The Tyranny of Transparency: Auto-immunity in The Teaching Machine

Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 38 (1):87-112 (2016)
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This article proposes that the prime ideals of the university - those of truth, knowledge, justice, and emancipation - are also those that currently produce unjust practices "outside" and "within". Using the work of Jacques Derrida and Paul Virilio, the article argues that the central problem of the university today consists not so much of a neo-liberalisation, but of the speeding-up of these ideals through their enmeshment with techniques of calculation, vision, and prediction. The current university therefore suffers from what it with Derrida identifies as an "auto-immune disease," in which the acceleration of its foundational aspirations have led to a near-total subjugation of all and everything to an oppressive quest for transparency. However, the article proposes via Virilio that this totalising transparency paradoxically also produces more blindness, accidents, and unknowability. It hopes to illustrate this with some examples in the teaching scene as well by working through some of its own conceptual tensions. The other logic of the university today, the article finally proposes, consists of a "dark" or stealth functionality, opening up the promise of a radically different future and unanticipated resistance despite itself.

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Ingrid Hoofd
Utrecht University


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