The jealousy among fellow academics is often so strong that a good teacher or fair researcher is despised by colleagues. Many small liberal arts colleges will close. And, despite its reputation as a bastion of progressive thought, the academy usually rewards safe, uncreative thinking. If the academy still sounds good despite all this, then you should apply to graduate school.
Pillar: Education & Culture
The fourth pillar, education and culture, is built upon the recognition of two essential realities. First, the Western intellectual tradition requires a dedication to and desire for truth. Second, education takes place not only within colleges and universities but within our broader culture, whose institutions and practices form us as whole persons.
There will always be some limits on academic freedom, and it is better to be honest about what they are and who sets them than to try to wish them away. We need to formulate real-world standards, rather than retreating into the impossible fantasy of absolute academic freedom.
Conservatives sometimes overstate how bad things are. Too often we generalize about the dire condition of higher education based on a relatively small handful of elite schools on the coasts. Little good will come from young conservative scholars abandoning the academy out of fear. We have as much right and responsibility to shepherd these institutions as anyone else.
I hope students will throw themselves into these divisive conversations robustly. Call nonsense what it is when you hear it. Offend everyone around you with the truth. Do not fear to pursue the intellectual life with vigor. I am certain the world is hungry for more courageous and selfless women and men to learn, to know, and to speak truth.
Why do we so closely associate having degrees with the scholarly life? Most jobs, including the highest-prestige white-collar jobs, do not involve sitting around thinking lofty thoughts and reading deeply fascinating books all day. Instead, you could go to college to learn how to read Plato and Dante and Locke, and then go off to find a job which presents genuine intellectual puzzles that interest you, regardless of whether that job requires a college degree or not.
What Edgar Lee Masters intended as a clever and eerie indictment of American society has proven more prophetic than the Midwestern poet could have anticipated.
A world ruled by muscle is going to be a man’s world. We don't live in that world anymore. And we don’t know terribly well what men and women are without that context. Are they just interchangeable? If there are essential differences, what are they? What should they be?
Our hope is that, by reading PD regularly, our readers will be formed in such a way that they have not only knowledge on particular topics, but also virtuous habits of mind. By illustrating the capacity to earnestly and carefully think through what’s good and what's bad about both conservative and liberal positions, we show that sobriety and careful, detached thinking is still possible—that we really can have knowledge about the truths that give order to our being.
Rand speaks to the young, to those who have not yet realized just how frail individual life is. In doing so, she tells an incomplete story. The human person is amazing, powerful, and wise, yet equally frail, weak, and foolish. It is in those times of weakness and folly that we most need others around us.
The official moral relativism of absolute academic freedom makes universities self-negating institutions. No wonder many student activists are eager to fashion and enforce new norms and taboos: they realize, however inchoately, that a community of inquiry and instruction must also be one of practice, and that the liberal university fails to integrate these elements.
Is the scholarly life still worth pursuing? I am at that stage in my academic career where the question keeps me up at night. I want to pursue a PhD in my field of interest. I want to teach and write scholarship. But will there be a spot for people like me in the academy?
Given the overreach of government, and perhaps especially given the failure of so many elected officials to remember that they do not rule us, it’s all too easy to slip into libertarianism by default. But government is not alien or unnatural to our condition and needs. It emerges from the community’s associations, affections, bonds, and mutual sense of self-responsibility.
Moving books home has turned my mind toward publishers that seem to be of high value because of the enduring importance of their books. One such is Liberty Fund, which specializes in classic conservative and libertarian texts in politics and economics. Another is the Library of America, which has a broad mission to publish (in its own words) “America’s greatest writing.”
Attempting neutrality in public education ends up creating a systemic preference for a particular ethical standpoint—a rather controversial one at that. Ironically, this creates a tension between public schools and the principle of liberal neutrality. Fortunately, this tension can be resolved without abandoning government-financed education through policies that are both popular and effective: school vouchers and education savings accounts.
What is lacking in modern medical training is a community of fellow trainees collectively committed to a rich, morally robust view of medicine and the physician’s place in it. This is what the Hippocratic Forum seeks to provide.
We should be very wary of changing our minds about a teaching or practice that has been taught clearly, continuously, and authoritatively on the basis of scripture throughout the history and breadth of the Church. The following ten considerations can help us think carefully when friends inside or outside the Church ask us to reconsider what the Bible teaches.
My students and I—orthodox Jews at Yeshiva University—found something more profound than mere gore in Dante’s textual bequest to posterity. His hell provided us something that we could never find in his Purgatory or Paradise. For us, the Inferno’s true contribution was not its penal landscape of scorched sands and steaming pitch. On the contrary, what stirred us most was his evident concern for our humanity.
Our schools of business should be places where the whole academic community, which includes administrators, faculty, and the students themselves, can work together towards educating tomorrow’s business leaders, cultivating the very best in them. We should not allow the cheating subculture’s self-righteous and narcissistic agenda to undermine the higher quest for excellence.
The determination to make one’s own way in life is what marks out the difference between those who make the best of what they have and seek to improve things for themselves and others, and those who instead diminish themselves by blaming the Baby Boomers for what they don’t like about their lives.
Human rights, including women’s rights, are not determined by whoever is in charge. They are perpetual and fundamental. American calls for gender equality around the world ring hollow without hard security to back them up.
In light of the vocations issue and concerns about privacy, a policy that significantly intrudes on priests’ privacy should be a last resort. However, given the tremendous damage the earlier sex scandals did to the Church’s credibility, as evidenced by declining attendance and financial support, renewed concerns about priestly celibacy may justify such a resort.
Academia has to be a sanctuary for free speech and free thought. The Academic Freedom Alliance is calling universities back to their core mission: the pursuit of knowledge. That pursuit requires humility, openness, and the free expression of a diversity of opinions.
Dante reveals to students the essence not only of their relationship to their teachers, and ours to them, but also of our combined relationship to the reality (natural, human, and divine) studied during their liberal education. The end of a liberal education is an experience of the Love that created both the subjects of a liberal education and the human persons in need of that education, and Dante achieves that purpose. Through truth and virtue, he becomes wise, and his wisdom sets him free.
Every human lives out the drama of existence in his or her way, and with great risk: they gain or lose heaven, embrace or reject love, bring a child into being or not, form friendships and romances or sink into loneliness, become sages or fools. If we forget or forgo the primacy of the person, choosing instead the story of power and chaos, it seems likely we’ll lose the cosmos of our own souls.
If a shared identity is to emerge and persist, if citizen strangers are to have a shot at becoming civic friends who recognize a mutual obligation to create a just land, the foundational principles of our constitutional order must be consciously taught and reaffirmed. And, of course, teaching and affirming these principles does not itself entail a claim that America has historically lived up to them.