by Chris Bertram on November 27, 2003

It looks like a quiet day today on Crooked Timber. But I’ve noticed a couple interesting links elsewhere. “Tyler Cowen over at the Volokhs”:http://volokh.com/2003_11_23_volokh_archive.html#106994007245191210 points to “a new article in Nature”:http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v426/n6965/abs/nature02029_fs.html&dynoptions=doi1069939982 about the origins of Indo-European languages (Anatolia is where they come from according to this study). And Brian Leiter “finds something to like about Stanley Fish”:http://webapp.utexas.edu/blogs/archives/bleiter/000513.html who has “a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education”:http://chronicle.com/jobs/2003/11/2003112601c.htm about right-wing threats to academia (some of which sound not dissimilar to New Labour threats over here in the UK).



Ophelia Benson 11.27.03 at 11:56 pm

That’s a very interesting piece by Fish. I was particularly struck by this remark –

“Intellectual diversity is not a respectable intellectual goal. The only respectable intellectual goal is the pursuit of truth…”

I thought Fish was something of a pragmatist. That’s not a very pragmatist-like thing to say, is it? At least it’s certainly not a very Rortyish thing to say – Rorty says he tends to think we should stop using words like ‘truth’.


des 11.28.03 at 10:02 am

Over at sci.lang, where there are several real linguists, this Nature study (by yet another random collection of non-linguists doing fairly random things with techniques from biology) is being treated with the same contempt as all its predecessors.

Nature is second only to the NYT in its willingness to publish any old junk about linguistics as long as the conclusions are spectacular and no reputable linguists were involved.


Brad 11.28.03 at 4:13 pm

Truth isn’t beyond the purview of a ‘pragmatist’ like Fish, neo- or other otherwise, as long as s/he gets to define the terms by which one understands ‘truth’ as such. For somebody like Fish, truth is certainly not a metaphysical property or goal that stands outside the academic endeavour; but it is definitely something that the academic endeavour can define for itself and then seek accordingly.


Ophelia Benson 11.28.03 at 5:30 pm

How about a link to sci.lang? Linguistic wrangles are always interesting.


Lawrence Krubner 11.28.03 at 6:58 pm

How about a link to sci.lang?

That’s an odd request. It’s a newsgroup. If your ISP doesn’t connect you, then you can try going through the portal that Google has set up:


Comments on this entry are closed.