Year: 2010

Standing in King’s Parade, tearing up tenners

I had to go along  to a meeting today, ostensibly about the future of funding for graduate students. It lasted an hour, though it was fortunately held just fifteen minutes away. Still, that’s an hour-and-a-half out of my life. There were about thirty people there. So that’s at least forty-five hours lost by various academics and administrators. The meeting therefore in effect sopped up a thousand pounds‘ worth of time, at a conservative estimate of average salaries.

The content of the meeting (the take-home message, as they say ) could have been put in a five line e-mail.

If members of the university admin staff — of course, the one conspicuously growing body in the university — stood in King’s Parade tearing up tenners*, academics (and everyone else) would rightly be incensed. So why the hell do we put up with this kind of thing?

*For my mystified non-UK readers, a tenner is a ten pound note!

What’s it all about then?

I’ve one more chapter of Berto’s Gödel book to comment on here, which I’ll do very shortly, and I mean to get back to the rest of Franks’s The Autonomy of Mathematical Knowledge (I got rather stuck on Franks’s tussle with Herbrand: I think I’ll just have to skip over that — but watch this space).

Meanwhile I’ve started dipping into Conceptions of Philosophy, a newly published collection of lectures given to the Royal Institute of Philosophy on the nature of philosophy.

Most of the contributors are my generation or older. Is that because reflecting on what we’ve been idling our time away with, hopefully finding something positive to be said for it, is a game for us old lags? Maybe. But I have to report that, so far, I don’t recognize very many of my own concerns in these contributors’ descriptions of what they think philosophers are/should be up to. Perhaps that’s because — though I’ve comfortably enough spent my time tucked away in philosophy departments — I’m not really philosophically minded. Well, I’m not if philosophy involves e.g. arm-waving blether about the True and the Good (David Cooper) or ignorant balderdash about the nature of mathematics (Peter Hacker).

Actually, it seems here that age  tends to bring not wisdom but bollocks.

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