Figure/Ground interview with Leonard Lawlor

Figure/Ground interview with Leonard Lawlor – lots of good discussion of European philosophy, including Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Heidegger and Lyotard. Also some interesting comments about writing:

What advice would you give to young graduate students and aspiring university professors?

I don’t want to just speak in clichés and truisms here. But, obviously, hard work is the key to any success. Thankfully, I have some comments that are less of a cliché. Three things really helped me reach the level of success that I’ve had (modest success, of course). First, while still a graduate student, I realized that, when I was struggling with ideas and with writing about them, the best way to make progress was simply to write. Writing allowed me to understand the ideas better, and even when my writing was confused, at least I had some raw material on which I could work. My advice is: don’t be afraid to write when you are struggling with the ideas. If you wait for comprehension in advance of writing, you’ll never get anything done. Second, when I was a beginning assistant professor, I worked on research projects successively. I finished one project prior to starting another. After I was promoted to associate professor, I realized that I was working too slowly. Then I started to work on projects in tandem, which resulted in me publishing three books almost simultaneously over 2002-2003. The advice is: try to work on projects simultaneously. Third, the other piece of advice I would give is take advantage of other traditions in philosophy. I benefitted greatly from the analytic philosophy courses I was required to take at Stony Brook. But, I especially benefitted from the excellent analytic philosophers I had as colleagues (Terry Horgan, John Tienson, Mark Timmons, and David K. Henderson) at the University of Memphis, where I taught for 19 years. Through the way my analytic colleagues approached philosophical questions, I learned that making sharp differences and thoroughly dissecting concepts allows one to think more clearly. Making differences and dissecting concepts of course is not all the work of philosophy. But, doing so lays the groundwork for the genuine work of philosophy which is creativity. Here, of course, I am thinking of Deleuze’s definition of philosophy as the creation of concepts.

Thanks to Graham Harman (who takes exception to some comments on Meillassoux, object-orientated philosophy and the new materialism) for the link.

This entry was posted in Gilles Deleuze, Graham Harman, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Quentin Meillassoux, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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