Stanley and His Power Tools Encounter Buzzsaw Lawyer

The moderator seethes sometime before the 45:00 mark, and would have untucked her shirt threateningly at that moment had it not already been so — that’s how upset she becomes, to the point that she does not want to turn over the microphone to the lawyer/columnist/philosopher who shocks part of the assembly. Notice her body language in relation to Romano after the 48:00 minute mark. Before the 4:00 mark, we have an excellent shot of the footwear of many of the participants and audience members, likely a subtle homage to the mentioning of the barefoot stroll that Socrates and Phaedrus take in a certain Platonic dialogue.

Perhaps one or two outsiders to the event recorded in the video would have some questions. An outsider might wonder how this session that demonstrates almost everything but “progress in philosophy” came into being. Did the organizers not know about Carlin Romano? Had they failed to read his articles? Maybe the organizers imagined that Romano’s hostility toward Heidegger made him igitur a friend of analytic philosophy. The other question: Why would Jason Stanley have posted the video of the event allegedly designed to deal with the juxtaposition of progress and philosophy? Now, it is possible that someone using Professor Stanley’s name posted the video, but given the way the event is recorded (repeated camera movements designed to capture Stanley’s reactions to Romano’s planned provocations), it looks as if the person recording the session is pro-Stanley, wants to give Stanley more air time, including a wide shot near the end that captures Stanley apparently urging the crowd to confront Romano.  Had the video started with Romano’s taunts, Stanley and his supporters might have come across on the video as abused academics expressing some not-so-veiled, but arguably justifiable, anger at Romano. Unfortunately, Stanley’s pacing performance at the beginning of the video, littered with self-interruptions and more “you know’s” than Caroline Kennedy, reinforces Romano’s claim later in the video about a general lack of communicative skill among Anglophone analytic philosophers.

For some reason, the video ends when it appears that passionate engagement is headed toward an apex. At least part of the crowd is just beginning to work itself up into a frenzy, with any thought of Hamlet’s comment to Horatio far from any participant’s mind.

The episode

Philosophical Progress and Intellectual Culture from Jason Stanley on Vimeo.


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