The Avant Guardian on the Middlesex
philosophy department closure.
The precariousness of philosophy [...], it should be noted, is not the precariousness of being in danger, of being in the Resistance, some sort of philosophical partisan in a world of MBA seekers. The precariousness of this activity we call philosophy is found in the responsiveness that one cultivates in philosophical pursuit – what Ames and Hall term the ars contextualis, the art of contextualizing such that one maximizes one’s diversity of experiences. Philosophy as an activity (to those that would “do” philosophy), exposes us to the truth of what A.N. Whitehead stated: “mothers can ponder many things in their hearts that words cannot express.” That is to say, the opposition between cognition and affect is a false one. False because concrete feelings, the actual materiality of our knowing the world — Heidegger pointed us to the term befindlichkeit — these concrete expressions of our experience are the foundation of all human communication. It is this communicability that is so precarious in the activity we call philosophy.
Because this ability to communicate (to pay attention) is actively being hunted, like buffalo on the Plains, by venture capitalists, there will continue to be a flourishing of means of communication: Facebook will surely evaporate like Myspace or Friendster before it. In an age when communication is all-pervasive philosophy is precariously positioned because it is that singular activity that enhances our ability to mutually appreciate each other and our worlds.