Psst. The Meaning of Life. Pass It On.
Anthony Kronman on colleges, universities, and the meaning of life. An excerpt:
As this new vision of higher education took hold in America, faculty members ceased to think of themselves as shapers of souls. Today's students are thus denied the opportunity to explore the question of life's meaning in an organized way, under the guidance of teachers who seek to acquaint their students with the answers contained in the rich tradition whose transmission was once the special duty of the humanities.
It has also put the humanities in the shadow of the natural and social sciences. Judged by the standards of these latter disciplines, research in the humanities is bound to seem less conclusive, less accretive, less quantifiable. In philosophy, one can reasonably claim that there has been no meaningful progress since Plato. For a physicist to say the same thing about Newton would be absurd. Teachers of the humanities who judge their work strictly from the standpoint of the research ideal condemn themselves to an inferior position in the hierarchy of academic authority and prestige.
[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]