A selection of terms common in academic life from Keywords; For Further Consideration and Particularly Relevant to Academic Life, especially as it concerns Disciplines, Inter-disciplinary Endeavor, and Modes of Resistance to the Same. Published by Princeton University Press in 2018. A Community of Inquiry is a group of ten students and faculty associated with the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities at Princeton University.
Most generally, the ability, manner, or “knack” essential to the realization of some task or goal, especially when tricky or specialized; i.e., “the art of losing isn’t hard to master.” Also, a large class of objects and/or nonmaterial phenomena privileged for their
putative ability to occasion unpredictable but significant responses (particularly aesthetic, but sometimes sentimental or political) in individuals and groups. A term substantially defined by resistance to definition. Hence, difficult to define satisfactorily, if also satisfactory to define difficultly.
A sacred weapon within academic departments, fired ritually upon the uninitiated or wayward. Injuries suffered may generate the scars requisite for entry into the relevant sodalities and/or encampments.
As distinct from criticism, with which it ought not be confused. Criticism is the (often negative) appraisal of ART; critique is the (always negative) appraisal of criticism.
A style of thought poised at such a remove from the objects of its analysis that all difference turns out, upon sufficient reflection, not to exist. With the obvious exception of the difference between dialectic and everything else.
The means to and/or end of academic life (see IRONY).
The questions without answers to which inquiry cannot begin, or perhaps conclude. In terms of difficulty, it is advanced; in terms of order, fundamental. To illustrate: “What is metaphysics?”; better, “What is metaphysics?”; better still, “What is metaphysics?”
The gymnastics of moving forward, understood as advancement or improvement, although possible without any propulsive motion, as in the case of stationary bikes.
An assembly of individuals contingently—or, in exceptional cases, essentially—persuaded that their conversation is more interesting and important than the thing they are in conversation about.