The Autodidact Project & Selected Quotations Therefrom
November 16, 2004 10:56 PM   Subscribe

posted by fleener at 11:30 PM on November 16, 2004

This makes me sigh so much more heavily than I wish it did.
posted by scody at 1:10 AM on November 17, 2004

Adorno on zen: "I've never bothered to taste chocolate but it's the same color as shit so it's bound to be shit."
posted by jfuller at 4:31 AM on November 17, 2004

"Autodidact" sounds so much nicer than "dillettante." Maybe I should swap one for the other in my pick-up chatter...

... on second though...
posted by lodurr at 6:35 AM on November 17, 2004

"Irony is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage" - David Foster Wallace.

Too much of what's written in those little quips sounds like the notebook highlightings of a 16-year old disappointed that the rest of the world dosen't measure up to his expectations of it. Boo-hoo.
posted by jonmc at 6:47 AM on November 17, 2004

kierkegaard argues against "ironic detachment" in either/or. at least, i think that's what it's about (i'm no expert - i only tried reading some because i heard it was a favourite of bjarne stroustroup (the c++ guy)).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:24 AM on November 17, 2004


Irony, Humor, & Cynicism Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie)
Salvaging Soviet Philosophy
A Memorial Tribute to Bill French
Richard Wright
Theodor W. Adorno
Black Studies, Music, America vs Europe
100 Years of C.L.R. James
American Philosophy
William Blake


Book review: The Universe and Dr. Einstein [On science popularization run amok]

"God or Labor: The Two Camps" by M. Bakunin

"The Contemporary Attack on Science" by Andras Gedo: Parts one and two

"The Late Medieval Attack on Analogical Thought: Undoing Substantial
Connection" by Sheila Delaney: Parts one, two, three

"Theses Against Occultism" by Theodor W. Adorno

"The Wages of Cynicism" (Review of Peter Sloterdijk's Critique of Cynical Reason) by Michael Miley
"Spinoza, the First Secular Jew?" by Yirmiyahu Yovel
by Anna Grimshaw, Parts One, Two, Three (10/9/2000)
"Proletarian Philosophy: A Version of Pastoral?" by Jonathan Ree,
Parts One and Two
"On the Jackson Trail" by Peter Osborne
[Review of Proletarian Philosophers: Problems in Socialist Culture in Britain, 1900-1940 by Jonathan Ree.]
The Problem of the Ideal (Extracts) by David Dubrovsky
"Voice", a poem by Woody Guthrie
"Renascence", a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay
"Haldeman-Julius, The Little Blue Books, and the Theory of Popular Culture" by Dale M. Herder
"The Origins of Jack Lindsay's Contributions to British Marxist Thought" by Joel R. Brouwer
"A Note on My Dialectic" by Jack Lindsay

A Checklist of Jack Lindsay's Books by John Arnold
New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater (interview) (5/20/2001)
Parts 1, 2, 3
Finding Aid: University Place Book Shop Papers, 1968-1988
Education and the Autodidact by Pierre Bourdieu
"The Organized Educational Activities of Negro Literary Societies, 1828-1846"
by Dorothy B. Porter, parts one and two
Ideology: Definitions & Approaches (Terry Eagleton's list)
Jeff Schmidt on Ideology and Professionals
"Ideology" by Jorge Larrain
Concepts of Ideology (1):
On the history of the term from Destutt de Tracy to Marx, by Arne Naess

Concepts of Ideology (2):
Definitions of the term "ideology" today, by Arne Naess

"Ideal Superstructures" by Derek Sayer
"Ideology" by Raymond Williams
"The Concept of Critique in Social Science" by Mihailo Markovic
"The Philosopher's Mission" by Paul Nizan
"On the Dialectico-Materialist Type of Rationality" by Jindrich Zeleny
Ideology: Descriptive, Pejorative, Positive Views, by Raymond Geuss
1. Ideology in the Descriptive Sense
2. Ideology in the Pejorative Sense
3. Ideology in the Positive Sense

