In other words, to choose an adviser is nevertheless to commit oneself by that choice. If you are a Christian, you will say, consult a priest; but there are collaborationists, priests who are resisters and priests who wait for the tide to turn: which will you choose? Had this young man chosen a priest of the resistance, or one of the collaboration, he would have decided beforehand the kind of advice he was to receive. Similarly, in coming to me, he knew what advice I should give him, and I had but one reply to make. You are free, therefore choose, that is to say, invent. No rule of general morality can show you what you ought to do: no signs are vouchsafed in this world.

Existentialism Is a Humanism,” Jean Paul Sartre

Established in May by Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who has said he wants to run Florida’s education system more like a business, the task force includes legislators, businesspeople and educators appointed by various parties. It finalized its recommendations earlier this month. The governor is now reviewing the report, which divides reform into three different but interlinked areas: accountability, funding and governance.

Recommendations for accountability include a call for more metrics to determine university success and performance, while those for governance include allowing the state university system’s Board of Governors more control over funding (currently the state legislature holds much of that control). Funding recommendations call for non-uniform tuition among the state’s 12 universities and a further look into differential tuition among degree programs.

Pricing Out the Humanities” Colleen Flaherty

It may seem a bit of a stretch, but this morning when I was reading about this program at the University of Florida, it was Sartre that came to mind. In the mid-twentieth century the great enemy of freedom was a kind of mindless submission to authority, religious or otherwise. Among other things, in “Existentialism is a Humanism,” Sartre hoped to show that individual choice was nonetheless inescapable.

There are still people who submit to authority mindlessly, of course, but in our time the object of worship and submission is more likely to be the market than the cross, which is, as with all gods, said to be the last authority on what it means to be human. As Sartre knew, if you ask a priest, you have to expect a Catholic answer; if you ask a Republican, you have to expect a market answer. That doesn’t make our choice inevitable.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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