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I always find it somewhat ironic that these discussion about anti-intellectualism always seem to lack any knowledge of how old this very discussion is. Plato's Phaedrus spends plenty of time discussing the effects of new technology (writing) on current intellectual practice (memory), and yet I rarely see it even touched on when people write on the topic, so much for those old books. More important: the real anti-intellectualism to look out for is the 'trial of Socrates' kind, not disregarding one form of transmitting knowledge because of your own intellectual curiosity. Certain classes of 'geeks' feeling they have found a better model of knowledge transmission, even if they are wrong, than the academic model is not anti-intellectualism.



Beautiful comment. There might be some parallels between the entrepreneurial culture of the Valley (drop out of school to go conquer the universe, etc.) and the warrior culture of Sparta and Athens. The spirited youth that Socrates seduced were bent on fame and fortune on the battlefield, and had little time for long-haired hippie freak philosophers.

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Socrates recommends in the Republic that youth spend time in military service and business, and hold off on doing philosophy until they are around 40 and know a bit more about how the world works.

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Actually, Plato paints a very conservative society in the Republic, and even more so in the Laws. However the general picture from the Socratic dialogues isn't so clear cut; Socrates' interlocutors are mostly young people (Phaedrus, Alcibiades, and the likes), and for a part stubborn older people, rhetors, politicians, etc. not really as eager to learn as the young :)

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Quite true. Socrates is often saving young people from either being practicality oriented people who can't think like Cephalus, or philosophers who don't matter or are evil like the sophists.

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Yet he takes two aspiring young warriors, and converts them to philosophy. Socrates' philosophy was not at all dependent on knowing anything about how the world works: in fact, those shadows were considered harmful.

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That's true that he convinces the youth of the value of philosophy. But, that doesn't mean there wasn't any value to the rest of life. In fact, it may give the rest of life more value, since the rest of life can be lived in light of the importance of philosophy. Socrates himself served in combat, and was noted for his bravery (recounted in Symposium). If memory serves, he attributed this bravery to his interest in philosophy.

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I don't think Athens was known for its "warrior culture".

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From antique on and indeed today. Any civilization worth mentioning in history had a warrior culture. Indeed a man that was not a trained warrior was deemed unfit to perform any kind of public service.

Some cultures being known as more war like, in my opinion only signals their relative cultural poverty on other areas.

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What about about the Peloponnesian wars? They went on for decades! Of course, the Athenians were known for other things too.

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They defeated the Persians in one of the most important battles in the history of western civilisation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Salamis

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geeks aren't opposed to knowledge or the life of the mind

we're opposed to large organizations that empty out our pockets before we start our career and that old out the empty promise of the life of the mind, finally revealing that it only exists for people whose parents are professors.

the modern criticisms of higher ed are similar to those that came up in the 1960s but pecuniary issues are much more important now because higher ed has moved away from being subsidized by the government towards being financed by private loans.

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I don't even think it's primarily a problem of subsidization. The costs have skyrocketed due to factors unrelated to education -- massive increases in administrative staff, new buildings, more luxurious buildings, vastly improved housing options etc. These come with a cost, and unfortunately it seems that we've over purchased/overbuilt thus making college unaffordable.

It's just like every hotel moving up to the 5 star level, it's unnecessary and expensive.

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If it hadn't been for student loans, the money wouldn't have been there to support the increase in costs. It's a problem similar to health care: some people, at the end of their lives, will spend $500,000 on treatments that give them another 6 months of suffering. If it was your own money, you wouldn't do it. If it is somebody else's money, you will.

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I completely agree.

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