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One reason I can’t buy the claim that conservative intellectual has become an oxymoron is that on our campuses it’s so often the conservatives who defend “liberal education.” I’m going to sketch out the understanding of “liberal education” or “general education” shared by me and many of my fellow professorial conservatives (a tiny and shrinking minority oppressed from all sides…

What are the ends of education? We mean, of course, the ends for us, for us democratic Americans.
So we begin with the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America—Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.
America, Tocqueville noticed, is an overwhelmingly middle-class country. To be middle class, of course, is to be stuck in the…

E.D. Hirsch (the cultural literacy guy) has, I think, written the most important article on educational “outcomes” in a long time. The great benefit of education, “the key to increasingly upward mobility,” is expanding the vocabulary of students. Why is that?

Hirsch observes that “vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just…

So it is characteristic of us professors of political philosophy to neglect what is really going in the “hard” sciences. I remember, for example, being astonished that Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind, came close to saying that the one real thing in American universities otherwise deformed by relativism was natural science. And then he said virtually…

So here’s my contribution to a symposium on “originalism” as the mode of interpreting the Constitution that facilitates the maximization of the libertarian value of “negative liberty.” Everyone else in the symposium operates on a higher pay grade than I do when it comes to really knowing all about the controversies in the field of constitutional law right now. There’s…

There’s a distinguished political scientist—Jacqueline Stevens—who agrees with me that the National Science Foundation (NSF) ought to cut the funding for political science. The Republicans in Congress think that these “scientists” are covertly pushing an ideological agenda that lurks behinds all their jargon and “methods.” That’s somewhat true. When applied to the lives of human beings, everyone knows that the…

A reflection on classical studies, their purpose and prospects, will properly start from Wolf’s definition of classic philology as the study of man’s nature as it has become manifest in the Greeks.[1]
The conception sounds strangely anachronistic today because it has been overtaken by the two closely related processes of the fragmentation of science through specialization and the deculturation of Western…

1. Voegelin presented himself as someone who knew his business and based on a solid conviction that Greek philosophy is the foundation of political science: the lecture materials were presented from this coherent starting point.
2. Devotion to truth as a desire to communicate it to students illumined every lecture and discussion, with the exploration of questions constantly reflecting the tension…

Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities. Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.
 
The crisis of the humanities has been well-covered with a decline in students enrolling in its programs, an oversupply of doctorates who cannot find an academic position, and a diminishment of respect for these subjects because there are no jobs…

Storytelling is universal; a constitutive, definitive part of human nature.[1] We imagine our earliest ancestors sitting around the fire telling tales of heroic adventures and otherworldly interventions. Examples of our earliest extant written texts are epic poems likely derived from oral storytelling. We become fascinated by stories that happened long ago or far away as children. Until the development of…