Infinite regression

March 21, 2013

Yes, Fred Inglis’ poignant lament, rehearsing the lost moral and social solidarities of yesteryear, needed to be said (“The retention of tradition”, 14 March). Anyone who lived through those years - while maintaining a profound scepticism about successive status quos - will recognise the feeling of incredulity his litany brings back. We were quite sure that society and university could do better, so could not have been more pitifully unprepared for what actually happened: a gradual, insensible desiccation of the common spirit needed even to save the language of once prized distinctions, fairnesses and social practices.

But there is no use crying over spilt milk. The question now can only be: what caused this baffling implosion of values?

It was clearly not the work of one person or group but the product of many minds. Perhaps there was a mistake in some deep assumption that was widely shared? The Oakeshottian conversation disappeared; educators let managerialists neuter education; previously Popperian physicists succumbed to metaphysics. The “higher” mathematicians who knew that “infinite” means “not finite” began to swallow…degrees of “notness”!

Academia, but also society itself, has evidently been browbeaten into higher nonsense. What could be the key incoherencies that have quietly enabled so much palpable retrogression?

Chris Ormell
Philosophy for Education Renewal Group

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study