The future of the “knowledge society”: Philosophy and university politics in contemporary France

There’s so much that I want to write about that somehow I end up not writing anything. So as a bit of a placeholder, let me post a current draft of my diss. research proposal (taken from the NSF research proposal). It’s a bit long for a blog post, I warn you, and is still very much under revision. More new material soon, I promise.

1. Introduction: Clashing futures in university politics
What is the future of French universities in a globalized world? According to the Magna Charta Universitatum, signed by a number of rectors of European universities in 1988, “the future of humankind depends largely on cultural, scientific and technical development; and this is built up in centers of culture, knowledge and research as represented by true universities” (Rectors 2003:6). But not everyone in Europe shares this utopian view of universities as the salvation of the human species. In the midst of French protests against university reforms in 2007, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII held a meeting to discuss the campus strikes. According to the minutes: “Questions were raised about concerns over finding work. That one would worry about one’s future – to say the least – doesn’t mean that one wants one’s concerns instrumentalized by and for projects that will make the future even darker still” (Paris8philo 2007). In other words, in the thick of the political fray, these philosophers viewed academic knowledge not as the future of humankind, but rather as an uncertain defense against a world of scarce employment and darkening futures.

Continue reading “The future of the “knowledge society”: Philosophy and university politics in contemporary France”