Academic careerism is the tendency of the class to whom a society has entrusted the pursuit and dissemination of truth to pursue its own enrichment and self-advancement instead.
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- The true clerc is Vauvenargues, Lamarck, Fresnel, Spinoza, Schiller, Baudelaire, César Franck, who were never diverted from single-hearted adoration of the beautiful and the divine by the necessity of earning their daily bread. But such clercs are inevitably rare. ... The rule is that the living creature condemned to struggle for life turns to practical passions, and thence to the sanctifying of those passions.
- Julien Benda, Treason of the Intellectuals (1927), R. Aldington, trans. (2007) p. 159
- Everyone knows how compromised the idea of bureaucracy as a meritocratic system is. The first criterion of loyalty to any organization is therefore complicity. Career advancement is not based on merit but on a willingness to play along with the fiction that career advancement is based on merit, or with the fiction that rules and regulations apply to everyone equally, when in fact they are often deployed as an instrument of arbitrary personal power. ... As whole societies have come to represent themselves as giant credentialized meritocracies, rather than as systems of predatory extraction, we bustle about, trying to curry favor by pretending we actually believe it to be true.
- David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules (2015)
- Jesus ... combines all duties (1) in one universal rule (which includes within itself both the inner and the outer moral relations of men), namely: Perform your duty for no motive other than unconditioned esteem for duty itself, i.e., love God (the Legislator of all duties) above all else; and (2) in a particular rule, that, namely, which concerns man’s external relation to other men as universal duty: Love every one as yourself, i.e., further his welfare from good-will that is immediate and not derived from motives of self-advantage. These commands are not mere laws of virtue but precepts of holiness which we ought to pursue, and the very pursuit of them is called virtue.
- Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Book IV, Part 1, Section 1, “The Christian religion as a natural religion”
- The two greatest blinders of the intellectual who today might fight against the main drift are new and fascinating career chances, which often involve opportunities to practice his skill rather freely, and the ideology of liberalism, which tends to expropriate his chance to think straight. The two go together, for the liberal ideology, as now used by intellectuals, acts as a device whereby he can take advantage of the new career chances but retain the illusion that his soul remains his own.
- C. Wright Mills, The New Men of Power (1948), p. 281.
- I now address the graduate students. This is a time of enormous opportunity for you. There is an ossified political establishment of invested self-interest. Conformism and empty pieties dominate academe. Rebel. Do not read Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault, and treat as insignificant nothings those that still prate of them. You need no contemporaries to interpret the present for you. Born here, alive now, you are modernity. You are the living link between the past and future. Charge yourself with the high ideal of scholarship, connecting you to Alexandria and to the devoted, distinguished scholars who came before you. When you build on learning, you build on rock. You become greater by a humility toward great things. Let your work follow its own organic rhythm. Seek no material return from it, and it will reward you with spiritual gold. Hate dogma. Shun careerists. If you keep the faith, the gods may give you, at midlife, the sweet pleasure of seeing the hotshots who were so fast out of the gate begin to flag and sink, just as your studies are reaching their point of maturation.
- Camille Paglia, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders : Academe in the Hour of the Wolf," Arion, Spring 1991
- To noble minds profit should not appear to be a dignified reward for studies. It fits a craftsman to seek profit; generous arts know a nobler goal.
- Petrarch, On Dialectic, in The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (1948), p. 137
- We have reached the point, it is painful to recognize, where the only persons accounted wise are those who can reduce the pursuit of wisdom to a profitable traffic.
- Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man (1496), as translated by Robert Caponigri (1956), p. 34
- Knowledge is the food of the soul; and we must take care, my friend, that the Sophist does not deceive us when he praises what he sells, like the dealers wholesale or retail who sell the food of the body; for they praise indiscriminately all their goods, without knowing what are really beneficial or hurtful.
- Plato, Protagoras, 313c, B. Jowett, trans.
- Each of these private teachers who work for pay … inculcates nothing else than these opinions of the multitude which they opine when they are assembled and calls this knowledge wisdom.
