Saturday, November 20, 2004

Hodges' Letter to Brian Leiter

Had Jeff Hodges told me that he was intending to write to Brian Leiter, I would have advised him not to waste his time. Jeff seems not to appreciate what status-obsessed elitists of Leiter's sort are like, and, not being a philosopher, Jeff has probably never heard of Leiter himself. The best rule for dealing with such people is to ignore them. The policy is similar to what ought to be one's e-mail policy: delete obnoxious and offensive e-mail as soon as its properties become apparent. Don't even read it. The wise cybernaut, like the seasoned hiker, gives all venomous critters a wide berth.

Dear Professor Leiter,

Greetings. I am assuming that you are the "Leiter" who referred to Bill Vallicella in this post:

In keeping with my general policy of not linking to noxious mediocrities--who, experience has shown, crave any attention--I am just going to quote a posting that is interesting not because of who said it (though he purports to be a philosopher), but because of what it reveals about the right-wing mindset (it resonates with rhetoric one hears from Andrew Sullivan,Christopher Hitchens and others of that slimy ilk). The author was reacting (badly, it appears) to my reference to Bush & co. as fascist theocrats.
And this:

(Just a sidenote on "stupidity," for the amusement of my philosophy readers: the author of the posting discussed above professes, elsewhere on his site, to the following philosophical views: "My philosophical position may be described as onto-theological personalism: I defend the view that individual persons form an irreducible and ultimate ontological category, and that within this category self-subsistent existence is the prime person. This is the theme that unifies my seemingly disparate investigations." Unity at any cost, it appears.)

If you did not write these things, then pardon the intrusion. Let me assume that you did write them, however, and on that assumption I suggest that you do some more reading on Vallicella's philosophical website.

I make this suggestion because you appear to have philosophical interests, and a bit of reading would perhaps dissuade you from your view of Vallicella as one of the "noxious mediocrities" who only seek attention. You will find that he not only "purports to be a philosopher," he is actually a very good one.Metaphysics might not be to your tastes, but you'll quickly see that Vallicella is hardly one exhibiting"stupidity" in his profession of his "philosophical views." You certainly owe it to your "philosophy readers" to link to Vallicella's website and allow them to reach their own conclusions.

BV adds: You're a great friend Jeff, but I have to say you exhibit naivete in this last paragraph. You need to find out more about Leiter in particular, and the worst sort of analytic philosopher in general. Do a Google search on 'Leiter Buck' and 'Leiter Drezner' and then follow the links. As for the second point, go here. I became aware of Leiter's attack via this post.

Best Regards,

Jeffery Hodges
Korea University

P.S. I'm sending one copy of this to Vallicella. I'm pretty sure that he didn't know you when he wrote the post that you referred to, but you two might as well get acquainted.

BV: That won't happen, and I'm glad it won't.