Essential Reading

Insights from Quadrant
Insights from Quadrant

Darwin, Einstein and Ridd

When Judge Salvatore Vasta (above) ruled on Peter Ridd’s case against James Cook University, he introduced his 76-page decision with a few thoughts on the key element in any “quest for truth”:

… Intellectual freedom is also known as academic freedom. It is a concept that underpins universities and institutions devoted to higher learning. Obviously such institutions must have administrators that care for the governance and proper direction of the institution. However, the mission of these institutions must undoubtedly be the search for knowledge which leads to a quest for truth. In reality, intellectual freedom is the cornerstone of this core mission of all institutions of higher learning.

This is so because it allows ideas to conflict with each other; to battle and test each other. It is within this “battle” that the strengths and weaknesses of ideas are found out. In this process, there comes “learning”. And with learning comes discovery.

At its core, intellectual freedom mandates that academics should express their opinions openly and honestly, while inviting scrutiny and debate about those ideas. Unless opinions are expressed in this way, the growth and expression of ideas will be stifled and new realms of thinking will cease to be explored. That will lead to intellectual and social stagnation and a uniformity of thought which is an anathema to the concept of higher learning and social progress.

Intellectual freedom allows academics to challenge the status quo and encourage critical analysis. History tells of many people who did so.

During the last 160 years, arguably the two most prominent scientists/academics to challenge the status quo have been Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. The ideas brought forth by both of these men were extremely controversial and offended several of their academic peers as well as many others in the greater society. That is how it should be and without intellectual freedom, the world would have been denied the benefit of ground-breaking thought and intellectual risk taking of the sort that encourages innovation and other scholastic enquiries.

There is great power in intellectual freedom. But with great power there must also come great responsibility. There must, at times, be some degree of restraint so that there is no descent into anarchy.

That is a fine balance and one that has challenged legal thinkers both past and present. And that, in turn, is why there is often an uneasy tension between those responsible for the administration of an institution of higher learning and those responsible for promulgating the ideas that give the institution their raison d’etre….

The entire text can be read via this link.

Insights from Quadrant

Notre Dame burns

Admirers of Western Civilisation and its art would likely agree with Kenneth Clark’s appraisal of Notre Dame as “not perhaps the most lovable of cathedrals”. Like many, he preferred Chartres and Canterbury, but it was with Notre Dame in the background that he introduced his landmark series Civilisation:

What is civilisation? I do not know. I can’t define it in abstract terms –yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it: and I am looking at it now. Ruskin said: “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”

On the whole I think this is true. Writers and politicians may come out with all sorts of edifying sentiments, but they are what is known as declarations of intent. If I had to say which was telling the truth about society, a speech by a Minister of Housing or the actual buildings put up in his time, I should believe the buildings.

Today, the news from Paris is almost beyond belief: almost nine hundred years after construction began, Notre Dame is, if not in ruins, close to it. The photo atop this post is what remains of the altar. Below, as it was only yesterday:

It was one purpose of those who dotted Europe with soaring, vaulted spaces to inspire awe and banish with gospel and creed the lingering animism of the peasantry, the belief in the omens and portents of earlier pagan creeds. Today those monuments to vanished faith draw little but the tour-bus reverence of tourists and their Nikons, plus advocates of a new barbarism. Six years ago, historian and Marine Le Pen supporter Dominique Venner splattered the altar with his brains in a bizarre protest against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage. In 2017 it was an angry Muslim crying ‘Alahu Akbar’ and ‘this is for Syria’ who bludgeoned the cathedral’s security guards with a hammer before being felled by a bullet. Now comes fire and the certain knowledge that while the immediately promised rebuilding might faithfully replicate all that was and has now been lost, the end result will be but a facsimile of what is today ash and rubble — a building to be revived for the tourist magnet it became, not for what once inspired it.

As Sir Kenneth put it 

At some time in the ninth century one could have looked down the Seine and seen the prow of a Viking ship coming up the river … to the mother of a family trying to settle down in her little hut, it would have seem less agreeable — as menacing to her civilisation as the periscope of a nuclear submarine.