- Plato, The Republic, 493a
- Even though philosophers should be in a position to discover the truth, which of them would take any interest in it? Each one knows well that his system is not better founded than the others, but he supports it because it is his. There is not a single one of them who, if he came to know the true and the false, would not prefer the falsehood that he had found to the truth discovered by another. Where is the philosopher who would not willingly deceive mankind for his own glory? Where is he who in the secret of his heart does not propose to himself any other object than to distinguish himself? Provided that he lifts himself above the vulgar, provided that he outshines the brilliance of his competitors, what does he demand more? The essential thing is to think differently from others. With believers he is an atheist; with atheists he would be a believer.
- The intellectual origins of literary theory in Europe were, I think it is accurate to say, insurrectionary. The traditional university, the hegemony of determinism and positivism, the reification of ideological bourgeois “humanism,” the rigid barriers between academic specialties: it was powerful responses to all these that linked together such influential progenitors of today’s literary theorist as Saussure, Lukács, Bataille, Lévi-Strauss, Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx. Theory proposed itself as a synthesis overriding the petty fiefdoms within the world of intellectual production, and it was manifestly to be hoped as a result that all the domains of human activity could be seen, and lived, as a unity. ...
- Literary theory, whether of the Left or the Right, has turned its back on these things. This can be considered, I think, the triumph of the ethic of professionalism. But it is no accident that the emergence of so narrowly defined a philosophy of pure textuality and critical noninterference has coincided with the ascendancy of Reaganism.
- Edward Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), pp. 3-4
- If from the wilderness the righteous and honest John were actually to come who, clothed in skins and living on locusts and untouched by all the terrible mischief, were meanwhile to apply himself with a pure heart and in all seriousness to the investigation of truth and to offer the fruits thereof, what kind of reception would he have to expect from those businessmen of the chair, who are hired for State purposes and with wife and family have to live on philosophy, and whose watchword is, therefore, Primum vivere, deinde philosophari [first live and then philosophize]? These men have accordingly taken possession of the market and have already seen to it that here nothing is of value except what they allow; consequently merit exists only in so far as they and their mediocrity are pleased to acknowledge it. They thus have on a leading rein the attention of that small public, such as it is, that is concerned with philosophy. For on matters that do not promise, like the productions of poetry, amusement and entertainment but only instruction, and financially unprofitable instruction at that, that public will certainly not waste its time, effort, and energy, without first being thoroughly assured that such efforts will be richly rewarded. Now by virtue of its inherited belief that whoever lives by a business knows all about it, this public expects an assurance from the professional men who from professor’s chairs and in compendiums, journals, and literary periodicals, confidently behave as if they were the real masters of the subject. Accordingly, the public allows them to sample and select whatever is worth noting and what can be ignored.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Philosophy in the Universities,” Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, pp. 148-149
- Those who are ignorant of all good, careless, or enemies to it, take a more compendious way; their slavish, vicious, and base natures inclining them to seek only private and present advantages, they easily slide into a blind dependence upon one who has wealth and power; and desiring only to know his will, care not what injustice they do, if they may be rewarded. They worship what they find in the temple, though it be the vilest of idols; and always like that best which is worst, because it agrees with their inclinations and principles.
- Algernon Sydney, Discourses on Government, in Life and Writings, p. 371
- “Nothing but ambition, nothing but the desire to get on, that's all there is in his soul,” she thought; “as for these lofty ideals, love of culture, religion, they are only so many tools for getting on.”
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna watching her husband in Anna Karenina, C. Garnett, trans. (New York: 2003), Part 2, Chapter 28, p. 192
- If the passion for truthfulness is merely controlled and stilled without being satisfied, it will kill the activities it is supposed to support. This may be one of the reasons why, at the present time, the study of the humanities runs a risk of sliding from professional seriousness, through professionalization, to a finally disenchanted careerism.
- Bernard Williams, Truth and Truthfulness (2002)
- When we see a woman bartering beauty for gold, we look upon such a one as no other than a common prostitute. ... It is the very same with philosophy: he who sets it forth for public sale, to be disposed of to the highest bidder, is a sophist, a public prostitute.