Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ah, the beginning of the school year...

when the google searches that lead to this blog start turning up "jacob t. levy professor ratings" and the like.

Faced with an intro class of 330 students that starts next week, I take this opportunity to mention to people conducting such web searches that Professor Levy is mean and scary and to be avoided at all costs. He is rated PG-13 in the US, G in Quebec, and 14A in the Rest of Canada; and two thumbs sideways by Siskel and Ebert.
Matthew L. M. Fletcher, "The Tenth Justice Lost in Indian Country"

Turtletalk's Matthew Fletcher has written a paper with a very smart insight.
This short paper prepared for the 2009 Federal Bar Association’s Annual Meeting offers preliminary results of a study of the OSG in the Supreme Court from the 1998 through the 2008 Terms. I study the OSG’s success rates before the Court in every stage of litigation, from the certiorari process, the Court’s calls for the views of the Solicitor General, and on the merits of the cases that reach final decision after oral argument.

The paper begins with the preliminary data on the OSG’s success rate in Indian law cases. The data demonstrates that the OSG retains its success rate in both the certiorari process and on the merits when the United States is in opposition to tribal interests. But when the OSG sits as a party alongside tribal interests, and especially when the OSG acts as an amicus siding with tribal interests, the OSG’s success rate drops dramatically.

I've commented before on strong the OSG's brief was in Plains Commerce, and how surprising it is that the court ruled the other way without even seeming to take the OSG's office seriously. The finding here-- which amounts to the finding that "impairs tribal sovereignty" is a better predictor of which way the court rules than "outcome argued for by the Solicitor General," and that the SG office's general success record before the court doesn't carry over to the pro-tribal side of Indian law cases-- is the general form of that surprise. Recommended.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

CFP: Hegel After Spinoza

Hegel After Spinoza: A Volume of Critical Essays
Edited by Hasana Sharp and Jason Smith

Call for Papers

The names Hegel and Spinoza have come to represent two irreconcilable paths in contemporary philosophy. This opposition has taken different forms, but has its roots in mid- to late-20th century French philosophy. Althusser announced that he required a “detour” away from Hegel and through Spinoza in order to arrive at a genuinely materialist Marxism. Pierre Macherey staged a careful deconstruction of Hegel’s claim to have superseded Spinoza’s system in Hegel ou Spinoza, which concomitantly served as a defence of Spinozism against the Hegelianism dominant in France in the 1960s and ‘70s. Among the most influential articulations of this antagonism are the polemics of Deleuze celebrating the immanent and vitalist thinking of a materialist tradition beginning with Lucretius and passing through Spinoza to the present, to which he opposes the logic of totality, negativity, and contradiction found in Hegel. Spinoza, for Deleuze and others, stands for a rejection of negativity and lack as the foundation of philosophical and political thought, and as a salutary alternative to the negativity (in both the logical and existential senses) associated not only with Hegel, but with Hobbes, Freud, Sartre, Heidegger, and LĂ©vinas as well. Feminists have likewise celebrated Spinoza as providing a joyful alternative to a tradition that emphasizes anxiety, mortality, and combat. This opposition, in its various expressions, underscores that reading Hegel has always been and remains a political act.

We are seeking essays to contribute to an anthology on the relationship between Spinoza and Hegel that move beyond the stalemate of current debates in continental philosophy. The title we have proposed for this collection points toward a horizon that no longer opposes a “bad” Hegel to a “good” Spinoza; we seek essays that indicate how contemporary readings of Spinoza—no longer the thinker of absolute substance, but of immanent causality, singular connections, transindividuality, and the multitude—might illuminate otherwise less visible threads in Hegel’s thought, and open the way to a re-reading of Hegel, beyond the institutionalized figure we take for granted. How might a productive and mutually enlightening encounter be produced between these two great systematic thinkers? What political possibilities are opened up by reading Hegel and Spinoza as useful contrasts rather than moral alternatives? The anthology will be published in a series that treats historical topics in light of contemporary continental thought. We are open to a broad range of topics within this rubric, but are especially interested in new readings that avoid simply recapitulating either the pantheism controversy in 19th century Germany or the French polemics of the 20th century.

Please send papers of 7,500-10,000 words to
Hasana Sharp ( or Jason Smith ( by 15 June, 2010.