Metaphysical support for the University of Chicago in its fight for Intellectual Morality. There's a great short documentary on the uniquely strong value the University of Chicago places on the intellectual value of free speech. And before I go on - there's actually much crossover here with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The university was attended by the author Robert Pirsig where he had an infamous showdown with the Chair of the Committee on Analysis of Ideas and Study of Methods. And it was the universities president Robert Maynard Hutchins who was a close colleague of the Chair and who had reformed the university into a mirror of what Pirsig uniqely terms in ZMM 'Aristotilean Quality'. But as also mentioned in the book; this reform led to a clash against those who wanted a more value-free 'scientific' education, as well as an eventual clash with Pirsig who didn't agree with the low quality Aristotilean definition of Quality..
Phædrus didn't know quite what to make of this clash. But it certainly seemed to be close to the area he wished to work in. He also felt that no values can be fixed but that this is no reason why values should be ignored or that values do not exist as reality. He also felt antagonistic to the Aristotelian tradition as a definer of values, but he didn't feel this tradition should be left unreckoned with. The answer to all this was somehow deeply enmeshed in it and he wanted to know more.
Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
And in along the same lines in the movie..
'Hutchins' envisaged something like a military academy for the mind. One grounded in a demanding core curriculum.'
Rob Montz - 'Silence U Pt. 3: Can the University of Chicago solve the campus free speech crisis?'
Despite a very clear disagreement about the metaphysical place of Quality - it's clear however, that the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) supports the University of Chicago's latest stand for free speech discussed in the documentary. As always - we can use the language of the MOQ to break down the problem into its core evolutionary components and beautifully show why it's moral..
Firstly, the MOQ agrees that students around the world shouldn't need to be shielded from certain ideas they find painful or confronting. Such thinking comes from one of biological suffering where society morally supports and comforts those in pain. But ideas are intellectual, not biological, and so it's moral for our culture to allow a voice to ideas that are challenging to confront and this will eventually change our ideas for the better.
'Those species that don't suffer don't survive. Suffering is the negative face of the Quality that drives the whole process. All these battles between patterns of evolution go on within suffering individuals.. And Lila's battle is everybody's battle, you know?'
Robert Pirsig - Lila
And secondly, the MOQ also agrees that students shouldn't demand universities refuse to 'give a platform' to ideas they disagree with. Whilst universities and colleges are cultural institutions, they are much more than this and seeing them as exclusively cultural, is to undercut the intellectual values they are set up to protect and preserve. In other words - it is true that who they give a platform to is in some way a cultural statement, however few cultural statements could be better than for an intellectual forum to actively demonstrate the intellectual value of free speach. Giving a voice to those ideas on the periphery or in opposition to those they agree with is just such an intellectual demonstration.
Thirdly, if they are concerned about the strength of certain bad ideas to take hold within the culture, then it's possible they have not appropriately confronted the issues themselves or rightly asked that of others. Which indeed according to the MOQ is the intellectually moral, and perhaps socially difficult thing to do.
And so finally, in this battle for free speech - in all cases it's clearly between those who are seeing things through a social lens at the expense of intellectual morality. Of course equipped with the Metaphysics of Quality - students could avoid grave errors in logic such as this and be far more likely to choose those ideas that are the best. But until that point, the MOQ still uniqely and rightly calls those seeing things through the social lens as immoral and acting against the intellectual quality of evolution and what's right.