Time of the Scholar

“I have had little personal time to devote to the things of life other full-time people take for granted”. The scholar is a figure of someone able to make their living out of their passion. The academic is the banalised form, and would give up their job if they could get more money elsewhere. So what do we call someone who wishes to lead the life of a scholar, having the passion, but must sacrifice time and sharing to live a fraction of that life? A “would-be” scholar? No, because they are being scholars in their private time. Nietzsche called them “private thinkers”. Must they be resigned to being seen, even by themselves, as “second best”? In moments of sadness or doubt it can seem so. Yet I think that Ed is overly pessimistic in thinking that the time of the dissertation was the sole and unique time of intellectual satisfaction.

The Horizon and The Fringe


I wonder if the scholar has vanished and I do not think that is a good thing.

I do not mean scholarship, but the class of people sufficient in means and time to devote their entire life to study. In many ways, I aspire to that life, but adjunct teaching between several universities has not yielded much time that other full-time professors have. I’m lucky to have gotten done this year what I could. And the pressures of contemporary academic life push teaching on the full-time academic more so than in previous times. In addition, we teach more people of varying degree in intelligence and willingness to work. As such, there are many forces undermining the ideal of the scholar.

Perhaps, a contemporary example is in order. To publish my writings, I had to work on them in my own time, often intruding upon my marriage and other non-academic duties…

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