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May 18, 2016 10:33 AM EDT

Academic Today Is All About Show; Could This Be Worrying?

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Things are not like it used to be as far as academic is concerned. For instance, those applying for research grant need to possess an imaginative "public engagement" plan - It's all about show nowadays.

This definitely seems to be a little distressing, especially considering those who are applying for the grant, haven't really done the work yet. In case, a research turn out to be disappointing, what options are available?

Clearly, those who can't guarantee a positive result, don't even get the grant. Amid all confusion, Friedrich Nietzsche seem to have the perfect idea.

Nietzsche's autobiographical Ecce Homo starts with the chapters that read, "Why I am so wise, Why I am so clever, and Why I write such good books." His academic career was almost over by then owing to illness. This marks his last notable publication before his tragic lapse into mental illness.

In his paper, Politics and Moral Character, renowned philosopher Bernard Williams indicated that the attributes that enable politicians to achieve success, might not necessarily be the qualities people seek in those we govern them. Lying, making misleading statements, not keeping promises, negligence of the interests of worthy person and complete attention to interests of unworthy persons are some of characteristics of politics nowadays.

Although, a close comparison of this can't be made with current academia, something needs to be said for the reverse argument.

That is, those displaying admirable academic characteristics such as support of their colleagues, caution, unwillingness to overstate, humility and regard to the achievement of others will find it comparatively harder to rise on top.

That said, even not aspiring to rise to the top is another admirable quality, so probably it works out for them.

As far as academic bragging contests are concerned, it seems to be an aspect of unintended outcome of a series of shots to defend universities against government cuts, Jonathan Wolff, professor of philosophy at University College London and dean of arts and humanities noted via TheGuardian.

However, ministers and civil servants do not trust anything without evidence, as they have learned from Williams as well as others that it is unethical to deflect public money to your ex-teachers, at least until the paperwork is in place. Wolff notes that there are hardly any evidences that universities actually make a difference.

He concludes noting that it is not totally wrong approach though, as no one undertakes research without actually hoping that it will make a difference. The university domain can proudly boast its collective achievements, however it would nice to eliminate some of the vanity, according to Wolff.

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