Comments on: Jams, Loops and Downward Spirals in the Academic System UvA Staff for a New University Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:45:11 +0000 hourly 1 By: Josef Fruchtl Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:39:33 +0000 I very much agree with what Patricia is stating. But as a kind of onlooker (“I’m just sitting on a fence …”) I would like to add a remark. It comes out of the past – the famous-infamous 1960s – or simply from nowhere (an English word for “u-topos”, utopia).

That is to say, I belong to those rare people who – in a reserved way – raise the hand if somebody – mostly rhetorically – asks whether the 1960s is a period that has to offer something to the ongoing debates on our university. I like the idea of a university that grants students to study ‘eternally’. What could be better than not stopping to going on with one’s studies? I like the idea of a university that concedes to staff members that they try to make their dissertation the work of a lifetime – though they never succeed. It is a sign of the humanity of an institution how it deals with so-called parasites.

We should not forget that the university of the eternal student and the unfinished magnum opus usually is used as a caricature. Insofar we should ask ourselves why this is the case. But like often, the caricature has a true kernel. Traditionally it is called “freedom from usefulness”. German idealists like Kant and Schiller, and Hegelian Marxists like Adorno, are very aware of that. A community that doesn’t grant such a kind of freedom isn’t a free community. It must be possible to say out loud: “I am an inhabitant of the ivory tower, and I am proud.” Dialectical thinking can teach us something about the ‘societal relevance’ of those people – often writers, artists, and philosophers – who aren’t, or don’t want to be, societal relevant (in a direct way).

So, if it is still a liberal-utopian ideal (that Rorty shares with Mao) to “let thousands flowers grow”, the flower of absolute freedom should not be exterminated.