THE HIGHER LEARNING IN AMERICA – Veblen

28/11/16 – 09/02/17

Plato’s classic scheme of folly, which would have the philosophers take over the management of affairs, has been turned on its head; the men of affairs have taken over the direction of the pursuit of knowledge.”

It follows as an inevitable consequence of the current state of popular sentiment that the successful businessmen among the alumni will have the deciding voice, in so far as the matter rests with the alumni; for the successful men of affairs assert themselves with easy confidence, and they are looked up to, in any community those standards of steem are business standards, so that their word carries weight beyond that of any other class or order of men.”

O HOMEM DA LIXEIRA DE OURO: “It is, indeed, a safe generalization that in point of fact the average of university presidents fall short of the average of their academic staff in scholarly or scientific attainments, even when all persons employed as instructors are counted as members of the staff.”

ho·mi·lé·ti·ca

(feminino de homilético)

substantivo feminino

Teoria ou arte da eloquência do púlpito

homilética”, in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2013 https://www.priberam.pt/dlpo/homil%c3%a9tica

[consultado em 03-02-2017].

It is usual among economists, e.g., to make much of the proposition that economics is an <art> – the art of expedient management of the material means of life; and further that the justification of economic theory lies in its serviceability in this respect. Such a quasi-science necessarily takes the current situation for granted as a permanent state of things; to be corrected and brought back into its normal routine in case of aberration, and to be safeguarded with apologetic defence at points where it is not working to the satisfaction of all parties. It is a <science> of complaisant interpretations, apologies, and projected remedies.” “The result is by no means that nothing is accomplished in this field of science under this leadership of forceful mediocrity, but only that, in so far as this leadership decides, the work done lies on this level of mediocrity.”

P. 209: “Our professors in the Harvard of the [18]’50s were a set of rather eminent scholars and highly respectable men. They attended to their studies with commendable assiduity and drudged along in a dreary, humdrum sort of way in a stereotyped method of classroom instruction. . . .

               And that was the Harvard system. It remains in essence the system still – the old, outgrown, pedagogic relation of the large class-recitation room. The only variation has been through Eliot’s effort to replace it by the yet more pernicious system of premature specialization. This is a confusion of the college and university functions and constitutes a distinct menace to all true highter education. The function of the college is an all-around development, as a basis for university specializations. Eliot never grasped that fundamental fact, and so he undertook to turn Harvard college into a Herman university – specializing the student at 18. He instituted a system of one-sided contact in place of a system based on no contact at all. It is devoutly to be hoped that, some day, a glimmer of true light will effect an entrance into the professional educator’s head. It certainly hadn’t done so up to 1906.” Charles Francis Adams, An Autobiography

Under the elective system a considerable and increasing freedom has been allowed the student in the choice of what he will include in his curriculum; so that the colleges have in this way come to refer the choice of topics in good part to the guidance of the student’s own interest.”

And why the sea is boiling hot,

And whether pigs have wings.”

E por que o mar está fervendo,

E se porcos têm asas” tradução minha descontextualizada e infrutífera, como veremos logo abaixo:

A Morsa & O Carpinteiro, trecho de Lewis Carroll – Alice no País do Espelho

Adam Smith – Moral Sentiments

Porque esta noite fervente está o mar
E os porcos criaram asas!

tradução canônica

A citação vem em resposta à tola pergunta do homem-comum: “Para quê o conhecimento desinteressado?” Ou seja: não te interessa, estulto pragmático!

GARDÊNIAS NO JARDIM DE JESUS, NÃO EXATAMENTE NO ZÊNITE DAS COISAS…

The man of the world – that is to say, of the business world – puts the question, What is the use of this learning? and the men who speak for learning, and even the scholars occupied with the <humanities,> are at pains to find some colourable answer that shall satisfy the worldly-wise that this learning for which they speak is in some way useful for pecuniary gain.”

