Uniwersytet – wolność – bezinteresowność. Tradycyjny etos i współczesne przemiany tożsamości uniwersytetu
Selected contents from this journal
University – liberty – selflessness. The traditional ethos and contemporary changes in the identity of university
Languages of publication
What currently becomes more and more vivid is the public debate on the transformations in the functioning of university and on their directions. In order to focus properly on the problems undertaken here, it is worth to refer to some remarks on academic liberty and the liberty of studying, which are formulated in the context of describing the secret university education in Poland under the Nazi occupation. It is this secret teaching, based on self-organization and free from an administrative institutional framework, which turns out to be the model of university liberty. This peculiar experience of academic freedom, showing the essence of academic learning and teaching, should be remembered and taken into account in all political and administrative (or even bureaucratic) attempts at regulating the functioning of autonomic university and other academic level schools. The current state of university is vividly depicted, as Kazimierz Denek does this, as a “switchback bend” situation. The switchback bend is a condition of increased risk and danger as, with the lack of skills or attention, it is easy to fall out of the route from a “sharp bend”. However, it is also possible to become strengthened with new experiences and skills. Especially for educationalists and philosophers of education, university situated at a “bend” constitutes a challenge to thoughtful and in-depth reflection and reasonable acting – not to “risky charging” in the name of some fashionable “lofty words” and ideological visions. What is recognized in the classically understood European culture is the specific identity of university and its irreducibility to other – even closely related cultural forms. Universities are to embody in a specific way the ethos of intellectual work and to manifest some cognitive values at which practicing science and the system of education are aimed. Among other forms of shaping intellectual culture, university should be distinguished by its aiming at the holistic recognition of the reality or at least to unite the aspect-related recognition of the reality into a relative whole. The issues of university ethos were considered by Kazimierz Twardowski (1866–1938) in his – widely commented today – speech “On the eminence of University” (21st November 1932). What comes to the foreground is the selfless aiming at the scientific truth, which should be a basic feature of university. If this moral requirement is fulfilled, it is possible to conduct reliable studies and to shape students in such a way that they could – on their own – practice science oriented towards discovering the truth. In the European culture, establishing universities and the aim of studying have been associated with the classical idea gaudium veritatis: selfless joy provided by aiming at and approaching the truth. In the efforts to fulfil university, viewed as a specific world of manifested values and appreciated personal attitudes, the dreams about the “golden age” which has already gone cannot be the end. The people who constitute the academic community ought to present the appropriate knowledge of university, the theoretical and practical knowledge concerning their close reality, and they should have a strong belief in their own subjectivity and agency, their ability to establish and maintain university. This should take place in order not to yield to persuasion on civilization determinants (expressed in administrative directives) to which the academic community is to be unconditionally subjected.
Publication order reference