Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Archive for August, 2007

Autonomy Day 1967

Posted by Sam D on August 31, 2007

After some digging I turned up this photo set from the 1967 Autonomy Day parade. I have mixed feelings about this. We have come a long way since then in some ways but not others. Regardless, the photos are worth preserving.

Posted in Education, History, Newcastle, Student Life | Leave a Comment »

Uni of Newcastle history re-written?

Posted by Sam D on August 24, 2007

I recently had been looking at the University of Newcastle page on Wikipedia – after the release of WikiScanner, I though a look at the edit history might be interesting. And sure enough there are 903 edits by anonymous users coming from IP’s on Callaghan campus. I’ve no proof that they are by staff, but how many students want to extol the virtues of the new branding strategy, faculty structure, or the infamous Student Hubs?

It’s all very nice, but I can’t help but feel that it sanitises our history.

Many of the changes to the university structure mentioned above were made in response to significant staff cuts, caused by financial mismanagement and made worse by poor enrollment, itself possibly caused by a plagiarism scandal (similar to UNE’s current mishap but not nearly as bad). None of this is mentioned.

The section on Autonomy Day was deleted for being “trivia, unencyclopedic, and unsourced” by user Radiant! with whom I’ll be corresponding so as to find a way of including interesting and funny events in a way that does not violate this users sense of what should be on the page.

I was struck by a comment from a user that the entry was not an advertisement (implying that it should not be treated like one), but at the moment, due to the actions of staff (someone in Marketing – I’m sure you know who you are) and Radiant!, it may as well be. If we want a reputation for having no personality we are going about it the right way.

This sort of editing, which picks and chooses the truth, might suit marketing. But it seems contrary to the notions of academic rigor and integrity that the senior management are so fond of mentioning.

Posted in Education, Ethics | 1 Comment »

Analytic/Continental Musings

Posted by Sam D on August 17, 2007

After the AAP 2007 there has been a great deal of discussion in certain circles concerning how it was run and and this has led to the odd comment regarding how philosophers treat their colleagues when they are working from a alternative viewpoint. If I hadn’t been there myself I would never have believed that someone could be ridiculed for being a Wittgensteinian. I was not in the room at the time, so I don’t know for sure that this happened, but after that week it seems plausible to me. I shudder to think what this crowd would make of my defense of Kripke’s Meaning Scepticism. I have never seen more assumptions in the one place in my entire life.

It does seem to throw into sharp relief the Analytic/Continental divide that exists in our community, one that is perpetuated by a profound case of pretending that the other side does not exist. I had no idea that ignoring a philosophical problem was a legitimate way to defend your own theories against it. It is no wonder the The Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy has its own conference.
This had been rolling around in my head for a while, and when I noticed that rather than just the Philosophers Carnival, we now have a Postmodern Philosophers carnival, I saw the divide manifest in a completely different medium. I can’t help but think that some of this is not very constructive. More philosophers from both side of the fence need to make a concerted effort to engage with each other and I hope the new carnival can help facilitate this.

Posted in Carnivals, Philosophy | 1 Comment »