Justin Sider: In Defense of Disinterested Knowledge

When we judge scholarship only as politics, something crucial is lost    A new consensus unites college administrators with many of their faculty members, especially in the humanities: Scholarship today must be socially engaged. This demand, and the morally charged language that comes with it, might seem to meet the urgency of our political moment. But it has a deforming effect — on our teaching, on hiring and funding, and on our understanding of scholarship and the university itself.

In a recent interview with The Chronicle Review, Feisal Mohamed reveals the logic animating our current moralistic attitude. According to what he suggests is the “American studies” model, whose influence extends far outside of American studies proper, “if you’re not performing work explicitly invested in some kind of social-justice mission, then you are advancing the cause of settler-colonialism.” It’s disturbing, as Mohamed notes, to see a “narrowing of humanistic learning” demanded by scholars themselves. What happens under this new dispensation to those knowledge projects that can’t easily be yoked to a vision of political action?

There always have been debates about how we value scholarship, what sort of work deserves attention, etc. — not only because there’s a limited amount of attention to go around, but also because attention nominally translates into funding and hiring lines in the garbage-compactor economy currently squeezing us to death. As the walls close in, things heat up. Manifestos grow like mushrooms. And professors who cannot properly lay claim to radical politics through their scholarly work find themselves in an odd position….


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Interview: Philosopher Bruno Latour on Challenges of Identity Politics in India

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William Davies: The last global crisis didn’t change the world. But this one could // Bram Ieven & Jan Overwijk – We created this beast

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Gastón Gordillo: Nazi Architecture As Affective Weapon

Tanya Gold – How materialism makes us sad

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Andrew Calcutt: The surprising origins of ‘post-truth’ – and how it was spawned by the liberal left

A pre-history of post-truth, East and West. By MARCI SHORE

Michiko Kakutani – The death of truth: how we gave up on facts and ended up with Trump

Farewell to reality – WHY WE’RE POST-FACT by Peter Pomerantsev

How capitalism created the post-truth society — and brought about its own undoing. By Keith Spencer

Helen Pluckrose: Postmodernism and its impact, explained

Why can’t we agree on what’s true any more? By William Davies

Alexander Klein: The politics of logic