It is true, in out-of-the-way corners and on the lower levels – and on the higher levels of imperial politics – where men have not learned to shrink from shameful devices, the question of children and of the birth-rate is still sometimes debated as a question of the presumptive use of offspring for some ulterior end. And there may still be found those who are touched by the reflection that a child born may become a valuable asset as a support for the parents’ old age. Such a pecuniary rating of the parental relation, which values children as a speculative means of gain, may still be met with. But wherever modern civilization has made its way at all effectually, such a provident rating of offspring is not met with in good company. Latterday common sense does not countenance it.” No mother asks herself if her child will pay.”

the barbarian [an]im[us]”

The fact, however, is patent. It should suffice to call to mind the large fact, as notorious as it is discreditable, that the American business community has, with unexampled freedom, had at its disposal the largest and best body of resources that has yet become available to modern industry, in men, materials and geographical situation, and that with these means they have achieved something doubtfully second-rate, as compared with the industrial achievements of other countries less fortunately placed in all material respects.”

A superfluidade em segundo grau de qualquer “escola de comércio”: “No gain comes to the community at large from increasing the business proficiency of any number of its young men. There are already much too many of these businessmen, much too astute and proficient in their calling, for the common good.” “business is occupied with the competitive acquisition of wealth, not with its production. (…) Gains due to such efficiency are differential gains only.” ”The work of the College of Commerce, accordingly, is a peculiarly futile line of endeavour for any public institution, in that it serves neither the intellectual advancement nor the material welfare of the community.”

ADVOGADO DO CATÓLICO (OU POR QUE O RIQUINHO ODEIA TANTO FILOSOFAR – AQUELE QUE SEMPRE FOGE DO SOFRER E, FAZENDO ASSIM, NUNCA SOFRE, DEMONSTRANDO SEU BAIXO VALOR COMO SER HUMANO): “in point of substantial merit the law school belongs in the modern university no more than a school of fencing or dancing.” “What is had in view is the exigencies, expedients, and strategy of successful practice; and not so much a grasp of even those quasi-scientific articles of metaphysics that lie at the root of the legal system.” “a body of lawyers somewhat less numerous, and with a lower average proficiency in legal subtleties and expedients, would unquestionably be quite as serviceable to the community at large as a larger number of such men with a higher efficiency; at the same time they would be less costly, both as to initial cost and as to the expenses of maintenance that come of that excessive volume and retardation of litigation due to an extreme facility in legal technique on the part of the members of the bar.”

The fees and other incidental expenses do not nearly cover the cost of the schools; otherwise no foundation or support from the public funds would be required, and the universities would have no colourable excuse for going into this field.” “and none take kindly to this training, in commerce or law, except those who already have something more than the average taste and aptitude for business traffic, or who have a promising <opening> of this character in sight.”

Eis, resumidamente, por que um administrador de empresas não precisaria ler Weber jamais. Apenas obedecer o chamado de sua vocação. Quem sabe um dia leria Duas Vocações por puro tédio, com aquela pontinha de sorriso sarcástico nos lábios.

The schedule of salaries in the law schools attached to the universities runs appreciably higher than in the university proper; the reason being, of course, that men suitable efficiently to serve as instructors and directive officials in a school of law are almost necessarily men whose services in the practice of the law would command a high rate of pay.”

Barões da indústria na sala de aula… Eike Batista, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, perdendo seu precioso tempo com um bando de fedelhos tão ambiciosos quanto sem talento?

The creation and maintenance of such a College of Commerce, on such a scale as will make it anything more than a dubious make-believe, would manifestly appear to be beyond the powers of any existing university. So that the best that can be compassed in this way, or that has been achieved, by the means at the disposal of any university hitherto, is a cross between a secondary school for bank-clerks [bancários!] and travelling salesmen of a subsidiary department of economics.”

So far as any university administration can, with the requisite dignity, permit itself to avow a pursuit of notoriety, the gain that is avowedly sought by its means is an increase of funds, – more or less ingenuously spoken of as an increase of equipment. An increased enrolment of students will be no less eagerly sought after, but the received canons of academic decency require this object to be kept even more discreetly masked than the quest of funds.”

