Kids Today

Outstanding article in the Washington Post this week about the crappy reading selections that undergraduates make. So timely as on Thursday I was suggesting a couple of good Spring Break books and one of my students was making a terribly confused face - he looked downright revolted. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, "Why would you read on Spring Break?" It was delivered in a tone that should be reserved for claims about having seen Bigfoot, a Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster.

However, for an interesting antidote to that venom, try one of the best blogs you aren't reading, Future Majority, for their take on the issue. I think it's interesting if we live in a world where undergraduates are not reading literature that is socially redeeming, but in the classroom the value structure that allows for such a literary hierarchy is being undermined by the professors in favor of social connections. Perhaps it's spurious.

Should pragmatism be a higher value of the University? I think the divide between pragmatism and intellectualism is faulty and needs collapse. I don't think there is any disagreement here among most people. The question is what kind of collapse? The speed? What percentage of each? A return to Aristotle might be the best move here - the idea of phronesis - which captures the best elements of both as it is currently theorized. Which makes rhetoric the most important, even though least popular, major at the University.

Why is economics so popular? Because it is a rhetoric. It allows for understanding, explanation and manipulation. And it provides criteria to deal with materiality and recalcitrance. The only thing it lacks is awareness of itself as such.