Australia: And who will THAT inconvenience…?
The Coalition announced on Thursday it would audit and redirect funds from the Australian Research Council (ARC) in an attempt to curb government ”waste”, with opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey singling out certain projects during a press conference.
Among the projects highlighted by the Coalition is “The God of Hegel’s Post-Kantian idealism”, a research project being led by Professor Paul Redding from the university’s Department of Philosophy.
In a private email to staff on Thursday afternoon, obtained by Fairfax Media, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence expressed his alarm at the Coalition’s actions. ”I was personally distressed to see that the work of one of our academics was on a list of topics unfairly criticised today in a Liberal Party press release, which has been reported in the media,” he wrote. ”The academic is globally recognised as amongst the very best in the world in his field.”
A ‘field’ that consists of three people, none of whom have done anything useful for several decades. And by the way, it’s ‘among’, not ‘amongst’.
For those who don’t know, the quote comes from Episode Four of Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the new supercomputer Deep Thought is just about to be commissioned to solve the riddle of Life, the Universe and Everything. Naturally, the philosophers get shirty about it. And it ends with one of my favourite lines.
VROOMFONDEL: …We are quite definitely here as representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Professional Thinking Persons, and we want this machine off, and we want it off now!… You just let the machines get on with the adding up and we’ll take care of the eternal verities thank you very much… I mean what’s the use of our sitting up all night saying there may … or may not be, a God if this machine comes along next morning and gives you his telephone number?..We demand that that machine not be allowed to think about this problem!
DEEP THOUGHT: If I might make an observation …
VROOMFONDEL: We’ll go on strike!
MAJIKTHISE: That’s right, you’ll have a national Philosophers’ Strike on your hands.
DEEP THOUGHT: Who will that inconvenience?