Philosophy of University

This project is tentatively titled The Problems Concerning University as an Institution and as an Idea: From the search for truth to teaching functional skills to ‘customers’. It examines the problem concerning university as an institution (by referring to the history of university) and as an idea. I will argue that the history of the university as an institution intimately follows the history of Western culture. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Christian church held Western culture in unity. The University of Paris was the medieval university par excellence. In 1694, a new type of university emerged that separated from the ways of the past. Established approximately five centuries after the University of Paris, the University of Halle in Prussia departed from the Parisian idea that higher education must be comprehended inside the framework of the Christian faith. The University of Halle introduced the idea of the university as a secular institution, existing to assist the secular state. This idea is the essential element of the modern university. Both the universities of Paris and Halle emphasize that aspect of the university that has represented the interest of the wider society. On the other hand, the University of Berlin was founded for very different reasons. It was established in order that a few academically capable individuals could pursue knowledge. Today, the age of globalization, formed around the idea of economism, necessitates a new type of university. Its best exemplar may be the University of Phoenix, founded in 1976. It is a business-related university compelled by law to make the most financial gain for its financiers. The idea forming the foundation of this university is that the most significant purpose of higher education is to teach functional skills and knowledge to its ‘customers’—the word it prefers to ‘students’.

While the term university as an institution has tended to have limited connotations, Derrida argues that as an idea, it has a boundless, unrestricted and unconditional implication. Thus, he questions the common connotation of university as an exclusively institutional term. Likewise challenging that connotation, I explore the most significant characteristics of the idea of university, referencing the thoughts of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Ortega y Gasset, Jaspers, Heidegger, Gadamer, Derrida and Foucault. .. I call for a move forward from the university as it is to as it must be, something far more inclusive. I suggest further directions to explore toward the constructive conceptualizing of university, based on the ‘Inclusion of the Other, that is, non-Westerners.