Re: text and links some might like to see

From: L. Manning Vines <>
Date: Sat Feb 01 2003 - 23:33:14 EST

John said:
<<Ah, Daniel, you've missed the point.


I wasn't saying pissing people off is automatically a point in one's favor.

I was saying pissing the right people off is automatically a point in one's

[. . .]

I remember the Cambridge brouhaha fondly. It made me smile. >>

I'm sure you remember it fondly. And that's just great. But I still
maintain that pissing off the "right people" (however you want to define
them) still fails to indicate anything valuable. Especially when it's not
so clear that they're "pissed off," properly speaking. I can't speak for
the signatories or author of the letter, but reading an interview of
Professor Mellor (one of the most outspoken of the Cambridge professors) and
reading Chomsky's views on the matter (he had nothing to do with the
controversy, but you might stick him in the same camp), I would venture to
say that neither was pissed off, but merely of the opinion that the work for
which Derrida became famous is shoddy. (Though both are forthright about his
having other better work early on, which isn't usually considered.)

Reading, for instance, a few old books by famous philosophers, one can find
many names of others whom they opposed and even who seemed genuinely to piss
them off. Many of them are famous philosophers in their own right. Many,
though, are hopelessly obscure -- some of them are known to have existed by
no other evidence except their pissy mention in some book by an old famous

(Also, I'm not Daniel.)

John also said: << When I look at the sort of people Galileo pissed off, I
know something about the implications of his work. >>

Do you? I'd be curious to hear something about that.

As an avid student of ancient science and astronomy, and of Galileo in
particular, I have come to think that it's much more complex. In fact, the
very same church that came down so harshly upon Galileo for teaching
Copernican astronomy approved of Copernicus not even a century earlier.
Copernicus had approval from Pope Clement VII himself, and was encouraged by
Cardinal Schonberg. The theological implications aren't so clear, and just
as some took the old Ptolemaic model of the universe to be more appropriate
to Christian theology, others had similar arguments in favor of the
Copernican. I think one can argue that Galileo's trouble was in fact quite
arbitrary and political.

And we should add that other people (MANY other people) pissed off the same
folks that Galileo did. Lots of them pissed them off much worse, and made
out much worse in the end. How many have you heard of? Are their positions
proportionally more valuable than Galileo's as they pissed off the right
people so much the more?

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Received on Sat Feb 1 23:33:39 2003

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