In pursuing the invitation to muse upon Babette Babich's scholarship on Nietzsche, I begin with a philological observation about the terms "scholar" and "scholarship." These take their origin from Greek scholé (close cousin, the Latin otium) - which designate leisure. So far as they have to do with study, research, writing, and their communication through letters, lectures, and publication, this is because, as the literate Greeks and Romans understood it, these are among the activities — along with the other artes liberales — that a person with the freedom of leisure would want to pursue. At the highest level, Aristotle envisions God as thought thinking itself — "nous nousing nous" — for we imagine divinity to be constrained by no necessity whatsoever. Now you may think this a quaint ideal having little to do with the scholarship associated with today's colleges and universities. Those employed there might describe much of their activity not as work, in the sense of self-generated free production, but as labor compelled by necessity. Filing reports, grading, sorting, evaluating students, attending mind-deadening meetings, and so on. Then of course what is called scholarly work is subject to evaluation, typically involving quantitative measurement - counting articles, books, words, citations. All of this can incite competition, envy of the bad sort, and a perverse oscillation between melancholy and megalomania as scholars try to come to terms with our places in the great academic division of labor. If you haven't read it lately, I strongly recommend that you read again that scintillating chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology on modern academics, writers, and artists: "The Animal Kingdom of the Spirit [geistige Tierreich], the Humbug, or where it's Really At" (my free translation).

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