November 26, 2005

The Kelso Institute

"Louis Kelso's vision of Capitalism was, in Dr. [Mortimer J.] Adler's description, 'the economically free and classless society which supports political democracy and which, above all, helps political democracy to preserve the institutions of a free society.' To Dr. Adler's mind, this conception was 'the most revolutionary idea of the century.'"

September 26, 2005

The Corporation and the Republic

By Scott Buchanan

Originally published in April 1958 as a pamphlet issued in connection
with The Fund for the Republic's discussion of the Free Society.
(c) 1958 Fund for the Republic
There are no restrictions on the use of this work.

August 18, 2005

"Suffering and the Bible"

[Note: The following is a cleaned up version of a page located here. I fixed a number of what were presumably scanning glitches.]
Walter Kaufmann (1921--1980) was born in Germany. Raised as a Lutheran, he found himself unable to accept many features of Christian doctrine and converted to Judaism at the age of eleven. Nazi attacks on Jews compelled him to leave Germany in 1939. He came to the United States and studied philosophy at Williams College and later at Harvard. By this time he had given up belief in religion. He began a long association with Princeton University in 1947. Around this time he discovered the work of Nietzsche, whose philosophy he believed to have been widely misinterpreted as a forerunner of Nazi ideology. This was the thrust of his landmark biographical study, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (1950). Kaufmann also translated many of Nietzsche's works. Among his other books are Critique of Religion and Philosophy (1958) and a translation of Goethe's Faust (1961). The Faith of a Heretic (1961) is his most exhaustive and personal statement on religion. In the following extract from chapter 6, "Suffering and the Bible," Kauffmann keenly analyzes several arguments that attempt to justify God's benevolence in a world full of suffering, and concludes that the popular conception of God is irremediably flawed.

From Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), pp. 149-52, 168-69, 170-72, 177-78, 180-81. Copyright 1960, 1961 by Walter Kaufmann. Reprinted by permission of David Kaufmann, trustee of the Estate of Walter Kaufmann.
NO OTHER PROBLEM OF THEOLOGY or the philosophy of religion has excited so sustained and wide an interest as the problem of suffering. In spite of that, people keep saying, as if it were a well-known truth, that you cannot prove or disprove God's existence. This cliché is as true as the assertion that you cannot prove or disprove the existence of y. Of course, it is easy to construct a formally valid proof that y, or God, exists—or, for that matter, that they do not exist: x said that y exists; x always spoke the truth (in fact, he said: I am the truth); hence, y exists. Or: y is a z; no z exists; hence, y does not exist. But whether the existence or non-existence of y, or God, can be proved from plausible premises depends on the meaning we assign to y, or to God. And the term "God" . . . is almost, though not quite, as elastic as the symbol "y." One's strategy in trying to defend or to attack the claim that God exists obviously depends on what is meant by "God." It may be objected that it is not so difficult to isolate what might be called the popular conception of God. The problem of suffering is of crucial importance because it shows that the God of popular theism does not exist.

The problem of suffering is: why is there the suffering we know? Dogmatic theology. . . has no monopoly on dealing with this problem. Let us see how a philosopher might deal with it, after repudiating dog­matic theology and endorsing the importance of the "critical, historical, and psychological study of religion." My approach will be part philo­sophical, part historical—only partially philosophic because the problem can be illuminated greatly by being placed in historical per­spective. What matters here is not to display philosophic acumen but really to remove some of the deeply felt perplexity that surrounds this problem; and toward that end, we shall have to draw on history as well as philosophy.

There are at least three easy ways of disposing of the problem why there is suffering. If we adopt the position that everything in the universe, or at least a great deal, is due to chance, the problem is answered in effect. Indeed, as we reflect on this solution, it becomes clear that the "why" of the problem of suffering asks for a purpose; a mere cause will not do. Immediately a second solution comes to mind: if we say that the uni­verse, far from being governed by chance, is subject to iron laws but not my purpose, the problem of suffering is again taken care of. Thirdly, even if we assume that the world is governed by purpose, we need only add that this purpose—or, if there are several, at least one of them—is not especially intent on preventing suffering, whether it is indifferent to suf­fering or actually rejoices in it.

All three solutions are actually encountered in well-known religions. Although the two great native religions of China, Confucianism and Taoism, are far from dogmatic or even doctrinaire, and neither of them commands assent to any set of theories, both approximate the first solution which accepts events simply as happening, without checking either laws or purposes behind them.

The second solution, which postulates a lawful world order but no purpose, is encountered in the two great religions which originated in India: Hinduism and Buddhism. Here an attempt is made to explain suffering: the outcaste of traditional Hinduism is held to deserve his wretched fate; it is a punishment for the wrongs he did in a previous life. We are all reborn after death in accordance with the way we behaved during our lives: we receive reward and punishment as our souls migrate from one existence to the next. The transmigration of souls proceeds in accordance with a fixed moral order, but there is no purpose behind it. The scientific world-view also disposes of the problem of suffering by denying that the laws of nature are governed by any purpose.

