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Under the title, “Watch this man,” the London Review of Books publishes Pankaj Mishra’s review of Niall Ferguson’s Civilization. The essay opens with a riff on the “this man Goddard” scene from The Great Gatsby, in which Tom Buchanan rails against the decline of the white man’s West. Noting that “Goddard” stood in for Lothrop Stoddard, the real-life racist, Mishra refers to the arguments of Ferguson’s first major book, The Pity of War, as “Stoddardesque laments about the needless emasculation of Anglo-Saxon power.” Mishra refers also to Ferguson’s “bluster about the white man’s burden.”
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Henry Farrell takes some time to write a careful case that he summarizes thusly:

Megan McArdle believes that we would all benefit from more intellectual charity in the exciting cut and thrust of the blogosphere. There is indeed a plausible case for this. What there is not a plausible case for, in my opinion, is more intellectual charity towards Megan McArdle.

This case begins with a discussion of the infamous “spanking Eric Rauchway incident,” which you may remember concluded with Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman saying I was right. Henry says McArdle promised to revisit the issue, which was a promise I did not see at the time.

A fun poll asks us what 20th century philosopher will be read in 100 years.  What I find interesting about the list is that it depends on what you mean by read, and by whom?   Are the works to be read as coursework?  for pleasure?  for shaping politics?  Who is the audience?  Professional philosophers?  Trends die quickly,  and the birth of analytic philosophy may be regarded as no more than a passing fancy suitable only for 22nd century historians of philosophy.  (“A New Interpretation of Two Dogmas of Empiricism”; “Hesperus, Phosphorus, and American Cosmology post-1969″; ‘The Trolley, Ethics, and Ancient Rail Safety Protocols”; I will be here all night if I get started)  The general educated public?  Most of the authors on that list aren’t read now by non-specialists.

So much in the past depended on the survival of your manuscripts.  It’s also interesting to consider the differences in what of a philosopher’s work was thought to be interesting when they lived, and what resonates now.  Leibniz’s contemporaries couldn’t pore over his letters to figure out what was UP with the monads; basic courses including Descartes read the Meditations, not the Passions or Optics or Meterologie; and many philosophers published their now-canonical works posthumously.

It would be interesting to see what a list like this would have looked like in, say, 17th century France, or 1st BCE Greece, or 19th or very early 20th century America.

Our present-day philosophers will see more of their works survive, and philosophy is now professionalized more than it has been in the past, although that might mean just that the canon ossifies more quickly, rather than lending longevity to the works of the canonized.

Were I to recommend a course for being read in 100 years, I’d recommend writing on as many topics as possible, so desperate gleaners of the past can find something sexy in your work, and writing engagingly for non-specialists but with sufficient subtlety that the profession bothers to keep your works taught, and that they need to be taught in order to be understood.  You should probably try to be scandalous; atheism was popular for a while but that won’t get you as many clutched pearls today.  Finally, your work should be imperfect but in a tantalizing way.  You can have a principle that doesn’t quite work; you can equivocate on a key term so future scholars have something to do; you can write e-mails that clarify your thoughts.

Of course, if you try this, you probably won’t get hired or get tenure.  Fortunately, that also fits a well-patina’d tradition.

As many of you know, the University of California is facing another round of brutal budget cuts. As a result, the UC has implemented a system of furloughs, whereby faculty and staff will see their salaries cut temporarily (currently the administration says a year, but we’ll see). The cuts are now a foregone conclusion. What remains is the question of how furloughs will be implemented by faculty. Our campus’s academic senate recently conducted an online poll. Respondents had two choices:

A) Recommend scheduling six to nine furlough days on currently calendared days of instruction.

B) Recommend scheduling of all furlough days on currently calendared intersession days when no formal instruction is scheduled.

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This is officially an award-winning blog

HNN, Best group blog: "Witty and insightful, the Edge of the American West puts the group in group blog, with frequent contributions from an irreverent band.... Always entertaining, often enlightening, the blog features snazzy visuals—graphs, photos, videos—and zippy writing...."