September 29, 2021•488 words
What do you think about Boghossian's arguments? How does it affect your ideas about next year? Feel free to see this as a broad assignment - write/explain/argue about whatever the article made you think about.
The way Peter Boghossian wrote his letter was very interesting to me. I think instead of convincing me of his argument, it turned me against him. The very techniques meant to be persuasive were repelling me the whole time, they came off as standoffish, superior, and slightly manipulative. For example, one of the first things Boghossian does in his letter is state his credentials. He does this for i think 3 paragraphs. Surely the university knows what he's done while he was there? Why is there need for such a thorough reminder? The way I first saw it was that Boghossian was developing his position, not of argument, but of power. He has listed every good thing (he believes) he's done for the school. In doing so, he has created the atmosphere of superiority. It seems a bit uneven seeing as we, the reader, do not get to listen to three paragraphs worth of the credentials for the other side of the argument. Nonetheless, Boghossian then uses his position of superiority to state his claim in the rest of the letter. Why this bothered me so much is because Boghossian states at the beginning of his letter that he is writing to provost Susan. Typically, when referring to those who rank higher up than you (either in height or status) you speak with a bit of respect. I understand that Peter is mad at the school, but it should at least be a bit of a habit to speak to the provost with some respect seeing as he's been teaching at that school for more than 6 years. All in all, these paragraphs set a rather condescending and haughty tone for the rest of the letter.
This tone is not without cause, however. If you dig a bit into Peter's background, you find that he was not in line for a tenure position at PSU, despite being at the university for at least twelve years. He doesn't have a Ph.D in philosophy, and instead obtained a Ed.D in education from PSU itself. Acquiring his degree from the same school which has become a "social justice factory" and "corrupted". Peter received his title of assistant professor six years after he had been teaching at PSU. Furthermore, he applied for the Associate professor position a year before he resigned (and subsequently published this letter), and he was rejected. This along with the fact that Peter's letter ended up on Fox News, a notoriously republican news media, coming to them with a reason to tear down Portland State University, a notoriously liberal university (voted most liberal college in America in 2017), I think that everything Peter complained about may have been (more than) a bit dramatized.