"The Concept of the Ideal" by E. V. Ilyenkov
"Objectivity & Partisanship in Science" by Aant Elzinga
The William Plummer French Prize
"Black Studies: Getting Started in a Specialty" by William P. French
"On the Comic" by Tatyana Lyubimova
"On the Dialectics of Metamathematics" (Excerpts) by Peter Vardy
Bill French—A Sister's View by Bettina French
"A Tribute to Lester (Hank) Talkington" by Lloyd Motz
"The Graphic Figure & the Philosophical Abstraction" by Ion Banu
"Globalization, Internationalism, and the Class Politics of Cynical Reason" by Teresa L. Ebert
"Cynicism as a Form of Ideology" by Slavoj Zizek
"Existentialism" by Georg Lukács
"High Life & Mad English": Kurt Thometz reviewed by John Strausbaugh
"Towards a Marxist Aesthetic" by Jack Lindsay
"Pocahontas": an intellectual play by Edward W. Pearlstien
"Historical Amnesia" by Karl Maton & Rob Moore
"Bill French & Onitsha Market Literature" by Kurt Thometz
"Popes, Kings & Cultural Studies: Placing the commitment to non-disciplinarity in historical context" by Karl Maton
Letter to Ludwig Feuerbach from Ottilie Assing about Frederick Douglass
The Dialectics and Aesthetics of Freedom: Hegel, Slavery and 19th Century African American Music, PhD dissertation by Greg Harrison, selections, with an introduction by R. Dumain
Observorman: a blast from the '60s
"The Development of Thomas Davidson's Religious and Social Thought" by James A. Good
"Inside and Outside" by T.W. Adorno
Crisis Consciousness in Contemporary Philosophy by András Gedö:
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: "Two Aspects of Bourgeois Crisis Consciousness"
Chapter 2: "The Contemporary Crisis in Bourgeois Philosophy"
1. Neopositivism: Linguistic Philosophy and Critical Rationalism
2. Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie)

