Sunday, 31 October 2010

In A Man's Mind's Eye - 2


From my folder of miscellaneous images, the second of those in a similar vein.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Antiquaries and (Academic) Historians

At the risk of labouring a point too much within a short space of time, I just came across a note I made earlier this year which is relevant to some of the comments that I have made on this blog recently.

On the radio, back in June, I heard an eminent British historian draw a contrast between antiquaries and academic historians. The former, he said, were largely without strictures – they did not find themselves straitjacketed – whereas, the latter were confined by the very fact of being academics. Being subject to the pressures and requirements that are increasingly being made of them, academic historians are less free to conduct the work they think interesting and worthwhile than antiquaries.

Kierkegaard's dislike of academia and of professors was one thing. Had he been alive now, his detestation, I'm sure, would also have been directed at those who run academia in the way that it has come to be run and who are putting these pressures on their staff. He might even have had some sympathy for the average academic. Although, perhaps, not too much.

(There is one other comment about academia that I remember hearing on the radio earlier this year. I have a note of it somewhere. If I find it, I shall blog it – but not yet. On this topic, I shall leave a pause for the time being.)

Friday, 15 October 2010

What are you paid to do?

Having referred recently to Kierkegaard’s attitude to academia – and professors in particular – I was taken aback recently when watching the BBC’s Horizon programme. A professor (that is, somebody who happens to have been given that title) was asked what he thought might be the case with regard something in his field of expertise. His reply was "I'm not paid to think. I'm paid to observe." Clearly, that is very much the case; he doesn’t think. Certainly, not very deeply or else he would see the weakness of such a response.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Answer … ?

I was only half-aware of the fact until this morning but numerically today's date is, of course, 10-10-10. It appears that there are people who see some sort of significance in this. Exactly what, I don't know. However, what struck me this morning was the interesting coincidence that the binary number 101010 is 42 in the decimal system. As those who know anything about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will be aware, the number 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

Do I see any significance in any of this? I see as much significance as I – being red-green colour-blind - can see the number 42 below i.e. I cannot. (NB I had to get my wife to check that I had downloaded the right image!)


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Non-Professor Kierkegaard

I had a somewhat timely reminder today of Kierkegaard's attitude to academia – or, at least, his attitude to some of those in it. He is reported to have said that 'even if you offered me a place in the great edifice of the system, I would rather be the kind of thinker who just sits on a branch'. Kierkegaard famously loathed professional philosophy; he hated professors. 'What's the difference between a thinker and a professor?' he said. 'Take away the paradox and you have a professor!' Increasingly, I see his point.

See also: this at one of my other sites.

Monday, 4 October 2010

In A Man's Mind's Eye - 1


Looking through my folder of miscellaneous images, I find that I have a few images in a similar vein. Here is the first.