What’s Wrong with the World

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Pants on fire

My stalker Brian Leiter is at it yet again. This is becoming formulaic: First identify me as “the” author of the counter-petition. (That joke’s gone kind of stale by now, don’tcha think, Big Bri?) Then tell a few other fibs about matters you know your more robotic readers won’t bother to check up on for themselves. These things more or less write themselves, which means, I guess, that I can’t blame Leiter for their “inaccuracies” (ahem).

Here’s Leiter’s summary of The Last Superstition:

The "demonstration" consists in recycled Thomist arguments (with no meaningful attention to their now familiar refutations and the repetitive rhetorical trope that everyone [except Professor Feser] has failed to grasp the real import and nuances of these arguments) and some premodern Aristotelian metaphysics, recycled through the lens of Professor Feser's sad obsession with where sperm ends up.

Did you catch that, TLS readers? I give “no meaningful attention” to the “now familiar refutations” of Thomistic arguments. Apparently the copy of the book Leiter read was missing chapters 3 through 6.

It’s also Feser alone whom I claim has properly understood the arguments. None of those citations of Neo-Scholastics, Analytical Thomists, historians of philosophy, etc., that you thought you saw in the book were really there. You dreamed them.

Oh, and the “premodern Aristotelian metaphysics” is recycled through a sperm obsession, or whatever. It was a Cartesian malin genie who made you think you read that chapter on the philosophical, scientific, political, religious, and cultural factors at work in the Scholastic-to-modern transition, and the deep philosophical problems that transition opened up. You were hallucinating when you thought you read all those arguments about how the work of analytic thinkers like Anscombe, Armstrong, Cartwright, Ellis, Molnar, Oderberg, Sehon, Schueler, and others points (whether all these writers intend this or not) to something like a revival of Aristotelian metaphysics. In reality it was all just 291 pages about sperm.

Now, look at this pocket watch go back and forth and repeat after me: There were no actual arguments there, just some religious bigot ranting. There were no actual arguments there, just some religious bigot ranting. You are getting sleepy… sleepy…

Well, we all know what’s coming next: Yet another frenzied response from Leiter about how I keep responding to him. More lies about how I am a lying liar who tells lies. Etc. Well, make it quick, Brian. I know you’ve got lots of free time, and these little exchanges are fun and all. But hey man, I’ve got stuff to do!

Comments (15)

May I humbly suggest never mentioning this subject again? I really don't care about this Leiter guy. Must you follow Thomist tradition so closely as to write so voluminously on subjects requiring little more than three sentences to dismiss?

I sympathize, August. It is getting a bit tiresome. And maybe I'll ignore everything else he ever says about me, however outrageous.

On the other hand, if I do ever write another Leiter post, you could always, you know, just not read it.

My, my. Dr. Leiter sure enjoys his rants. I hope he doesn't consider that post a helpful or insightful review. I'll chalk that up as yet another example of blogs reducing nominally intelligent adults to hasty, sophomoric teenagers.

I will let you know that as soon as I read Leiter's post I sent my graduate director an email to inform him that it has come to my knowledge that Thomistic and Aristotlean metaphysics had been systematically refuted. There is no need, then, for me to fulfill the standard "Aristotle" and "Medieval" requirements. And to think that I was going to write my dissertation on such garbage! I really do hope that Leiter provides us with an even more detailed list of the philosophical ideas that have been refuted because so far I am only registered for one course next semester: "Nietzsche."

Well, yes, that's kind of the point. I actually want to read what shows up in my feed reader from What's Wrong With the World, but when it turns into What's Wrong With Some Little Jerk Who Apparently Can't Reason His Way Out Of a Paper Bag, I get a little sad inside as I press j and skip over it.

Contra August, I'd say respond to Leiter as much as you want, and then some.

Leiter is both obsessed with you and insecure with himself. As long as you keep responding to him, you'll make sure that the bee in his bonnet stays riled up, and guarantee that he keeps lashing out at you in a futile attempt to smash it. And the more he keeps mentioning you, the more free advertising you get on a widely read blog.

And not only that, but if he keeps doing it, while simultaneously claiming to regard you as beneath notice or contempt, the more his readers will come to realize that, in fact, he doesn't regard you as stupid and beneath notice, but is in fact deeply and personally threatened by your arguments, and just can't let it go because it's gnawing at him. Many of them will be intrigued enough by this to read the book, and then you'll have free sales, and some new converts. So, fire away!

The Deuce is quite right.

Unfortunately, Brian Leiter cannot be ignored. He has become a real power in the little world of professional philosophy. Not, primarily, through the quality of his thinking or writing, of course - but, heck, people: what kind of a world do you think that we are living in?

August, I'm so glad you get the blog feed. If you don't like reading about Leiter, go read that keen Balfour quotation in the post below. It should make you happy and certainly isn't by somebody who can't reason his way out of a paper bag.

Steve is right, I'm afraid.

Darn it, I'd rather Leiter were a continentalist. Then I'd feel I understood better why he is so committed to messing up the profession. (So now anybody who didn't already know what I think of continental philosophy knows.)

Everyone needs at least one cyber-stalker!

Steve Burton,

Do you think you can find a place for this Leiter clown in the next You Tube?

Six minutes and ten seconds in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKevWQoKKPY&feature=related is some advice Prof. Feser.

Leiter's charges are so obviously false to anyone who's perused TLS that it's amazing he would post such howlers. He must be assuming that none of his readers fact-check when it comes to attacks on traditional Christians and Thomists. Either that, or he sincerely believes that a quick scan of a Feser's preface puts him in a position to pronounce on the entire work. Either way, he has given me one more reason to nominate him for jackass of the year.

martin - are you suggesting that Ed Feser ask Brian over for a slumber party?

George R.: well, that's a thought - but what music? Maybe the last few minutes of Berg's *Lulu*? Hmmm...

John G.: I very much doubt that Brian has ever held a copy of TLS in his hands.

It just wouldn't be like him.

Remember that you are dealing, here, with a guy who never thought he had to learn a word of German before representing himself as a Nietzsche scholar.

Well, it would be too expensive for Prof. Feser take BL with him to the Bahamas.

Everywhere people are looking for love in all the wrong places. Young women believe sex will lead to love and pregnancy will lead to marriage and so you get tens of millions of abortions. BL wants love and attention and is desperate to engage Prof. Feser (who has habitually loved the truth and so is intellectually very attractive) but is going about it all wrong. I used to tease and annoy a girl in high school everyone knew I had a crush on her - I would never have admitted it though.

As an aside: the guy in the green vest totally resembles BL - just frizz his hair up a bit.

BL wants love and attention and is desperate to engage Prof. Feser

Martin, I just lost my lunch...

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