Feb 28, 2012

Self-Promotion: How Much is Too Much (part 3 of 3)

Back last year, I wrote two pieces (part 1 and part 2) tackling a question raised by a Chronicle of Higher Education piece, The art and science of academic self-promotion, examining the key questions posed by it:  How much self-promotion is too much?  Can a line be drawn, and if so, how?  Is it a matter of hard and fast rules?  Or can it be more adequately understood -- as I think it can -- in terms of virtues and vices of character?

I'd framed it in terms of several of Aristotle's promising discussions in the Nicomachean Ethics, where he explores the virtue of truthfulness, and its correlated vices, boastfulness and self-deprecation, and also discusses shame and shamelessness.  These are natural places in his works to look for insights about the relative and respective values, limits, and modalities of self-promotion, aren't they?  The sort of truthfulness Aristotle describes as virtuous is precisely honesty about oneself, one's qualities, one's accomplishments, honesty in a public or at least not entirely private setting.  Shame, when it is felt -- or would be felt -- rightly, also marks the character of a person who has some limits, who will not just do or say anything, subordinate any other value or good to satisfy desires or advance interests.  Is this all that Aristotle has to offer?  Everything he has said or has to say?

Feb 11, 2012

Twitter and Facebook Addictive? New Boundaries for Temperance

Those who have come across posts from my Facebook author page, my Twitter feed, or my other blog Virtue Ethics Digest, know that I have a penchant for pointing out instances where results of research publicized by putatively cutting-edge brain scientists, psychologists, or other cognitive and social scientists do little more than reintroduce -- often without adequate reference or reflection -- topics and truths developed long ago within traditions of moral philosophy, particularly those traditions we term "Virtue Ethics."

Perhaps I seem overly gleeful at the prospect of showing -  or rather showing up -the supposedly more scientific approaches to the complex phenomena of moral life that their objects of research possess a history antedating their perennial efforts to yet once again pronounce the definitive word on the matters. It's hard not to when researchers routinely say things straightfacedly like "Little is known about how people experience and regulate desires in daily life"  -- as if human beings haven't been experiencing, reflecting upon, discussing, proposing and testing models, and occasionally even experiencing some success with these matters for millennia -- and in some cases even writing some things down about them, a few ideas considered useful, insightful, or at least entertaining enough that we read them still today under the rubric of "classic literature," even moral philosophy.