Category Archives: internet

On Public Philosophy 1: Marketing

Quite a few pixels have been burned on the topic of public philosophy lately. Notably the American Philosophical Association recently registered its support for the practice. Carrie Jenkins wrote up an interesting guide and Eric Schliesser then commented on it … via Daily Nous.

The thing that strikes me is that no one treats public philosophy as actual philosophy. They basically treat it as marketing for whatever it was they were already doing. Keep in mind that I am 100% behind more and better marketing for philosophy, but that if public philosophy is just a synonym for marketing, we should just say marketing.

From the APA statement, my emphasese:

The American Philosophical Association values philosophers’ participation in the public arena. This includes work that engages with contemporary issues as well as work that brings traditional philosophies to non-traditional settings. Public philosophy may also bring the discipline into dialogue with other humanities, the arts, natural sciences, social sciences, and interested people outside of academia. Public philosophy is done in a variety of traditional and non-traditional media. Public philosophy can be especially valuable when it reaches populations that tend not to have access to philosophy and philosophers. Further, the APA notes that public philosophy raises the profile of the discipline, the scholar, and the home institution.

Or, to paraphrase:

‘[Engaging] with issues’ … ‘[bringing] traditional philosophies’/ ‘the discipline’ [to other settings] to create ‘access to philosophy and philosophers’ is in service of marketing extant philosophy to ‘[raise] the profile of the discipline, the scholar, and the home institution.’

Nothing in this statement mentions doing any philosophical research.

Jenkins’ guide “So You Want to be a Public Philosopher?” is excellent, and is likewise focused on concrete resources needed to market yourself and your philosophy. As Schliesser highlights in Jenkins’ account, though, the skills she mentions are non-trivial and will have to be cultivated, changing the everyday academic philosopher into a different beast. He brings in Levinas to push his point: in turning to face the public, we inevitably engage in a new transformative relationship with that community.

While this account is correct that more is needed to do public philosophy than just talking to non-philosophers, it treats philosophical results of public philosophy as a secondary, incidental consequence of the practice. It is completely silent on any philosophical resources unique to the subdiscipline of public philosophy.

For instance, Jenkins says public philosophy “isn’t suitable for every kind of philosopher or for every kind of philosophical work.” But why not? What about certain philosophers or works make them unsuitable for public philosophy?

Aikin and Talisse, in their response to the APA statement, note that a philosopher with crippling social anxiety shouldn’t be expected to make regular public appearances. It’s clear that these sorts of factors can limit or prohibit one from doing public philosophy and that they shouldn’t be held against someone.

Setting these issues aside, then, why are some philosophical people and works ripe for public philosophy and others not?

Here finally is the crux of the matter: If we had a good answer to this question — What makes good public philosophy? — then we would just go about doing what needs to be done. But, as the ongoing discussion of public philosophy shows, we have no such answer.

Moreover, until we actually treat public philosophy as a subject of research and figure out what needs to be done, we won’t be able to effectively market philosophy, either. We will just keep doing the same things, yielding the same results.

Posted in internet, philosophy.

Practical Ontologist 2.0

I’ve made a major update to my site, The Practical Ontologist. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Major site updates:

  • Topical Subsections: Metaphysics, Professional, Science, Traditions, Value, & Fun.

Incoming posts are classified via Naive Bayes Machine Learning. The categories, save Fun and Professional, are roughly modeled on [PhilPapers’ classifications](https://philpapers.org/browse/all). Fun is a stream of philosophical memes, mainly from Tumblr. Professional contains news about the profession and other meta-philosophical content.

  • RSS feeds for each subpage.
  • Now scanning over 200 text and media feeds.
  • Timestamps show the freshest content.
  • Screencaptures of the different blogs promote site recognition.
  • A “Top Blogs” section on the subpages listing blogs commonly posting content in that area.
Posted in internet, news, philosophy. Tagged with , , .

The Practical Ontologist

I’ve launched a new website called The Practical Ontologist. From its about page:

Every few hours a computer at a datacenter scans the web for new philosophical content. It then analyzes, processes, and formats the information. This creates an always updating website for easy perusal.

I built this site to highlight all the public philosophy that is posted every single day online and as a way for people to discover philosophically oriented websites. While there are already many excellent websites that post links to philosophical content, *The Practical Ontologist* is focused on staying fresh and not being a Balkanizing social network. It is the Google News of philosophy blogs.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Posted in internet, news, philosophy.

XKCD on the Ontological Argument

https://xkcd.com/1505/

Posted in fun, internet.

Awesome Tattoo!

DuckRabbit by itsch on DeviantArt

duckrabbit_by_itsch-d3j23u5

Posted in fun, internet. Tagged with , .

Xmas post

Happy Holidays!

As is my Xmas tradition, I watched “Die Hard”. Surprisingly one of the characters reminded me of the current state of internet philosophy:

Posted in internet, news, philosophy. Tagged with .

xkcd on the Trolley Problem

https://xkcd.com/1455/

Posted in internet. Tagged with .

Site Update 2014

After running this site for 7 years, I have done a comprehensive update of the systems that run it, namely migrating it to a brand new database. This has increased the site speed, noticeable in page loading times especially on the calendar. The calendar is going strong, with many talks and events for the Fall of 2014. Please check it out if you are in the New York City metropolitan area.

Posted in internet, news. Tagged with .

NYC Area Philosophy Calendar Spring 2014 update

I’ve updated the NYC Area Philosophy Calendar for Spring 2014. As per usual, there are some great talks and conferences to check out.

I’d love feedback about the calendar, so please get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions.

From my website statistics Brooklyn, NY has the heaviest calendar users. Hello Brooklyn.

Posted in internet, news, NYC, philosophy.

Site Update

After running this blog for over 6 years, I’m thinking it is time for a site update. I’d like to give a thanks to the WordPress.org community for making great blogging software freely available, and NearlyFreeSpeech.net for providing site hosting at a reasonable price.

That said, there is a good chance I am going to mess something up. The site has been running on the same underlying (MySql) process, perhaps from the start, without any maintenance on my end. So I am going to shut it down and do a clean install.

!!EDIT!! Apparently my website hosts (NearlyFreeSpeech.net) are way more competent at running websites than I am. When I went to restart the database, I saw that they had already cleaned the thing up from its old, monstrous self to a new, smaller, updated process. So I’ll just be doing more cosmetic updates than anything (I’ve not once changed my WordPress theme in these 6 years. Thanks Ocadia theme!). This may still bork the site, but there is less room for error now.

Hopefully I’ll see you on the other side.

Posted in internet, news.