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Academic Culture

Traditions and the Present Days


Zbigniew Drozdowicz

The author of this book formulates a general thesis that in the academic culture, since the emergence of the first universities until this very day, two types of that culture have competed with each other, i.e., a corporate and templar one. In his remarks, the author tries to highlight it through the presentation of:

1. The functioning of academia in different time periods, 2. The beliefs of scholars, 3. The ways scholarly achievements have been evaluated, 4. The legal acts for science and academia. A considerable part of this study is devoted to the analysis of the Polish academic culture, including the attempts of adjusting the existing standards of conducting research and educating students to the ones prevailing in the leading Western countries.

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Chapter Two: The Faith of Scholars


Scholars belong to a group of people who are inclined to ask the so-called boundary questions and seek answers which either meet the criteria of being scientific or at least offer compelling rationale why they fail to satisfy such criteria. The differences between them arise when there appears a necessity to determine the boundary between what one can know and prove, and what one can indeed believe but hardly prove. For quite a few scientists the latter includes the question of proving the existence of God, creator of the world. However, there are also such scholars who hold that the question may be resolved with as incontrovertible evidence as in the sciences. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) may be considered a precursor of such an approach, while neo-Thomists in lecturer positions at Catholic universities are his present-day continuators. Were it not enough, still other scholars are of the opinion that the matter requires resorting to a different kind of learnedness than the mindset applicable in the sciences and natural inquiry. Such notions were in evidence already in the patristic period of Christianity, and one of their most eminent representatives was Aurelius Augustinus, (later saint, 354–430). Some of his precepts continue to be a lodestar for the followers of the religion, such as—for the sake of example—the adage “if you can’t understand it, believe it,” or the superiority of wisdom (sapientia) one can attain through faith over the knowing one reaches solely through human reason and other cognitive...

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