By Anthony Stavrianakis, Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 08:56

« Les Nouveaux chemins de la connaissance » this week on obstinacy.

Spinoza : Book 3 .Prop 6

« Everything, in so far as it is in itself, endeavours to persevere in its own being. »

There was some discussion of the curious formulation "endeavors to persevere":
If on the one hand excess and deficiency can be attributed to perseverance / obstinacy, perhaps so too the...

By Paul Rabinow, Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 07:03

After boycotting China, should the righteous boycott Malaysia?
A new order forbids non-Muslims from pronouncing the word "Allah".
Apparently Christians can say it in their churches but not beyond. Bibles are being confiscated as they are portable.
No doubt the righteous can learn from the Chinese about the web.
Still wondering what the moral scales are that are involved...

By Gaymon Bennett, Monday, November 3, 2014 - 10:45

A central proposition of our work is that the minor vices form a vital element of the machinery of power in a modern ethos. Our use of the term “minor” ranges over an interconnected set of meanings: “We are attempting to make visible and narratable the micro-practices of ethics that are essential to the (mal)function of associations and disciplines. That being said, the response to identifying...

By Paul Rabinow, Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 06:53

When i asked Professor N why she was critical of Israel but not China (and fifteen others), she said "I am not a philosopher" and "I write what I feel like."
I am have been proposing that those advocating boycott's should take some risks in doing so. Or at the very least explain why they are choosing one case as the one to intervene in. Without any further defense or discussion, it is...

By Paul Rabinow, Saturday, November 1, 2014 - 15:57

Today a headline in the NYT reads "Syrian's Photos Spur Outrage but not Action."
As we wait for this Thursday "town hall meeting" on boycotting Israeli universities, I continue to wonder what the moral
scale is that sets Israel aside from others?
In terms of sheer brutality and murder and supression of minorities, China or Russia among others are higher on the list.

By Paul Rabinow, Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 08:18

We should heed Marilyn Strathern and start undertaking self-criticism and making it public.
Watching the negative reaction to President Obama (when the economy is the best in the Western world, health care and the like as well as his civil liberties disasters) alerts us to the trope of "aloofness." That seems to be his main vice (in addition to being Afro-American)....

By lyle, Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 20:41


Steven Johnson, the author of the popular science book The Ghost Map about John Snow and the 1854 London cholera epidemic, recently ...

By Anthony Stavrianakis, Monday, October 27, 2014 - 12:31

One of the series we are attentive to is force | power | politics, and the mechanisms through which excessive and deficient situations are kept going. How is evasion kept going, for instance and through what mechanisms? One possible response to evasion is to attempt to exercise power in order for the evader to engage, call on a relevant authority, or attempt direct engagement. The evader...

By Paul Rabinow, Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 09:43

Evasion and delay are relatives. They should be distinguished from procrastination that is perhaps more personal.
Evasion and delay in response to requests that one knows one should respond to is a minor vice.
It produces a range of affect: irritation, frustration. discouragement, bitterness.

As long as evasion is at play, collaboration is blocked.

By Paul Rabinow, Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 07:41

Linda Williams in her book on the "Wire" makes a concerted argument that the Wire--she concurs in praising it--should not be considered as a tragedy (which she thinks rarely applies to modern conditions) but as a melodrama. For Williams, melodrama is the modern genre par excellence. Her book is an attempt to ennoble it as it were. The key ingredient might be called Utopian imagination that...

By Paul Rabinow, Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:12

In response to NIls Gilman query about the use of "minor" and a discussion this morning with Gaymon;
We are attempting to make visible and narratable the micro-practices of ethics that are essential to the (mal)function of associations and disciplines. That being said, the response to identifying and highlighting these micro-practices is frequently dismissive: the invoke the "minor" as...

By Gaymon Bennett, Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 07:41

Linked to this post is a short excerpt from Gabriele Taylor’s Deadly Vices – from a chapter on envy and covetousness – a book which resonates with our reflections on the minor vices. A virtue of this book for our project is the way in which Taylor attends to the multiplicity of subject positions that are actually inhabited within the relational fields entailed within the purview of a broad...

By Anthony Stavrianakis, Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 12:18

On September 16, 2014 Almudena Marí Sáez, Ann Kelly and Hannah Brown published a report on Somatosphere, “Notes from Case Zero: Anthropology in the time of Ebola.” I read it early in the morning and wanted to know more about a core but unsubstantiated claim, so I “...

By Paul Rabinow, Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 11:59

A colleague tells another colleague that the older colleague is better off retired. The rest of the older faculty should retire as well.
The colleague to whom this is addressed (let's call her N) is very upset and tells the other senior faculty about the incident.
The younger colleague first denies she said it and then admits she did.
N having raised the issue as one of "...

By Paul Rabinow, Friday, October 17, 2014 - 07:09

Strife: Withering of Critique
The task at hand is to pursue inquiry and reflection opened up by categories and topics so as to identify candidate elements for inclusion in an ethos of the contemporary. Within the category of the withering of critique there are an unknown (but certainly large) number of such topics. Given that the category encompasses a large ensemble of phenomena whose...

By Anthony Stavrianakis, Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 07:08

In the unfortunate person we often feel sorry for ourselves.” Gottlob Benjamin Pfeil, On the Domestic Tragedy, 1755

Bourgeois tragedy (General characteristics)

1. Affect without purging feeling (Aristotle’s catharsis).

2. The affect that matters is compassion

3. Affect of compassion is achieved...

By Anthony Stavrianakis, Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 08:31

The most recent and most comprehensive study of suicide by right to die associations in Switzerland was conducted by a team of statisticians and epidemiologists based at the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine in Bern. The team linked suicides facilitated by three organizations (EXIT Deutsche Schweiz; EXIT ADMD; DIGNITAS) in the period 2003-2008 to a census based longitudinal study...

By Paul Rabinow, Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 09:32

The topic of loyalty is a complicated one.
It has an excess, a deficit and a mean.
As a starting point, loyalty would appear to be a virtue. However, if one is loyal to everyone then the term has no meaning, Further if one is loyal to everyone because one does not want to offend or if one wants to perpetuate and/or extend one's network then it is an excess. Under those...

By Anthony Stavrianakis, Friday, September 26, 2014 - 07:16

The Ars Moriendi is a spiritual meditation text produced in the first half of the 15th century. The second chapter is of great interest as it names five sins that beset the dying and offers spiritual exercises for how to overcome them: lack of faith, despair, impatience, spiritual pride and avarice. Ars Moriendi manuscripts appeared originally in a “long” form and then a very popular "short"...

By Paul Rabinow, Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 09:45

Spinoza, Part 3, "Ethics"
Proposition XXXVIII: If a man has begun to hate a beloved thing, so that his love of it is altogether destroyed, he will for this very reason hate it more than he would have done if he had never loved it, and his hatred will be in greater proportion to his previous love.

Proposition XXXIX: If a man hates another he will endeavor to do him evil...