Category Archives: Profession

2017-18 PGR / Chinese Philosophy Rankings

The 2017-18 Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR) has been released here. It includes “specialty rankings” for various areas, including Chinese philosophy. This year, for the first time, I was invited to be among the evaluators, and after wrestling with this a bit, decided to give it a try. As explained at the top of this page, evaluators see lists of faculty and then choose one of the following categories:

  • 0 – Inadequate for a PhD program
  • 1 – Marginal
  • 2 – Adequate
  • 3 – Good
  • 4 – Strong
  • 5 – Distinguished

Evaluators can do this for the program overall, and then for the various specialties. I chose to only rank the Chinese philosophy specialty (I did not select overall rankings). The vast majority I assigned a score of 0. I believe that the highest score I gave was a 3. Programs that have one or even two specialists can be — other things being equal — good places to study. But in my judgment there are no English-language programs that merit “strong” or “distinguished” rankings. In my view, that would take multiple specialists, and others with cognate interests, in the context of an overall strong and supportive department. We may get there one day, but we’re not there yet.

I have mixed views about this whole rankings thing, which has been discussed before on the blog. What we have tried to do here at Warp, Weft, and Way is provide as much objective information about graduate study as possible. But since PGR exists and I was invited to take part, I decided to give it a try.

One other thing. As Bryan Van Norden (another evaluator, and also someone on the Advisory Board) explains here, PGR policy is that programs need to have a certain minimum overall score in order to be ranked. Programs with significant “specialty” strengths but without the minimum overall score end up being listed as “Additional programs not evaluated this year but recommended for consideration by the Advisory Board.” I agree with Bryan’s sentiment that the programs listed under this rubric are as strong as the ones officially ranked, and thus disapprove of this policy, which I find to be highly misleading.

Valmisa Hired by Gettysburgh

Mercedes Valmisa wrote to share the following information; I’d be happy to pass on similar news that anyone else has to share. Congratulations, Mercedes!

I have accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Philosophy (tenure-track) at Gettysburg College’s Philosophy Department to begin in the fall 2018. For the 2018-2019 academic year, I will be an Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow, a program intended to support faculty who can introduce diversity in the curriculum.

I got a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Sevilla (Spain), a M.A. in Chinese Philosophy from National Taiwan University, and a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies (June 2017) from Princeton University. I’m both a sinologist and a philosopher, and I work at the intersection of Chinese Studies and Chinese Philosophy: using interdisciplinary methods and approaches to explore philosophical problems across the early corpus of Chinese texts, both received and excavated. I’m particularly interested in questions of agency, efficacy, uncertainty, control, and freedom.

Overview of Jobs, 2017

Last year (2016) there was a sudden, dramatic increase in the number of tenure-track jobs aimed at least in part at Chinese, Asian, Non-Western, or Comparative Philosophy. Was it the beginning of a trend, or a blip? A review of this year’s offerings suggests that a real change may be taking place. I list here 20 positions that have been advertised for the current job season — approximately the same number as last year. I have included positions with Chinese, Asian, Non-Western, or Comparative in any AOS disjuncts — admittedly, in some of these cases, the job is not aimed narrowly at our field — and I have also included jobs with an Open AOS that further specifies some sort of interest in our field. I also include three interdisciplinary Asian or Chinese Studies positions that explicitly include philosophy. On the other hand, I have not included jobs with specific (i.e., non-Open) AOSes that include Chinese/Asian/Non-Western/Comparative as an AOC. The list is alphabetical. If I have missed any that should be included, or if you have any comments or corrections, please share!

(Note that this post is primarily for the purpose of reflection on the state of the field; the application deadlines for some of these jobs have already passed.)
Revision, 5 November 2017: This list is limited to English-language teaching positions, and as a result I have removed Wuhan University (which requires Mandarin, a fact Paul D’Ambrosio brought to my attention), and revised the number of total jobs to 18. See comments below for a reference to the Wuhan job and at least one other Mandarin-language job.
Revision, 14 November 2017: Added Washington College and revised total to 19.
Revision, 28 November 2017: Added Seton Hill University and revised total to 20.

