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from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, October 26, 2012

A New Undergraduate Major? A Ph.D. Area of Focus?

The other day, the word-of-the-day from the Oxford English Dictionary was morology, an obsolete word whose time, I believe, has come again.  Here's the info from the OED:

morology, n.
Pronunciation: Brit. /məˈrɒlədʒi/, /mɒˈrɒlədʒi/,  U.S. /məˈrɑlədʒi/
Forms:  15–16 morologie,   16 19– morology
Etymology: <  Middle French morologie (1593) or its etymon post-classical Latin morologia foolish talking (4th cent.) <  ancient Greek μωρολογία foolish talking <  μωρολόγος that talks foolishly ( <  μωρός foolish (see moron n.2) + -λόγος: see -logy comb. form) + -ία -y suffix3. In sense 2 after morologist n.,morological adj.

1.  Foolish words or talking. Obs.
a1614  J. Melville Autobiogr. & Diary (1842) 350 Corrupt communication, morologie, aischrologie.
1652  W. Rowland Judic. Astrol. (title-page), Of Will. Ramsey's Morologie in his pretended Reply (called Lux veritatis) to Doctour Nathaniel Homes his Demonologie.
1656  T Blount GlossographiaMorology, a foolish speaking.

 2.  The study of fools and folly. rare.
1908 N.E.D.Morology, the science that treats of fools.
1975  B. Felton  & M. Fowler Most Unusual 176 This book is an example of morology—the study of foolishness.

So ... I'm thinking that morology could be a great undergraduate major--even an area of focus for a Ph.D. program.  The field is fecund with possibility.  Just think of some of the courses and/or minors you could take:

1. Shakespeare and Morology.  In this course you could look at the most foolish characters in the Bard's plays--from fall-down feckless ones like Dogberry to more sanguinary ones like Macbeth to more clueless ones like Othello to groups of fools (the young men in Love's Labour's Lost).

2. Politics and Morology.  This is a sequence of courses that does not end until you die: the topic is limitless, and you never get a degree (because you can never exhaust the subject), and, as a result, you end up being subject matter for another major ...

3. My Own Morology.  In this sequence of courses you study your own folly, write interminable memoirs about your foolishness, memoirs that only you and those named therein will ever read.  You will consider them masterpieces; the others you name will consider them libelous and will launch lawsuits, leading to yet another major ...

4. The Legal Profession and Morology.  A look at the foolish ideas in the history of jurisprudence.  Required reading (once per week): Bleak House, by Charles Dickens.

5. Science and Morology.  A look at the many foolish moments and theories from the history of science and medicine--e.g., the fixed stars, the flat earth, bleeding and blistering, igniting fires to burn the air pure during times of plague, filling dental cavities with crow's dung, etc.

6. Religion and Morology.  Each student designs his or her own sequence of courses that will examine the foolishness in all religions other than the student's own, of course, which is eminently sensible.  And true.

7. History and Morology.  An examination of all the foolish ideas that have dominated historiography since men first started writing lies about what happened (viz., when men first started writing at all).  "Conquerors write the history," so the saying goes.  Which is another way to define a lie.

8. Education and Morology.  An examination of the foolish ideas that have dominated discussions about schools and education.  Like the major of Politics and Morology, this sequence of courses has no end.  Students will spend an entire decade learning about the madness of standardized testing; the decade will conclude with a standardized test that will take two years to complete.

9. Other possible areas--Entertainment and Morology (probably too much overlap to be a useful sequence of courses), Celebrities and Morology (ditto), Pets and Morology (too controversial), Families and Morology (parents and offspring must never be in the same classroom, however), The Morology of Marriage (only single--i.e., clueless--people allowed).

10. Finally--A capstone course for all majors and Ph.D. candidates: The Morology of Morology.

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