Check out Tracy Llanera and Nicholas Smith's recent essay, "Egotism in Higher Education," in the Cardiff University blog, Open for Debate. This essay is based on the chapter "A Culture of Egotism: Rorty and Higher Education," The Promise of the University: Reclaiming Humanity, Humility, and Hope, ed. Áine Mahon, forthcoming with Springer.
Universities, ideally speaking, can be places that cultivate the process of self-growth. As the pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty has put it, studying in universities allows students to undergo ‘self-enlargement’. Self-enlargement is Rorty’s take on what his fellow pragmatist and educationalist John Dewey called ‘growth’. Growth as self-enlargement occurs in two main ways: through projects of self-creation and widening relations of solidarity. Self-creation involves the making of oneself anew and the adoption for oneself of a ‘final vocabulary’, or a language that expresses one’s commitments, self-projects, and understanding and relationship with others and the world. Widening solidarity involves expanding the group to which one feels some belonging. At the heart of both are encounters with real or imaginary people, and these encounters reveal the limits and narrowness of one’s previous sense of self. In taking knowingness and self-satisfaction as its enemies, a culture of self-enlargement is the opposite of a culture of egotism.