Best Academic Abstract Ever [With Comments By John and Paul]

Appearing right now on the SSRN bulletin board is the following abstract; it’s going to make me reconsider some of my prejudices about Harvard:

Can Philosophy Be Justified in a Time of Crisis?

Nathan J Robinson

Harvard University
September 3, 2015

Abstract: In this paper, I take the position that a large portion of contemporary academic work is an appalling waste of human intelligence that cannot be justified under any mainstream normative ethics. Part I builds a four-step argument for why this is the case, while Part II responds to arguments for the contrary position offered in Cass Sunstein’s “In Defense of Law Reviews.” First, in Part I(A), I make the case that there is a large crisis of suffering in the world today. (Part I does not take me very long.). In Part I(B), I assess various theories of “the role of the intellectual,” concluding that the only role for the intellectual is for the intellectual to cease to exist. In Part I(C), I assess the contemporary state of the academy, showing that, contrary to the theory advanced in Part I(B), many intellectuals insist on continuing to exist. In Part I(D), I propose a new path forward, whereby present-day intellectuals take on a useful social function by spreading truths that help to alleviate the crisis of suffering outlined in Part I(A).

JOHN adds: I don’t know. I might have been with him until he got to the “truths” in Part I(D). I’ve got a feeling they might not be quite so true. Sounds like an effort to mobilize cadres of intellectuals to deploy into the countryside to teach Marxism. Sort of like the average state public university system.

PAUL adds: I share John’s concern. In fact, the guy lost me at Part I(B). But at least the abstract has the redeeming quality of being written in plain, direct English. This distinguishes it from the large portion of contemporary academic work that this fellow rightly condemns as “an appalling waste of human intelligence.”