A Philosopher Critiques His NEH Reviewer

March 31, 2009

Lots of people get turned down for federal grants. But based on the information he received, Kenneth Taylor wasn't sure his application received a fair hearing at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Taylor is a professor of philosophy at Stanford University and co-host of the radio show "Philosophy Talk," and contributes to a blog with the same name. After a grant proposal was rejected, Taylor obtained the comments from a reviewer and writes that they show an ignorance of philosophy by appearing to suggest that American history has nothing to do with philosophy, because the philosophy of the political state was finished prior to the birth of the United States. Taylor includes excerpts from the review and his replies. "Now I can accept rejection. Believe me in both the businesses I am in -- radio and Academia -- one gets used to rejection and develops a thick skin pretty quickly. If you don't, you just go crazy," he writes. "So rejection is not the point. ... But what I find unfathomable is that anybody so ignorant could possibly be allowed to evaluate proposals of any kind for the NEH." Lindsey Mikal, assistant director of media relations, declined to comment on the blog post, citing endowment policy not to discuss unsuccessful grant applications.

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