Shaughnessy Cohen prize

As some of you have heard, I wound up winning the Shaughnessy Cohen prize for Political Writing last night in Ottawa. Which was exciting!

And no, I won’t be reviewing my own book here. You see though why I wanted to get my reviews/reaction pieces on the other books done before the announcement was made — whether I won or lost, it would have seemed weird to write about them afterwards.

For those who are looking for a review of Enlightenment 2.0, I would recommend this one by Ivor Tossell — on the grounds that there was nothing in it that I disagreed with (and the criticisms were I thought spot on). When that review came out, I laughed at the line “Reading Enlightenment 2.0 feels a bit like arriving in a professor’s lecture in the third week of a course, and being left to piece together what we missed,” because in fact the original first chapter of the book was cut out during the editorial process. I promised to put it up someday on the blog, so here it is. Reading it over again reminds me why it was a good idea to cut it, so I’m putting it up in part to illustrate the role that good editing can play in improving a book. It would never have occurred to me to cut out my own first chapter. But if you read the pdf, you see that things get really bogged down on pages 4-7. It’s very standard among academics to want to situate things historically before going on to talk about them. But the people ain’t got no time for that! Better to just launch into saying what you want to say, even at the risk of leaving people a bit disoriented.

Finally, since the book jacket has me listed as Director of the Centre for Ethics at University of Toronto (which I was at the time), a lot of the notices in the media have reproduced this claim. I would like to point out though that since last summer, the Director of the Centre for Ethics has in fact been my colleague Simone Chambers.


Shaughnessy Cohen prize — 8 Comments

  1. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing that chapter!

    Hopefully more authors will start sharing cut material—no need for good writing to go to waste just because it doesn’t fit the audience or theme of a particular book.

  2. I’d like to add my congratulations as well – I really enjoyed Enlightenment 2.0; easily my favourite book of 2014!

  3. Congratulations! Not only for the quality (won’t be reading the book until May, but if the other chapters are as good as the original first one, it must be on a par with Filthy Lucre and The Rebel Sell), but also because good things should happen to philosophers who quote Butthead! I wonder though if you tackle the issue of ideology? (Or if you are aware of anybody whose treatment is satisfactory?) And by “issue of ideology” I mean the fact that human groups use, as a means of cohesion and in agreement with Zahavi’s principle, blind faith in group-sanctioned absourdities as a way of proving loyalty, aided by self-deception and some forms of social and/or institutional policing and rewarding (and this is not only true of religions; think of various secular movements, or even a modern democracy which, while way better than the competition, still has a self-image that differs from reality). So could you ever have politics without this kind of absurdity? (In which both reason and intuition participate.) And what about education-intensive, not that intuitive-automatic absurd ideologies such as postmodernism? And is “fighting fire with fire” all that bad? (I was thinking that modern developed societies are moderate on certain issues not because a lot of people are centristic on these issues, but because a lot of people pull from opposite extremes.) Finally, are things really getting worse? Do you disagree with Pinker and all those who argue that the world is steadily becoming more peaceful, prosperous, intelligent, and rational? Or is it just a matter of time till things catch up with us?

  4. Congratulations Professor! The book was a very nice read that simplified political issues.

  5. Congratulations! I’ve been reading your blog now for some time and always find it informative. Thanks!

  6. Congratulations Joe!

    Is there any chance you will be posting footage of the moment you told people they might be the Sean Avery of politics?