#136 Enduring Questions

#136 Enduring Questions

Dear NEH: what’s the deal?? Are there no academic philosophers among your ranks? Are you this ignorant of what Philosophy is, or is this some sort of agenda? I don’t get it.

As someone involved in academic Philosophy, I find this grant to be really bizarre, frustrating, and troubling. I would rant about it further, but these folks here pretty well sum things up.

Discussion (7)¬

  1. Emil says:

    That is weird.

  2. chaospet says:

    It is really weird. I can’t quite decide if it’s something to worry about… but if the NEH is really that ignorant of what academic philosophy is about, it can’t be a good sign…

  3. Ben says:

    I can only assume that NEH perceives a lack of innovation in the design of courses dedicated to central philosophical questions–sure, that’s a challenge to academic philosophers, but it’s one that could be met, rather than mocked. Isn’t this really just an opportunity to re-frame key questions and get some grant money?

  4. chaospet says:

    Ben: That’s a possibility, but when you read the grant description it doesn’t seem to be what’s going on. Rather, it seems as though the NEH is simply ignorant of what philosophers do. For instance, they say:

    “Enduring questions are, to an overarching degree, predisciplinary. They are questions to which no discipline or field or profession can lay an exclusive claim. In many cases they predate the formation of the academic disciplines themselves.”

    This is really peculiar, to say the least, for what is Philosophy if not the discipline that exclusively deals with those sorts of questions? Which of course is not to say that other disciplines might not have valuable input on these issues. And if the grant had been described in that way – to design interdisciplinary approaches to traditional philosophical questions – that would be fine.

    But the fact that the proposal does not mention philosophy at all is troublesome. It would be as if they proposed to design interdisciplinary courses dealing with enduring questions like “What is gravity?”, tried to suggest that it was a question outside of any discipline, and nowhere mentioned the fact that this sort of question that Physics typically deals with and on which physicists have some degree of expertise. I think physicists would be up in arms, and rightfully so.

    However I do think you’re right about one thing, the best way for philosophers to react to this is probably to submit creative designs for courses dealing with these questions. I know at least a handful of philosophers were among the winners of grants last year. Still, it bothers me that we should be in this position at all – it’s not a positive indication of our discipline’s status in academia.

    And here I said I wasn’t going to rant….

  5. Emil says:


    Chaos, are you a mere lecturer or a professor? 🙂

  6. chaospet says:

    Well technically I’m a professor I suppose… adjunct.. which is essentially a mere lecturer. 😛

  7. DiogenesdelaPhyrron says:

    How about someone just go Skeptic on ’em. Ask them what their field has discovered and shoot it down in a tyrant of infinite regress. Gotta love the classics