Plagiarism #2

My previous post on Stephen Watson’s allegations of plagiarism, levelled at Antjie Krog, comes down on Watson’s side. Subsequent to that post, Krog, her publishers, and Eve Gray have responded to the allegations. Having read these responses – particularly those of Krog and Gray – it becomes clear that I posted in haste, largely driven by a historical respect for Watson, a dislike for Krog’s Country of My Skull, and my own daily battles against plagiarists in my classrooms.

I no longer believe there to be any merit to Watson’s charges, and am now far more interested in the question of why he felt it necessary to be so hostile and disingenuous in his treatment of what appears to be a non-issue. Could it be as simple a thing as jealousy, given his relative obscurity of late?

The University, Inc.

On Monday next week, the new academic year at my University will begin – and I’m wondering if it’s too late to find some South American country to take refuge in. Because as every new year arrives, I feel more and more like the store manager at some discount supermarket, attending to queries of the order and import of “which electric toaster would you recommend?”. Continue reading “The University, Inc.”

The Mohammed cartoons

In light of a riot in Iran a few days ago against New Zealand, in which an interviewed leader seemed quite confused as to where NZ was:

Surely with just a few well-placed web-postings on discovery of the Mohammed cartoons in yet another country’s newspapers, someone could bring it about that we get to see video footage of mobs chanting “Death to Ruritania!” and looking for its embassy. Continue reading “The Mohammed cartoons”

Coherentism

Neverness has posted something on ignorance, and using coherentism as an epistemological framework. I’d agree with what he says if it’s meant as a descriptive claim – about what humans tend to do – but I’d be wary of suggesting we adopt coherintist epistemology as a normative proposition. It doesn’t embed or endorse some very useful, and seemingly justified, logical rules (excluded middle, non-contradiction, etc.).

I also don’t believe we should leave out some key insights from virtue epistemology, namely that we are at least partly in control over what path to go down in terms of the “set” or “tradition” of beliefs to follow. For example, isn’t it reasonable to demand us to ask, when encountering a new proposition, whether Occam’s Razor would challenge us to reject it or not?

Plagiarism

If you are a reader of New Contrast, this won’t be news to you. But others who are interested in the topic of plagiarism – and particularly in how much it seems tolerated, or even endorsed – by South African publishers, should be sure to check out the Sunday Times this week. Well, probably this week, but I can’t guarantee that.

[EDIT]: The full text of Watson’s article can be found here. Continue reading “Plagiarism”

Most of them, and I, survive

If I said something like”That was fun”, then I’d be lying. Any of you who have had to mark student essays or exams don’t need to hear this, but people who have never been exposed to these tasks are often strangely naive about the intellectual calibre of the typical student – and the typical human being, for that matter. Both are generally rather pointless on various standards – economic, social, and metaphysical, to name the three biggies. Continue reading “Most of them, and I, survive”

Again with the marking

Earlier this week I remarked to a colleague that it feels like we’ve just finished marking exam scripts. This is not true at all, of course, given that we finished marking sometime in early November. But there was so much of it, and so much utter crap to read, that the memory lingers long. And here I sit, knowing that I’ll have to wade into the worst of it all sometime today. Continue reading “Again with the marking”

A friend in need

is a friend indeed? This is one of those phrases that Resistentialists seldom use, except after a few brandies when we start to ponder questions such as: “Why do people use phrases like this one?”, and “What the hell do phrases like this actually mean, anyway?”

In short, it may be true to say that we complicate, and sometimes overcomplicate, the banal through grim terror – in that if we can accomplish the dissecting of every known cliche, it liberates in respect of those (rare) moments where we may accidentally use them in an unselfconscious manner. Because if our interlocutors can’t be sure that we are being sincere – given our prior analysis of the cliche – they are forced to interpret us as being ironic, and that’s just the way we like it. With all that out the way, the phrase seems to originate in the Latin “Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur”, from Ennuis, translated as “A sure friend is known when in difficulty”. But this is the first of two, possibly three, interpretations. Continue reading “A friend in need”

Report on Resistentialism

It is the peculiar genius of the French to express their philosophical thought in aphorisms, sayings hard and tight as diamonds, each one the crystal centre of a whole constellation of ideas. Thus, the entire scheme of seventeenth century intellectual rationalism may be said to branch out from that single, pregnant saying of Descartes, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ – ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Resistentialism, the philosophy which has swept present-day France, runs true to this aphoristic form. Go into any of the little caf├ęs or horlogeries on Paris’s Left Bank (make sure the Seine is flowing away from you, otherwise you’ll be on the Right Bank, where no one is ever seen) and sooner or later you will hear someone say, ‘Les choses sont contre nous.’ ‘Things are against us.’ Continue reading “Report on Resistentialism”

We return, mostly unscathed

from a trip to the country. On Friday night the “season” began in earnest, but all of us seemed to be preserving our energies, or perhaps recuperating from all the Resistential dinners that led up to this one (which was, in truth, no Resistential dinner – despite most of us being present). Every weekend between now and early January is booked for some event or other, starting with this drive to have dinner in the place of my childhood, named after pumpkins. Continue reading “We return, mostly unscathed”