in the Republic I and II, e.g., “‘Extraordinary, Glaucon, isn’t it, the power disputation has?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I think lots of people fall into it quite involuntarily. They believe they are holding a discussion, whereas in fact they are having a competition.’” (454a) Even as a teacher I have felt the need within me to immediately refute my students and assert my superiority rather than to guide the discussion more Socratically. The Freirean (2001) idea of the teacher-student dialoguing student-teachers requires cooperation, humility, and community; it is not accessible to the economic philosopher.
4.4 Economic Extension 4: Alienation.
Alienation is a kind of estrangement of a person or group — a destruction of healthy connections of various types — which results from economic structures and conceptions. As I mentioned earlier, alienation is more of an effect of economization than a fundamental principle aspect. Marx conceived of alienation as a result of capitalism and especially the division of classes, but I wish to consider the kinds of alienation specific to Proflandia’s economization.
The first kind of alienation in Proflandia, an alienation which precedes Marxist alienation, is that philosophy is conceived as labor. This initial alienation is between the philosopher (perhaps an entering grad student) and philosophy, or what philosophy is; the philosopher loses control over how to conceive of philosophy, is not given the genuine opportunity to reflect and dialogue about what philosophy is and whether it is labor, work, way of life, practice, kind of love or passion, etc. Once philosophy has become labor through this initial alienation, we can continue on with a reinterpretative application of Marx’s four types of alienation.
(i) Worker-“product” alienation: philosophy becomes work which creates products which are separable from the worker — the products include units/courses taken, courses taught, papers presented and published, and books written. This sort of alienation is not too strong, since a capitalist does not take full ownership over the paper/book/class, though in a mixed way this does happen, as institutions take a sort of ownership or assume rights over these things and nowadays do so more and more.
(ii) Worker-“production” alienation: this alienation is more apparent. The philosopher loses control over the work form, process, and direction while feeling compelled to work and to produce products. For teaching, an institution demands an instructor use certain software, use a certain textbook, assign a certain grade distribution, and (especially) teach certain topics. For research, the grad student or tenure-seeker is pushed by the direction and topics and trends of their field, conforming themselves to “what’s hot” and “what’s publishable.”
(iii) Worker-nature alienation: the worker is unable to fulfill or actualize their nature. For Marx this nature seemed to be social and at the same time practically reflective, cognizing ends and the way to work towards those ends; whereas for the economic philosopher the reification of the products inverts ends and means. The philosopher, the philosopher’s character, and the philosopher’s relationship become mere means serving the ends of products and markets (e.g., the publishing scene and the academic job market) rather than vice versa.
(iv) Worker-worker alienation: the worker is individualized and alienated from cooperating with coworkers toward a common good. This has been basically discussed in the last section; selfish individualization creates barriers rather than cooperation and friendship between philosophers.
4.5 Economic Extension 5: Unreflectiveness
Aristotle presented life as having two aspects: a moral-social aspect, and a contemplative aspect. As social animals with physical needs we cannot always contemplate, but we can find some kind of balance between moral-social activity and intellectual activity. Intellectual activity can thence be divided into practical reasoning and theoretical reasoning, with perhaps some balance between them. Perhaps here too we can go one step further: perhaps theoretical reasoning can be subdivided into more ordinary or standard problem solving, and reflection. Reflection is about understanding or questioning those engaged in standard problem solving and their standards and methods, whereas standard problem solving tries to examine and understand a given object of study. (The lines can be blurred when the object of study is a subject or group of subjects.)
Reflection, then, pauses outward action, the practical reasoning which leads to outward action, and the normal problem solving which yields the bulk of academic production. In other words, reflection isn’t particularly efficient at bringing about economic ends. “Reflecting” about how to increase production doesn’t qualify as reflection in this picture, whereas the Socratic search for self-knowledge does qualify.
But isn’t philosophy a discipline which especially welcomes reflection, which welcomes the kind of questioning of standards and methods and self? When I voiced my own reflections about standards of writing to my prospectus committee and was met with an emphatic silence, I realized that something was amiss. Reflection is actually shoved out or marginalized by economized philosophy, because reflection doesn’t aid production. Or rather, the kinds of reflection which are encouraged are those which aid production, e.g., reflecting on what helps you to write more pages per day. Because like everything else, reflection is pressed by instrumentalization into serving production.
5. Caveats and Olive Branches
Even though I am deeply disturbed by many of Proflandia’s dominant qualities and systems, it is arguably not as monocultural as my satirical portrayal may lead you to believe. Not all Proflandians are contented with their country; in fact, many of them realize on some level that there is something wrong with the place. And the place itself has some interesting subcultures. I come from UC Berkeley roots, where undergrads are allowed to run their own classes (special courses called “Decals”) or develop their own course of study as an ISF (Interdisciplinary Studies) major; where I got more response when I recently asked one prof to discuss standards of writing than when I asked my whole prospectus committee at SLU (Saint Louis University), and where, as far as I could tell, a homeless person would be welcomed into a grad seminar. Even Catholic professional academics are, as a group, far from homogeneous; there was an old professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley who gave me advice as I left for grad school to think of grad school as an ascetic calling — more poignant advice than basically any I received once I started grad school at SLU (a Jesuit institution), where the advice was highly pragmatic. Also of note is that my depiction of SLU is probably unfairly lopsided in this article order to drive home my argument. Finally, recalling a professor’s comment which I mentioned earlier, about doing philosophy for “love and money” like a Jane Austen character — if we stretch this comment enough, we could form it into a reasonable philosophy of philosophy by thinking of ‘love’ and ‘money’ as quite different sorts of things rather than as equal items in a list, as, perhaps, Jane Austen ultimately gave a different and higher place to love than she did to money.
Ultimately, however, “doing money for philosophy” sounds far better than “doing philosophy for money.”
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Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Tuesday 20 August 2019
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