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Call for Abstracts
Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy
Edited by Philip Tallon
University Press of Kentucky: The Philosophy of Pop Culture Series
Please circulate and post widely.
Apologies for cross-posting.

Essays should be written to engage the reader's attention, while remaining philosophically substantial.

Possible themes and topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:
Aristotle on the Friendship of Holmes and Watson; “Elementary, Watson”: Can We Learn to Think Like Holmes?; Induction, Deduction, and Abduction: Assessing Holmes's Reasoning; Holmes’s Brother Mycroft, the Master of Armchair Reasoning: When Does it Actually Work?; Holmes vs. Lestrade: Is it Ethical to Be Above the Law?; Examining the Clues: How Do We Weigh Evidence?; Holmes and the 7-Percent Solution: Is Drug Use Immoral?; Holmes as a “Thinking Machine”: Can Reason Work without Emotion?; The Dog that Did Not Bark in the Night-time: Evaluating Arguments from Silence; Reflecting on Holmes’s Philosophy of Mind; Holmes and Aesthetics: What Makes a Mystery?; Holmes's “The Science of Deduction”: Can Criminology be Considered a Science?; “Knowledge of Astronomy-Nil. Knowledge of Chemistry-Profound”: Investigating Holmes’s Philosophy of Science; Holmes and Ennui: Would Nietzsche have Approved of Holmes’s Bleak Worldview?; Moriarty and Holmes: Investigating the Nature of Enemies; Epistemic Integrity: Does Holmes Set a Good Example in His Work as a Detective?; Sherlock's Logic; The Nature of Mysteries, Solvable and Unsolvable; “Protecting a Lady’s Honor”: When is it Ethical to Lie?; Holmes and The Woman: Gender Roles on Baker Street.

Submission Guidelines:
1. Submission deadline for abstracts (100-500 words) and CV(s): October 1, 2009
2. Submission deadline for drafts of accepted papers: February 1st, 2010
3. Submission deadline for final drafts of accepted papers: April 1st, 2010
Please submit by e-mail, preferably in the text of the email, or as a Word Document or PDF.

Philip Tallon, Ph.D.: philip.tallon@asbury.edu
Instructor in Philosophy, Asbury Seminary and Asbury College
Director of Academic Programs, The Christian Studies Center at The University of Kentucky
504 Rosemont Garden
Lexington, KY, 40503

Series Editor:
Mark T. Conard, Ph.D.
Series Editor, University Press of Kentucky, The Philosophy of Popular Culture
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Chair, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department, Marymount Manhattan College

R.I.P. LiveJournal

I guess LiveJournal is dead now.

Viva Facebook! (Or whatever kills Facebook in 18 months!)


why has no-one in the Green movement suggested simply breeding smaller humans? Think of all the food/gas/housing that could be saved by genetically engineering 1-meter-tall humans (or, using a name I have just invented: Hobbits)?

Some things never change...

I was standing in the kitchen with Marnie today, explaining why I had the skateboard out (I used it to ride over to the Cowen's to watch CNN on Election Night).

She wanted to know why I went over to the Cowen's, and I tried to explain that we don't get TV programs on our TV (this concept was lost on her). So said that I wanted to watch the new videos on someone elses TV because there was an election for the new President.

Then I explained that we elected a new president for our country, and his name is Barack Obama. Marnie giggled like a little girl and said, "That's a funny name."

Too true, Marnie. Too true.
Marnie told this to Karen about a year ago:

Foxes hide up on the mountain. People can go up on a mountain too. Even when you go up on the mountain you won't see one single fox!

Then she told Karen this, another time:

Don't ever run away from home. Because if you do, you will run into the forest and get eaten by foxes.

We think that her imagination was captured by a book called The Gingerbread Baby, which a fox tries to eat the Gingerbread Baby when it runs into the woods.


Schick Quattro Razor, with Trimmer Thing..

Okay, so I finally went to my Seminary PO Box and picked up the Schick Quattro Razor that I mentioned earlier in my blog.

Yup, it's a fine razor. Basically a regular Schick Quattro with an Electric Trimmer on the end, in case you want to keep your sideburns sharp (or possibly trim hair 'elsewhere').

I thought for a while about blogging about how horrible the razor was, or how I planned to use it to kill myself, or something else that would be insulting and "funny" - but then thought that it might be a bit ungrateful to accept free loot and then say "up yours" to the guys who sent it to me.

I read in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition that people now go to parties with the express intention of mentioning products: all to generate buzz. Given the fact that advertising is the dominant form of communication in our culture, it seems only appropriate that we no longer "work in", but actually become, advertising.

Now I'm off to Schick my head, in preparation for the skinhead rally.

my brilliant plan...

I think I've got the solution to the present economic crisis. This is brilliant.

Since we are incurring billions in debt each month in Iraq and we have this huge mortgage crisis... What about some sort of missile/gun that launches/fires actual American houses at the enemy?

Is anybody out there even listening to me?

This is not for you...

