Sunday, September 19, 2010

Need an Idea for a Paper?

This was fascinating. I received a call-for-papers recently for a conference on:
THE CRISIS OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES: False Objectivity and the Decline of Creativity
March 6-8, 2011

Since I'm interested in the concept of creativity, I clicked through and found a typical conference site, with the following description:

Centralization and over-professionalization can lead to the disappearance of a critical environment capable of linking the disciplines to the “real world.” The humanities need to operate in a concrete cultural environment able to influence procedures on a hic et nunc basis and should not entirely depend on normative criteria whose function is often to hide ignorance behind a pretentious veil of value-neutral objectivity. . . .
For example, in sociology, the growth of scientism has fragmented ethical categories and distorted discourse between inner and outer selves. Philosophy is suffering from an empty professionalism current in many philosophy departments in industrialized and developing countries where boring, ahistorical, and nonpolitical exercises are justified through appeals to false excellence.
In all branches of the humanities absurd evaluation processes foster similar tendencies as they create a sterile atmosphere and prevent interdisciplinarity and creativity. An invidious technicization of theory plays into the hands of technocrats. Due to the centralization of editorial power in the hands of large university presses of anglophone countries, the content, quality, and range of  modern publishing has become only too predictable.
How do people working in the humanities respond to the crisis in their respective disciplines? Papers including either meta-scientific considerations or concrete observations are welcome.

As a conference organizer myself, I'm not going to tempt Karma by dissecting or commenting on this. However, I can't resist noting the mild irony of discussing the problematic disconnect between Academy (seen in Mark Taylor-ish terms, it seems) and the "real world" (whatever that is supposed to mean) and describing a solution with an obscure Latin phrase.

Anyway, let's say I'm keen to respond to this CFP. What might I write on? Luckily, the organizers provide some suggestions in a scrolling list. Some of these are questions, some are assertions. Here's the whole list (I think). I might just attend this conference if all of these questions could be answered and all of the assertions justified!

  • Suicidal humanities
  • Transmission of culture, or transcendence?
  • The humanities' inferiority complex
  • Education and profit: The world of diploma mills
  • The human sciences and human values
  • Kulturangst
  • The unbearable naïveté of method
  • Can the nature of the human be grasped through specialization?
  • Does wealth of facts equal wealth of thoughts?
  • Philosophy and the logic choppers
  • In the aftermath of Constructionism
  • Are we turning out Business majors or ATM machines?
  • Ph.D.s are titles, not qualifications
  • Engineers of souls or dealers in death?
  • Why is linguistics so boring? [third favorite]
  • Architects build prisons, not habitats
  • The Social Sciences are the drug of choice
  • E-learning = machine learning?
  • In which way do psychologisms, sociologisms, historicisms, etc. obstruct any unification and integration of the human sciences?
  • Sociology and the abandonment of cultural content
  • Excessive conceptualization in psychology
  • Excessive relativism in the historical sciences
  • The loss of creativity in translations
  • Are Cultural Studies an alternative or do they just bandage over the hemorrhage?
  • The article as hack work, aimed more at securing promotion or a new job, than advancing knowledge
  • Numbers , numbers, numbers: Formalization and quantification
  • Shakespeare Inc [runner up]
  • Liberal, plural, multicultural, humane: The new dogma
  • Race, Sex, Class, Gender: Is that all we've got?
  • Metaphor versus metonym
  • Literature is soundbites: the rest is television
  • Paradise flossed [my personal favorite]
  • Why don't we teach with shades on and Death Metal playing?
  • Take any language: English for example…
  • The global mall of academia
  • Publish or perish
  • The humanities and the market: Do something popular…
  • Political Correctness: Never too absurd?
  • Can excellence be empirically established?
  • Positivism in anthropology: Nothing new since Darwin?
  • Analytical philosophy: A bunker?
  • Are academic superstars black holes?
  • The lights are on but there's no more EngLit in the house

1 comment:

Brian said...

Oh my goodness... dibs on co-authorship!! As a librarian, I will lend credence to your abstract philosophical "ways."