Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Universities have been to this nation, as the wooden horse was to the Trojans

From The English Works of Thomas Hobbes, vol. 6 (Dialogue, Behemoth, Rhetoric) by Thomas Hobbes. Specifically from Behemoth.

But who can teach what none have learned? Or, if any man hath been so singular, as to have studied the science of justice and equity; how can he teach it safely, when it is against the interest of those that are in possession of the power to hurt him?


The rules of just and unjust sufficiently demonstrated, and from principles evident to the meanest capacity, have not been wanting; and notwithstanding [213]the obscurity of their author, have shined, not only in this, but also in foreign countries, to men of good education. But they are few, in respect of the rest of the men, whereof many cannot read; many, though they can, have no leisure; and of them that have leisure, the greatest part have their minds wholly employed and taken up by their private businesses or pleasures. So that it is impossible that the multitude should ever learn their duty, but from the pulpit and upon holidays; but then, and from thence, it is, that they learned their disobedience. And, therefore, the light of that doctrine has been hitherto covered and kept under here by a cloud of adversaries, which no private man’s reputation can break through, without the authority of the Universities. But out of the Universities, came all those preachers that taught the contrary. The Universities have been to this nation, as the wooden horse was to the Trojans.
We are at an awkward time for those of us who esteem education and admire the history of educational institutions, particularly the ivy covered walls of higher learning. The ivy of those past ideals has withered and we see more and more ideological authoritarianism, suppression of diversity, rejection of ideas inconsistent with a narrow hate-driven ideology. I am confident that postmodernism will collapse under its own autophagy and self-contradictions. But it will continue to cause significant harm before it passes from the stage.

Interesting to see Thomas Hobbes of 300 some years ago identifying the same malady - Universities, cathedrals of learning and temples of knowledge, betraying their mission and those preacher/teachers peddling disobedience and attacking men's reputations. Wooden horses, old and new.

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