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Univ. of Newcastle (Australia) to abolish Philosophy Major

Disturbing news from a colleague in Australia:

This is Yin Gao from the University of Newcastle, Australia. I have been teaching Chinese philosophy in this institution for over 15 years. I am afraid I have a rather bad news. My school decided to abolish philosophy major:
http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4905905/philosophy-classics-cuts-would-mark-uni-demise-union/
I wonder if you would announce the news here. My colleagues and I are dismayed by this decision. Currently, this proposed change is still under consultation. Any support from anyone would be much appreciated. They can send their comment to the following link:
Ruth.Hartmann@newcastle.edu.au or email me at my email as listed here.
UoN receive submission until Friday the 22nd of Sept [updated]. However, any comment after this date would still means a lot to us.

WWWOPY Follow-Up: Please share your ideas

Some of you may remember that Hagop Sarkissian and I announced a while back a plan to acknowledge top papers on Chinese philosophy (journal articles and anthology chapters) via something we called the WWWOPY (Warp, Weft, and Way Outstanding Papers of the Year). Following the announced procedure, we wrote to a wide range of research-active colleagues (both junior and senior, and of various methodological and theoretical backgrounds) to solicit nominations. However, we received zero replies with nominations. So we are re-thinking our idea.

We subsequently wrote again to the same set of twenty-four colleagues, telling them what happened and asking (1) whether they thought this was a good idea, and (2) whether they had suggestions to make it work better. This time almost everyone replied, but there was little consensus. In reflecting on all the feedback, we did conclude that especially in a growing field with an increasing number of new voices, finding a way to call attention to particularly valuable, recent, article-length work still seems like a good idea. Many people told us that they did not keep regular tabs on this kind of new work, only digging in when they began a new project. But this means that too many people may be missing ideas that should prompt new or different kinds of research projects in the first place, among other consequences.

However we are a bit stymied about how to proceed, and so decided to open this topic up for general discussion. It is hard to find an approach that seems likely to be both useful and practical. Please share your thoughts!

Olberding: “Degenerate Skepticism and the Thieves of Philosophy”

Amy Olberding has published an essay called “Degenerate Skepticism and the Thieves of Philosophy” on the “Department of Deviance” website. She explains the essay’s origin:

An essay presented at a special APA session on what Chinese philosophy can contribute to contemporary philosophy. There are increasingly many sessions at APA meetings pitched to offer the non-specialist an entry into “non-western” philosophy. Rarely are these attended by anyone who is not already a specialist in “non-western” philosophy. The essay here is not about how Chinese philosophy can contribute to contemporary debate. It is instead a polemic about the folly of this question in the current atmosphere within the discipline.

Chinese Philosophy to Return to Michigan

I am thrilled to be able to share the news that, thanks in part to a gift from Don and Ann Munro, the University of Michigan will be re-establishing a tenure-track line in Chinese philosophy, to be housed jointly in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Philosophy. The support that the Munros have shown for the study of Chinese philosophy—in addition to Don’s distinguished career, the Munros have established the Tang Junyi Lecture Series at UM, the Munro Fund at the ACLS, and now this—is truly exemplary. Full text of the announcement follows.

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Publishing on the History of Chinese Philosophy

The recent discussion of the scope of “philosophy” reminded me of Amy Olberding’s excellent idea that those of us with tenure, at least, should make a point of endeavoring to publish in “general” philosophy journals, at least some of the time. (Just to be clear: this is no criticsm of existing journals focused on Chinese or comparative philosophy!) I am finishing up an essay on how to understand (and translate) tian in the context of Neo-Confucianism, and thought that it might make sense to try submitting it to a general history of philosophy journal. Which to choose? I decided to do a little research. I was pretty sure that Brian Leiter’s blog would have some sort of ranking of such journals, and sure enough, it does (from 2010). What surprised me was what I found when I started looking at the journals’ websites.

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Another Round on Chinese Thought as Philosophy

In case you missed it, Nicholas Tampio recently published a short piece in Aeon explaining why he thinks Confucius (among other non-Western thinkers) should not be regarded as a philosopher, with implications for the philosophy curriculum and the makeup of philosophy faculties. This is a response to the recent New York Times piece by Jay Garfield and Bryan Van Norden.  Tampio and Van Norden subsequently exchanged tweets on the topic. Amy Olberding replies thoroughly and with humor here, and Ethan Mills responds on behalf of Indian philosophy here.

Where to begin?

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