The Gadfly is looking for submissions for our Spring 2014 edition. All undergraduates, regardless of major or school affiliation, are encouraged to submit. The due date for submissions is March 23, 2014.
Please email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Include in your email your school affiliation, graduation year, and a one or two sentence summary of your argument.
We are looking for non-fiction essays that are philosophically oriented, but not so jargon-heavy that they are only accessible to philosophy majors. In other words, submissions should not read like a philosophy class assignment or a professional journal article. Topic-wise, we are open to – and indeed strive for – a wide range of subjects explored from diverse points of view.
Submission drafts are usually about 3 to 5 double-spaced pages, and need not be finalized; however, the less formulated your essay, the earlier you should submit it. Pitches are also welcome, in case you have an article idea you’d like to discuss with us.
To sample past issues, check out our archive of electronic editions. And please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or comments.
The electronic edition of the Fall 2013 issue of The Gadfly is now available:
The electronic edition of the Spring 2013 issue of The Gadfly is now available:
by Evan Burger, Senior Editor
While the commentariat was busy debating the politics of Lincoln, Django Unchained, and Les Miserables, a surprisingly radical film slipped under the critical radar in the form of Pitch Perfect, a comedy set in the world of collegiate a cappella. Ten months after the eviction of Zuccotti Park ended the glory days of the Occupy movement, and only weeks after Christopher Nolan tied the language of the 99% to the Terror, this light-hearted flick continues the debate over the possibility of more democratic kinds of political organization.
To be sure, classifying Pitch Perfect as even a middlebrow film is quite a stretch. The plotting follows standard Hollywood formulae; the concept is borrowed directly from the most earnest series on television right now, Glee; and the acting, aside from Rebel Wilson’s performance, is solidly forgettable. Continue reading
Gadfly’s resident leftist, Evan Burger, wrote a piece for Jacobin magazine on work, leisure, and the right to be lazy. Drawing on Hegel, Nietzsche, Aristotle, and (of course) Marx, Evan articulates the Left position that we should be fighting for better work, not less work. Check it out!
Ross Douthat and the Young Marx - Why Marx Loved Work — And We Should, Too
by Evan Burger
By the time this article is published, the meme of the Harlem Shake will almost certainly have passed through oversaturation into the realm of backlash — a stage as essential to the life cycle of a pop culture phenomenon in the internet age as the larval is for the butterfly. However, the question still remains to be asked: can we draw any political insight from this infinite string of insipid videos? Or is it just another expression of the decadence of our television-addled society, another way to distract ourselves from the much more serious business of fighting for liberty, equality, fraternity? Continue reading
by Jay Hyun Kim
Divine intervention: some people see it as interference in their affairs, others as intercession on their behalf. Even a modern man unyielding in his rational perspective of the universe and dismissive of the irrationality of divinity in antiquity cannot ignore the perennial question that has always captivated mankind: the existence of god. The relationship between gods and men has defined what it means to be human. Every philosophy, religion or study of life has dealt with this issue in one way or another. In particular, Buddhism and Stoicism present not only a fascinating contrast but also a remarkable overlap in their respective approaches in reclaiming life. The Buddhists regard the so-called ‘fate’ as a common misconception of what is perfectly logical, the law of causality. Continue reading
by Dan Jacob Wallace
In an episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast (5/16/2009) dealing with the topic of genetic
enhancement, host Nigel Warburton poses a thought experiment to his guest, philosopher Allen Buchanan, in which Warburton takes a pill that enhances his memory and coordination, enabling him to learn a guitar composition that had previously proven beyond his ability. Warburton worries that such a shortcut might devalue his musical accomplishment. Buchanan’s response to this is that Warburton would proceed to find new challenges, elevating his struggle with the instrument to a higher plateau. While I think Buchanan is probably right, I also think Warburton’s experience as a musician would be positively enhanced, largely because there is something essentially rewarding in playing guitar well. There are deeper questions to consider here regarding our experience of performing and listening to music, as well as the social implications such a pill would bring. Before addressing those, it’d be helpful to look at what we mean by “genetic enhancement.”
