Friday, February 08, 2008

Scattered Friday thoughts

The talk yesterday was great fun. I haven't been in a serious exegesis-and-interpretation-of-Walzer conversation in many years, and there's a lot there worth talking about.

In the course of preparing the talk, I really had cause to think about the shape of Walzer's corpus. While he wrote excellent material both before and after this time, it seems to me that there's a 13-year stretch-- 1977-1990-- that's just stunning for breadth and scale of achievement. His published work from that era that I think are all major and enduring contributions, including four really quite distinct enduring books:

Just and Unjust Wars
"The Moral Standing of States"
"Philosophy and Democracy"
Spheres of Justice
"Liberalism and the Art of Separation"
"What Does It Mean to be an 'American'?"
"The Communitarian Critique of Liberalism"
Interpretation and Social Criticism
The Company of Critics

I've never read Radical Principles or Exodus and Revolution, but they were published in that timeframe too (as well as a steady stream of other articles not mentioned here). And to close it out, his second set of Tanner Lectures, "Nation and Universe," that provides the most sophisticated statement of his views of cultures as boundaries of moral and epistemic meaning, was published (only in the Tanner volumes, not as a freestanding publication) in 1990. I'm pleased to see that "Nation and Universe" has finally been republished in an accessible format-- in the new David Miller edited collection of Walzer's papers, Thinking Politically, Yale UP. It's been hard to come by, and it's an important piece of the puzzle for thinking about Spheres of Justice. (So, by the way, is "The Moral Standing of States," something that gets overlooked because the latter gets lumped with Just and Unjust Wars and segmented off as part of the sub-subfield international or global justice.)


You know you live far north when you drive past a Winter Olympics venue, northbound, and think, "oh, that's good, almost halfway there..."

Seeing the tourist-friendly French language signs in northern upstate New York made me feel like home was on the horizon.

I've heard (and said) the Montreal greeting "bonjour-hi" so often that I don't quite notice it any more-- but I noticed and was charmed by the very Anglo-Canadian border guard who took my passport with a friendly "bonjour, eh?" Can't say that I've ever heard that before.


I hardly ever just post links without comment to vastly-higher-traffic blogs. If you're the kind of person who's likely to enjoy Crooked Timber, you're a lot more likely to read it yourself than to follow my links to it. But just in case, two good ones from the last few days: Henry Farrell, "Seeing Like Seeing Like A State" and John Holbo, "Rawls and Liberalism".


Finally, speaking of Rawls, I've occasionally referred to portions of Political Liberalism as auto-talmudic or auto-talmudism for their curious approach to commenting on Theory of Justice. (All of Rawls' best friends had taken a turn at interpreting TJ, and they seemed to enjoy it, so one can imagine him deciding to make an attempt at the same activity.) On a whim, it occurred to me to check google to see whether those logisms had been neo'd before. No hits for "auto-talmudic." But a few hits for "auto-talmudism"-- all as part of gobbldy car insurance spam sites. Not sure why, but that amused me.


One more pair of links to a vastly-higher-traffic blog: Eugene Volokh on sharia arbitration and again.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On the road

Today: "Michael Walzer on Political, Moral, and Cultural Pluralism," at Siena College's yearlong symposium on Walzer's thought. The sign says that the lecture is open to the public, so if blogreaders happen to be in Loudonville, NY...