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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.
- ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- 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.
- Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (2009), pp. 27-29.
- There are certain inferior or second-rate minds, who seem only fit to become the receptacle, register, or storehouse of all the productions of other talents; they are plagiarists, translators, compilers; they never think, but tell you what other authors have thought; and as a selection of thoughts requires some inventive powers, theirs is ill-made and inaccurate, which induces them rather to make it large than excellent. They have no originality, and possess nothing of their own; they only know what they have learned, and only learn what the rest of the world does not wish to know; a useless and dry science, without any charm or profit, unfit for conversation, nor suitable to intercourse, like a coin which has no currency. We are astonished when we read them, as well as tired out by their conversation or their works. The nobility and the common herd mistake them for men of learning, but intelligent men rank them with pedants.
- Jean de La Bruyère, Characters, H. Van Laun, trans. (London: 1885) “Of Works of the Mind,” #62.
- What I admire in the ancient philosophers is their desire to make their lives conform to their writings, a trait which we notice in Plato, Theophrastus and many others. Practical morality was so truly their philosophy’s essence that many, such as Xenocrates, Polemon, and Speusippus, were placed at the head of schools although they had written nothing at all. Socrates was none the less the foremost philosopher of his age, although he had not composed a single book or studied any other science than ethics.
- Nicolas Chamfort, Maxims and Considerations, E. P. Mathers, trans. (1926), #448
- From my childhood, I have been familiar with letters; and as I was given to believe that by their help a clear and certain knowledge of all that is useful in life might be acquired, I was ardently desirous of instruction. But as soon as I had finished the entire course of study, at the close of which it is customary to be admitted into the order of the learned, I completely changed my opinion. For I found myself involved in so many doubts and errors, that I was convinced I had advanced no farther in all my attempts at learning, than the discovery at every turn of my own ignorance. And yet I was studying in one of the most celebrated Schools in Europe, in which I thought there must be learned men, if such were anywhere to be found.
- Homo academicus is a herd animal.
- William Desmond in Christopher Ben Simpson, "Between God and Metaphysics: An Interview with William Desmond", Radical Orthodoxy: Theology, Philosophy, Politics, Vol. 1, Numbers 1 & 2 (August 2012), p. 364.
- 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.
- Albert Einstein, “On Academic Freedom,” Ideas and Opinions (1954).
- Today's banalities apparently gain in profundity if one states that the wisdom of the past, for all its virtues, belongs to the past. The arrogance of those who come later preens itself with the notion that the past is dead and gone. ... The modern mind can no longer think thought, only can locate it in time and space. The activity of thinking decays to the passivity of classifying.
- Russell Jacoby, Social Amnesia (1975), p. 1
- The application of planned obsolescence to thought itself has the same merit as its application to consumer goods; the new is not only shoddier than the old, it fuels an obsolete social system that staves off its replacement by manufacturing the illusion that it is perpetually new.
- Russell Jacoby, Social Amnesia (1975), p. xvii
- Nietzsche’s ideas and plans: for example, the idea of giving up the whole wretched academic world to form a secular monastic community.
- It is the capitalist class that pays you, that feeds you, that puts the very clothes on your backs that you are wearing tonight. And in return you preach to your employers the brands of metaphysics that are especially acceptable to them; and the especially acceptable brands are acceptable because they do not menace the established order of society. ... You are sincere. You preach what you believe. There lies your strength and your value—to the capitalist class. But should you change your belief to something that menaces the established order, your preaching would be unacceptable to your employers, and you would be discharged. ... Your hands are soft with the work others have performed for you. Your stomachs are round with the plenitude of eating. ... And your minds are filled with doctrines that are buttresses of the established order. You are as much mercenaries (sincere mercenaries, I grant) as were the men of the Swiss Guard.
- 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).
- One should observe our scholars closely: they have reached the point where they think only “reactively,” i.e. they must read before they can think.
- Halperin's final essay, "Why Is Diotima a Woman?", has inspired the title of my article. Here we have one of the great junk bonds of the fast-track academic era, whose unbridled greed for fame and power was intimately in sync with parallel developments on Wall Street. This is yuppie entrepreneurship at its height. It's scholarship skating on a gold credit card, sweeping up everything in its path and dropping it unsorted and uncomprehended in a heap in the boutique window. Its inner bonds too are junk: the logic is specious and its claims counterfeit. … Nothing is thought through or developed in a sensible, plausible way. All energy goes toward show, pretense, posing.
- Camille Paglia, reviewing David Halperin’s One Hundred Years of Homosexuality, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), pp. 158-159
- Academe has become a multinational corporation, and scholars have become businessmen, mobile merchants on the make.
- Camille Paglia, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), p. 172
- Today's academic leftists are strutting wannabes, timorous nerds who missed the Sixties while they were grade-grubbing in the library and brown-nosing the senior faculty. Their politics came to them late, secondhand, and special delivery via the Parisian import craze of the Seventies. These people have risen to the top not by challenging the system but by smoothly adapting themselves to it. They're company men, Rosencrantz and Guildensterns, privileged opportunists who rode the wave of fashion.
- Camille Paglia, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), pp. 176-177
- We know something about billionaire consumption, but it is hard to measure some of it. Some billionaires are consuming politicians, others consume reporters, and some consume academics.
- Even though philosophers should be in a position to discover the truth, which of them would take any interest in it? Each one knows well that his system is not better founded than the others, but he supports it because it is his. There is not a single one of them who, if he came to know the true and the false, would not prefer the falsehood that he had found to the truth discovered by another. Where is the philosopher who would not willingly deceive mankind for his own glory? Where is he who in the secret of his heart does not propose to himself any other object than to distinguish himself? Provided that he lifts himself above the vulgar, provided that he outshines the brilliance of his competitors, what does he demand more? The essential thing is to think differently from others. With believers he is an atheist; with atheists he would be a believer.
- For the intellectual class, expertise has usually been a service rendered, and sold, to the central authority of society. This is the trahison des clercs of which Julien Benda spoke in the 1920s. Expertise in foreign affairs, for example, has usually meant the legitimization of the conduct of foreign policy.
- Edward Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), p. 2
- 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, 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.
- Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.
- Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love.
- Nassim N. Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010), p. 4.
- What the learned world tends to offer is one second-hand scrap of information illustrating ideas derived from another second-hand scrap of information. The second-handedness of the learned world is the secret of its mediocrity.
- Alfred North Whitehead, “Technical Education,” in The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1929), p. 61.
- When we see a woman bartering beauty for gold, we look upon such a one as no other than a common prostitute; but she who rewards the passion of some worthy youth with it, gains at the same time our approbation and esteem. It is the very same with philosophy: he who sets it forth for public sale, to be disposed of to the highest bidder, is a sophist, a public prostitute.
- To offer one’s beauty for money to all comers is called prostitution. … So is it with wisdom. Those who offer it to all comers for money are known as sophists, prostitutors of wisdom.
- Keyes, Ralph (2007). The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When. St. Martin's Press. pp. 1. ISBN 1-4299-0617-0.