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A Special Place

Reader comment on item: The Future of Academia

Submitted by Alain Jean-Mairet (Switzerland), Jan 2, 2004 at 05:45

It seems to me that, nowadays, Academia has too many goals. Some of them are contradictory in their premises and therefore should be considered and worked at separately. I think that a new kind of Academia should be created to address some of its highest endeavors without being impaired by its other duties.

Among others things, Academia ought to be a place of perfect reflection, of best thinking. A reference, a model for all those who wish to study any matter. It should gather the best people and those who aspire to become one of those in a place, a structure that actively supports their goals. For most of those actual goals, though, the academic structure has to be as integrated as possible within the social and economical body. And this most often prevents any real good thinking, which can, in some domains, become a real problem.

Just like it cannot be awaited that good academics are in the same time good practicians, for example in diplomacy, one should see that the necessary quality level of the though cannot really be reached and sustained in a constant turmoil of controversy and arguments. The latter doesn't plague all universities, of course, but it will consistently affect all faculties which are treating hot debated emotional subjects. And those are precisely the places where pure wisdom is most needed.

Independent Think Tanks are an answer to that situation. They can provide heavens of free study and observation, and, if their voice is heard, lead some of the practicians (governments, lobbies) toward a better understanding and decision-taking. But there are fragile constructs, always at risk of being targeted by other institutions, because of their achievements or of their errors alike. Hence they all tend to get a more or less partisan image. They have to take side, to "officially" approve of or to condemn many things and whatever the care they take in differentiating their views, they soon appear to belong to some movement, and it then takes much time and effort just struggling to keep their thinking free.

I think it would be a good idea to provide a place where this kind of struggle cannot become an issue. A special place, an island of some sort, where only people striving for wisdom and genuine solutions would meet. A place which would appeal only to such people, and most strongly so at the moment of their live where they would be most capable and willing to take part in it. A place whose fundamental structures and policies would eliminate the sources of weaknesses, errors and fallacies plaguing any gathering of people otherwise. A place away from believes, entirely devoted to the enlightening of our future reality.

Let's call it a dream, a morning dream, maybe inspiring the making of some new resolutions, in the beginning of this New Year.

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