A positive thing about academic life is that it affords us the possibility of specialization. But this positive is at the same time also a negative, because the specialization of departments and the delimitation of knowledge mean that, when someone tries to understand an issue in an interdisciplinary, global way, it is in the very nature of academia to protest. Though I place this book within political philosophy and the philosophy of history, my analysis walks among many academic disciplines—philosophy, philology, history, sociology, political science. And when someone pays a visit to several departments, but then after a brief time leaves again in order to see the larger whole, it is almost inevitable that he will be accused of not being serious. An interdisciplinary approach will often, therefore, require a certain ruthlessness in tearing down, for at least a little while, the walls that keep neighboring areas apart. Members of the various departments will often resent encroachment on their turfs, since they spent so many years of hard labor to become initiates themselves.

— Benedict Beckeld, Western Self-Contempt: Oikophobia in the Decline of Civilizations


The grey beards wag, the bald heads nod,
And gather thick as bees,
To talk electrons, gases, God,
Old nebulae, new fleas.
Each specialist, each dry-as-dust
And professorial oaf,
Holds up his little crumb of crust
And cries, “Behold the loaf!”

— Eden Phillpotts, “Miniature”