It was not too long before those Norsemen embraced Christianity and became Normans,  their descendants erecting Notre Dame as a manifestation of faith and societal confidence. Come the weekend, as they have done for the past six months, tens of thousands of ‘yellow vest’ protesters will clash once again with the police and troops defending the government of Emmanuel Macron from demands for less taxes, less immigration and, to the extent one can ever intuit the aspirations and intentions of a French mob, less official intrusion in the lives of citoyens.

Macron will commence the rebuilding of Notre Dame, as he pledged even before the flames were extinguished, but what for modern, restive France will that effort represent? Perhaps, as a true symbol of our incoherent age and the fashionably disdained achievements of Western Civilisation, it should simply be left as is, a gutted reminder of that which was and now is fading.

— roger franklin

 

 

 

Insights from Quadrant

Look, a conservative.
Get him!

In Quadrant‘s April edition, reviewer Oliver Friendship addresses Sir Roger Scruton’s recent collection of short stories, Souls in the Twilight, observing that the conservative thinker’s fictions are all the more valuable for being at odds with the politically correct strictures that hobble the imaginations and output of so many writers less keen on telling stories than courting favour with the modern literary scene’s doctrinaire arbiters.

Well it seems literary luvvies are not the only ones with whom Scruton is at odds. As Quadrant contributor Anthony Daniels reports under his pen name Theodore Dalrymple, a nasty little hatchet job by the deputy editor of The New Statesman has prompted Sir Roger’s ejection from the chairmanship of Britain’s Building Beautiful Architecture Commission. Dalrymple writes:

… It was obvious from the first that his appointment was a wound to the predominant faction of the British intelligentsia that could be healed only by his dismissal. The sheer hideousness of most of what has been built in Britain over the last few decades (so immediately apparent that only an intellectual could miss it) was no excuse for having allowed Scruton to sully the corridors of power even for a few months. In the great work of ridding the body politic of the stone in its shoe or the thorn in its flesh, any slur would do, any libel or slander that came to mind was perfectly acceptable.

An interview with the deputy editor of the New Statesman, a left-wing weekly, sealed Scruton’s fate, as it was intended to do. The deputy editor, George Eaton, almost certainly counted on the utter pusillanimity of the British government—and he had himself pictured swigging champagne directly from the bottle immediately after the government dismissed Scruton. In the published version of the interview, Eaton gives an impression of Scruton as an anti-Semite, hater of Muslims, and despiser of Chinese. All these accusations are false and defamatory, as any reader of Scruton would know…

That’s Eaton pictured above, chucking down the champers to celebrate, as he tweeted scalp-in-hand before deleting both the snapshot and this comment

The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser.

In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that Eaton denies being anything but a principled and upstanding chronicler of straight-bat truth. Why, he’s shocked — yes, shocked! — that anyone might suspect him of spreading thick the slime and slurs to bring down a man whose conservative philosophy he disdains. Eaton’s defence of the hatchet’s place in architectural criticism can be read in full here.

UPDATE: ‘We’ve lost, I’m afraid’ — below, Paul Weston on the lynching of a giant, Roger Scruton, by the ‘pygmy Left’ and, far more distressing,  his abandonment by those who should have been his champions.

— roger franklin

Insights from Quadrant

Place your bets,
gentlemen and ladies

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the election this morning (April 11), the bookies weren’t far behind. Their expectations, if you are a Coalition supporter, are dire.

As of a few hours after the announcement, BetFair was offering $1.18 for a one dollar bet on a Labor victory, while the Coalition stood at a long-odds $5.

Sportsbet was marginally more hopeful, rating the likelihood of Scott Morrison having his lease on The Lodge renewed at $4.85, while Ladbrokes echoed BetFair’s $5 odds.

Depressing, what?

Well take heart. On the morning of November 8, 2016, another much derided candidate also was rated a $5 chance. That would be Donald Trump, of course. One astute punter pocketed $2.5 million on that surprise result, according to Fortune, so those inclined to have a flutter on the local citizenry’s flexing of its franchise might want to get on early.

There is a long way to go until May 18.

