Take note 1

April 1, 2005

Frank Furedi does his old undergraduate instructor a disservice when he complains about having received a six-page handout on Plato's Republic . ("I refuse to hand it to students on a plate", March 25). Six pages are probably sufficient to capture the features of the book that have made it so significant over the past 2,400 years. The rest of the work can be explained in terms of what variously informed people did with it.

Furedi fails to realise that by demanding lecture notes, his students may be acting as intellectuals in the making. Intellectuals and academics are only partially overlapping categories. An enduring mark of academic authority is our tendency to fetishise the written word. But an idea - the real stuff of intellectual life - can be conveyed in many media.

Sad to say, but possession of an idea may not require reading an assigned text in its entirety or hanging on the lecturer's every word.

Steve Fuller
Professor of sociology
Warwick University

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