Interview with Michele Moody-Adams (Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory, Columbia University) conducted by Krishna Hegde and Clava Brodsky:
Gadfly: We thought we would talk about affirmative action from three different perspectives: first from a liberal democratic, second as public policy and administration, and then third from the point of view of the law. So for the first question: it’s always tricky to interpret the application of equality of opportunity in policy as making accommodations. Do you see affirmative action as essentially saying that total equality is, then, actually unfair? Continue reading
by Jamila Barra
Schools, the Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire argues, all too often function like banks; at these institutions, the teacher is understood as the holder of something valuable – knowledge – which she deposits into the account of the student’s mind. In this pervasive model of pedagogy, the teacher is the only active agent, while the student remains a passive receptacle. The information transmitted from teacher to student is fixed and, in a sense, dead: just as a banking transaction doesn’t fundamentally change the bank account, the money deposited or the account holder, so the teacher, student and knowledge transmitted, in this model, remain the same as before the teaching. Continue reading
by Sam Ballantyne
The recent film The Innocence of Muslims incited a series of mob attacks on US embassies across the Muslim world; on this continent and on our campus, the movie sparked numerous lectures and academic talks. Many in the West drew a connection between those various European laws which restrict denial of the Holocaust or display of swastikas to those Muslim blasphemy laws, which prohibit movies like The Innocence of Muslims. Our own Dean Peter Awn, in an eloquent lecture reflecting on the events of those weeks, cited the French Gayssot law and noted that state restrictions on speech were hardly ‘a Muslim thing.’
This essay thus began as an exploration of relation between the Muslim prohibition of blasphemy and those European laws that ban denial of the holocaust – but, finding no useful equivalence, set out to define the principle which separates them. Continue reading
by Russell Parker
Following the recent attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi leaving a U.S ambassador dead, hate speech and blasphemy laws have been hot button issues on the international stage. News junkies and close followers of the “religious wars” know too well that these recent flare-ups follow in a long line of conflicts from the last two decades. The publishing of Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad, Salman Rushdie’s 1988 Satanic Verses and even South Park’s playful teasing at religious figures of all kinds have given rise to an international discussion regarding state intervention into speech and expression rights. Continue reading
by Izzy Gliksberg
One space spreads through all creatures equally
inner-world-space. Birds quietly flying go
flying through us. Oh, I that want to grow,
the tree I look outside at grows in me!
(R. M. Rilke)
The history of human thought, filled with its connections running between thinkers and their thoughts, reveals something about the study of philosophy. On the one hand, revealing these connection illuminates the fact that (after all) we live on the same planet, and some questions keep popping up throughout history. On the other hand, these similarities emphasize the differences between ideas and the unique environments that gave rise to them. It enables us to see the various standpoints that we developed towards these questions. In this spirit, I turn to a mystical Jewish text and the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl. Continue reading
by Clava Brodsky
Let me tell you a story. A few weeks ago, I was on the subway when two homeless men each entered the train car from opposite ends. Each walked steadily toward the middle of the car asking for money until they reached the center. A debate ensued: a territorial dispute. Like any other self-respecting American, these two quickly turned to the question of rights. “I have a right to this car,” said one of the beggars. “Who gave you that right?” retorted the other. Continue reading
The electronic edition of the Fall 2012 issue of The Gadfly is now posted! Click on a title below to start reading, and please don’t hesitate to leave a comment to let us know what you think.
Keep an eye out for the print edition around campus, and check back here soon for updates on events, future issues, and other Gadfly news.
Letter from the Editor by Clava Brodsky
In There, Out Here - The Book of Creation and Phenomenology by Izzy Gliksberg
Fighting Speech with Speech by Russell Parker
Legitimate Speech by Sam Ballantyne
Writing Fellows – An Education of Liberation by Jamila Barra
Michele Moody-Adams on the Future of Affirmative Action - interview by Krishna Hegde and Clava Brodsky
The Genetically Modified Guitarist: Genetic Enhancement, Musical Experience, and the Good Art Gene by Dan Jacob Wallace
Divine Intervention: Interference of Intercession? by Jay Hyun Kim
Or launch the electronic edition in its entirety: