We Need an Academic Revolution
Oxford Magazine, No. 309, 2011, pp. 15-18
10 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2011 Last revised: 31 Dec 2014
Research in universities have long been devoted, and still are devoted, primarily, to acquiring knowledge and technological know-how. But knowledge and technological know-how increase our power to act which, without wisdom, can lead to as much harm as benefit. Current global crises, and especially the most serious, global warming, have arisen in this way. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in our universities so that they come to seek and promote wisdom – wisdom being understood to be the capacity to realize what is of value in life, thus including knowledge, understanding and technological know-how, but much else besides. Universities need to take up the task of helping humanity learn how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. This revolution – intellectual, institutional and cultural – if it ever comes about, will be comparable in its long-term impact to that of the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, or the Enlightenment. There are signs that this urgently needed revolution may already be underway. If so, it is happening with agonizing slowness, in a dreadfully muddled and piecemeal way. The underlying intellectual reasons for academic change need to be much more widely appreciated, to help give direction, coherence and a rationale to the nascent academic revolution, and to help ensure that the intellectual value and integrity of science and scholarship are strengthened and not subverted.
Keywords: Academic Revolution, Scientific Revolution, Rationality, Academia for Humanity, Revolution in Social Science, Global Problems, Global Warming, Values, Wisdom
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