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Title: Ceremony 4 : academic oration
Authors: Sultana, Mark
Keywords: Universities and colleges -- Philosophy
Education -- Philosophy
Education -- Aims and objectives
Issue Date: 2012-11-22
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty of Theology
Citation: Sultana, M. (2012, November, 22). Ceremony 4 [academic oration]. Jesuits’ Church, Valletta.
Abstract: Questions like ‘What is the university?’ ‘What is its role?’ are typical philosophical questions. They are characteristically huge questions. But they are queries which engage us continuously. They are important questions. They were asked by a long line of distinguished thinkers who gave variant, yet overlapping, answers: universities should be governed by “an idea of reason” (Immanuel Kant); they serve the culture of the nation-state (Wilhelm von Humboldt); they exist to “civilise gentlemen” (John Henry Newman), to “develop an intelligent professionalism” (Karl Jaspers), to “promote the culture of society” (José Ortega y Gasset), to find a Christian-compatible set of values (Walter Moberly), to maintain an academic life (Kenneth Minogue). These descriptions are not just theoretical constructs; they are also ethical ideals: they have to do with values and with beliefs. But one must ask: is such lofty discourse still possible today? Today we speak of the ‘university of excellence’. But is this a mere tautology? Jacques Derrida’s question in the 1980s remains important: “What is the raison d’etre of universities?” And, as Derrida reflected, the professors among us, and each of us as colleagues, implicitly make a profession of faith, a pledge; we take up a freely assumed responsibility. However, Derrida goes on to speak in a way that does not answer his question. He thinks that such a question cannot be answered.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacArtPhi

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