Given the recent flurry of news surrounding the firing of a tenured associate professor of philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University, and that the APA just recently released a statement on bullying and harassment, I decided to focus this week on essays I’ve read that epitomize the philosopher’s role as a gadfly. While not all are written by philosophers, each essay brings out an idea that I believe to be a core part of the philosophical discipline: that philosophy cannot and should not be neutral with regard to the systems in which it finds itself. These essays have influenced how I do research, conduct myself in class, and frame my relationship with society at large. For those of you looking for inspiration or insight with regard to these recent attacks on philosophers, I recommend Howard Zinn’s “A University Should Not Be a Democracy,” Noam Chomsky’s “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” Cornel West’s “On My Intellectual Vocation,” and Foucault’s and Deleuze’s “Intellectuals and Power.”
In addition to the usual roundup of people’s reading lists, we would be particularly interested in hearing about what essays on being an intellectual gadfly inspire each of you. What are you reading?