Not Knowing

In Michel Foucault's lectures on the Hermeneutics of the Subject, he warns that the modern configuration of truth and the subject can no longer lead to "the point of enlightenment and fulfillment" in which the subject is "transfigur[ed] by the 'rebound effect' of the truth he knows." Instead, "access to the truth, whose sole condition is henceforth knowledge, will find reward and fulfillment in nothing else but the indefinite development of knowledge." If for moderns truth can be achieved without any transformation or risk to the subject's being, if truth can be achieved merely through th


It is striking how often Americans talk about suffering from procrastination.  When things aren't finished in due order, procrastination is the most frequently used of the "minor" rationales or justifications (illness, the dog ate it, etc. being more major, at least when sincere).  I certainly have done so on many occasions.  Literally meaning to "put off to tomorrow", the pathology is further often attributed to outside conditions, typically new media technologies, such as blaming the distraction of the internet.


A Proposal to the Academy: Replace impact factor, h-index, and citation rank with the T-index. T as in Truth. Your scholarship is assessed in terms of how true it is.

The Immobility of Malice

NSF workshop on the future of ethics, science studies, and synthetic biology.

Our initial critical stance in human practices was articulated as the problem of flourishing and the life of science, understood as an outside to prosperity and amelioration. Seven years on, the first speaker at the workshop voiced frustration at not being allowed to ask the question if synthetic biology is good. One member of the team of NSF directors expressed dismay: not that the person had been blocked, but that the person had wanted to ask this question as antecedent to "public engagement."

Minor Inferno

As our diagnoses of minor vices accumulate, are we thinking about how they are related to each other? Maybe a diagram would help . . . .


« 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 act of endeavor.
I thought we might take up attention to endeavor in relation to what Paul has been indicating about strife.

Vives: speak

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 for the righteous?

The Minor in Minor Vices

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 and highlighting these micro-practices is frequently dismissive: the invoke the "minor" as trivial. This move naturally contributes to the anchoring of the micro-practices.”


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).
This trope is at play with us. A major difference is that Obama is President of the United States. Still, the aloofness is something to be considered and perhaps remediated for us.

Minor Vice: Hype


Steven Johnson, the author of the popular science book The Ghost Map about John Snow and the 1854 London cholera epidemic, recently announced that the current Ebola epidemic involves a "paradox":