Letter: How to get an academic job: devise a thesis and make it ludicrous

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The Independent Online
At last, someone with the courage and insight to expose the careerist contagion of academic overproduction. As Noel Malcolm outlines, the intellectual stagnation in the humanities, where overworked ideas and viewpoints are recycled in ever greater detail, signals the intrusion of the market where it does not belong. But missing from his article is identification of the underlying world view causing this fiasco and connecting it with similar habits in life outside.

We cannot "change the emphasis from quantity to quality" unless we abandon the disabling, Cartesian dualisms which rule world-wide, meshing with the common-sense trap of treating as divisible and independent reason/the senses, thinking/ doing, means/ends, part/whole, work/meaning etc. The resulting atomisation of inquiry not only prohibits the interdisciplinary and collaborative grounds of knowledge but blocks the development of an intersubjective framework for judging quality: hence the wrong-headed triumph of quantity as the measure of achievement. Though I am no fan of Wittgenstein, he had a point: "The race of philosophy is won by those who run slowest."

David Rodway

London SW1