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More on the Crisis in the Humanities October 28, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Education, Philosophy.
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The threatened closing of foreign language departments at SUNY Albany (following threats to philosophy programs in the U.K and the U.S)  has received a good deal of discussion in the blogosphere. (Including here)  Highly regarded French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy contributed these particularly pithy remarks:

So the choice is between getting rid of French and getting rid of philosophy? What a great alternative!

A choice between removing the liver or the lungs. Stomach or heart. Eyes or ears. How about that?

Someone needs to invent a kind of instruction that is, first, strictly monolingual — because everything can be translated into English, can’t it? — and also one from which all questioning (for example, of what “translation” means, both in general and in terms of this or that specific language) has been completely eliminated. A single language alone, cleansed of the bugs of reflection, would make the perfect university subject: smooth, harmonious, easily submitted to pedagogical control.

It’s time to propose getting rid of both French and philosophy, and, for that matter, all related subjects, like Latin, psychoanalysis, Italian, Spanish, literary theory, Russian, or history. Perhaps it would be wise to put in their place, as mandatory course offerings, some programming languages (e.g. Java), and also commercial Chinese and technical Hindi — at least until these languages have been completely transcribed into English. (Unless it is the opposite that comes to pass.)

Anyway, let us teach what is displayed on billboards and stock market monitors. Nothing else!

Courage, comrades: a new world is being born!

[tr. J. K. Cohen/H. Saussy]

The corporatization of the university and the commercialization of every aspect of life continues apace enabled by greed-as-a-virtue conservatives and a timorous, ineffectual liberalism powerless to arrest it’s advance.

A new world is being born indeed. But is it one that humans will inhabit?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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Comments»

1. Nina Rosenstand - October 29, 2010

The irony is that throughout the 20th century the same debate has had its ebbs and flows in Europe (perhaps also in American Academia, but since I got my education in Europe, that’s where I picked up on the trends), but with different undertones: Earlier the Conservatives argued that the cultural legacy was important, regardless of how many students graduated, and the Liberals (or, in that case, Social Democrats) said that in that case the universities only catered to the pampered intellectual elite (meaning: the rich), and that schools should produce information/research that would benefit The People in a material way. The knife can cut in many different directions, with support from different ideologies. Let’s not assume that it’s always the Conservatives who look for tangible results, and the Liberals who want to protect the intellectual environment…


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