The third solution is familiar from polytheistic religions—for example, the Iliad and the Odyssey—but present also in the Persian religi­on of Zarathustra (or Zoroaster), who taught that there were two gods, god of light and goodness (Ormazd or Ahura-Mazda) and a god of darkness and evil (Ahriman). Here, and in many so-called primitive reli­gions, too, suffering is charged to some evil purpose.

In all three cases, and for most human beings, the problem of suffering poses no difficult problem at all: one has a world picture in which suffering has its place, a world picture that takes suffering into account. To make the problem of suffering a perplexing problem, one requires very specific presuppositions, and once those are accepted the problem becomes not only puzzling but insoluble.

For atheism and polytheism there is no special problem of suf­fering, nor need there be for every kind of monotheism. The problem rises when monotheism is enriched with—or impoverished by—two assumptions: that God is omnipotent and that God is just. In fact, pop­ular theism goes beyond merely asserting God's justice and claims that God is "good," that he is morally perfect, that he hates suffering, that he loves man, and that he is infinitely merciful, far transcending all human mercy, love, and perfection.

Once these assumptions are granted, the problem arises: why, then, is there all the suffering we know? And as long as these assumptions are granted, this question cannot be answered. For if these assumptions were true, it would follow that there could not be all of this suffering. Conversely: since it is a fact that there is all this suffering, it is plain that at least one of these assumptions must be false. Popular theism is refuted by the existence of so much suffering. The theism preached from thousands of pulpits and credited by millions of believers is disproved by Auschwitz and a billion lesser evils.

The use of "God" as a synonym for being-itself, or for the "pure act of being," or for nature, or for scores of other things for which other terms are readily available, cannot be disproved but only questioned as pettifoggery. The assertion that God exists, if only God is taken in some such Pickwickian sense, is false, too: not false in the sense of being incorrect, but false in the sense of being misleading and to that extent deceptive.

It is widely assumed, contrary to fact, that theism necessarily involves the two assumptions which cannot be squared with the exis­tence of so much suffering, and that therefore, per impossibile, they simply have to be squared with the existence of all this suffering, somehow. And a great deal of theology as well as a little of philos­ophy—the rationalizing kind of philosophy which seeks ingenious rea­sons for what is believed to begin with—has consisted in attempts to reconcile the popular image of God with the abundance of suffering.

[One] spurious solution, which is one of the prime glories of Chris­tian theology, claims in effect that suffering is a necessary adjunct of free will. God created man with free will, which was part of God's goodness since a creature with free will is better than one without it. (Why, in that case, he first made so many creatures without it, we are not usually told.) Man then misused his free will, disobeyed God, as God knew he would do, and ate of the fruit of the one tree in Paradise whose fruit he was not supposed to eat. This made suffering inevitable. (We are not told why.) The uncanny lack of logic in this supposed solution is gen­erally covered up with a phrase: original sin.

How old this doctrine is, is arguable. Some of the motifs are encoun­tered in pre-Christian times, not only in Judaism but also in Greek thought. But in its familiar form it is a specifically Christian dogma. Augustine thought that he found it in Paul's Epistle to the Romans 5:12: "Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men—eph ho panteshamarton." What was the meaning of these four Greek words? The last two clearly mean "all have sinned"; but what does eph ho mean? Augustine did not read Greek but Latin, and wrote Latin, too, and took it to mean "in whom" (in quo), while the King James Bible and the Revised Standard Version translate "in that" or "because" ( eo quod).

As George Foot Moore[1] puts it: "For. . . 'for that all have sinned,' the Latin version has in quo omnes peccaverunt 'in whom (sc. Adam) all sinned.' If the translator had rendered eo quod, it is possible that the Western church might have been as little afflicted with original sin as the Greeks or the Orientals."

The doctrine of original sin claims that all men sinned in Adam; but whether they did or whether it is merely a fact that all men sin does not basically affect the problem of suffering. In either case, the following questions must be pressed.

First: if God knew that man would abuse his free will and that this would entail cancer and Auschwitz, why then did he give man free will? Second—and this question, though surely obvious, scarcely ever gets asked—is there really any connection at all between ever so much suf­fering and free will? Isn't the introduction of free will at this point a red herring?...

