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2012-11-13
Two models of Philosophy
It is reasonable to suppose that academics must take a consultative role in their relationship with their students and that consequently students may have to wait for their queries to be considered. On this model I cannot find fault with the delay in non-professional users of PhilPapers needing to wait for their posts to appear, for discussion is something that takes place between academics and not between academics and students. More important again, the consultative role prevents scholastic dilution and dissolution of the University text into anecdote under a potential wave of less informed student contributions.

That would be the academic model employed by the University (which I have called the integral text), a model that safeguards knowledge. In this model knowledge such as ideas and personages is safeguarded by being integrated with other factual nodes or elements, such as style, date, syntax preferences, and these together form a net that must be laboriously learned, and where each node lends its qualities to the other (eg ideas are stabilised by history in the referential net or integral text) hence the need for a consultative role between students and academics: students must wait for their daily deliverance.

But the University has flirted I might say, with another model, one that threatens knowledge, and the dissolution of the University text into anecdote. Flirted, I say, because, although a supposedly "rival" model the aesthetic model as I call it (for now) plays a vital role in the life of the University integral text in breaking down (rather than breaking up, which is the constant fear of the University) that text and so releasing facts of ideas, style, personage, etc, from each other - dissolving that self-referential net which is the University's. Dissolving the text of the University is not an academics remit, but such dissolution, and rebuilding is necessary if the University texts are to develop. This process has never been acknowledged. Its proponent philosphers, in their rawest form, go by a number of names such as anti-philosophers, mavericks, to include especially Wittgenstein and Nietzsche.

And like Jesus Christ, were these philosophers to emerge today and be recognized they would be roundly ignored, for their name was not made through an academic institution but needed installing in it by others. In Wittgensteins case by Bertrand Russell.  Now it would be fitting for people like these (and is there too many of them?) to enter a non-consultative discussion with the academic institution as equals and that their writings not only be immediately available but prioritised.

Thus the tension that exists in the University texts - between the academic and the aesthetic powerhouses of the University text. The academics demand a consultative relationship with their students for the sake of the survival of the texts, while the aesthetes or maverick philosophers and rebel students, demand a role as equals so that the texts may develop - and they will not be kept waiting. Striking a fine balance between the two becomes an art, or a fashion of history. It would help if these two faces of the University text were both acknowledged, but the academic, consultative aspect gains the upper hand as it were over the aesthetic demands. This is a pivot on which turns the analytic/continental divide.

PhilPapers must also strike that balance. For my own part I have never really seen myself as a budding academic, more a maverick or anti-philosopher. And isn't philosophy one of those "studies" where contradictorily, against the academic, there is a little more of the maverick thought, or free-thinking than may be found in other more traditional studies where the consultative role might be more appropriate? So, to wait or not to wait?