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Universities devoted to the unfettered pursuit of truth are the cornerstone of a free and ﬂourishing democratic society.
For universities to serve their purpose, they must be fully committed to freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse.
In order to maintain these principles, UATX will be ﬁercely independent—ﬁnancially, intellectually, and politically.
Summers also called out some bullshit. It wasn't for the money, but his blunt statements about IQ, Curriculum, etc. that got the Faculty to demand his ouster.
The entire 4 year college system is going down the tubes anyway.
Two-year community colleges are even worse with respect to lack of learning/teaching. Not clear what will replace all of it.
The prospect of my meeting with Peter Boghossian seemed to have angered the gods, so furious was the disruption to road and rail as I tried to make my way from Seattle to Portland. Torrential rain and flash floods summoned a ricochet of mudslides which abruptly terminated my Amtrak journey in Centralia, a middle-of-nowhere town in Washington State. There was no rail in either direction for at least forty-eight hours, no buses and seemingly just one Lyft — which I managed to slip into an hour later with a few other stranded passengers. ...
Or perhaps it was the anger of very particular gods that rule over the Pacific Northwest, that hotbed of wokeness so concentrated you can feel it like toxic humidity in the air.
Boghossian was a professor of philosophy at Portland State for a decade. He taught classes on critical thinking, science and pseudoscience, the philosophy of education, knowledge, values and education, and atheism — before 2021, when an incessant series of investigations finally caused him to resign. In his resignation letter, Boghossian accused Portland State and the wider educational establishment of having “transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs [are] grievance and division.”
The beginning of Boghossian’s drawn-out end was his involvement in a “grievance studies” scam. In 2007, he and two collaborators, James Lindsay and the British writer Helen Pluckrose, placed clearly ridiculous but ideologically faddish papers in peer-reviewed journals, most famously “The conceptual penis as a social construct” in Cogent Social Sciences in May 2017. This showed, he says, how academic journals, once the “imprimatur” of rigor, had become nothing more than fronts for what he calls “idea laundering.”
Portland State went to war, displaying, Boghossian says, “a pathological hatred of me.” After a baseless Title IX investigation whose trigger and evidence were never disclosed to him, Boghossian was told he was no longer allowed to offer his opinion about “protected classes” (a long list that includes race, religion, sexual identity, age, disability and veteran status) or “teach in such a way that my opinion about protected classes could be known.”
Boghossian’s own longstanding fondness for raising a finger to orthodoxy has led him into some interesting waters. When we met, he was about to head to Hungary, to take up a visiting senior fellowship at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), Viktor Orbán’s flagship institute, to teach critical thinking — “against the advice of literally everybody I know.” Was he worried about the appearance of snuggling up with an illiberal democrat at an institution funded, critics say, to promote ultranationalism through stolen public funds?
No, Boghossian says, sipping the first of two salty, viscous Bloody Marys — I had encouraged him to switch from iced tea to soften the glares of the waitress; he tells me he’s trying to avoid sugar so won’t touch wine or beer. “I think as long as your North Star is the truth you’re fine. I don’t really give a shit about perceptions, I give a shit about what’s true. Even if it’s true that this is a horrible regime, isn’t that all the more reason to teach people how to think critically?” Boghossian always thinks it’s worth teaching people to think critically in all circumstances. As the title of his 2019 book How To Have Impossible Conversations implies, that includes fascists and their friends, who come in several flavors in Hungary, and Isis fighters. He hasn’t had the chance to meet them yet, but says “I’d love to!”
Boghossian has spent decades devoted to the Socratic method. Formalized by Plato in the late fifth century bc, this system coaxes out contradictions or irrationalities in belief through dialogue and questioning. It is “the most important thing man has ever discovered… Every intelligent spacefaring species anywhere in the universe would have to have it.” For his PhD, Boghossian worked with inmates at the Columbia River correctional institution in Portland. “I looked at various questions in the history of Western intellectual thought and I taught prison inmates how to think critically and reason morally. In other words, they used the Socratic method [not just] for how to ask questions of other people to figure out what’s morally true, but to ask questions of themselves. What does it mean to live a good life?” It worked. Tests suggested his students were less likely to respond violently to provocative stimuli after his lessons.
Boghossian is blisteringly blunt about the woke “capture” of institutions, which he calls the shift from Culture 1.0 to Culture 2.0. “In Culture 1.0 you had religious people in this country, you know, Christians and atheists, and they would fight over things like evolution, et cetera. But the first thing is they both agreed upon was the rules of engagement. The second thing they agreed was that there was a truth about the world and that it could be known.” Now, those norms of engagement have dissolved: civil debate and appeals to democratic, or even legal, channels, have been replaced by vandalizing, looting, ripping statues down, boycotting and sacking.
Boghossian calls this the Great Realignment, the arrival of a culture in which metaphysics (understanding the nature of being, knowing, time and space) is “just not important.” In this realigned worldview without an inner life, a staunch atheist like Boghossian has “more in common with the anti-woke Christian than I do with a woke atheist, because metaphysics just doesn’t play the same role. If someone believes Jesus walked on water that’s far less relevant than the fact that they want to do away with Miranda rights.” Now furiously sipping his Bloody Mary, Boghossian explains how the identitarian left has constructed an impenetrable system of logic. “It has sealed the epistemological bubble so their worldview is never challenged because even having a conversation with somebody [they disagree with] is platforming them. And so that pushes it further into delusion.”
Boghossian is a founding member of the highest-profile, most experimental response to these problems: the University of Austin (UATX). The university, an accredited, cancel-culture-free zone, was announced in early November. It cannonballed into the cultural ether, unleashing excitement and, from the establishment left, scathing mockery. Its president, Pano Kanelos (the former president of St. John’s College, Annapolis), said that UATX would be driven by the “fearless pursuit of truth.”
UATX starts teaching in summer 2022, with a series of “Forbidden Courses” covering debates on topics now verboten in traditional classrooms, from empire and race to gender. Boghossian tells me he’s contracted to be part of every single Forbidden Courses class, where he will expose students to his Socratic methods. ...
The seeds of woke ideology have been in place on campus since the late 1960s. Why have they bloomed so disastrously now? We are, Boghossian says, now in the watershed moment when a critical mass of those who were “brainwashed” by postmodernism and poststructuralism in the decades after 1970 have ascended to the top of the ivory tower. But it goes beyond higher ed, he says. “There’s a crisis of legitimacy in our institutions. I’ve been screaming about it for years,” Boghossian says. It includes the police, the “legacy media” and the medical establishment.
Krystal was losing her shit over Bari Weiss University.
The University of Austin's web site did not turn up on any search engine I tried, but I found the url in the article above: