Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Introductory Question For Later Discussion

A free society needs to have a place to protect ideas, where controversy of all sorts is tolerated. Traditionally, that has been the academy. Is that necessary?

That model is left over from the many earlier eras where only the few were literate. In an age of more universal literacy, should we put society's protected space of controversy somewhere else? How well is this model serving society now?

It is too easy for critics of the academy to just say they will object to giving up such a spot because it is their ox being gored. Well, that would be true of any of us, but that doesn't mean there aren't actual good reasons for keeping the academy in the role of "place where people can question anything and have controversial ideas."

I have no secret alternative solution. I'm just asking.

6 comments:

Donna B. said...

Hasn't the Academy then failed? Is it today (or when was it last) a place where "people can question anything and have controversial ideas?"

Dave Moelling said...

I don't think the Academy was ever a place for this. Luther was a great example as he had to gain the local prince's favor to continue discussion. At one time the Academy favored development of critical thinking, not any more.

Ideas were always born in the bars, streets, broadsheets, books of the public domain. We only deferred to the Academy when large figures like Conant at Harvard were on the stage

Sam L. said...

The (or one of them) problem with the academy" is that they've given up the idea/concept of "protecting ideas and the free discussion thereof" in favor of preserving some ideas and protecting them from the free discussion thereof.

OBloodyHell said...

> The (or one of them) problem with the academy" is that they've given up the idea/concept of "protecting ideas and the free discussion thereof" in favor of preserving some ideas and protecting them from the free discussion thereof.


"Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory", anyone?

Anonymous said...

The academy wasn't just randomly selected as a place for free questioning and controversy. It's the place where young people go to be educated, and education, as opposed to indoctrination, works best in an atmosphere which respects free inquiry.

There are plenty of places in society where people can question things. We don't need the academy for that; we need that for the academy.

TGGP said...

To give some defense of the academy, I just started reading the Bell Curve and in the intro they note that certain ideas were anathemas considered discredited among the general public but were the consensus and respected among academics.