“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
– Marcus Aurellius, Epictetus
When my Political Science professor asked me to write about this subject, I thought to myself, “Where do I even start.” It sparked so many thoughts. I had no idea where to even start. It’s been a month since and I still have no idea. But, do we ever? It’s better to write things down than to do nothing. So, here goes.
A University to me is many things, as it has many aspects to it. Apart from the obvious academic and social aspects; there is something called freedom and diversity. This is something which always comes to my mind whenever the University comes to my mind. By freedom, I mean freedom of thought, expression and speech and more importantly the diversity of such sentiments. But, we’ll get to that later.
Let us first talk about the academic and social aspects. Whoever we are, master or pupil, we all come to university to learn as our capacity to learn is infinite; individual development and our everlasting desire to find the truth. All this is done through social interactions where share our ideas. Since we humans are social animals we cannot, we can never sate our curiosity without the existence of other individuals.
A University allows us to meet and interact with different people whether it is culture, nationality, ethnicity, academic background, etc. It’s a place various different disciplines come together. We make new friends in universities, share ideas, indulge our artistic interests, fall in love, and many others in a way no other institution can. A university is very different from the real world.
“Everything we hear is opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not truth.”
– Marcus Aurellius, Meditations
Finally, for my final and most important point, the university should be a bastion of freedom of speech, thought, expression and intellectual diversity where we share our ideas and thoughts no matter how controversial or offensive it is. We can do it with speech, through art, music or whatever medium you choose to express yourself. A university is a place where we challenge each other and reach one ultimate goal “Truth”.
We must be careful that are ideas are our own ideas brought forward by our own personal experiences. The ideas we take from books and others are not truly our own. We can learn from it, but have to be very careful that these ideas don’t own us. We can lose our individuality, and that is when ideas own you. You become a husk, an ideologue. This is very, very dangerous as it could destroy the very fabric of a university and descent into ideological warfare and a place for discussion is vanquished. This is very important to understand because a university has a power to change the world through ideas and research. Sadly, recent events all around the world, some universities have lost their way where students are forced to conform to political agendas. It’s a major impediment to accurate research. As the world becomes more and more ideologically divided, individuals are what protects freedom and truth, otherwise we’ll descend into an Orwellian nightmare.
B.A. Honours Applied Psychology