The Denise Neddermeyer Syndrome or DNS (Denial of -Useful- Service): “It is not that this characterization would imply exceptionally great gifts, or otherwise notable traits of character; they are little else than an accentuation of the more commonplace frailties of commonplace men. As a side light on this spiritual complexion of the typical academic executive, it may be worth noting that much the same characterization will apply without abatement to the class of professional politicians, particularly to that large and longlived class of minor politicians who make a living by keeping well in the public eye and avoiding blame.” “it is not at all unusual, nor does it cause surprise, to find such persons visibly affected with those characteristic pathological marks that come of what is conventionally called <high living> – late hours, unseasonable vigils, surfeit of victuals and drink, the fatigue of sedentary ennui. A flabby [flácido] habit of body, hypertrophy of the abdomen, varicose veins, particularly of the facial tissues, a blear eye [olhos cansados; expressão vaga] and a colouration suggestive of bile and apoplexy, – when this unwholesome bulk is duly wrapped in a conventionally decorous costume it is accepted rather as a mark of weight and responsibility, and so serves to distinguish the pillars of urbane society. Nor should it be imagined that these grave men of affairs and discretion are in any peculiar degree prone to excesses of the table or to nerve-shattering bouts of dissipation. (…) <Indulgence> in ostensibly gluttonous bouts of this kind – banquets, dinners, etc. – is not so much a matter of taste as of astute publicity, designed to keep the celebrants in repute among a laity whose simplest and most assured award of esteem proceeds on evidence of wasteful ability to pay.”

With due, but by no means large, allowance for exceptions, the incumbents are chosen from among a self-selected body of candidates, each of whom has, in the common run of cases, been resolutely in pursuit of such an office for some appreciable time, and has spent much time and endeavour on fitting himself for its duties. Commonly it is only after the aspirant has achieved a settled reputation for eligibility and a predilection for the office that he will finally secure an appointment. The number of aspirants, and of eligibles, considerably exceeds the number of such executive offices, very much as is true for the parallel case of aspirants for political office.” Graças a Zaratustra!

Among the indispensable general qualifications, therefore, will be a <businesslike> facility in the management of affairs, an engaging address and fluent command of language before a popular audience, and what is called <optimism,> – a serene and voluble loyalty to the current conventionalities and a conspicuously profound conviction that all things are working out for good, except for such untoward details as do not visibly conduce to the vested advantage of the well-to-do businessmen under the established law and order.”

The volume of such public discourse, as well as the incident attendance at many public and ceremonial functions, is very considerable; so much so that in the case of any university of reasonable size and spirit the traffic in these premises is likely to exceed the powers of any one man, even where, as is not infrequently the case, the <executive> head is presently led to make this business of stately parade and promulgation his chief employment. In effect, much of this traffic will necessarily be delegated to such representatives of the chief as may be trusted duly to observe its spirit and intention; and the indicated bearers of these vicarious dignities and responsibilities will necessarily be the personal aids and counsellors of the chief; which throws them, again, into public notice in a most propitious fashion.”

Philandropist”, o presidente de instituição que adora discursar um pouco sobre tudo e não chegar a nenhum ponto louvável científica ou pragmaticamente falando.

A ética do trabalho de reitor é estritamente negativa, pois o único mandamento já formulado é o da “lista negra”.

Men of unmanageably refractory temperament, such as can not by habituation be imbued with the requisite deviation and self-sufficiency, will of necessity presently be thrown out, as being incompetent for this vocation.”

De uma maturidade muito mais contemporânea que a verborragia salvacionista de um Boaventura Santos.

Eu proponho um quietismo ativo! Rá!!

the other peoples of Christendom are following the same lead as fast as their incumbrance [tradições, tabus] of archaic usages and traditions [redundant] will admit; and the generality of their higher schools are already beginning to show the effects of the same businesslike aspirations, decoratively coloured with feudalistic archaisms of patriotic nuncombe [ladainha, lenga-lenga].”

Let the invisible hand of doom take the duties!

All that is required is the abolition of the academic executive and of the governing board. Anything short of this heroic remedy is bound to fail, because the evils sought to be remedied are inherent in these organs, and intrinsic to their functioning.”

It is undeniable, indeed it is a matter of course, that so long as the university continues to be made up, as is now customary, of an aggregation of divers and sundry schools, colleges, divisions, etc., each and several of which are engaged in a more or less overt rivalry, due to their being so aggregated into a meaningless coalition, – so long will something formidable in the way of a centralized and arbitrary government be indispensable to the conduct of the university’s affairs” Departamentos inter e multi e trans e meta e paradisciplinares: apenas chuva no molhado ou, o que é pior, mais arqui-inimigos (insult to injury).

Tratando hematomas a pancadas.

Trust me!, says the oligopolizer.

estandardização quântica dos padrões aleatórios