Thursday, October 02, 2014

What You Can Do To Support PIKSI (which you *should* support) OTHER THAN Donating Your Money (which, if you are able, you *should* also do)

It's been a busy (in fact, record-breakingly busy) month here on RMWMTMBM, so I wanted to take a momentary break from the Leiter/PGR/SeptemberStatement brouhaha--about which this blog has more or less unfortunately become something akin to professional Philosophy's version of TMZ-- and instead remark upon an initiative as important to our discipline as, and not wholly unrelated to, the recent Sturm und Drang vis-รก-vis "civility" and "rankings." In the interest of performatively enacting for intro-Philosophy students everywhere the importance of an appropriately-situated thesis statement, let me just explicitly avow here: IF you are a professional Philosopher who has bothered to take an even passing glance at the demographic data of our (unfortunately and WOEFULLY retrograde) profession, you OUGHT consider yourself ipso facto obliged to contribute whatever discretionary material means you have at your disposal to support PIKSI (aka, the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute).

Try to put aside for the moment, fellow philosophers, your sub-disciplinary-specific prejudicial inclinations, your views on the merits or demerits of Leiter and/or civility norms in general, as well as the PGR and/or rankings in general, your idiosyncratic and/or solipsistic projections about the manner in which the "best" or most"legitimate" iterations of our discipline reflect, in effect, you  Let all of those biases and prejudices go for just a moment, just long enough to see the-- I don't know how best to qualify this... statistically-verified? scientifically sound? descriptively accurate? morally obligatory? manifestly obvious?-- evidence demonstrating not only professional Philosophy's deep and abiding prejudices, but also the confirmation of those prejudices' effective force in the material construction of professional Philosophy's professoriate.

It's long past time that professional philosophers conceded, to borrow an ingenious turn-of-phrase from Corey Robin, that the personnel is political.  If we measured the "politics" of professional Philosophy by its "personnel" representation... well, I won't even complete that conditional.

If any trained philosopher takes but a moment to formulate an informed appraisal of the radically disproportionate ratio of demographically under-represented members to demographically over-represented members in our profession, s/he cannot help but deduce that something must be terribly amiss in the profession.

PIKSI was begun at the institution from which I earned my PhD in Philosophy, Penn State, just before I left. As a consequence, I am not only very familiar with the PISKI program, but also familiar with its many revisions and reiterations over the years.  I want to state, clearly and for the record, that PIKSI is one of the most innovative, valuable, proactive and progressive initiatives that I've ever seen in professional Philosophy.  It should be supported, as it has been for the last several years but (inexplicably) is no longer, by the only organization that is charged with advocating the interests of professional Philosophers, namely, the American Philosophical Association.   

I don't know why the APA is no longer supporting PIKSI.  (I'd be interested to hear an explanation from anyone in the know.)  I cannot think of a more utile or worthwhile expenditure of my membership dues than a program like PIKSI.  It's a program with not only documentable but also documented success, which is designed to ameliorate one of professional Philosophy's most documentable and documented problems (i.e., its grossly lopsided demography). I wish it were not the case that I had to use this post to solicit your contribution to the continued existence and success of PIKSI but, alas, such is the case.

If you are unfamiliar with PIKSI, please take a moment to listen to the stories (and LOOK AT THE FACES) of PIKSI alums:

If you have the means to do so, please donate to PIKSI's effort to "Change the Face of Philosophy" here.

If you do not have the means to donate, or if you have donated and want to do more, I encourage those of you who are members of SPEP (Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) to take a moment to write your representatives on the SPEP Advocacy Committee and urge them to petition the APA to extend its financial support of PIKSI not only for this year, but in perpetuity.

The current members of the SPEP Advocacy Committee are:
I apologize to Weiss, Mader and Protevi in advance-- all of whom I know, like and respect-- if my solicitation herein ends up flooding their inboxes... but in the absence of an APA "Advocacy Committee," I think the SPEP Advocacy Committee is the best resource we have for petitioning the continued financial support of PIKSI.

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