discipline (and punish)

January 19, 2010

What does it mean when people, at the start of giving a paper at a Philosophy conference, say “Excuse me, I am just a [sociologist/cultural theorist/geographer/social scientist/historian of ideas/blah blah]”? Are they trying to pre-excuse themselves from the questioning of philosophers? But that would assume everyone is insecure about their discipline in relation to philosophy, which I’m sure is untrue. I notice it particularly at Materialism-related conferences, and I wonder if that has something to do with it – are they making a point about the practical dignity of their paper, exempt from theoretical scrutiny? (Or do I just go to too many Materialism-related events?)

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