Behold: meretricious zombies!

I have been reading infinite thØught for a good while now and am always happy to spot a new post full of references to German idealist arcana or new research from the front line of transcendental-pig studies. I feel unmistakably interpellated by this post though as being amongst the sickly mass of ‘meretricious zombies’ laying stricken on the edges of analytic philosophy trying to paw some spicy continental goodness into our gaping maws. McDowell, Brandom, Wittgenstein; together with Hegel, phenomenology, Kant, existentialism: guilty as charged. As a defence I can only plea reading Marx, Badiou, Zizek and Deleuze and I feel that may not be enough to save my undead soul. Alas, I am damned!

But all this is but a precursor to welcoming fresh victims to our ever growing army of the undead — erm… I mean some promising new blogs to the ‘post-analytic’-friendly corner of the blogosphere. First of all, there’s SOH-Dan, who has some really excellent posts up on Kant, Hegel and McDowell amongst other things. I must also thank him for being kind enough to mail me some McDowell articles. Then there’s the wonderfully titled spontaneity&receptivity, focusing on McDowell’s Mind and World, especially in relation to his philosophy of mind and language. I particularly recommend this post on McDowell’s account of the self.

Now back to work. Braaaaaaaains!

3 thoughts on “Behold: meretricious zombies!

  1. Now you’ve made me feel a tiny bit guilty, though I suspect most post-analytic philosophers secretly like the idea of being zombies.


    As a gesture of reconciliation, though, I’ll let you in on one of the major reasons why I made the ‘meretricious zombies’ claim. A few years ago, I attended the ‘Truth & Realism’ conference at St Andrews, which had many of the big names of the analytic-post-analytic world, not to mention a whole new crop of brain-munching acolytes, er, I mean students working in the area.

    On the whole, I enjoyed myself, especially Crispin Wright’s repeated use of rhubarb as an example, but I cringed horribly whenever someone mentioned Hegel or Heidegger, e.g., and a ripple of haughty laughter went through the audience. It wasn’t the fault of the speakers most of whom, especially Brandom, were explicit about the debt they owed to ‘Continental philosophy’. But the snobbery of the audience! The dismissive derision of a set of names upon whom whole swathes of their intellectual interests were nevertheless based!

    I was there with a charmingly belligerent Kantian friend of mine who, every time he pointed out (correctly) that Kant had, you know, worked quite a bit on whichever question was being discussed, was shouted down, as if the elephant in the room might explode if you called it by its proper name…

    So, meretricious sneering zombies…more of an Anglo than a American thing, perhaps, tied up with peculiarly Brit snobbery and class-based repressive conceptual cruelty. Er, probably.

    By the way, ‘new research from the front line of transcendental-pig studies’ is wonderful. I’m stealing it as my tag-line. Good luck assembling the zombie army!

  2. No need to feel guilty! Naturally, I am compelled to distinguish myself from the bulk of those post-analytic drones anyway by virtue of my colossally finessed approach and general amazingness, etc. etc. I find myself cringing at the mention of the phrase ‘post analytic’ — it’s all very revolution-without-actually-having-a-revolution. If the Lib Dems were a philosophical research programme they’d be a similar melange of cod-Wittgensteinian pragmatics and anachronistic nods to German idealism that characterises the more popular wing of the ‘movement’. So, in general, I don’t think your former ire is massively misdirected.

    It’s interesting that you should mention that Truth and Realism conference since I heard a rather dismissive report of chunks of it (like Rorty’s avuncular summings up of the debates) by a very analytic-down-the-line type. From the sounds of it, there was an unfortunate mix of those who’d come to hear Brandom, McDowell, Rorty, etc. and faceless ultra-analytic automatons.

  3. I.T.: “…I suspect most post-analytic philosophers secretly like the idea of being zombies.”

    Zizek, and perhaps other Lacanians, will tell us that post-analytic thought has declared that reason (the problem of reference) is dead, so that we can willingly become crushed in the maw of (R)eason, our perverse, little petite object “ah” status, getting stuck in the throat of that God. Can you feel it vibrate and subtly change the syllable? How can adding one’s own body to the vibrato style be in any way “misdirected”, unless one ends up producing the Universally Sour note: oh Antigone!

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