This last weekend Buffalo hosted its annual x-Phi Conference. Helen De Cruz served as keynote, delivering a great talk on cognitive science/xPhi in philosophy of religion. Major take-aways: 1) phil of religion, more than other fields of philosophy, presently seems like an empty performance of group identity, where philosophers go to argue positions they, but not others, find forceful, 2) phil of religion, as many people understand it, is a fairly dull affair that could be more interesting, 3) phil of religion is a rich place for philosophers generally to find inspiration, and 4) phil of religion is dominated by Christian theists and their detractors (and is even more white and male than philosophy generally).
One of the interesting things I noticed at this conference vs. previous conferences is the incorporation in a number of talks of qualitative methods (e.g. semi-structured interviews) in presentations, in addition to survey methodologies. This led to some interesting conversations about these methods may (or may not) be helpful.
I was thinking today how much of the language intellectuals use to describe our place in history has changed, and in particular, how I don’t hear the word “postmodern” thrown around as casually as I used to a decade ago. Curious whether or not I could find evidence for this change, I went to Ngram–as I am apt–and ran some searches et voila! Theory confirmed. Looks like 1998 was the ebb. What happened? Did reviews of Radiohead’s Ok Computer and the Matrix movies overuse the term, and 9-11 sweep away our Baudrillardian/Foucauldian concerns with representations and power by making our fears seem suddenly too immediate?