Comments restored

Thanks to the marvellous efforts of Jason Hoffman and Textdrive, comments are open again. I’ll have a bit more to say tomorrow, but in the meantime, if you’ve been meaning to say anything, here’s your chance! Remember, civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

11 thoughts on “Comments restored

  1. As I tried to ask the other day, if a tree falls in the forest, and comments are not enabled, does it make a sound?

    I shall have more serious and lengthy comments on other subjects shortly. Maybe this repair job was not an altogether constructive development!

  2. Is this the weekend forum or just a change to let off steam? I am planning to write more about education next year, especially on the state of the universities.

    Below is a link to a compilation of thoughts on education by my favorite philosopher who trained as a schoolteacher and taught high school maths and science.


    ‘…Plato utterly confused the theory and practice of education by linking it up with his theory of leadership. The damage done is, if possible, even greater than that inflicted upon ethics by the identification of collectivism with altruism, and upon political theory by the introduction of the principle of sovereignty. Plato’s assumption that it should be the task of education (or, more precisely, of the educational institutions) to select the future leaders, and to train them for leadership, is still largely taken for granted. By burdening these institutions with a task which must go beyond the scope of any institution, Plato is partly responsible for their deplorable state’ (Open Society, I p. 127).

    ‘In fact, we are faced here with a fundamental difficulty for the leader principle. The very idea of selecting or (specially) educating future leaders is self-contradictory…(because) the spirit of intellectual excellence is the spirit of criticism; it is intellectual independence…Institutions for the selection of the outstanding can hardly be devised. …(Institutional selection) will always tend to eliminate initiative and originality, and, more generally, qualities which are unusual or unexpected…This (use of education as a selection mechanism) transforms our educational system into a race-course, and turns the course of studies into a hurdle-race. Instead of encouraging the student to devote himself to his studies for the sake of studying, instead of encouraging in him a real love for his subject and for inquiry, he is encouraged to study for the sake of his personal career…In other words, even in the field of science, our methods of selection are based upon an appeal to personal ambition of a somewhat crude form. (It is a natural reaction to this appeal if the eager student is looked upon with suspicion by his colleagues)’ (p. 134-35)

    Popper on

  3. […] I don’t know whether John Quiggin read this thread on Catallaxy before he wrote his latest post on zealous converts from left to right (and to be fair I should reserve my opinion on whether Bob Catley fits this mould as I haven’t read enough of his work) but he makes some very good observations. For instance, the common thread of ‘hyper confidence in one’s opinions’ that characterises such types: … although people change their opinions, they generally don’t change the confidence with which they express them or their attitudes to those who disagree. If they were thoughtful and sceptical as leftists, they generally remain so. If they regarded all who disagreed with their leftwing shibboleths as fools or knaves, they will take exactly the same view of those who disagree with them when they begin spouting rightwing shibboleths instead. […]

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