Saturday, September 04, 2010

Higher-ed. according to Paul Johnson

"Spanker" Johnson/Forbes:

Universities, as such, were first created in the Middle Ages to train the clergy, and they began assuming their modern form in 18th-century Germany. For two centuries Germany was home to the best universities in the world, leading the field in philosophy, theology, philology and most of the sciences. But this was the same Germany that under Otto von Bismarck became a militaristic state and under Adolf Hitler a totalitarian one. Germany led the world into the two most destructive wars in history. Hitler always received higher ratings from students than from any other group in society, his views being strongly supported by a majority of German academics, with the world-famous philosopher Martin Heidegger setting the pattern.

So universities, and the education they provide, do not necessarily impart wisdom. What they do convey, in general terms, is not so easily defined. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia received a routine dose of higher education in the twilight of the Soviet Union as a prelude to entering the U.S.S.R.'s secret police community, an intellectual culture in which he still remains.

Many german university students supported Hitler (and Heidegger); ergo, universities lead to nazi-ism, according to Johnson--how the mind of a Tory-papist works. Mr. Johnson has not always been a proper conservative, however. According to his one-time mistress Gloria Stewart, "Paul loved to be spanked and it was a big part of our relationship. I had to tell him he was a very naughty boy." Spanked...for the ad majorem Dei gloriam. Jolly good, then.


jh said...

the gloria stewart story may have been fabricated out of jealousie
i looked into it with interest one day
she ended up hating the guy because he wouldn't marry her
his wife stuck with him
he went to confession
and that was that
he was a naughty naughty boy
by most standards

johnson's book "intellectuals" is an important read - he points to something all the followers of unbridled independence of "genius" are loathe to acknowledge

spanking is pretty conservative as far as i understand it
i mean
if gloria were to describe an interest in exotic positions that might be construed as liberal

hitchens scoffed with gleeful delirium over this story
and enjoyed it almost as much as he did dragging mother theresa by the hair thrugh the streets of calcutta

but then

what do i know

there is a significant point to be made about the preference in positivist/humanist appropriations of knowledge - it is a purely utilitarian/pragmatist operation
and it is inspired by the rationalist desire to control nature at any cost...does this nazis make? well...nazis come in many different colors these days..not just the dark greys of the 1930s but you see them in pastels more than anything else in our day

from a catholic papist point of view in regards to education the has always been intellectual freedom in the cause of salvation
this requires intellectuals of a catholic bent to measure their insights against a huge body of historical insight...those like georges lemaitre are able to do this with a certain gracefulness...others like pierre tielhard de chardin run into trouble because they push a little too hard on a particualr vision of things

the catholic attitude has always been that intellectuals must be in service to the faith
when they're not they are insidious blabber mouths and litle else

you can be avantgarde and still be catholic
we're all bad catholics said walker percy

J said...

Hey jh

I read most of Intellectuals--I thought it should have been titled "Non Catholic Intellectuals".

Ripping into the likes of Marx, or Sartre I can understand to some degree though PJ relies on ad hom. and character assassination whenever possible (ie Sartre's and his gal's flings, etc), and doesn't really refute the philosophical...or economic ideas (as with Marx). PJ didn't just attack marxists, however-- the laundry list included PB Shelley, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky, others.

PJ's attacks on Lord Russell sounded like the ordinary John Bircher sort of moralist--a...philanderer...and...with the labour party... ghastly
He's not like taking on the theory of types. Im not a worshipper of Russell, but there's a bit more to it--you can't just say. well he opposed the Church (or...judeo-christianity) and think you've said much.

You may be correct re the spanking. And Hitchens was cackling with glee. I sort of respected Hitchens until the War, and then he blessed BushCo, across the board (a point many liberals have simply forgotten). He has lately barked some pretty ugly neo-con BS, re the bombing of Iran and so forth. I may post something.

That said I don't think Johnson's points re the academia (note the "Forbes" mag, as well) hold much water. He's just afraid some leftie socialist types will raise his taxes or seize his manor home or something.

jh said...

the startling point or the undercurrent of the main point was that many of the intellectuals in PJs tome were in fact nominal catholics
hemingway became catholic then turned against it..thus a shotgun to the cranium i guess

rousseau dallied in and out of the church with as much frequency as he dallied in and out of french fluffy skirts and undergarments

mainline catholics like leon bloy or charles peguy or paul claudel were of a different cut of fabric
often castigated for unwieldy conservatism in times of liberal need
but the trend set by free reigning intellectuals gives ample criticism to the ayn rand tendencies of big thinking guns
"all and every liberty for the geniuses"

intellectualism without humility is a rather crude imposition of cognition on the face of the planet
but the scourges never end and the sea washes all away eventually

faith hope and charity
what else is there


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