pros and cons of hitchhiking

I couldn’t wait for Roger Waters’s tour, Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. I got a shirt and the vinyl (which I still have). But this article isn’t just a case of nostalgia: It’s a philosophical question about reality and fantasy.

The “plot” of Pros and Cons, if that makes any sense, is a series of seemingly random thoughts of a man driving through California, including a fantasy about sex with a hitchhiker he picks up during his trip (and maybe the hitchhiker, too).  The lyrics are fascinating, as they intersperse realities of his life (and perhaps, as some people think, his mid-life crisis) with his fantasies. The trick, of course, is to tell which is which.

And that trick brings us to what-if-ery. Continue reading “pros and cons of hitchhiking”

Back to the roots of education

If you ask most people in Academia, we are living in Dark Times. It’s the age of Stackable Credentials and Verifiable Skills, of the “professionalization” of university leadership, standardization and fragmentation of the curriculum, and denigration of expertise. We didn’t ask for it, but knowledge- and skill-acquisition are being steadily off-loaded from Academia onto other types of institutions. It’s the End.

Actually, I have a somewhat different view. Continue reading “Back to the roots of education”

The Argument against the Data

Before you dive in, here’s your homework: Read the recent NYT article, “The Data Against Kant.”

I found this article fascinating and rather encouraging, but here’s spoiler alert: If you think this article disposes of philosophy as useless, hair-splitting semantics, you may as well stop reading right here, because I’m going to do some philosophy.

Generally, I endorse the use of empirical investigation in philosophical investigation, so long as we are reasonably clear what the question is. We don’t yet have the published paper, and I’m looking forward to a more detailed discussion of the methodology, because, from this general article, it’s not clear what the question actually was, nor is the reasoning of the article quite clear. Nevertheless, here are a few preliminary reflections. Continue reading “The Argument against the Data”

Power exchange and autonomy

I often get questions that prompt interesting conversations, and this week, I’d like to share a recent conundrum : How does political engagement work in a power exchange relationship? Can a Dom/me tell a sub how to vote?

This is actually a complex issue, and I apologize in advance for sounding like a Philosopher. (But think about the site you’re visiting.)

First, a little clarification. Power exchange covers a lot of territory, from the sub who agrees to allow a Dom/me to have authority over specific zones of submission during a scene or playtime, all the way to 24/7 consensual slavery. For clarity, I’ll start with the extreme end of the spectrum: slavery. Continue reading “Power exchange and autonomy”

Why bother with Power Exchange?

In a recent conversation, I was asked about Power Exchange. “I see the point of BDSM play, but why would anyone get into a power exchange relationship?” In the spirit of Heraklitus, I aimed for insightful and funny: “To stay awake.” In fact, the underlying philosophical point of organizing relationships in terms of Power Exchange is precisely to live as authentically and intentionally as possible.
Power exchange relationships come in many flavors, from topping or bottoming during a scene at a play party, to full-on, 24/7 consensual slavery. Beneath this variety, there is at least one common theme: People take charge of their relationships by negotiating and making agreements about who has which powers and under what conditions. To negotiate a relationship in this way is to engage in a self-reflective process that involves (at least) knowing who I am. In the process, I must be aware of my needs and desires, acknowledge what gets me off, and articulate my “terms and conditions” clearly to others. Each agreement to exchange power is a choice that structures a relationship, but to be a genuine exercise of autonomy, it must be authentic and intentional. In short, it requires, among other things, being awake.

Continue reading “Why bother with Power Exchange?”