Archive for November, 2022

Lesson 638 Media, Politics & Plato

When people discover that my undergraduate major was philosophy, their response often is something like, “Oh that really explains a lot.” Maybe so, but here is my explanation of how media, politics, and philosophy shapes my thinking even today.

For example, Plato was born into one of Athens’ politically influential families. After his true mentor Socrates was executed, Plato decided to dedicate his life to philosophy. He established his “Academy” which set out to educate and train politicians in philosophy.

This is why “media revolutions change everything” is a fundamental philosophical and political idea. If social media was available to Plato, there is no doubt that he would have explored both its’ positive and negative implications for Athens.

For Plato, knowledge was about truth, beauty, and virtue… and so it came to the world from a much higher authority.

In addition, Plato describes the ideal community in his Republic as harnessing people’s desires and talents for the greater good of the whole. Rulers, he argues, must therefore become philosophers… even Philosopher-Kings.

Plato saw an Athens “in decay,” and therefore, many of his ideas about leadership and community are clearly relevant for us today.

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Lesson 637 Big Changes In Higher Ed

Pandemic and other social changes are causing parents and students to rethink the value of a college education.

The high price of some universities and the need for costly student loans are causing a great deal of rethinking about benefits.

Lower cost community colleges, transferring later to universities, and job training institutes, are becoming possible alternatives.

In addition, politically extreme trustees and alumni are working to influence curriculum at some institutions, causing these institutions to lose some of their appeal for many people.

Professors with controversial ideas are feeling that academic freedom is being threatened, and elect early retirement or leave the academic profession.

Budget pressures also can result in widespread incentives to retire early.

Teaching face-to-face vs. on-line teaching is also being debated… with some professors thinking that their subject-matter works just fine on-line…others think otherwise.

What to do with over-built facilities is also an issue in some institutions, especially with many staff able to work from home.

As a result, part-time or adjunct faculty (often less academically prepared) are being hired to replace full-time professors with traditional permanent (usually called tenure-track) positions.

While reducing costs, this will usually reduce the number of significant research activities… a traditional feature of most important universities.

Athletic visibility and television contracts can now become important for both student recruiting and income.

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