19 thoughts on “Good ol’ Brian Leiter

  1. This is par for the course for Leiter; it doesn’t seem particularly mean given the author.

    I can’t say I would be particularly shocked to learn that someone pretty well versed in all the latest and greatest in continental philosophy wouldn’t have heard of most of the contributors to Leiter and Rosen’s book, but that’s based solely on my knowledge of the contributors of whom I have any—in each case I’ve found their work that I’ve read helpful and interesting but I can easily conceive someone working in an area where it wasn’t an issue (especially when you have people with a strong interest in as it were bridging the gap—if you’re sitting pretty on one side, such efforts might quite plausibly simply never come to your attention).

  2. I agree with his general point about the unsuitability of C., but there’s no reason for him to be an ass about such things.

  3. I think Brian Leiter’s political principles operate at a different level than his polemical tirades against intellectuals he doesn’t respect. He may have strong and sometimes callously derisory complaints about the work and status of certain Continentally-oriented philosophers, but he’ll defend to the death the right of their departments to go on receiving mediocre Philosophical Gourmet rankings.

  4. I’m pretty sure Brian Leiter would defend throwing cash at a trio of plush orangutans if they were getting funded under the label “Department of Philosophy”.

    If he could get away with it, I bet he’d be as rude to McDowell & (the ghost of) Rawls as he is to Derrida. To say nothing of the philosophy department at Chicago (where he’s a member of the law faculty only). Dude hates a lot of things.

  5. Addendum: Middlesex isn’t ranked on the Philosophical Gourmet Report. Leiter is perfectly willing to defend programs he doesn’t think are even worth sticking at the bottom of the chart.

  6. Why would you question the appropriateness of having Critchley run this? He’s a good writer, he has written plenty of more popular articles before, and he is, despite what Leiter says, at least a well known philosopher whose work does get read people who are not just members of the APA. I don’t know, if you have James KA Smith calling you a poser and Leiter calling you a clown you have to be doing something right.

  7. That’s one thing that bugs me — he gets so snooty about people discussing philosophy from outside a philosophy department, but he himself is not in a philosophy department.

  8. Anthony, I agree that he’s a good writer. I just don’t think he’s a good choice to lead the project, because based on prior work I doubt whether he’ll curate a representative sample of perennial philosophical problems. It’s great to include topics and thinkers who have broad appeal; I just hope he doesn’t ignore epistemology, metaphysics, logic, etc.

  9. Jared,

    Unless you have very narrow understanding of what those words mean I don’t think you can say that Critchley ignores them. I also note that it doesn’t appear he is drawing on anyone from SPEP schools with those he has brought on board (though most of them are more public intellectuals than the APA-centrism Leiter seems to want).

  10. I’m not aware of any work by Critchley in logic, epistemology, metaphysics, or mind, on any reasonable definition. I don’t care really about school or departmental affiliations, I just see this as (probably) a missed opportunity to show people what philosophy is about. I really hope my doubts will be proven unfounded.

  11. Jared, that sounds rather strange. Why fault an editor for not doing it all when he’s organised contributors to cover those grounds? Perhaps I should criticise Leiter for not mentioning Deleuze in Nietzsche and Morality (or even for barely mentioning Plato even though that is one of Nietzsche’s major interlocutors)? I want to know to what extent does an editor’s comprehensiveness influence what contributors write (and vice versa).

  12. Jared,

    No, no, I never said that Critchley wrote on logic or epistemology (arguably he has written on metaphysics, but, again, even though you “don’t really are”, you might have a narrower definition than I do). I am interested and well-read on topics I’ll never write on, but I don’t ignore them by not writing on them. I’m sure you get the difference.

    We probably disagree on what “philosophy is about” though.

  13. Leiter does mention Deleuze in Nietzsche on Morality, albeit only in a few footnotes.

    Also, I’m fairly certain Critchley has written on metaphysics–his masters thesis was on Carnap, Heidegger, and the overcoming of metaphysics. He also co-authored a book on Being and Time.

  14. When did NYTimes become such a Philosophy Central that its choice of a coordinator-contributor is such a big deal? Without Leiter’s freak-out no one would say anything about either NYT or Critchley. They’re lucky to get Critchley to do it, he’s decent choice for the job – be thankful it’s not some schmuck like Adam Kirsch, you know?

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