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My son’s autistic language

by Macarena Marey on April 5, 2023

My son’s language is made of a bundle of sounds that do not exist in the Spanish that we speak around the Río de la Plata. He repeats syllables he himself invented, he alternates them with onomatopoeias, guttural sounds, and high-pitched shouts. It is an expressive, singing language. I wrote this on Twitter at 6:30 in the morning on a Thursday because Galileo woke me up at 5:30. He does this, madruga (there is no word for “madrugar”, “waking up early in the morning” in English, I want to know why). As I look after him, I open a Word document in my computer. I write a little while I hear “aiuuuh shíii shíiii prrrrrr boio boio seeehhh” and then some whispers, all this accompanied with his rhythmic stimming of patting himself on the chest or drumming on the walls and tables around the house.
My life with Gali goes by like this, between scenes like this one and the passionate kisses and hugs he gives me. This morning everything else is quiet. He brings me an apple for me to cut it for him in four segments. He likes the skin and gnaws the rest, leaving pieces of apples with his bitemarks all around the house. He also brings me a box of rice cookies he doesn’t know how to open. Then he eats them jumping on my bed. He leaves a trace of crumbles. Galileo inhabits the world by leaving evidence of his existence, of his habits, of his way of being in the world.
When we started walking the uncertain road to diagnosis, someone next of kin who is a children’s psychologist with a sort of specialisation in autism informally assessed him. She ruled (diagnosed, prognosed) that he wasn’t autistic, that we shouldn’t ask for the official disability certificate (because “labels” are wrong, she held), and that he should go on Lacanian therapy and music therapy on Zoom —now I think this is a ready-made sentence she just gives in general to anyone.

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Limitarianism: a philosophical dispute

by Ingrid Robeyns on February 21, 2022

In my last post, on the public debate on limitarianism, I responded to Matt’s philosophical doubts about limitarianism by saying that there was a debate on this matter forthcoming in The Journal of Political Philosophy, and that I would post it once published in Early View. So, here it is.

Robert Huseby wrote a critique on limitarianism arguing that we don’t need that idea, given that we have egalitarianism and sufficientarianism. I responded in two ways. First, by saying that there are other ways to judge a philosophical idea than looking at philosophical distinctiveness (in other words, Huseby and I have different views on what we want political philosophy to do, and I argue that this has implications for judging the value of limitarianism). Second, within the meta-theoretical choices made by Huseby, I object to his arguments.

Those interested in this intra-academic-philosophical debate, feel free to chime in. If anyone wants to read the paper by Robert Huseby (since unlike mine, it’s not open access), I’m happy to send it to anyone dropping me an email.

NB: Luigi Caranti and Nunzio Alì published in the Italian Journal Politica e Società a paper with the same title as Huseby’s paper, voicing overlapping criticisms. Email them or me if you want to get hold of a copy.

Support the Yaoundé seminar in political philosophy

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 3, 2018

Thierry Ngosso, a Cameroon philosopher (PhD Louvain-la-Neuve, currently based in Sankt Gallen), together with some other philosophers based in Belgium and the Netherlands, are organising for the fifth year a summerschool in political philosophy in Yaoundé. The aim of the seminar is “a genuine and lasting North-South conversation, understanding and solidarity in academic philosophy.” The seminar is open for PhD-students in philosophy/political theory from the Global North (who have to pay their own way) as well as for PhD-students from countries in the global South. The Yaoundé seminar has always been able to count on the support of a great line-up of professors, who also pay their own way.

In order to be able to waive fees and financially support the students coming from the South, the organisers have set up a fundraiser. They need 4000 Euro for this year’s travel grants, but have stated that any additional support will go to the travel bursaries at next year’s event.

I think this is a wonderful initiative, and hope that some of our readers will be willing to make a donation – whether small or larger. The donations are handled by Leiden University, and the page where you can make a donation can be found here.

There has been a lot of discussion about the deteriorating prospects of Humanities PhDs. Many insiders have argued that it is increasingly hard for those gaining a PhD in the humanities to find a decent job in academia – and that seems to be the place most humanities PhDs would like to end up.

In the Netherlands, we have also had discussions recently on whether there are not too many Philosophy PhD students (and more broadly humanities PhDstudents), and whether those pursuing a Philosophy PhD have realistic expectations of their chances of getting a job in academia. In those debates, one often hears the rough number that about 9 out of 10 PhD students aspires to have an academic job, yet only between 1 and 2 end up in academia. If that is true, there is a serious mismatch between expectations and objective outcomes. Moreover, there is also the impression that the situation has become worse due to the budget cuts for higher education.

I am setting up a small project in order to gain a better understanding of the expectations of Philosophy PhD students in the Netherlands. To the best of my knowledge, we totally lack any information on the career expectations of Philosophy PhD students in the Netherlands, and the career outcomes of those who acquired a Philosophy PhD in the past. At present, there is no systematic information about what Philosophy PhD students expect or hope for after graduating. Neither do we know the extent to which this fits with the opportunities they will encounter.
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