Preface to Process and Unreality: A Criticism of Method in Whitehead's Philosophy by Harry K. Wells
Contents and Introduction to The Concept of Ideology by Jorge Larrain
"Historical Remarks on the Question of Organization" by Jürgen Habermas
"Nonsense, Irony, Humor" by Susan Stewart
"Irony" by Norman D. Knox
The Functions of Irony (Diagram) by Linda Hutcheon
Karl Marx on Philosophy after Its Completion
"Scientism, Romanticism and Social Realist Images of Science" by Aant Elzinga
"The Growth of Science: Romantic and Technocratic Images" by Aant Elzinga
"Philosophy Hits the Newsstands" by Joshua Glenn
The Man of Science in a World of Crisis: A Plea for a Two-Pronged Attack on Positivism and Irrationalism by Aant Elzinga
"The New Age Mythology" by Michael Parenti
Moore Crossey on Walter Goldwater, Bill French, & Onitsha Market Literature
"Hegel's Method of Doing Philosophy Historically: A Reply" by James Lawler & Vladimir Shtinov (
Jack Lindsay and British Poetry in the 1930s by Adrian Caesar
How to Study: A Guide for Students (Jefferson School of Social Science)
"Jitterbugs" by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka
'Anthony Braxton: The Third Millennial Interview with Mike Heffley':
Extracts, with Commentary by Ralph Dumain
"Frames of Articulation" by Frithjof Rodi
"Compared to What" by Eugene McDaniels
"Intellectuals Among the Masses: Or, What Was Leonard Bast Really Like?" by Jonathan Rose
Philosophy for the Future: The Quest of Modern Materialism: Foreword & Contents by Roy Wood Sellars, V.J. McGill, Marvin Farber
Reflections on American Philosophy From Within: Foreword & Table of Contents by Roy Wood Sellars
Reflections on American Philosophy From Within: Chapter 1—The Nature of the Project
Reflections on American Philosophy From Within: Chapter 8—Intersecting Dialectical Materialism
"Thoughts on Autodidacticism" by John W. Osborne
"Autodidacticism and the Desire for Culture" by Rosemary Chapman
The Issue of Naturalism vs. Subjectivism by Marvin Farber
Naturalism and Subjectivism: Contents by Marvin Farber
"The Autodidacts and Their Literary Culture: Working-Class Autobiographers in Nineteenth-Century France" by Martyn Lyons
Introduction: "The Great Tribulation: Winnipeg's First General Strike" [by "Libertas Brammel"] by A. Ross McCormack
The Search for an Alternative I: Subjectivism, Phenomenology, Marxism, and the Role of Alternatives by Marvin Farber
The Search for an Alternative 9: From the Perspective of Materialism by Marvin Farber
Mind and Politics: Introduction by Ellen Meiksins Wood
"Philosophy & the Division of Labor" by Max Horkheimer & T.W. Adorno
Letter from Albert Einstein to Emanuel Fried
"Leslie Fiedler and Me" by Emanuel Fried
"Shuffle Back to Buffalo" by Emanuel Fried
The Search for an Alternative 8: The Historical Outcome of Subjectivism by Marvin Farber
Pardon Me, Your Class Is Showing, PhD dissertation by Emanuel Fried
Preface: A Letter to Dr. Leslie A. Fiedler, July 17, 1974 by Emanuel Fried
Pardon Me, Your Class Is Showing (Chapter 1) by Emanuel Fried
Artie Awards Honor Playwright Manny Fried (10/8/2003)
"The Slowdown" by Emanuel Fried
"Interview with Manny Fried" by Mike Mahoney
"Buffalo's Manny Fried: Laboring For The Working Man" by Jamie Moses
Dialectical Materialism and the History of Philosophy by Theodore Oizerman: Contents
Philosophy and Everyday Consciousness by Theodore Oizerman
Dialectical Materialism and Hegel's Philosophy of the History of Philosophy by Theodore Oizerman
Principles of the Theory of Historical Process in Philosophy by T.I Oizerman & A.S. Bogomolov: Contents
Problems of the History of Philosophy by Theodore Oizerman: Contents
The Main Trends in Philosophy by Theodore Oizerman: Contents
Problem of Wisdom as a Real Problem by Theodore Oizerman
The Sacred and the Profane: The Arbitrary Legacy of Pierre Bourdieu by Karl Maton
Historical Origins of the Logic of Classification and the Logic of Genesis by Harry K. Wells “Dubo kaj Ateismo” de Evlogi Dankov «L’athéisme espérantophone» par Martin Lavallée
"«Mi Ne Deziras Esti Juvelo»" de Georgi Mihalkov
Evald Ilyenkov's Philosophy Revisited
Dialogiko je la Fino de Dialektiko: Enhavo / Dialogic at the End of Dialectic: Contents, de/by Eugen Macko
Dialogiko je la Fino de Dialektiko: Enkonduko de Eugen Macko
"How to Think" (Sojourner Truth Organization) (2/20/2004)
“The Common Well” (To Charles Chaplin) by Piet Hein
The Philosophy and Information Professions: SIG/AH Program, 50th ASIS Annual Meeting, Boston, 1987 organized by R. Dumain, abstracts of papers
Die Gedanken Sind Frei (My Thoughts Are Free)
Bush’s Underlying Intention by Emanuel Fried (3/20/2004)
"Candle in the Wind": Excerpt from Memoir in Progress by Emanuel Fried
Mark Starr (1894-1985): Workers' Educationist
“Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam” by Heinrich Heine with English translations
The Alienation of Reason (Extract) by Leszek Kolakowski “Marx and Critical Scientific Thought” by Mihailo Markovic “Anti-Semitism and National Socialism” by Moishe Postone
Dialectical Theory of Meaning: Part One (Extracts) by Mihailo Markovic
Dialectical Theory of Meaning: Part Two: Linguistic Meaning (Extract) by Mihailo Markovic
Dialectical Theory of Meaning: Part Three: General Definition of Meaning: The Interrelationships of the Individual Dimensions of Meaning by Mihailo Markovic
"Toward a Materialistic Foundation of Logic" by Karel Berka
"Theory and Ideology" by Alvin Gouldner
Alvin Gouldner on the New Class & the Culture of Critical Discourse
"Metaphysics and Anti-Metaphysics of Positivism" by Igor Naletov
"A Scientist, or a Man of Wisdom?" by Galina Kirilenko & Lydia Korshunova
On Hegelian Dialectics by Bertolt Brecht
Ateisto Fan Gen (in Esperanto)
"Schomburg: Cultural Education & Empowerment" by John Anthony Lugo
"A Pioneer in Workers' Education: Mark Starr and Workers' Education in Great Britain" by Ronda Hauben
The Honor Roll: American Philosophers Professionally Injured During the McCarthy Era by John McCumber
The Open Society: Paradox and Challenge (Introduction) by Stanley B. Ryerson
"Life-World within Brackets" by David H. DeGrood
Of the Material / Du Materiel (Conclusion) by Alain Bosquet
The Story of This Book (Preface to The Savage Hits Back) by Julius Lips
The Incoherence of the Intellectual: C. Wright Mills' Struggle to Unite Knowledge and Action by Fredy Perlman
"Lingvoplanado" (Language Planning) de Rudolf Carnap
Carnap’s ‘Elimination of Metaphysics’ by V. Brushlinsky
Herman Melville & German Philosophy by Henry A. Pochmann
Subject, Object, Cognition: Contents & Preface to the English edition by V. A. Lektorsky
Idealised and Real Objects
The Collective Subject. The Individual Subject
Introduction to Hasidism and the Jewish Enlightenment by Raphael Mahler
"Oh, To Freely Pursue the Scholarly Life!" by Gary Shapiro
Contents: The Independent Scholar's Handbook (2nd ed) by Ronald Gross
The Firesign Theater: "Temporarily Humboldt County"
Drinkema kaj Frenezuma Filozofo Juan Gji (in Esperanto)

I guess I'm easily impressed....
posted by y2karl at 8:08 AM on November 17, 2004

Hey. Don't knock it until you check out the sections on Black Studies, Music, America vs Europe and Esperanto. Kinda neat-o.

