Academia Materialistic?

I don’t want to get in a fight with someone whose work I respect, but there’s been a bit of anti-intellectual bubbling in various astrological corners of the blogosphere lately. One person, an extremely educated and intelligent person with a tremendously respectable body of work behind him, suggests that academia is inherently materialistic and therefore it is pointless and silly to imagine a course in astrology at any sort of accredited university.

While material reductionism is indeed a common philosophy in certain departments, it’s hardly the norm throughout all departments. Religion, philosophy, the humanities — many of them sport professors whose theoretical approach is deeply anti-materialistic. Deconstruction, until recently the sine qua non of literature departments, calls into question the very possibility of an objective materialist world by deconstructing the binaries upon which such assumptions rest. I know philosophers who argue for platonic idealism, and one of my good friends and a professor in a social science argues persuasively against reductive materialism. These are not just examples of a few people who are like government officials against the war in Afghanistan: these are people who argue these positions in their field.

There are quite a lot of departments who study things that are not material or objective. There’s no particular reason why astrology could not be among them (and no particular reason why, necessarily, it should be among them, either).

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3 Responses to “Academia Materialistic?”

  1. The only outcome of these little flame-ups is the loss of longterm prestige among anyone involved. No one ever “proves” their case, both sides offer up their interpretations of events, and each “side” gets believers. No one wins, everyone involved loses.

    I’m just going to tend my garden on this one.

  2. I know the articles you’re talking about, but haven’t had a chance to read them through yet. Personally I thought the issue was with the structure of much of academia, in that universities will generally only employ people doing active research and producing “respectable” papers. If nobody in the field considers astrological research (that is, actually researching astrological effects, and not just researching “about” astrology) “respectable”, and being in academia I find this a believable situation, then nobody will employ them.

    It’s a sad state, but I can see how you could call the institutions materialistic (in garnering for “respectability”), even if those they imply aren’t inherently so.

    …and now I have to go back and read those articles.

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