Far from solving the problem by invoking original sin, Augustine and most of the Christian theologians who came after him merely aggravated the problem. If such suffering as is described ... in the New York Times' annual pre-Christmas survey of 'The Hundred Neediest Cases," and in any number of other easily accessible places, is the inevitable conse­quence of Adam's sin—or if this is the price God had to pay for endowing man with free will—then it makes no sense to call him omnipotent. And if he was willing to pay this price for his own greater glory, as some Chris­tian theologians have suggested, or for the greater beauty of the cosmos, because shadows are needed to set off highlights, as some Christian philosophers have argued, what sense does it make to attribute moral perfection to him?

At this point, those who press this ... pseudo-solution invariably begin to use words irresponsibly. Sooner or later we are told that when such attributes as omnipotence, mercy, justice, and love are ascribed to God they do not mean what they mean applied to men. John Stuart Mill's fine response to this has been cited in Chapter II. In a less rhetor­ical vein, it may be said that at this point the theologians and philosophers simply repeat ancient formulas in defiance of all sense. One might as well claim that God is purple with yellow dots, or circular, or every inch a woman—provided only that these terms are not used in their customary senses. These, of course, are not ancient formulas; hence, it is not likely that anybody in his right mind would seriously say such things. But the point is that when anybody has recourse to such means, argument fails. It is as if you pointed out to someone that eleven times eleven were not equal to one hundred and he said: it is, too—though of course not if you use the terms the way one usually does.

To be sure, one need not remain speechless. One can ask for the admission that, as long as we use the terms in the only way in which they have ever been given any precise meaning, God is either not omnipotent or not perfectly just, loving, and merciful. Some people, when it comes to that, retort: How do you know that we use the words right? Perhaps the way in which we ordinarily use these terms is wrong.

To this, two replies are possible. The first is philosophically interesting but may not persuade many who are sincerely perplexed. When we use English, or Greek, or Hebrew words in conformity with their gen­erally accepted meanings and fully obeying the genius and the rules of the language, it makes no sense to say that perhaps their "real" meaning is quite different. It does make sense to suggest that a particular term has an additional technical sense; but, if that is the case, one should admit that, as long as it is used in its ordinary, non-technical sense, God is, say, unjust, or cruel, or lacking in power.

The second reply interprets the question differently. What the questioner means may well be that our ordinary conceptions of love, justice, and mercy stand in need of revision; that our ideals are perverted. If so, we should presumably model ourselves on God's "justice" and "love." And this is precisely what former ages did. Children who disobeyed adults who broke some minor law or regulation were punished in ways that strike us as inhumanly cruel. Those who do not like reading history find examples enough in Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.

This last point, which is surely of very great importance, can be put differently by recalling once more Job's wonderful words: "If I sin, ... why dost thou not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?" The attempt to solve the problem of suffering by postulating original sin depends on the belief that cruelty is justified when it is retributive; indeed, that morality commands retribution. Although Job denied this, most theologians have clung to it tenaciously; and to this day the majority of Christian theologians champion the retributive function of punishment and the death penalty. At this point, some liberal Protestants who invoke [this] pseudo-solution are less consistent than more traditional theologians and ministers: they fight as unjust and unloving what they consider compatible with perfect justice and love. But, as we have seen, the traditional theologians I not solve the problem either, and their conceptions of love and justice are inhuman—especially if one considers that Job and Jonah were part of their Bible.

Indeed, Augustine and his successors aggravated the problem of suffering in yet another way, instead of approaching a solution: by accepting as true Jesus' references in the Gospels to hell and eternal torment, and by bettering the instruction. According to Augustine and many of his successors, all men deserve eternal torture, but God in his infinite mercy saves a very few. Nobody is treated worse than he deserves, but a few are treated better than they deserve, salvationbeing due not to merit but solely to grace. In the face of thesebeliefs, Augus­tine and legions after him assert God's perfect justice, mercy, and good­ness. And to save men from eternal torment, it came to be considered iist and merciful to torture heretics, or those suspected of some heresy, for a few days. . . .

"What," to quote Ecclesiastes, "is the conclusion of the whole matter?"[2] There is, first of all, a Biblical notion not yet mentioned—that of vicarious suffering, beautifully expressed in Isaiah 53: "He is despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . . . Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. . . . The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Christians have seen in these words a prophecy of Christ; Jewshave applied the words to their own people, in an effort to give theirown perennial sufferings some meaning. The search for a purpose behindsuffering is not a mere matter of metaphysical speculation, nor a frivolous pastime of theologians. Man can stand superhuman suf­fering if only he does not lack the conviction that it serves some purpose. Even less severe pain, on the other hand, may seem unbearable, or simply not worth enduring, if it is not redeemed by any meaning.

