Friday, June 22, 2018

Professorial Universes

Whatever universe a professor believes in must at any rate be a universe that lends itself to lengthy discourse. A universe definable in two sentences is something for which the professorial intellect has no use.

–William James, "Pragmatism"

2 comments:

David said...

It is interesting that James carefully avoids saying that professors just want to hear themselves discourse lengthily. In other words, the issue goes beyond simple narcissism. For myself, I not only like to discourse lengthily, but often prefer others to do so as well. I tend not to trust a two-sentence universe. (And after all, a brief description represents its own form of narcissism, not only love of one's own pithiness, but also a feeling that one has so conquered a theme that one can reduce it to, so to speak, a motto.)

David said...

Or perhaps, judging from the length of "Varieties of Religious Experience," he was ruefully commenting on himself? Perhaps my first reaction was paranoid.

In my own defense, I will say I didn't invent the tension between professors and the folks who don't say much. I just fully participate in it.