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03/20/2020

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californian

To clarify, we are allowed to go outside in California!

M

I actually find my work helpful. I have seen folks on social media being astonished about, or outwardly critical of, academics who are focusing on research during this time, but frankly, maintaining some sense of continuity has been helpful for me. That said, my wife and I are making sure to get outside every day, to watch murder mysteries, cook, and check in with our friends and family across the country.

Still, I’m continuing to write and think about what I find intellectually compelling. I research what I do because it’s meaningful and gives me pleasure. I’m allowing myself to feel less pressure about deadlines, of course. And I’ve adjusted the goals I have for my days. But even though It’s true that people are dying, we’re in the midst of significant economic challenges, and the future is unknown, I’m not sure that spending all day focusing on that, without it amounting to actual action (donating, volunteering, etc.) is any better than physically distancing and trying to maintain some continuity with what’s “normal,” even though what’s “normal” is likely to change dramatically in the next few months.

A

I would love to be working more! The most difficult part has been the closure of daycare. I love my kid but work is so important to my well-being and yet I've been lucky to grab an hour of work time a day while he naps.

Mark

This may sound corny, but I wonder if now is a good time to start forging philosophical communities that might be different from the "tribes" we are now in that might alter the face of the profession in new and interesting and I hope better ways. For example, there is a cohort of single PhD students with few non-dissertation responsibilities who are taking this opportunity to finish up. They should get to know one another. There are philosophers out there spending more time than they ever anticipated spending with their pets. They should be in touch. Philosophers out there worry about staying in shape while mostly stuck at home eating crisps. Philosophers who are at their wits end trying to entertain their five year olds are explaining to them Frege's puzzle of identity or the medieval problem of universals. Are there lessons that can be learned from that about pedagogy or philosophy for children? Some of us are stuck out in the country and some in big cities where there are different norms surrounding social distancing in general. What philosophical profit can this new situation generate? Are different religious groups dealing with the current situation is different ways that might be philosophical interesting? They should be in touch and share with one another and with us.

Would it pay to have a "Pandemic Solidarity Reading Group" where philosophers from across the analytic-continental divide or the history-topics divide or any other divide that divides us, come together to read a modern "classic" that many of us know, but haven't read? I'm thinking something like Parfit's R&P or Nagel's TVfN or something where diverse philosophers can contribute diverse perspectives that would be interesting to a broad swath of the profession.

Or maybe we can find something on Netflix and generate a good philosophical discussion on Twitter and show the broader public what philosophers can do when they get hold of an interesting bit of pop culture.

It is a good time to broaden the philosophical communities we are in. Many of us go through our careers seeing only familiar names and faces at conferences. We talk to our communities only. Let's join new communities or make some communities that cut across traditional philosophical divides.

Brian

I might get obsessed with the point-5 as I'm serving in slowing down my life during this pandemic.

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