In recent weeks, a discussion has been underway at the Australian National University (ANU) about a large donation to set up a course in Western Civilisation.
A number of academics are against this, with the usual set of spurious arguments.
It would unbalance the university by giving too much to one faculty or department. This smacks of educational socialism – not everyone can benefit, therefore no one should benefit in the usual reduction to the lowest common denominator.
And of course, these academics are against “Western Civ” – a trendy approach in vogue since the 1960s and the famous chant of Berkeley students “Hey ho, hey ho, Western Civ has got to go!”
Since then, there have been major institutionalised attempts to diminish and sideline Western Civ and replace it with the likes of “World History.”
The result? Generations of badly-educated academics and students.
The Australian academics exemplify this bad education.
In dismissing the need for the donation and the course, they argue that there is no need even to state the arguments for their proposed objection.
Well, yes there is. If one proposes a motion, one has a burden of proof to make the case. The Latin phrase is onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat, usually shortened to onus probandi.
As usual, however, it was in fact the Greeks who established this principle 2,500 years ago.
Apparently these learned “scholars” have never heard of it and believe that mere assertions are sufficient.
The Greeks also established the principle that in a debate, one should be able to discourse on the opponent’s case with the same facility as one’s own case.
So much for modern academic standards.