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  • Liberal Education and Politics: Twenty-Five Years in the Academy

    November 23, 2017

    Everything is Political Just as I began my college teaching career twenty-five years ago, the whole academy seemed to have accepted as axiomatic the assertion that “Everything is Political.” This self-evident universal truth (curiously, my relativistic colleagues have quite a few of them) came to be uttered frequently in…

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  • "Schooling for 'the Democracy of the Dead": How the Liberal Arts Connect Us with the Legacy of the Past

    November 22, 2017

    In seeking to explain the evolution of the American democracy, historians typically give great emphasis to the step-by-step enlargement of the franchise to vote. Thus, the expansion of the franchise figures prominently in the account historian Hugh P. Williamson gives of the slow political transformation of Britain’s 17th-century North…

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  • Nurturing the Historical Imagination: Teaching History within the Liberal Arts

    November 21, 2017

    The study of history is a rigorous intellectual enterprise.  A student researching and writing about the past must sift through multiple pieces of evidence, grasp an event’s larger context, and think logically in order to construct arguments presenting plausible explanations as well as judgments and interpretations.   But history is…

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  • Culture and Education in Josef Pieper’s Thought

    November 20, 2017

    Josef Pieper is best known in this country for his work, Leisure as the Basis of Culture, and its companion essay, The Philosophical Act, published as one book in 1952. In this book, Pieper’s argument is seemingly straight-forward: culture depends upon leisure, and leisure, in its turn, depends upon…

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  • A Political Companion to Flannery O’Connor

    November 18, 2017

    A Political Companion to Flannery O’Connor. Henry T. Edmondson, ed. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2017.   Readers familiar with The Habit of Being, the collected correspondence of Flannery O’Connor, no doubt smile every time they see a new book about the life of the famous Georgia author who…

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  • The Death of Liberal Education: Its Implications for the University, Democracy and the American Polity

    November 17, 2017

    By “liberal education” I refer to two competing things which have been in tension since the ancient world, both of which have traveled under the label “liberal education”: 1) the tradition of seeking the truth wherever it is to be found and however “useless” or inconvenient it may be,…

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  • "Only Collect[ing] the Fragments”: The Inadequacy of an Entirely Secular Approach to the Liberal Arts

    November 15, 2017

    Commenting in 1940 about the perspective that had given modern education its fundamentally secular character, the sociologist Florian Znankecki spoke of “the deeply stimulating conviction that man, the individual man, this ephemeral being dependent on his natural milieu for his bodily life and on his social milieu for his…

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  • Periagoge: Liberal Education in the Modern University

    November 14, 2017

    Conversation and the “Turning Around of the Soul” One of the common criticisms of the contemporary university is that it lacks individuals unwilling or incapable of conversing. Critics such as Anthony Kronman and Stephen Miller rightly observe that there’s something about contemporary culture and the contemporary university hostile to…

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  • Obstacles to Liberal Education in the Modern University

    November 13, 2017

    To be a teacher of the humanities at a university means participating in a community dedicated to enquiring into the good for human beings. As members of a community of teachers, scholars, and students, we share an equality because no individual possesses a firm grip on the truth of…

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  • What Can Liberal Education Provide for Citizens of Liberal Democracy?

    November 6, 2017

    When one looks at the history of higher education in Canada and the United States it is striking to note that at one time every university regarded liberal education as its central purpose. Moreover, that purpose was connected to, though not entirely limited to, citizenship broadly conceived. At the…

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One Another’s Equals: The Basis of Human Equality. Jeremy Waldron. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017.
 
Perhaps it’s unfair to Professor Waldron that I’ve been reading Thomas Aquinas and Aleksandr Sozhenitsyn of late. Aquinas, in his way, would have delivered the content of One Another’s Equals in just a few precise pages. Solzhenitsyn’s version, on the other…

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Every few years a slew of books appear decrying the demise of liberal education in the United States. The latest bunch includes Fareed Zakaria's In Defense of a Liberal Education, Michael S. Roth's Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, William Deresiewicz's Excellent Sheep, Andrew Delbanco's College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, Martha C. Nussbaum's Not For Profit,…

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When one looks at the history of higher education in Canada and the United States it is striking to note that at one time every university regarded liberal education as its central purpose.[1] Moreover, that purpose was connected to, though not entirely limited to, citizenship broadly conceived. At the time of Canada’s founding, Thomas D’Arcy McGee argued that education is…

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Trepanier LDS in USA Mormon

To those unfamiliar with the faith, it appears that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is enjoying a moment of fame in American culture: the 2011 musical, The Book of Mormon, received nine Tony Awards and original Broadway cast recording became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades; Mitt Romney was the Republican nomination for the…

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Cornel West

Prominent American scholar and public intellectual, West is best known for his works on race, religion, and politics in America.  An American Book Award recipient, West serves as co-chair for the National Parenting Organization’s Task Force on Parent Empowerment and has been a long-time member of the Democratic Socialists of America.  He also was a participant of President Clinton’s National…

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Norman Thomas

A former Presbyterian pastor, Norman Thomas was a leading public activist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party.  His convictions were influenced by the Social Gospel movement, Marxist writings, and the anarchism; and crystallized into a secularized version of Christian moral perfectionism while tempered by American pragmatism and practicability.  Although he resigned from the Presbyterian Church after his…

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Martin Marty

Minister, professor, administrator, and editor but probably best known as a cultural historian of modern Christianity, Martin has examined the intersection of religion and politics in America in several prominent works.  Ordained in 1952 as a pastor in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, Martin is also a distinguished emeritus professor at the University of Chicago, serves as senior…

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Administrative Threat

The Administrative Threat. Philip Hamburger. New York: Encounter, 2017.
 
Readers of a certain vintage will recall a British TV series called Yes, Minister, in which a hapless cabinet minister, Jim Hacker, is continually bested by his wily, seasoned principal secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby. Appleby’s particular genius is to advance the goals of the administration, and prevent incursions into it by parties…

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This is the final of a series of essays that have explored what prominent thinkers and philosophers can teach us about today’s public multiversity, the modern university with its many colleges, departments, and other administrative units that play multiple functions and roles in our society. This essay was originally published in Front Porch Republic on July 25, 2016.
 
In this series…

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This is the ninth of a series of essays that will explore what prominent thinkers and philosophers can teach us about today’s public multiversity, the modern university with its many colleges, departments, and other administrative units that play multiple functions and roles in our society. This essay was originally published in Front Porch Republic on April 27, 2016.

 
One of the…

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