Author: Max Diamond

Identitarianism and the Splintering of Democracy

You can know X if, and only if, you are of part identity group Y. This is the theory of what I will call ‘Identitarian Epistemology.’ While generally not articulated in abstract form, this doctrine has managed to infect our political culture. It is the major philosophical justification for dismissing anyone’s argument, question, or thought, based on nothing more than his or her identity group. One identity group, so the theory goes, cannot acquire the unique knowledge of another. Identitarian Epistemology is based upon the following premises: Being part of identity group Y necessarily involves certain experiences which are unique to that group. These experiences are a necessary condition for acquiring certain kinds of knowledge. And therefore: People not of identity group Y cannot know certain things, which only identity group Y can know. Being “part of identity group Y” here means being accurately described with a certain identity predicate: “black,” “female,” “gay,” et cetera. There are an infinite number of such predicates because there are an infinite number of ways to qualitatively describe an …

Don’t Major in Literature

If you love literature and would like to study what you love, do not study literature. What you will in fact be majoring in is contemporary political correctness, French postmodern theory, politics and social critique devoid of any serious political import or aesthetic value, and perhaps most basically—pathetic scholarly debates over methodology. The skepticism that the lay-person has of literature professors is in my opinion strongly justified: the discipline is so obsessed with trivial debates over literary methodologies that it can offer nothing to the non-academic reader except rightful contempt for the elitist literary egg head. So resentful of their low estimation in relation to the sciences that they are desperate for anything that smacks of rigor and technicality. By following the appearance of scientific gravitas they have obtained only posturing. While perhaps less so than in the ’90s, French postmodernism can still be found all over. Students are assigned Paul de Man’s reading of texts as the tension between rhetoric and grammar; Lyotard’s desperate attempt at sociological novelty through a half baked juvenile Wittgensteinianism; …