The Academic’s Dilemma

As a member of an elite class of highly educated young people, I am often confronted with the condemning reality that I simply do not live in a reality with consequence and dignity. I discuss metaphysics and theories analyzing this world “out there,” but I never venture into that world. Even as I interact with the outside world, I make sure that there is a distinction within my head. I am a student. I am a philosopher. I understand things that others do not. But if my world lacks consequence and dignity, why do I continue? Is it worth anything?

Every human being I have encountered possesses an uncanny understanding of justice. What is justice? That has yet to be determined. Through the millenia, countless attempts have been made to determine that intrinsic quality of what justice is made of. Despite all these efforts, there exists no definition which sits comfortably with all individuals. Yet, even those with no experience analyzing and deconstructing these notions know, within themselves, when an act is just or not. The particulars, we may argue. But the essence, it exists.

If going to college fails to provide me with a definition but only reinforces that justice is a feeling, why go to college at all? What have I learned? How do I ground all this lofty knowledge in the world, when I already knew it due to my inherent essence as a human? And this is the academic’s dilemma. As post-modernity pushes us forward into the abyss, are we forced to conclude that academia is simply not worth it? Is it time to admit that academia has gone so far as to contradict itself? All knowledge is equal knowledge, so no knowledge is necessary. Is our logic self-defeating? And if not, do the various realities in this world fall into a hierarchy? Is one superior to the other?

I do not want to accept that this is the way we are going. I do not want to know that it was all for nothing. However, more than that, I am forced to believe that I cannot universalize the belief that academia holds the answers. It turns out, we always had the answers anyway.