Thursday, November 14, 2002

A College Education

The curriculum in English and sociology departments is largely the following. Systems of value and belief, ideologies, are imposed upon reality. None of them is true. Books and films are ideological instruments of control. Ways of life are all equally devoid of objective worth. They are imposed by a cultural system in order to serve those who most benefit from them: the elite. You can take class after class, and each one will have this curriculum. Of course, there are exceptions. There are professors of poetry or Durkheim who will have none of this. But this is the mainstay of the curriculum: postmodern Marxism. The latter is a redundant phrase, meaning that all beliefs and values are merely caused by the interests of those in power and are not based on truth or good reasons. Indeed, there is no such thing as truth or good reasons, these themselves being mere ideological tools.

End tenure and fire these professors for gross incompetence. They can have no good argument for their curriculum. For their curriculum's core concept is that there is no such thing as a good argument. They are charlatans and sophists.

In philosophy departments, you have some of the same stuff, though not in such large helpings. Rather, you have a different problem. If the department is based in Contenental philosophy, you also have meaningless verbiage. Most departments are based in analytic, or Anglo-American, philosophy. Here the problem is not usually pomo Marxism (though it will be if there are professors hired to bring "feminist perspectives on epistemology" and the like). Rather, the problem is that the curriculum is pointlessly arcane. Philosophy professors tend to be slightly but catastrophically dogmatic. Each clings to his favorite premise and spends his career bending over backwards to fill in a story that brings the evidence into alignment with this premise. There are exceptions, but in general, philosophy professors don't spend much time investigating commonsense solutions to philosophical puzzles. They prefer the sexy theory that elegantly makes the evidence seem to support it. 20th Century American philosophy departments have produced little in the way of interesting results. Catastrophy. I think most philosophical problems are solvable by common sense. There should be no Ph.D. in this subject. Just have an M.A. for qualification for teaching. Defund all the philosophy journals. If all the back-issues of the last 50 years burned, it wouldn't matter.

Victor Davis Hanson has pretty much the same to say about Classics departments: pomo nonsense or mindless logic-chopping. See his Who Killed Homer.

Political science? I don't even know what that is. I've tried but failed to discover what it is. For this reason I can't recommend taking courses in it. But perhaps there is something there. I don't know.

History? It's dicey. Many pomo-Marxists, who say that there is no objective history. But there are many regular historians.

Send your kid to major in a science, and sit down with him to choose with great care courses in literature, Classics, history, and philosophy. If your kid won't do this, refuse to pay the tuition. Hopefully, he'll drop out and get a job.