Essential Reading

Insights from Quadrant
Insights from Quadrant

Darwin, Einstein and Ridd

When Judge Salvatore Vasta (above) ruled on Peter Ridd’s case against James Cook University, he introduced his 76-page decision with a few thoughts on the key element in any “quest for truth”:

… Intellectual freedom is also known as academic freedom. It is a concept that underpins universities and institutions devoted to higher learning. Obviously such institutions must have administrators that care for the governance and proper direction of the institution. However, the mission of these institutions must undoubtedly be the search for knowledge which leads to a quest for truth. In reality, intellectual freedom is the cornerstone of this core mission of all institutions of higher learning.

This is so because it allows ideas to conflict with each other; to battle and test each other. It is within this “battle” that the strengths and weaknesses of ideas are found out. In this process, there comes “learning”. And with learning comes discovery.

At its core, intellectual freedom mandates that academics should express their opinions openly and honestly, while inviting scrutiny and debate about those ideas. Unless opinions are expressed in this way, the growth and expression of ideas will be stifled and new realms of thinking will cease to be explored. That will lead to intellectual and social stagnation and a uniformity of thought which is an anathema to the concept of higher learning and social progress.

Intellectual freedom allows academics to challenge the status quo and encourage critical analysis. History tells of many people who did so.

During the last 160 years, arguably the two most prominent scientists/academics to challenge the status quo have been Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. The ideas brought forth by both of these men were extremely controversial and offended several of their academic peers as well as many others in the greater society. That is how it should be and without intellectual freedom, the world would have been denied the benefit of ground-breaking thought and intellectual risk taking of the sort that encourages innovation and other scholastic enquiries.

There is great power in intellectual freedom. But with great power there must also come great responsibility. There must, at times, be some degree of restraint so that there is no descent into anarchy.

That is a fine balance and one that has challenged legal thinkers both past and present. And that, in turn, is why there is often an uneasy tension between those responsible for the administration of an institution of higher learning and those responsible for promulgating the ideas that give the institution their raison d’etre….

The entire text can be read via this link.

Insights from Quadrant

Notre Dame burns

Admirers of Western Civilisation and its art would likely agree with Kenneth Clark’s appraisal of Notre Dame as “not perhaps the most lovable of cathedrals”. Like many, he preferred Chartres and Canterbury, but it was with Notre Dame in the background that he introduced his landmark series Civilisation:

What is civilisation? I do not know. I can’t define it in abstract terms –yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it: and I am looking at it now. Ruskin said: “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”

On the whole I think this is true. Writers and politicians may come out with all sorts of edifying sentiments, but they are what is known as declarations of intent. If I had to say which was telling the truth about society, a speech by a Minister of Housing or the actual buildings put up in his time, I should believe the buildings.

Today, the news from Paris is almost beyond belief: almost nine hundred years after construction began, Notre Dame is, if not in ruins, close to it. The photo atop this post is what remains of the altar. Below, as it was only yesterday:

It was one purpose of those who dotted Europe with soaring, vaulted spaces to inspire awe and banish with gospel and creed the lingering animism of the peasantry, the belief in the omens and portents of earlier pagan creeds. Today those monuments to vanished faith draw little but the tour-bus reverence of tourists and their Nikons, plus advocates of a new barbarism. Six years ago, historian and Marine Le Pen supporter Dominique Venner splattered the altar with his brains in a bizarre protest against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage. In 2017 it was an angry Muslim crying ‘Alahu Akbar’ and ‘this is for Syria’ who bludgeoned the cathedral’s security guards with a hammer before being felled by a bullet. Now comes fire and the certain knowledge that while the immediately promised rebuilding might faithfully replicate all that was and has now been lost, the end result will be but a facsimile of what is today ash and rubble — a building to be revived for the tourist magnet it became, not for what once inspired it.

As Sir Kenneth put it 

At some time in the ninth century one could have looked down the Seine and seen the prow of a Viking ship coming up the river … to the mother of a family trying to settle down in her little hut, it would have seem less agreeable — as menacing to her civilisation as the periscope of a nuclear submarine.

