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OAiD.US: The personal website of David Dennen / 丹大維.

  • "I agree that two times two is four is an excellent thing; but if we're going to start praising everything, then two times two is five is sometimes also a most charming little thing." (Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground)
  • "We are all children in the unknown." (Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness)
  • "Regard your limitations as secret strengths. Or as constraints that you can make use of." (Brian Eno)
  • "It is probably impossible for human beings to say anything profound, ... all we can hope to do is to utter the superficial with the utmost lucidity." (Morse Peckham, "The Virtues of Superficiality")
  • "You must force your ideas to the wall, and if they have nothing in their pockets, you must slit their throats without compunction." (Morse Peckham)
  • "Do you ask why I'm sighing, my son? / You shall inherit what mankind has done." (Peter Yarrow, "Day is Done")
  • "If you can't see that you're part of the problem, you're standing in the way of a solution." (paraphrase of Bertram M. Gross, Friendly Fascism)
  • "If it's a really complex problem, you have to go very far into chaos to find a solution." (Jordan B. Peterson)
  • "Scores are never evened to the satisfaction of both sides." (James Feibleman, The Way of a Man)

Brief Biography

By inclination I am a philosopher or cultural historian. By profession I am an assistant professor of applied English at Chihlee University of Technology (New Taipei City). My background is very diverse. When I was young I was intensely interested in music and the visual arts, and until my late-twenties I supported myself with a variety of odd-jobs in offices, warehouses, libraries, restaurants, etc. As I got older I became more interested in teaching and research. The time I spent at Evergreen State College, from which I graduated with a BA in 2008, was basically a period of transition between these two kinds of activities. At Evergreen I studied musical/theatrical performance and composition as well as ethnomusicology. I was also introduced to certain philosophical movements, especially critical theory. In 2008, I went to the University of California in Davis to further study ethnomusicology and received my PhD in 2014. Also in 2014, I moved to Taiwan, where I now live with my wife and son.

Research and Writing

My early research focused on India, especially the culture of the state of Odisha. This research involved two trips to India and resulted in various conference papers, articles, and a dissertation. Although I have, for now, moved into other research areas, I still have a great affection for Odia culture and Odia people. Certain dance forms of the region (such as Odissi) have received a great deal of attention, but its music and literature deserve much more than they have so far obtained.

My current work focuses on, or is inspired by, certain very large problems confronting the world. These include issues of language and cognition, and the intertwining of these in cultural-political crisis. For example, I am presently writing articles on behavioristic theories of language and cognition and on the importance of the concept of the "institution" for social theory. My outlook is grounded in the study of history and philosophy. In terms of history I often turn to 1st-millennium-BCE Eurasia and to 19th-century Europe and America -- two major periods and locations of change. My principal intellectual influences are the American pragmatist tradition and 19th-century Anglophone social criticism. I am often drawn to lesser-known American writers -- such as Morse Peckham, Grace de Laguna, James K. Feibleman, Arthur F. Bentley -- whom I find to be challenging in an unpretentious sort of way.