Is there a place for spiritual exercises in the academy?

Short answer, no. The academy (a.k.a the university) exists now as it did in the thirteenth century to produce clerks, that is, men (and women) trained in the arts of reading, writing and arithmetic who can then go out into the world of government, business, finance and administration and do clerkly things like write reports and keep account books. Nor are the patrons of the university (a.k.a parents, government, banks making loans to pay for the students' upkeep and training) all that keen on their clients not taking up these jobs--after all, they've paid for them. The whole point of universities is to produce not scholars but bureaucrats and middle managers (a.k.a. stewards and bailiffs), thus the persistent emphasis on "relevance" and "rates of production" (a.k.a. publication).

And yet, for some reason, we still believe that universities should be a place for learning for the sake of learning, arts and sciences for the sake of knowledge as such, not just as something that might be bought and sold. Perhaps there is hope after all....


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