For free download, HERE.

These are two separate conversations conducted by Daniel Fetzner in Cairo (me) and Daniel Fetzner & Martin Dornberg in Karlsruhe (Latour), on the subject of waste.

It was a fascinating experience for me because somehow, at the very end of my 16 years in Cairo, I had not yet visited the Muqattam Hills garbage city where all of Cairo’s rubbish is sorted and (in most cases) recycled. Fetzner wanted to interview me on video at one of the garbage-sorting facilities, and despite the overpowering heat of the day, it was well worth the trouble to see how efficient they are about cleaning and sorting everything.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that a video version of the conversation can be seen HERE.

Details HERE.

The team will be led by Dan Smith, one of the nicest and smartest people to be met with in our profession.

“And seriously, if Leiter knew how totally noob he looks by the way he reports his data, well, he’d sue the software manufacturer and the author of the stats cookbook he uses!”

the proper use of lists

August 24, 2016

The proper response to a list of anything –most influential, best, whatever– is not to become angry because you disagree with it.

At their best, these lists are a chance to learn about things that lie beyond your usual area of familiarity.

For example, some years ago I ran across a “100 Greatest Novels of All Time” list. There are lots of those floating around, but this one looked more serious than most, despite its evident flaws (too Anglocentric, not enough French authors). For me, the novels on that list fell into three categories. (1) Novels I had already read. (2) Novels I knew about but had not gotten around to reading. (3) Novels I had previously never even heard of. So I set myself the task of reading all 100, which will probably take a few more years to complete. And, some of the novels on the list do seem overrated or boring. And others, not on the list, would be ones I rank higher.

But that’s not the point. The point is, that list opened my eyes to the existence of some things that I might never have read otherwise, simply because I’m trapped in my own head to some extent just like everyone else is trapped in their own heads to some extent.

I feel the same way about those “100 Places to see Before You Die” sorts of lists. They’re usually reasonably good, somewhat arbitrary, but invaluable in getting you out of your usual travel rut.

In the same spirit was my reaction to the “50 Most Influential Philosophers” list. There were some analytic philosophers on the list whose work I’ve never read, but that was a reminder to read the ones I haven’t. And there were even some people I’ve never heard of on the list, and that’s a good inducement to read them as well.

Reciprocally, I would feel very happy if some of the analytic philosophers on the list decided to give my work a try, though it’s extremely unlikely that some of them would read a “continental” otherwise. What they will find, I think, is that my work is not that of a “charlatan.” In fact, my first book Tool-Being was only published (after about 13 rejections, I think) because of a strong recommendation by one of the most hardball analytic philosophers on the 50 Most Influential list.

But so far, I’ve been disappointed to see Leiter and his favorite suck-ups in cyberspace circling the wagons against a non-existent threat. If analytic philosophers read my work (as Jon Cogburn has so thoroughly done), they may find that it takes awhile to get used to the style –though I think it will grow on them– but ultimately there will be plenty of material for a conversation. Leiter’s belching at the end of the table ought to be ignored so that the conversation may continue.

This was my laugh of the day back in June 2005 in Cairo: Brian Leiter writing an angry Letter to the Editor of The Economist. Notice Leiter’s almost Trump-like hypersensitivity to even a hint of a critical remark. (I realize that the title “Philosophical Outrage” was probably chosen by The Economist, but it’s amusing –and quite plausible– to think of it as having been chosen by Leiter himself.)

And the Editor is right: the review of Leiter’s book was largely complimentary, but he blew his top anyway.


Philosophical outrage

SIR – Your review of my collection “The Future for Philosophy” insults, gratuitously, the contributors to the volume, and me as the editor, by implying that senior academics were invited to contribute to the book not because they are internationally recognised leaders in their areas of philosophy, but because they did not sign a letter of protest about my online guide to graduate study in philosophy (“Tease the mind”, May 21st). Of the 287 professional philosophers (out of some 13,000) who signed that letter, perhaps two dozen are as distinguished as the contributors to this volume. Several of those two dozen were, in fact, invited to contribute to the volume, but—like a half-dozen other prominent philosophers who were solicited—declined the invitation, or made tentative commitments, and then withdrew. Simple fact-checking by your snide, but lazy, reviewer would have prevented this irresponsible insult to the eminent philosophers who contributed to the book.

Brian Leiter

Austin, Texas


Editor’s note:

Our complimentary review of “The Future of Philosophy” made no such accusation, even implicitly. We pointed out that Mr Leiter’s online ranking, the Philosophical Gourmet, is controversial, but to do so was proper, not snide.


His blog isn’t enough. He had to take his case to Twitter:

Intelligent Design apologist creates fake list of “influential” philosophers to promote theists

Now, why should this “fake” list bother Leiter SO MUCH? That is the question of the day.

My recommendation to Leiter would be this: create your own list! This is something at which you excel, dear professor. And better yet, you could use a scientific methodology this time– like asking all the people at the departments you rated highly.

Leiter wins the prize

August 24, 2016

I had three people pegged as most likely to make the first embittered remarks about the “50 Most Influential Philosophers” list. One of them was Brian Leiter– and Leiter wins, in less than 24 hours!

“An unknown organization using an unknown methodology has produced a list of…

…twenty influential philosophers, plus thirty chosen at random (the apt description of one reader who sent it along, though I see it is making the rounds on facebook as well).  Any list that includes, e.g., John McDowell and a self-promoting charlatan like Graham Harman has to be a joke.  (Maybe they got confused between Graham and Gilbert?)  Daniel Dennett and William Lane Craig?  Thomas Nagel and J.P. Moreland?”

Too bad they used an unknown methodology rather than a truly scientific one. You know, like the Philosophical Gourmet Report.

Normally when someone repeatedly says things like “a reader sent it along,” this is a lie to cover for their own obsessive monitoring of other people. However, Leiter actually does have a circle of toadies who send him things to make fun of on his blog, so it’s really a coin toss as to which is the case here.


Eat your heart out, Leiter. OOO is coming to get you.

But don’t sweat it. You’re still one of the 50 Most Influential Philosophy Bloggers. And surely still the #1 Most Influential Ranker of Philosophy Departments.



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