Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Acadecadence

As if catering directly to my anti-academic sentiments, I found a great article critiquing the uselessness of humanities "academia" and research specialization therein:
We have become so obsessed with specialization, so entranced by advanced degrees and who wrote what when, that we [I guess by "we" he means the mutual admiration society which is the intellectual elite; I certainly don't feel this way] feel that the only way that someone has anything worth saying is if they have jumped through the appropriate academic hoops.


the technocracy at the heart of the humanities, the pressure to produce papers that essentially say nothing, the ultimate subservience to the utilitarian interests of society, and so forth. Studying the treasures of human wisdom cannot mimic the specialization that astronomer, engineers, and medical doctors are expected to have, and doing so can only distort the subject that one seeks to study.


On the one hand, I share the sentiments of my hard sciences doctorate-holding wife who thinks that the humanities at the university are a total waste of time. Really, what are you paying for, and could those resources be better deployed? But more importantly, the question has to be asked concerning what benefit does it serve human wisdom to have a cadre of specialists who are under pressure to produce written material and live off of the profits gained from it? Socrates wrote nothing, and had to live a life just like everyone else. St. Paul was the greatest theologian ever, and he was a tent maker. Even the great lights of the Church were either pastors of souls, preachers, or lived in monasteries where they no doubt had other duties. None of these people were by any means professionals in our sense of the word.


Yes, you don’t have the time or the resources to study what you want. Yes, you don’t have the benefit of publications (which nobody reads) or peer-review (from peers you barely respect). But I do it all because I have questions that I want answered. I just don’t see the contemporary academic world as the holder of all of these secrets.
I almost wish there were a revolution going on so we could all go out and hang some of these professional nerds. They've ruined University, ruined the Church, ruin everything they touch. I've said before: far from requiring bishops to hold doctorates, we shouldn't let anyone with a doctorate anywhere near the episcopacy. Theologians have not made good leaders in the Church.


ZuluFan said...

"peer-review" papers = circle of bad (but approved) papers. I think that's how global-warming got its start.

A Sinner said...

Global Warming is real and given the consequences it could have for all Life on Earth, denying it is to me equivalent to holocaust denial or denying the humanity of the unborn.

It's not even a political question, so it's very suspicious that belief/unbelief in it seems to fall along political lines.

Smart people should realize this. If unbelief were really based on honest scientific critique, it wouldn't be so correlated with something as unrelated to science as political conservatism or liberalism.

At the very least, I will say that conservatism has a terrible track record when it comes to dealing with Science (Creationism vs Evolution, Racism, etc).

Consevatism by nature isn't a good philosophy for dealing with scientific knowledge because Science is, by nature, progressive; it builds on itself in such a way that we really do know more now than we did in the past.

But conservatism is based on keeping things the same, and so in a certain very real sense its success in an area relies on an assumption of no new knowledge or new circumstances to deal with.

For things that really don't change, like the Deposit of Faith or human nature, conservatism might be a fine approach. But for things that do, when there is a field that truly gets new need to be progressively minded.

There is no need to be conservative about everything just because you are about the Faith or even politics. It is silly and destructive to make "conservatism" into the overarching paradigm or underlying value through which you view and interact with life, and very often I suspect such an approach is based more in subconscious psychological priorities than any coherent rational ideology (which often serves simply to justify the psychological dynamic).