Oh, and in a side note: Fuck a David Foster Wallace. With a brick.
posted by cowboy_sally at 8:19 AM on November 17, 2004

By which I mean, he's impertinent in every sense of the word.
posted by cowboy_sally at 8:31 AM on November 17, 2004


impertinent: Contrary to, or offending against, the rules of propriety or good breeding; guilty of, or prone to, rude, unbecoming, or uncivil words or actions; as, an impertient coxcomb; an impertient remark.

Sounds like a good thing.

In a collection that huge, there's bound to be some interesting stuff, I'm sure. But the stuff linked in the actual post seemed to be primarily concerned with the idea of ironic detachment as a survival mechanism, which (at the risk of sounding arrogant) I can only say "been there, done that." After awhile distancing yourself from everything makes you feel completely isolated and reducing all discourse to snark and irony ultimately becomes a lot like smelling your own farts; sure, it's fun at first but after awhile the room stinks and you're dying for fresh air.

And, I like DFW. Along with Vollman & Jedidiah Purdy, he's readable and he offers a fresh perspective, which is rare in philosophical writing from what I've seen. But, I willing to grant that I might simply be looking in the wrong places.
posted by jonmc at 8:47 AM on November 17, 2004

While modern industry condemns people to jobs that insult their intelligence, the mass culture of romantic escape fills their heads with visions of experience beyond their means—beyond their emotional and imaginative capacities as well—and thus contributes to a further devaluation of routine. The disparity between romance and reality, the world of the beautiful people and the workaday world, gives rise to an ironic detachment that dulls pain but also that cripples the will to change social conditions, to make even modest improvements in work and play, and to restore meaning and dignity to everyday life.

On further reading, it appears that Lasch and Wallace are actually on the same page re: irony.
posted by jonmc at 8:57 AM on November 17, 2004

My point was, DFW is a purposeless nose-tweaker, and he's also not at all pertinent to the original post.

Sometimes it's good to click on the links and investigate the post before you comment...I found a lot of the autodidact site very interesting.
posted by cowboy_sally at 8:58 AM on November 17, 2004

Any site that quotes Firesign Theater is all right by me.

INDIAN 1: Yes . . . but aren’t you the true white brother who’s supposed to come live with us in peace?

CONQUISTADOR 1: Sure, therefore I claim this rich world of pasture land in the name of the Empire of Spain!
posted by tommasz at 9:10 AM on November 17, 2004

i like DFW a lot. his short stories are fantastic. you should check out the new book. i can't understand why he deserves to be fucked with a brick (really!) ... but cowboy_sally is right. that quote and comment had nothing to do with this thread. unless i missed something.

very cool site, for the esperanto poetry alone. and Richard Wright is one of my faves. a definite bookmark. thanks very much.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2004

but cowboy_sally is right. that quote and comment had nothing to do with this thread.

The first link was to an essay on ironic detachment. I read the first paragraph at the same time I was doing work and posted it as a sort of retort. Upon finishing the essay, I realized that Lasch was actually arguing more or less the same point, which I acknowledged. So, it does have to do with the thread, I'd argue.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on November 17, 2004

jonmc - agreed, and that DFW essay (story? i can't recall what the quotes from) was an excellent critique of cynicism.
posted by iamck at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2004

The essay was called "E Unibus Pluram," it's in the collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Neal Stephenson's "In The Beginning Was The Command Line.." and a lot of Purdy's work covers a lot of the same territory, with vary degrees of cogency.
posted by jonmc at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2004

"The problem with autodidacts is that they have the worst teachers."

Anyone know who said this? IIRC, it was a classically-trained contemporary of Berlioz.
posted by turbodog at 11:40 AM on November 17, 2004

Pour bien savoir les choses, il en faut savoir le détail; et comme il est presque infini, nos connaissances sont toujours superficielles et imparfaites.

In order really to know things, we have to know them in detail; and since detail is almost infinite, our understanding is always superficial and imperfect.

François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld

posted by y2karl at 1:30 PM on November 17, 2004

we're all bozos on this bus.
posted by crunchland at 1:48 PM on November 17, 2004

Well, a lot of this definitely rings bells. Ironic detachment certainly seems to be the back alley I've passed out in.
posted by Shane at 1:59 PM on November 17, 2004

i'm sorry, jonmc. your point was surely as relevant as jfuller's.

i think it was the second bit that threw me off. i didn't see the site that way at all, and i assumed (incorrectly) that your quote was in regard to the whole site, rather than that one excerpt. i liked E Pluribus Unam very much as well.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:27 PM on November 17, 2004

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