Why fight for a low value prize?
Posted by aogWednesday, 08 December 2004 at 20:04 TrackBack Ping URL

I’ve been reading more stories lately on the intellectual intolerance of American academia. This is no surpise to anyone who has interacted with that area but there seems to be more first hand tales of it around these days. This is of more than passing interest for me these days because She Who Is Perfect In All Ways is moving over to academia herself and even before taking up her official duties she’s run in to very similar things (if a bit milder). What’s interesting is that she is in a very technical field, not the standard humanities / sociology style pretend fields from which most of the stories seem to arise.

What strikes me is that the non-conforming types leave rather than fight it out. I think this means that an academic career is of limited value. As is said, the most vicious fights are generally over the most petty issues. What I’ve read from those who have abandoned the field indicates that it’s not so much the fight per se but the intensity of the fight vs. the size of the reward. It seems a natural trend that academia would fall to leftish ideologues because conservatively oriented people have far more options and other things to do with their lives. Academia might be desireable but it’s not the most important thing.

On the other hand, the more fringe elements of the Left take the “personal is political” far more seriously. In addition, a professorship guarantees that there is at least one group of people one can permanently one up — the students.

If one is a logo-realist, then it would seem like academia is the place to go to shape the future. Logo-realists also are the most intolerant of divergent opinions because those aren’t just disagreements, but threats to the very fabric of the logo-realist’s reality. A conservative can just say “well, he’s entitled to his own opinion” and move on because the world turns on regardless of what anyone thinks of it. However, the logo-realist can’t let go because the existence of divergent opinions creates competing realities. Think what a mess the world would be if everyone could have their own gravitational constant. That’s how a logo-realist sees a diversity of opinions. Academia allows the creation of safe zones where everyone agrees and where one can keep a job and prestige even with a severe case of reality dysfunction.

All of this together makes the Leftist group think of academia inevitable, once appropriate sources of funding are created. Once great institutions of learning were built by the predecessors of todays academics, those instutitions were colonized by the leftists and logo-realists. They are the termites of intellectual life in this country and I think we’re beginning to see the structural collapse that is the next part of the cycle.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
pj Friday, 10 December 2004 at 10:36

Well, you’re persuading me of the importance of logo-realism. I think your comment about the funding sources sustaining them is important - change will come through changes to funding.

What do you think of UN peacekeeping as an illustration of logo-realism: http://www.brothersjudd.com/blog/archives/018532.html

aog Sunday, 12 December 2004 at 16:04

I would agree that it’s another classic example. It’s always been obvious that UN peace missions were valued far more for rhetorical purposes than any actual results. My thoughts about logo-realism is my attempt to understand why that would be. I dislike simply assuming my political opponents are just stupid and irrational. Even when they are, there is almost always some core that drives the process.

End of Discussion