Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Random philosophical problems

I'm writing a paper to do with posthumanism and the question of the moral standing of non-human animals. Today I ran into an undergrad I know who asked me what I was doing. Then I did a very poor job of trying to explain what the class was about. (I didn't even try to explain what my paper was about.)

He said something like, "I always have trouble explaining classes I really like." Thanks. I don't know how you philosophy folks do it. I felt like I had to try to explain critical theory (which I don't really understand myself) and then explain humanism before I could even get to the point about non-human animals. I have tried to say to people, "I'm taking this class about animals." This results in them saying something like, "You mean like wildlife ecology?"

Last week at an end of the year party I told some other grad students in my program that I'm interested in discourses on/about nature and everyone looked at me like, "What did you say?" I ended up explaining why I think there was a link between whiteness and and concern for "nature," which probably offended and/or confused people because I didn't explain it well.

I have also taken (when slightly drunk) to attempting to insert, as many times as I can, the word hegemony unnecessarily into conversation. One (if one is a frazzle grad student) can accuse people of being hegemonic in sort of the same way that the peasant at the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail yells "Help, help, I'm being oppressed!" But it's only funny if you have recently read "Contingency, Hegemony, Universality."

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