Academic Afterword: On the Occasion of My Retirement From the Academy

In my institution I have been sharply critical of the public relations attempts at self-justification and self-elevation in the interest of the community's largess, the larger grants of public money to support a larger and larger institution. I have been particularly critical of my school's official insistence that its primary concern is with "new knowledge," a phrase I quote from our "Red Book," the official rules used to examine faculty for promotion. The effect of such a provincial understanding of knowledge has been an emphasis upon publication by our faculty and pressure for "innovation" in its teaching.

The fundamental necessity of knowing what men have said of this idea or this fact is either ignored or rejected by such a prescription for a university's relation to community. In the pressure that results, the faculty member struggles to survive by being innovative and original. He contributes to the flood of "research" that even large libraries equipped with the latest technology can no longer keep up with. Little wonder that a faculty member, whose own contribution is supposed to be made in the light of what has already been done, cannot know whether he has made an original contribution to "new" knowledge or not.

A colleague in philosophy tells me of a system designed in answer to these pressures for new knowledge, most difficult to discover in philosophy...

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