This is a quote I'm throwing up for myself, please ignore if you are not a) totally obsessed with aesthetics, or b) suffering from insomnia:

Not very many years ago, aesthetics - understood as the philosophy of art - was regarded as the dim, retarded offspring of two glamorous parents, its discipline and its subject. Philosophy in the twentieth century had become professionalized and technical, its methods formal, and its analytical aims the discovery of the most fundamental structures of thought, language, logic and science. Philosophical questions about art seemed peripheral and its answers cloudy - far too cloudy for those caught up in the reinvention of painting and music and literature to find much help in the dated, faded reflections of the aesthetician. And students with a primary interest in art who may have registered for courses in this condescendingly tolerated specialty found themselves confronting a perplexingly irrelevant literature. In 1954, the philosopher John Passmore published a paper with the accurate title "The Dreariness of Aesthetics," and it must have been just about then that the wit and painter Barnett Newman delivered one of his most quoted sayings: "Aesthetics is for art what ornithology is for the birds" - a sneer whose edge is blunted today by the fact that the vulgarism it echoes has faded from usage.

This is quote is right on, in terms of the relation between the field of philosophy and the subject matter of aesthetics (which is to say, art and beauty). Aesthetics always feels like either bad philosophy or bad criticism, somehow it can neither manage to be rigorous enough to satisfy philosophers or exciting enough to capture the lightening in a bottle quality of awesome art. This is why the best writing about art is always incomplete, embarrassingly incomplete or else amusingly wrong.

What is to be done about this problem?

The problem seems to lie in the discomfort that we have thinking about human enterprises philosophically. Relationships are not constituted by thinking about them. If I think about how I love my wife, this is not the same thing as actually loving my wife. My idea of my wife does not correspond perfectly to my real, flesh and blood, wife - but this does not undermine the value of thinking about her needs and desires. Learning about my wife relies on the interplay between thought and action.

As opposed to the field of logic or mathematics, aesthetics (and, to some degree, ethics) relies deeply in intuition and a "sense of the world" which cannot be abstracted from experience.

Aesthetics is relational and sensuous and therefore given to the difficulties of relationships and the temptations of the sensuous. It is easy to misunderstand art and misuse it.

Beauty and art live in near the frontiers of human discourse, in the Wild West, where there is no obvious law and order, and even if there is, sometimes the sheriffs are corrupt and sometimes the sheriff's get shot down in the street.

This is not to say that there is not bad art, or that beauty is just in the eye of the beholder: rather, that art and beauty are a bit more wild than we would like, and so they will not always behave the way we expect them to. But just because we cannot saddle a tiger and ride it to work does not mean that it has no value. Similarly art is often as varied as the animal kingdom, and needs to be understood in terms of its variety before it is reduced to a simplistic taxonomy.

Charting the phyla of Tragedy, Comedy, Satire and Horror, and Geni of Tolkien, Lewis, Davies, Amis, Mamet, and Finney in the art-spotting book gives me more of a sense of the range of human endeavor, but it does not discount the value of other artists.

This is why it drives me to distraction that people so casually rule out whole genres of writing (and the people who like them) for which they have developed no taste or sense.

Art criticism is undone by the same factors which ruin other human areas of discourse such as politics and relationships. We could all do with a bit more relational understanding in all these areas (I know I could)...

"What is difficult for us need not be impossible; its very difficulty is in fact a call to execute our task with Christian generosity." (Balthasar)


THIS IS THE STORY MARNIE TOLD TO MARION TONIGHT (I offered no help, except in one part, which is noted):

One day Marnie and Marion woke up, and they looked out the window. And what kind of day was it? (I answered, "A foggy day".) And they went downstairs and found Mommy and Daddy, and they said, "We'll have apple pie for breakfast!" But there were no apples. So Marnie and Marion went outside to go get apples. And the got an umbrella so that they wouldn't get fog on them.

They went to the store, but the store was closed, and so they said, "Oh, no, what do we do?" But they saw that there was some woods nearby. Some apple woods. So they walked toward the woods. But there was a stream in front of the woods and they couldn't get across. But there was a bear sleeping in the stream. They said to the bear, "Wake up!" And the bear woke up, and they asked the bear how to get across. And the bear showed them.

So they went across into the apple woods. But there was another bear. So Marnie and Marion built a church in the woods, and then they got married. [I asked, "Who got married?" and Marnie said, "The Bears!"]

[Then she said] It was a Bear Church. With bear pews, and bear doors (with bears on them) and a bear aisle (It was wide).
# 14: Macaroni and Fart

# 13: Kentucky Fried Hummingbird

# 12: Mummified Pears

# 11: Chicken Soup with Lice

# 10: Chocolate-Covered Giraffe

# 9: Diaper a la Mode

# 8: Sweet and Sour Eagle

# 7 (Drink): Freshly-squeezed Band Aid

# 6: Chihuahua McNuggets

# 5 (Drink): Stomach Punch

# 4: Refried Bees

# 3: Filet of Mermaid

# 2: Spaghetti and Measles

# 1: Broccoli