Eileen Joy has made a plea for more generosity in (academic) conversations: This is Not My (or, Our) Time, so Please Take Ecstasy With Me: The Necessity of Generous Reading. Here's a comment I made:
Also, this post: To Jeff Turpin: Stop Whacking the Post-Struturalists, They're NOT the Problem.Hmmm…. Though I forget the thinker's name, there is a classic line of thought in the sociology of knowledge dating from the first half of the 20th Century concerning the conditions under which ad hominem arguments become prominent. As I recall, the notion was that such arguments become prevalent when the overall field of discourse has become uncertain. So, people have differences, but it's not at all clear how one articulates and adjudicates those differences, so you attack someone's motives rather than their positions.I'm wondering if we're not in a similar state now? Were people making calls for generosity and charity even ten years ago? I entered the blogosphere in the middle of 2005 (though I'd been online for a decade by the time), making comments at The Valve – to posts in the symposium on Theory's Empire. There may have been some talk of charitable readings back then, but there seems to have been an upswing since then.In fact, I almost wonder if the (academic) blogosphere is partly responsible for creating the conditions under which calls for generosity seem necessary. Discourse can "flow" at a more rapid pace than was possible in the print world and yet it retains that impersonality, which disappears in face-to-face conversation at conferences and seminars.And then there's this very particular conversation over at Crooked Timber about aggressive argumentation and gender within the discipline of philosophy: Speech-and-Debate vs. The Agon of Authenticity: How Least Badly To Fight, in Philosophy?