One more thing off of my todo list. Here’s my letter to the Middlesex administration regarding the closing of their highest rated programme and suspending some staff members and students for peacefully protesting the closure. (NB: BTW, if you have not heard of this closure, please support the campaign.
Dear Members of the Board,
I am sure that by now you are aware of a large contingent of people across the philosophy discipline urging you to reconsider your decision to close your philosophy department. The thought occurred to me that you might not be aware of the magnitude of the reaction. I’d like to try to contextualise this. The response from the worldwide philosophy community is roughly every major figure in Continental Philosophy — which is what your philosophy department excels in — along with a a high number of major figures from other branches of contemporary philosophy such as Analytic Philosophy. These responses should be seen as a strong indication that the closure of Middlesex’s philosophy department is a strong regression in philosophy research.
However, I believe there is a more important issue here: no institution can truly be a university without philosophy. The majority of doctoral degrees are, as you are no doubt aware, Doctors of Philosophy. This isn’t something cheeky, or a hold over from an outdated academic ideology. The truth is, most theoretical research is philosophical by its very nature. Philosophy is the life-blood of a university; without philosophy, Middlesex is a technical school or, worse still, a factory that outputs a mass-produced item for consumption. And, let’s face it: your students will still encounter philosophy, they will still discuss philosophy. The major difference is that they will do so without the expertise of a philosophy department to help refine their thoughts.
Finally, I would like to express my disapproval of the suspension of philosophy students and staff members. One of the greatest aspects of the academy is the freedom given to staff members and students in order that they are able to research, write, and discuss without the fear of censure. The suspension of these persons without a viable reason is, yet again, a disservice to the university and academia at large. It is not a wise decision to emulate what some corporations have done recently in order to prevent meaningful negotiations. These suspensions show that Middlesex should remove the word ‘university’ from its title, as it has shown yet again that it is not an institution of academic excellence but a ‘sweat shop’ mass producing an overpriced product for the sake of capital. Middlesex is not even a business venture, if for the very least that no business in their right mind would kill off its best-selling product. What, then, is Middlesex?
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Glasgow