Category: university
Quotes of Category: university
  1. Stefan Collini _ Speaking of Universities

    In some quarters, and particularly among those who comment on these matters in in political circles or in the media or the blogosphere or other forms of public discussion, there is, without question, a strain of hostility and resentment likely to be encountered by anyone who attempts to characterize and emphasize the value of the intellectual life carried on in universities. Clearly, a wider anti-intellectualism feeds into this, something well charted in the US from at least Richard Hofstadter onwards and brilliantly diagnosed by Thorstein Veblen and others before that. The narrower version of this response finds it pretty outrageous for academics to criticize or complain about anything to do with universities and their support and regulation by their host society. Along with more understandable and even perhaps justifiable sources of these reactions, we do have to recognize – and here is where I know I am particularly laying myself open to misunderstanding – the force of which Nietzche termed . There is a bitterness in these reactions, a combination of anger and sneering, together with a levelling intent, that far exceeds what might seem called for by any actual disagreement about the subject matter. And if I may be allowed to risk a little sally of speculative phenomenology, I think this reaction, for all its hostility and dismissiveness, encodes a twisted acknowledgement that there is something desirable, even enviable, about the role of the scholar or the scientist. Part of the reaction, of course, involves a resentment of the supposed security of tenure in a world with very little security of employment; some of it is a sense of how much autonomy, comparatively speaking, academics have in their working lives, how much flexibility in choosing their working hours and so on, in a world where, again, most people enjoy all too little autonomy. But some of it also may be a kind of grudging acknowledgement that the matters that scholars and scientists work on are more interesting, rewarding and perhaps humanly valuable than the matter most people have to devote their energies too in their working lives. Academics are the object of, simultaneously, envy and resentment because their roles seem to allow them to deal with intrinsically rewarding matters while being financially supported by the labour of others who are not privileged to work on such matters.