It was not too long before those Norsemen embraced Christianity and became Normans,  their descendants erecting Notre Dame as a manifestation of faith and societal confidence. Come the weekend, as they have done for the past six months, tens of thousands of ‘yellow vest’ protesters will clash once again with the police and troops defending the government of Emmanuel Macron from demands for less taxes, less immigration and, to the extent one can ever intuit the aspirations and intentions of a French mob, less official intrusion in the lives of citoyens.

Macron will commence the rebuilding of Notre Dame, as he pledged even before the flames were extinguished, but what for modern, restive France will that effort represent? Perhaps, as a true symbol of our incoherent age and the fashionably disdained achievements of Western Civilisation, it should simply be left as is, a gutted reminder of that which was and now is fading.

— roger franklin

 

 

 

Insights from Quadrant

Look, a conservative.
Get him!

In Quadrant‘s April edition, reviewer Oliver Friendship addresses Sir Roger Scruton’s recent collection of short stories, Souls in the Twilight, observing that the conservative thinker’s fictions are all the more valuable for being at odds with the politically correct strictures that hobble the imaginations and output of so many writers less keen on telling stories than courting favour with the modern literary scene’s doctrinaire arbiters.

Well it seems literary luvvies are not the only ones with whom Scruton is at odds. As Quadrant contributor Anthony Daniels reports under his pen name Theodore Dalrymple, a nasty little hatchet job by the deputy editor of The New Statesman has prompted Sir Roger’s ejection from the chairmanship of Britain’s Building Beautiful Architecture Commission. Dalrymple writes:

… It was obvious from the first that his appointment was a wound to the predominant faction of the British intelligentsia that could be healed only by his dismissal. The sheer hideousness of most of what has been built in Britain over the last few decades (so immediately apparent that only an intellectual could miss it) was no excuse for having allowed Scruton to sully the corridors of power even for a few months. In the great work of ridding the body politic of the stone in its shoe or the thorn in its flesh, any slur would do, any libel or slander that came to mind was perfectly acceptable.

An interview with the deputy editor of the New Statesman, a left-wing weekly, sealed Scruton’s fate, as it was intended to do. The deputy editor, George Eaton, almost certainly counted on the utter pusillanimity of the British government—and he had himself pictured swigging champagne directly from the bottle immediately after the government dismissed Scruton. In the published version of the interview, Eaton gives an impression of Scruton as an anti-Semite, hater of Muslims, and despiser of Chinese. All these accusations are false and defamatory, as any reader of Scruton would know…

That’s Eaton pictured above, chucking down the champers to celebrate, as he tweeted scalp-in-hand before deleting both the snapshot and this comment

The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser.

In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that Eaton denies being anything but a principled and upstanding chronicler of straight-bat truth. Why, he’s shocked — yes, shocked! — that anyone might suspect him of spreading thick the slime and slurs to bring down a man whose conservative philosophy he disdains. Eaton’s defence of the hatchet’s place in architectural criticism can be read in full here.

UPDATE: ‘We’ve lost, I’m afraid’ — below, Paul Weston on the lynching of a giant, Roger Scruton, by the ‘pygmy Left’ and, far more distressing,  his abandonment by those who should have been his champions.

— roger franklin

Insights from Quadrant

Place your bets,
gentlemen and ladies

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the election this morning (April 11), the bookies weren’t far behind. Their expectations, if you are a Coalition supporter, are dire.

As of a few hours after the announcement, BetFair was offering $1.18 for a one dollar bet on a Labor victory, while the Coalition stood at a long-odds $5.

Sportsbet was marginally more hopeful, rating the likelihood of Scott Morrison having his lease on The Lodge renewed at $4.85, while Ladbrokes echoed BetFair’s $5 odds.

Depressing, what?

Well take heart. On the morning of November 8, 2016, another much derided candidate also was rated a $5 chance. That would be Donald Trump, of course. One astute punter pocketed $2.5 million on that surprise result, according to Fortune, so those inclined to have a flutter on the local citizenry’s flexing of its franchise might want to get on early.

There is a long way to go until May 18.