Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Trained Beasts and the Modern Multiversity

When I think of the tenured, I think of pomposity and vacuity; or pretentiousness and absurdity. Nor am I alone in so thinking. For example, Nicolás Gómez Dávila -- AKA Don Colacho -- aphirms that "There is an illiteracy of the soul which no diploma cures."

Worse yet, -- think of our Dear Leader, or of the left more generally -- "Formal instruction does not cure foolishness; it arms it."

Yesterday we spoke of the precipitous dumbing down of academia in order to achieve the dubious goal of mass college education (dubious because there can be no such thing as mass excellence). Before World War II, relatively few Americans attended college, and most of those didn't do so in order to secure a job, but simply to obtain a liberal education, or because they were wealthy twits with nothing better to do.

Afterwards a confluence of factors fueled the expansion and influence of the college racket, including the discovery, extension, and exploitation of adolescence, the banning of IQ tests as a condition of employment, and the need to siphon off a flood of workers into the labor pool after WWII (via the GI bill).

Nowadays college is practically a civil right; and like most newly discovered rights, it is really an obligation (of taxpayers) in disguise, nor is it necessarily healthy for the right-bearer. There are obviously forms of education that are healthy, but it is just as likely that one will be harmed by college; at the very least, "for some, college is the beginning of problems with drugs, or drinking, or sex that will cloud their adulthood for years, or even a lifetime."

And the damage to the soul might be worse for the person who doesn't spend four years partying, and who actually assimilates what he has been taught: "if you are a parent who does not hold [leftist] positions, you are not merely wasting an enormous sum of money; you are paying an enormous sum of money to have a college inculcate views and values that are counter to your most precious values and ideals."

In this ponderous book I'm plowing through, there is a section devoted to education. In it, Niemeyer describes five different forms of education, only one of which is truly liberal, i.e., liberating, humanistic, and spiritually expansive.

I don't have time to detail each of them, but the only one that doesn't end up contracting and damaging the soul is the "Socratic," which opens the youth to a sense of wonder, and induces him "to 'turn around,' away from his self-seeking passions, toward the quest for truth and love of the good."

This approach -- without any indoctrination whatsoever, mind you -- "brings the young man to rational examination of the movements that he can experience in the depth of his soul, and thereby to an awareness of a public order congruous with the order of being itself," i.e., of a political order that mirrors the order of the soul, instead of being at war with it.

This is the only order that can be worthy of man (although it can take diverse forms), so to deny it is to not only oppress man, but in a way, to render man impossible. All ideologies, in one way or another, make manhood impermissible. The reign of political correctness is just the latest version, and the "education" responsible for it is at antipodes to the Socratic one just outlined.

Most people who attend college will -- either explicitly or implicitly -- assimilate a political education (or perhaps politicized would be a better word), which is no education at all, because it is rooted in the needs of the state, not in the nature of man.

Elsewhere Niemeyer describes how the western university was an extension of the universality of Catholicism (which of course means "universal"). Thus, the western university "was from the beginning embedded in a universal pursuit of truth, in knowledge as a universal whole." Nothing can be further from this pattern than the contemporary "multiversity" that indoctrinates students into the tyranny of relativism and the formal stupidity of multiculturalism.

Tolerance? Please "The man who says he is respectful of all ideas is admitting that he is ready to surrender." And "Tolerating should not consist of forgetting that the tolerated only deserve tolerance."

Liberation? "To educate man is to impede the 'free expression of his personality,'” not unleash it on an unsuspecting world.

Logic? "The theses of the left are rationalizations that are carefully suspended before reaching the argument that dissolves them."

Science? "Nothing makes clearer the limits of science than the scientist’s opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession."

Proof? "If we could demonstrate the existence of God, everything would eventually be subjected to the sovereignty of man."

Secular materialism? "Only the souls that are made fertile by a divine pollen bloom."

Funny? "It is enough to state a truth in order to make the fool laugh."

Conservative? "Everything of value in the world is out of step with it."

Metaphysics? "Those who reject all metaphysics secretly harbor the coarsest."

Activism? "To one who anxiously asks what is to be done today, let us honestly answer that today all that is possible is an impotent lucidity."

