Source: graduate admissions – How much time does it takes for a professor to evaluate a research proposal and decide on a particular candidate for PhD application? – Academia Stack Exchange

Michel Foucault IMO is often misunderstood as someone saying there is no truth when, we could say, he is interested in how power contributes to the formation of knowledge deemed to be true in a given historical moment. Those are two different things. But even Scruton (see below) seems to confuse the two ideas.


I cannot answer directly to this on the website because one needs to be currently enrolled or teaching in an academic institution. However, the site should probably have a section for academic “survivors” as the trendy term goes these days.

As a “survivor,” I would tell this questioner that academics are like the real world in that they can be just as decent and thoughtful or unreasonable and petty as anyone else.

When I entered my Ph.D. program I remember thinking that I had found a new “family” of intellectuals who would help guide me through the web of grad studies in Ontario. I looked up to my professors for a few days until the hard reality of some of their wildly immature psyches began to hit me.

A woman professor, an ardent feminist who turned out to be helpful in the end, originally said in a derogatory tone before others, “Oh, a man…” when she first met me.

I laughed it off, that is, sucked it up because I didn’t want to get off to a bad start.

But imagine if a male professor said that to a fresh female Ph.D. student. “Oh, a woman…” in a supposedly humorous but clearly derogatory tone. How the sh** would hit the fan. My sucking it up paid off in the long run because this female professor really tried to help push my thesis through when another professor took a strong dislike to anything Michel Foucault, who figured prominently in my thesis.

During my Ph.D. defense, this second professor demanded updates to my thesis before s/he would sign off and allow me to graduate. I’m not saying they were bad suggestions but for 3 out of 4 professors the thesis was fine without the updates and implementing them cost me a lot of money. I had to register and pay for another term to essentially write what the professor wanted.

And then there was professor X, who came into play after I finally got the thesis. This individual agreed to write postdoc letters of recommendation and then changed their mind near the scholarship deadlines with no rational reason nor willingness to state one. In fact, this person must have made their decision – to get back to the linked question – in a matter of seconds. S/he didn’t even open the envelope containing my scholarship proposal. S/he just dumped it in the student mailbox unopened.

Another professor, who seemed to sense that professor X had a lot of strange power in the department, downgraded the quality of their postdoc letter from a previous letter they had written. S/he was smart enough to know that I had been – so it appeared – blackballed by the strangely powerful professor X so apparently didn’t want to write too strong a letter. A really sneaky, shifty response. Agree to ‘help’ but unlike the first time around, write a crappy letter.

However, s/he was into a non-Christian religion and, so it seemed from our conversations, did not experience the true Christian light. So although upset, I wasn’t totally surprised by their very political betrayal. It seems s/he acted out of fear and calculation instead of honor and trust in God.

In a nutshell, if you think academia is beyond dirty politics and possibly criminal operators breathing fear and fire down their colleague’s necks, think again.

Roger Scruton was a believer in God and a philosopher. Here he outlines his take on what happens to universities when an authoritarian regime moves in.