Following the history wars and a preliminary skirmish in the culture wars we move on to the queen of the sciences, which used to be theology. A Liberal Party waste-watcher has identified some dodgy research projects funded by the Australian Research Council and the Truth Seekers have struck back. Hila Schachar: [that link did not work in preview http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/11/australia-coalition-politicans-research-grant]
We seem to pride ourselves on our anti-intellectualism in Australia. This is why it came as no surprise to those in the business of thinking and researching when the Coalition insulted the work done through Australian Research Council (ARC) funding, calling the grants funded by the ARC “ridiculous” and a “waste” – a “waste” which it plans to “re-prioritise”. While this attitude is no surprise, it does need to be counteracted with some facts.
Patrick Stokes in The Conversation:
Coalition spokesman for scrutiny of government waste Jamie Briggs has promised an Abbott government would get rid of “those ridiculous research grants that leave taxpayers scratching their heads wondering just what the government was thinking”.
Seriously, don’t bother with philosophy. Don’t bother trying to understand the rules of logic, or what constitutes a good argument, or what makes an action right or wrong. Don’t bother trying to follow humanity’s “great conversation” let alone trying to contribute to it. Waste of time and money.
Daniel Stacey explains how we can be transformed by immersion in Hegel or Heidegger.
When a philosopher, like Martin Heiddeger for instance, rolls up his sleeves to argue the toss over the definition of words, what occurs is utterly different. Heidegger, the subject of another ridiculed ARC grant run by Dr Diego Bubbio at the University of Western Sydney, was a brilliant classicist able to describe the mutation of language from Ancient Greek philosophy to the present day.
He showed how words are very old tools that have been broken up and reassembled and reused, and how our confused and messy language is often not robust enough to talk through deep issues. Heidegger is insurance against the trickery of even the greatest rhetorician, against dogma in economics and science, against traps in language and traps in life.
Thinkers like Heidegger are capable of radically altering how you engage with the world – not just for a few weeks, but for the rest of your life. You don’t have to subscribe to a deity or follow a plan or give someone money – you just have to read a difficult book.
That’s interesting, you just have to read a difficult book. How come grants of tens and hundreds of thousands are allocated for people to read books?
On the other side, a rejoinder to Hila Schacharfrom David Thompson:
Dr Shachar is, however, careful not to explain the contribution to society made by her own work, or by the humanities research projects that were highlighted as examples of non-essential spending, including a $164,000 grant for studying “how urban media art can best respond to global climate change.” Or by the boldly titled research project Queering Disasters in the Antipodes, which hopes to probe the “experiences of LGBTI people in natural disasters” and ultimately provide “improved disaster response” to gay people, whose needs in such circumstances are apparently quite different from those of everyone else. The princely sum of $325,183 has been spent on this endeavour. “No such work has been done in this field before,” says the project outline. Instead, we learn that “people who have received an ARC grant… are the last people in Australia you could accuse of frivolity and waste,” and that taxpayer subsidy of such things should be left to “people who are actually qualified to decide the importance of specific projects.”