Social justice? "'Social justice' is the term used to claim anything to which we do not have a right."

Faith? "There are arguments of increasing validity, but, in short, no argument in any field spares us the final leap."

Absurd? "Man calls 'absurd' what escapes his secret pretensions to omnipotence."

What about The Children? "No one should dare, without trembling, to influence anyone’s destiny."

Your god, the state? "The modern state is a teacher who never grants his students a degree." And "The liberal always discovers too late that the price of equality is the omnipotent state."

(All of those pungent aphorisms courtesy Nicolás Gómez Dávila.)


Leslie said...


mushroom said...

Formal instruction does not cure foolishness; it arms it.

Ain't that the truth.

...for some, college is the beginning of problems with drugs, or drinking, or sex that will cloud their adulthood for years, or even a lifetime ...

That's funny. I don't remember meeting Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

julie said...

Leslie, that's perfect.

It occurred to me recently that the idea of using education as a tool to turn children into "productive citizens" can only, ultimately be an exercise in dehumanization. It is, in a sense, like the idea of giving people houses in the belief that they will then become, well, productive citizens. What I mean is, if the purpose of an education is to create whole, liberated persons, then they will hardly be able to be anything but productive citizens, for the latter comes with the assumption of the former. But if all you're aiming for is creating a working class to pay taxes and stay out of trouble, more or less, you cannot help but fail at producing either whole persons or productive citizens.

Vanderleun had a link to a David Warren post which seems relevant, regarding the Pater Noster:

"I cannot think of any truth, goodness, or beauty, that is incompatible with that paternalist agenda. Whereas, I cannot think of any that is not potentially an affront to every earthly tyrant, whether or not freely elected as the Ruler of the People."

Bob said...

Of course drugs, alcohol and sex are also available to those who don't choose college. They just seem to be an integral part of early adulthood for far too many.

I love the Socratic method.

Linked here: http://bobagard.blogspot.com/2013/08/clouding-adulthood.html

Rick said...

"No one should dare, without trembling, to influence anyone’s destiny."

I believe that is carved in to a millstone somewhere.

Magister said...

I'm liking this Niemeyer fellow. Here he is on "The New Need for a Catholic University," an article he published in Logos not long ago:

The first thing to bear in mind, then, when speaking for the need for a Catholic university today, is that we are not indulging ourselves in nostalgia. As compared with the Middle Ages, or the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we are in a new ball game, as it were. Today the Catholic university responds to new needs, which must be carefully identified. If we now take a quick look at the medieval universities, all the same, it is not so much to obtain a model but rather to remind ourselves what has been the continuous character of the Western university from the very first. Of the five universities extant in the twelfth century (Salerno, Bologna, Paris, Montpellier, and Oxford), Salerno was essentially a medical school. The other four, presenting a wider range of instruction, offered knowledge through which a young man could hope to move into a respectable position in the cities, the episcopal chanceries, or the princely courts. With a grain of salt one may say that they were schools for administrators and counselors in various institutions of authority. But this utilitarian function—and here we come to the distinctive character of the Western university—was from the beginning embedded in a universal pursuit of truth, in knowledge as a universal whole. Of course, a medieval university was a guild, an association of scholars and magisters for purposes of self-protection and self-government. In that way they obtained a certain autonomy from the interference of the surrounding society, represented by Prince, Church, and City. That autonomy might be seen as nothing more than self-preservation.

But Alexander of Roes speaks of three principatus, three eminences: sacerdotium, regnum, and studium, according the university equal rank with the Church and the Crown. Thus, while the autonomous organization might have been merely self-preservative, the dignity could have come only from the purpose of universal truth to which the autonomous bodies of scholars and magisters had dedicated themselves. In that sense, the Western university must be distinguished from, let us say, the Japanese university which arose roughly about the same time. In Kyoto, the university also trained administrators, teaching both skills and knowledge, but skills and knowledge wholly immersed in the myth and rituals that constituted the mold of society and the imperial dynasty. In that this university was entirely geared to social and political tradition, the truth it taught had no standing of its own.

This latter approach sounds a lot like the ivied halls where our new Mandarin class is trained.