Almost a Century into the KRISIS…

…and we are still under the desperate impression that the right diagnosis will cure the deathly ill patient.

Guess what: when something or someone has been in “critical condition” from a “chronic addiction” for a very long time, disregarding the early warning signs and the early diagnoses until on the verge of impending doom is actually NOT the way to save the invalid on the death bed.

Crisis, Critical, and Critique are three very important words inherited from our reflective ancestors, the ancient Greeks.

Both terms evolve from Greek KRITEIN, to judge or to evaluate.

Thus, when we speak about a KRISIS, we are talking about a moment of judgment. That is, we have to make a decision based on new evaluations of where we should go or how we should proceed.

This notion of KRISIS has been underway for a long time. In many ways, since after Hume & Kant, we have been in a states of diverse crises… in religion, in science, in education, etc et al. But it was thinkers like Nietzsche that began recording the total crisis in broad scope of all things Western. This led some, like Oswald Spengler, to predict the Decline of the West post haste.

But it led others, like Wilhelm Dilthey, Henri Bergson & Edmund Husserl, to recognize that we were on the verge of a shift in our thinking. And this was not necessarily an Aquarian elevation of consciousness a la 1968 but a wake-up call a la 1918 about an impending mudslide of unnecessary presuppositions into the dust bin of history.

Thinkers after these three–including Heidegger, Ortega y Gasset, and Jaspers–were of the same mind. Each of them reconsidered pedagogy & the university. Each of them critiqued the new dependency on technical, expert mechanism as well as the problem of being an active public intellectual. They each knew that the KRISIS of Everything would be first met, if met at all, in the halls of higher education. And they each, in their own historic place, watched as traditionalized technoscientific assumptions were encircled and protected rather than fully challenged and reformed.

But the succeeding generation–led by the likes of Marcuse, Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard & Deleuze who tried in their own ways to open up academia to lines of transformative response–found that practices were so entrenched, many of the privileged, habitual presuppositions were being propped up at the expense of any new processional development out of our KRISIS.

Now we are about two generations removed from May ’68, and that generation has decided it is time to update the concerns of their forebears. Mind you, they did very little over the last fifty years to really change things for that mudslide of unnecessary presuppositions to get in motion. In fact, many of said authors offering a possible “solution” to the KRISIS are demonstrating a marked persistence in keeping as NECESSARY components of their recommendations the very UNNECESSARY (purely customary) particulars of our situated historicity.

For example, most have a superficial comprehension of how higher education in 2011 got to be what it is. There is a demonstrated grasp of the “facts,” of course. But any real genealogical disclosure (a la Nietzsche or Foucault) of how the superstructure evolved via the complex interconnections of the part to the whole is often missing.

Going hand in hand with this notable absence is often the assumption that academia must adapt itself to be the turn stile nexus betwixt & between public government and private enterprise.
This is a fairly egregious assumption being made by many calling themselves postmodernists since it actually is a custom of modernity.

Someone is oft quoting to me the motto, “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” This is a nice bon mot that reminds us that sometimes we just need to get going if we are actually going to accomplish something. I would, today, retort, that we have been doing this kind of worthy thing badly now for nearly a century… can we finally get started doing it WELL?

The patient is dying from all of the “attention” it is getting.

And now here, IMHO, is an example of how thinkers since Nietzsche, Dilthey, Husserl, Heidegger, Ortega, & Jaspers have handled the job of recommending what to do next in this on-going KRISIS…


This entry was posted in Accountability, Future of the University, Public Philosophizing, Sustainability, Risk Management, & Long-Term Security, TechnoScience & Technoscientism. Bookmark the permalink.

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