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August 31, 2011

Philosophy Bro on Hegel's "Lordship and Bondage"

Philosophy Bro is a fun sort-of-tongue-in-cheek-but-not-really site that breaks down philosophical readings for a modern audience using a central abstract BRO. It's fun, though I can only stand the BRO thing for a little while. If you like this sort of thing, you should also check out Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's Acton Philosophers. . Philosophy Bro: G. W. F. Hegel's "Lordship and Bondage": A Summary
Self-consciousness is a tricky motherfucker. Like every other idea, it has to encounter its opposite before it can be complete. Why? Because otherwise, it's way too fucking abstract. Have you ever had a friend get really high and say, "Bro, I think I understand ultimate reality!" And then after you listen to his explanation about how we're just a simulation or a computer game or some bullshit you say, "That's fucking retarded. There has to be some level of reality that isn't a simulation - why should I believe this isn't it?" And unless your friend has baked himself beyond comprehension, he'll stare into space for ten minutes and then say, "Oh. I don't know, bro, it just occurred to me. But maybe we just misinterpret things sometimes so they don't seem real. I guess this is reality, just with some glitches." It's not a perfect explanation, but it's closer than it was. An idea encounters its opposite, and after some struggle, a new idea emerges, more concrete than before. And it happens at every level of consciousness. So why is self-consciousness so fucking tricky? Because its opposite is just other self-consciousnesses. To become aware of ourselves, something else has to be aware of us, too - otherwise, we see everywhere but inwards. It's like having a flashlight that only points away from you and into the world. Sure, it helps you see everything else, but you can't see yourself for shit because you're cloaked in darkness. And you can't infer your existence from everything else; nothing can resist you, since you're a bro and bros get what they want. You exist for yourself and no one else, and when the entire world also exists for you, the line is blurry. When the world is identical to your desires, you can't tell the difference between the two. It's not until you meet another bro with a flashlight that you becomes illuminated. Self-consciousness absolutely must meet another self-consciousness, or else it can't exist - it's just plain consciousness, a bro with a flashlight and no sense of self. Once the flashlights meet, two things happen - both bros see each other, and they immediately see themselves. And once one recognizes the other as outside itself, and vice versa, that's when shit gets crazy. Normally, any bro considers himself the most important fucking thing on the planet; so far, everything he's encountered with his flashlight, he's been able to bend to his will. And then he meets another bro, who he realizes is exactly like himself. "Fuck that bro; that other consciousness thinks it's more real than me. He's exactly like me, except I'm real and he isn't. How fucking dare he intrude on my reality like that! I'll fucking show him." Bros hate not having control, and the one thing a bro can't control is another bro. We're exactly like consciousness itself. And then the struggle begins. Two bros, both convinced they're more real, fighting for control of the other. Except that each bro only knows he's real, knows himself, because of the other bro's light. So if one bro kills the other, or decides not to risk his life and walks away from the fight, he is blind again; he loses himself. Instead of being made better by his opposite, he has destroyed it, and is no better off. So bros (and consciousnesses) must risk themselves to become completed; if both bros risk take the proper risks, then eventually, one taps out, and becomes the servant of the other bro. . . .
*Thanks, Fritz!*

August 30, 2011

Administrators Ate My Tuition

Why have tuition costs skyrocketed while the student to teacher ratio has remained the same for thirty years? It's because the administration at schools has increased at incredible rates. The Washington Monthly - The Magazine - Administrators Ate My Tuition
. . . Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every twenty-one students. Apparently, as colleges and universities have had more money to spend, they have not chosen to spend it on expanding their instructional resources—that is, on paying faculty. They have chosen, instead, to enhance their administrative and staff resources. A comprehensive study published by the Delta Cost Project in 2010 reported that between 1998 and 2008, America’s private colleges increased spending on instruction by 22 percent while increasing spending on administration and staff support by 36 percent. Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers— but not more professors. Well, you can’t have everything. . . .