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The Forum > Article Comments > Jacques Barzun and the decline of universities > Comments

Jacques Barzun and the decline of universities : Comments

By Rafe Champion, published 8/12/2011

IN 1968 Barzun published The American University which critiqued problems still endemic in tertiary education.

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What is the purpose of this essay?

I guess the first place to begin is in the understanding of the word university and its association with the word universal. Especially in a time when all forms of knowledge from all times and places are freely available to anyone with an internet connection

How then does one find the tools for a truly universal understanding and evaluation of the human situation and therefore of the totality of human culture.

If you are at all familiar with Rafe's work and the company that he keeps you will find that he is a champion(sic) of the Western world view and its alleged superiority over all other world views. Best summed in the phrase the West versus the rest.

Officially defined knowledge in all times and places has always been used to exercise power and control over the people that exist within any given cultural time and place. So too with all of the presumed knowledge allowed and promulgated in the academy.

Western universities or more correctly mind-factories, exist to promulgate the Western form of presumed knowledge about the world. In 2011 they are all extensions of the military-industrial complex. Indeed many of them have long ago sold their "soul" to the complex.

All of popular culture is now governed by the presumptions of political and scientific materialism. All of official popular propaganda promotes an exclusively materialistic interpretation of Man and Nature.

Rafe might like to pretend that man does not live by bread alone, but he is very much convicted of a world view that limits human beings to nothing more than a never ending promulgation of bread and circuses in which we are quite literally amusing ourselves to death

And the eating of Black Ducks.
Posted by Daffy Duck, Thursday, 8 December 2011 1:32:20 PM
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Poor Jacque Barzun, what a fate!

From the beautiful streets of Paris to the chambers of Columbia University in New York is a deep fall, and regaining the lost streets of the real world, that any scugnizzo instinctively knows, is no more possible for him. His mind is set in concrete.

Schools are enclosed spaces, remote from the open platform of human intercourse, places where prejudices are perpetuated, places were young minds are enslaved and bent to perform what pleases the tyrant of the day.

There may have been others, but I know of only one man, Ivan Illich, who overcame the shackles of his education in a priests-making seminary and managed to see the inutility of schools and how schools are used for channeling young minds into servility and ultimately crime.
Posted by skeptic, Thursday, 8 December 2011 4:45:09 PM
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skeptic - there's a certain profundity in your rhetoric. Nice to read.

I read Deschooling Society....most insightful for a homeschooler.

: )
Posted by Poirot, Thursday, 8 December 2011 5:28:06 PM
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Only with the Second Law Of Thermodynamics (2LT) as a beacon can modern Tertiary education have meaning.

The 2LT states that all living systems are in decay and at some point CATASTROPHIC expiry unless acted on by significant ENTROPY gradients. Gradients like electric power to the living room, or from the petrol bowser to the indoor garage or from Volcanos to Roman empire.

Its easy to forget or be totally ignorant of this as Consciousness gives an impenetrable illusion of permanency. That's SURVIVAL. But alas there is no such permanency except in a purely guessed at spiritual sense.

All life on this planet springs from GEOTHERMAL/TECTONIC impulses and when they were asleep we historically depended on solar irradiation as best we could to eke survival.

The discovery of coal (its energy primarily of GEOTHERMAL origin) in Europe only some 2 or 3 centuries ago has led to an explosion in human numbers and indeed in expectations of permanency. Oil has multiplied that problem 10 fold.

Why do I say problem? Because coal is too dirty to sustain more than 2 billion human souls as WWI &II clearly demonstrated.
Oil can sustain some 8-9 billion souls at current rates of extraction. But oil company secret records hint at falling reserves and a 2030 cessation of extraction in most of the major basins. Coal seam gas uses more oil and dirty coal in ancillary production and liquefaction that it will produce in clean-green energy. It is thus a fool's option, as is Nuclear energy and any of the solar or its wind/wave derivitives.

The point?

Continued>
Posted by KAEP, Thursday, 8 December 2011 9:04:57 PM
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Continued >

Tertiary education is not out of sorts with global goals. It is necessary and sufficient to propel humans to the inner solar system and the stars along Entropy gradients 10-20 times greater than those of Earth. What is wrong in all disciplines from arts to science to economics is ignoring the 2LT. Once you understand the 2LT you can move away from exploiting good tertiary education as an evil-design tool to PANDER to increased human reproduction, sexuality, immigration and attendant OLIGARCHY mass market PROFITS. This pure human incest, this TOOBIG TO FAIL tom-foolery, must be seen for what it is and expunged.

Its advocacy is why NASA is looking solar-system outward bound for human salvation. If only they knew that this albeit great tertiary endeavour is akin to an archer pushing an arrow out of his bow rather than DRAWING back (to the Sun) and letting go. How can great minds be so foolish without without the mental dispersion of greed and lust?

Tertiary education, from arts to economics can be a beacon to "search & snare" vast entropy gradients at the earth's mantle and at a tolerable distance from the Sun. With that focus the global esprit de corps of the Apollo launches will be regained. That's when Tertiary education makes the hair on your neck stand up and that's what its meant to do.

Come on earthlings -- get your fingers OUT! We want quality people all at tertiary standard, NOT quantities of people as a prop for the egos of the rich.
Posted by KAEP, Thursday, 8 December 2011 9:10:22 PM
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'Daffy Duck'

Is the irony intended here?
Daffy Duck was n invention of one of those 20th century minds committed to promulgation of one very amusing capitalist circus and had little to impact on the topic of ... education.

Skeptic

Have you actually read any of Barzun or indeed the article and many of it's links?

Kaep

I prefer Barzun.
Posted by imajulianutter, Thursday, 8 December 2011 10:37:48 PM
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