Would the Great Philosophers Have Survived in the Modern University?


Would the philosophers who populate the canon have gotten tenure? Would they have survived the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessments in the UK? Lloyd Strickland (Manchester Metropolitan University) is skeptical:

Immanuel Kant might look worthy of the nod – his three Critiques shaped a lot of the philosophy that came afterwards. However, those works were preceded by an 11-year hiatus in which he published nothing whatsoever – which means there would have been an entire Ref cycle for which he would not have been eligible. We may presume that his justification for this career break – that he had used that time to wake up from his dogmatic slumber – would have cut little ice with his (admittedly fictional) research coordinator.

Descartes’ prospects look similarly dim. But here’s a possible success:

The real winner, I suspect, would have been Gottfried Leibniz. For one thing, he was the first of the great philosophers to publish prolifically in journals, authoring more than 100 articles over the course of his career. These articles appeared in the top European journals of his day too, such as the Acta Eruditorum, Histoire des Ouvrages des Savants, and Journal des Sçavans. Plenty of four-star output there. One slight drawback is that Leibniz’s articles spanned a wide variety of subjects – including philosophy, mathematics, geology, hydrology, horology, jurisprudence and insurance – which would have made it rather difficult for his imaginary research coordinator to know choose a unit of assessment.

The article is from The Guardian and is available here (via Jerry Hackett). Draw your own conclusions…

Descartes Kant Leibniz

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