A Lecturer’s Follies

Hugo of St. Victor, Didascalia 769d

“In grammar class, they spend time disputing the reasoning of the syllogisms, in dialectic they inquire after accidental inflections, and – what is most preposterous of all – their entire reading of a book is almost wholly confined to the title page, and by their third lecture, they have hardly even finished explaining the first word. Lecturers like this are not teaching others, but making a vain show of their own learning. Would that everyone could see this as well as I do!”

in grammatica de syllogismorum ratione disputant, in dialectica inflexiones casuales inquirunt, et quod magis irrisione dignum est, in titulo totum paene legunt librum, et ‘incipit’ tertia vix lectione expediunt. non alios docent huiusmodi, sed ostentant suam scientiam. sed utinam quales mihi, tales omnibus apparerent!

NOTE: As an undergraduate, I had a professor who claimed that he took a seminar in graduate school which was dedicated to the study of Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals, in which they had not, by the end of the semester, moved beyond discussing the preface. Apparently, little has changed since the 12th century! Yet, this self-same professor attributed to the depth of Kant’s thought what others may have more justly attributed to the ostentatious vanity of the lecturer.

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