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"


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.