Tag: Liberal arts

What kind of person is our education system designed to create? Best-selling author and award-winning essayist William Deresiewicz discusses the failures of our higher education system, how it mis-conditions our elite, and fails to value the humanities, as well as his latest collection of essays, “The End of Solitude.”

Sign up for our event with Bill via Zoom in 1 week! https://jmp.princeton.edu/events/college-kids-are-not-ok-and-what-do-about-it-conversation-william-deresiewicz-end-solitude

In this AEI Events Podcast, Princeton Professors Robert P. George and Cornel West discuss their close friendship that thrives despite their deep political disagreements—a surprising message in a politically polarized culture. Their lively conversation with Ramesh Ponnuru—who was their student at Princeton—seeks to answer one question: What is the purpose of a liberal arts education?

West and George have spent the past several years teaching and lecturing together to accomplish a common goal: the provision of a true liberal arts education to their students. Through their courses and their friendship, they have served as examples of how, when two knowledgeable and principled individuals come together in an honest and nonadversarial pursuit of truth, the competition of ideas deepens their own understanding of that truth.

Left, Right, and Politics

 

Talking American sends me thinking now and again. All the questions about the left and the right came up again the other day, questions that come up more often than I think they should, and which I fear can never be articulated in a way that contains partisan passions. That’s how it is: The terms of political art are almost unique in how contentious and disputable they really are. But this sent me thinking, as I said, so I have some questions and remarks below, and a sketch for a crash course on the politics of left and right — I hope you’ll be interested in this enough to make it possible to have more conversations and, possibly, more clarity.

  1. Is it worth learning what left and right mean in politics? Where they come from? How we ended up talking this way?
  2. Do people who talk this way think of it as more than a mere expedient?
  3. Do people who insist on talking this way have any good faith that’s not limited to partisanship?
  4. Do people who want to go beyond left and right really get what’s in people’s hearts as per the previous two points?

I might write something serious and respectable about this, but is it worth the time? I do have some provisional remarks, meanwhile, about what seems to me to be at stake:

  1. Recovering this language of left and right might bring back dispute as coming down on the yes and the no of serious questions. That’s surely needed!
  2. Another reason, related, is less about pugnacity and more about its ground. Deliberation implies a common ground, which surely is also needed now.
  3. Further, as with partisanship, there is more than mere denunciation–aspiration is part of it, too. Being on the left or the right seems to involve knowing some things and being serious about what you know.
  4. Contrariwise, there’s a danger of ending up not being for anything–not knowing even how to associate with like-minded people, for principle, or interest, or because circumstances require striving in common.

One way to think about this is the study proper to the liberal arts. That way of grasping the matter looks like this:

Member Post

 

Folks, look what Mr. Roger Kimball has published on realclearpolitics. He suggests, people of means are organizing a coup to destroy the most famous great books school in America. Read all about it, but for now I’ve got some remarks. One is to do with the bitterness of inheritance. The man who apparently wants to bring progress–read […]

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What Good Are the Humanities?

 

Marco Rubio insulted me; see the video here. He said I was useless, and called me a fool for practicing my useless profession. It was the final proof that Republicans are anti-intellectual. Or so the stories say. Actually, I don’t believe a word of it. All I can say for sure is that he said that we shouldn’t denigrate vocational training, and that having more welders and fewer folks like me is a good way of increasing overall wages. And that was only after he went over a pretty solid laundry list of economic policies supporting freer markets and fiscal sanity.

While I could dwell happily enough in a world in which I’m proven wrong about this, I can still vote for a man who insults my profession, provided he’s the best man for the job. (Never mind that the best woman for the job also happens to be the only presidential candidate who studied philosophy . . . and has also made more money than most welders . . . and is a Republican.) Anyway, though it now seems like last year’s news, it’s still a good excuse to hear from the Ricocheti on the following question: What good are the humanities?

Member Post

 

Hello, all, here’s the first of a long series of podcasts on poetry. You know me. My Virgil here is Mr. Ashok Karra–here’s where he writes–& we are talking about a poem today. Next, soon, will come a discussion of  the Pound piece, The study in aesthetics, which Midge was so gracious to send to me. […]

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Is It Moral To Default On Your Student Loans?

 

leesiegel080121_198Lee Siegel, a prominent culture writer and graduate of Columbia, seems to think so:

Years later, I found myself confronted with a choice that too many people have had to and will have to face. I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.

Naturally, Siegel was the best judge of his “particular usefulness to society.” But he then goes onto mock those poor suckers who, rather than shirking their legally contracted debts, go out and get real jobs that might be beneath their talents and ambitions.

Do American Universities Still Teach Your Favorite Subjects?

 

booksWe all have favorite subjects.  or example, I know beyond doubt that anonymous loves science in all its aspects. Casey loves the Greek classics. Lance loves music.

One of the problems with American (and other) universities that many subjects are either beyond the pale or have been so distorted as to be meaningless.

For example, my favorite subjects are: