Academia

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Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.

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  • The university, in a society ruled by public opinion, was to have been an island of intellectual freedom where all views were investigated without restriction. … But by consenting to play an active or “positive,” a participatory role in society, the university has become inundated and saturated with the backflow of society’s “problems.” Preoccupied with questions of Health, Sex, Race, War, academics make their reputations and their fortunes. … Any proposed reforms of liberal education which might bring the university into conflict with the whole of the U.S.A. are unthinkable. Increasingly, the people “inside” are identical in their appetites and motives with the people “outside” the university.
  • The more rigorously criticism historicizes a work of art, in the sense of lodging it in the context of the moment of its production, the less likely it becomes for criticism to be able to explain either its own subsequent interest in the work or the possibility of lay—that is, nonacademic—interest in reading it.
    • Russell Berman, Fiction Sets You Free: Literature, Liberty and Western Culture (2007), pp. 5-6
  • The academies and universities satisfied Socrates’ demand to be fed in the prytaneum.
    • Allan Bloom, “Commerce and Culture,” Giants and Dwarfs (1990), p. 289
  • In academia, ... an art historian, on being stirred to tears by the tenderness and serenity he detects in a work by a fourteenth-century Florentine painter, may end up writing a monograph, as irreproachable as it is bloodless, on the history of paint manufacture in the age of Giotto. It seems easier to respond to our enthusiasms by trading in facts than by investigating the more naive question of how and why we have been moved.
  • Numerous are the academic chairs, but rare are wise and noble teachers. Numerous and large are the lecture halls, but far from numerous the young men who genuinely thirst for truth and justice. Numerous are the wares that nature produces by the dozen, but her choice products are few.
  • Nietzsche’s ideas and plans: for example, the idea of giving up the whole wretched academic world to form a secular monastic community.
  • When one of Feuerbach’s friends attempts to get him an academic position, Feuerbach writes to him: “The more people make of me, the less I am, and vice versa. I am … something only so long as I am nothing.”
  • To overcome the academic prose you have first to overcome the academic pose.
    • C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (1959)
  • The intellectual origins of literary theory in Europe were, I think it is accurate to say, insurrectionary. The traditional university, the hegemony of determinism and positivism, the reification of ideological bourgeois “humanism,” the rigid barriers between academic specialties: it was powerful responses to all these that linked together such influential progenitors of today’s literary theorist as Saussure, Lukács, Bataille, Lévi-Strauss, Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx. Theory proposed itself as a synthesis overriding the petty fiefdoms within the world of intellectual production, and it was manifestly to be hoped as a result that all the domains of human activity could be seen, and lived, as a unity. ... Literary theory, whether of the Left or the Right, has turned its back on these things. This can be considered, I think, the triumph of the ethic of professionalism. But it is no accident that the emergence of so narrowly defined a philosophy of pure textuality and critical noninterference has coincided with the ascendancy of Reaganism.
    • Edward Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), pp. 3-4
  • Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love.
    • Nassim N. Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010), p. 4

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