PhD Student Viktor Kazai's Remarks at CEU's Opening Ceremony 2017

Viktor Kazai, a doctoral student at the Department of Legal Studies, represented continuing students at the university's Opening Ceremony on September 18, 2017. His remarks are below. Read more about the Opening Ceremony here.

Dear citizens of the university!

Thank you very much for this honor and the opportunity to speak at the Opening Ceremony.

Congratulations to the incoming students on their admission to CEU!

With your admission you earned your CEU citizenship. This citizenship comes with many rights and privileges, such as the opportunity to learn from some of the most distinguished scholars of the world, the chance to develop your critical thinking, or the very generous printing quota – just to mention a few examples.

However, every citizenship entails duties as well. Do not worry, you are not required to pay taxes or do military service. But there is one duty that every citizen of this university takes very seriously, namely, the duty to pursue your academic and professional goals with full cognizance of the social responsibilities which come with your privilege of being a person of intellect. We have to remind ourselves that academia does not exist in a social vacuum, it is an integral part of the society and it needs the support of the rest of the society to survive and flourish.

We are living in a time when the value of faith in the human intellect, trust in common sense and reliance on truth is dropping fast. Manipulation, appeal to the fears and disappointments of the people, aggressive rhetoric and oversimplified slogans gain popularity instead again. Yes, again. This phenomenon is not unprecedented or new, on the contrary, it is periodic. And the fact that it is happening again means that we may study history, but we still refuse to learn from it.

One of the most eloquent warnings of the fragility and vulnerability of the field of academia can be found in the famous novel of Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game. Hesse tells the story of a fictional province, Castalia, the home of a strict order of intellectuals who dedicated their lives to playing the glass bead game, an abstract synthesis of all arts and sciences. Only the inhabitants of Castalia understand the rules of the game and only they can appreciate the results of such intellectual pursuits. But Joseph Knecht, the intellectual leader of this fictional land comes to the realization in the end that if the people of Castalia remain ignorant of the problems posed by life outside its borders, then the days of Castalia are numbered.

Dear newly admitted fellow citizens of CEU, I ask you pursue your academic and professional goals with this warning in your mind.

I wish you all a very pleasant and productive academic year. Enjoy your stay in Budapest. And remember that the most important characteristics of a good thesis are first, that it is written down and second, that it is submitted in due time!

Thank you very much!