It does not follow that the meaning must be given from above; that life and suffering must come neatly labeled; that nothing is worth while if the world is not governed by a purpose. On the contrary, the lack of any cosmic purpose may be experienced as liberating, as if a great weight had been lifted from us. Life ceases to be so oppressive: we are free to give our own lives meaning and purpose, free to redeem our suffering by making something of it. The great artist is the man who most obviously succeeds in turning his pains to advantage, in letting suffering deepens his under­standing and sensibility, in growing through his pains. The same is true of some religious figures and of men like Lincoln and Freud. It is small comfort to tell the girl born without a nose: make the most of that! She may lack the strength, the talent, the vitality. But the plain fact is that not all suffering serves a purpose; that most of it remains utterly senseless; and that if there is to be any meaning to it, it is we who must giveit.

The sufferer who cannot give any meaning to his suffering may inspire someone else, possibly without even knowing it, perhaps after death. But most suffering remains unredeemed by any purpose, albeit a challenge to humanity.

There is one more verse in Job that should be quoted. At the end of the first chapter, when he has lost all his possessions and then hischil­dren as well, he says: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;blessed be the name of the Lord." Without claiming that the followingremarks represent or distill "the immortal soul" of his words, one can find more meaning in them, or find them more suggestive, than meets the eye at first glance.

Job's forthright indictment of the injustice of this world is surely right. The ways of the world are weird and much more unpredictable than either scientists or theologians generally make things look. Job personifies the inscrutable, merciless, uncanny in a god who is all-pow­erful but not just. . . .

Those who believe in God because their experience of life and the facts of nature prove his existence must have led sheltered lives and closed their hearts to the voice of their brothers' blood. "Behold the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of the oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive; but better than both is he who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds done under the sun." Whether Ecclesiastes, who "saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun," retained any faith in God is a moot point, but Jeremiah and Job and the psalmists who speak in a similar vein did. Pagan piety rose to similar heights of despair and created tragedies.

The deepest difference between religions is not that between poly­theism and monotheism. To which camp would one assign Sophocles? Even the difference between theism and atheism is not nearly so pro­found as that between those who feel and those who do not feel their brothers' torments. The Buddha, like the prophets and the Greek trage­dians, did, though he did not believe in any deity. There is no inkling of such piety in the callous religiousness of those who note the regu­larities of nature, find some proof in that of the existence of a God or gods, and practice magic, rites, or pray to ensure rain, success, or speedy passage into heaven.

Natural theology is a form of heathenism, represented in the Bible by the friends of Job. The only theism worthy of our respect believes in God not because of the way the world is made but in spite of that. The only theism that is no less profound than the Buddha's atheism is that repre­sented in the Bible by Job and Jeremiah.

Their piety is a cry in the night, born of suffering so intense that they cannot contain it and must shriek, speak, accuse, and argue with God—not about him—for there is no other human being who would understand, and the prose of dialogue could not be faithful to the poetry of anguish. In time, theologians come to wrench some usefulphrases out of Latin versions of a Hebrew outcry, blind with tears, and try to win some argument about a point of dogma. Scribes, who pre­ceded them, carved phrases out of context, too, and used them in their arguments about the law. But for all that, Jewish piety has been a cease­less cry in the night, rarely unaware of "all the oppressions that are prac­ticed under the sun," a faith in spite of, not a heathenish, complacent faith because.

The profound detachment of Job's words at the end of the first chapter is certainly possible for an infidel: not being wedded to the things of this world, being able to let them go—and yet not repudiating them in the first place like the great Christian ascetics and the Buddha and his followers. In the form of an anthropomorphic faith, these words express one of the most admirable attitudes possible for man: to be able to give up what life takes away, without being unable to enjoy what life gives us in the first place; to remember that we came naked from the womb and shall return naked; to accept what life gives us as if it were God's own gift, full of wonders beyond price; and to be able to part with everything. To try to fashion something from suffering, to relish our triumphs, and to endure defeats without resentment: all that is compatible with the faith of a heretic.

1. [George Foot Moore (1851—1931), American scholar on religion.Kauf­mann cites his History of Religions (1913—19).]
2. [Ecclesiastes 12:13: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter' (KJV).]

August 12, 2005

Some Books on Liberal Education

Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren: How to Read a Book, Simon and Schuster, 1972.

Adler, Mortimer J., and Milton Mayer: The Revolution in Education, University of Chicago Press, 1958.

Barzun, Jacques: The American University, Harper and Row, 1970. Teacher in America, Little Brown and Co., 1945.

Bell, Daniel: The Reforming of General Education, Columbia University Press, 1966.

Bestor, Arthur E.: Educational Wastelands, The University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1953. The Restoration of Learning, Knopf, 1955.

Bloom, Alan: The Closing of the American Mind, Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Brann, Eva: The Paradoxes of Education in a Republic, University of Chicago Press, 1979.

Bruner, Jerome S.: The Process of Education, Harvard University Press, 1960.

Buchanan, Scott: Embers of the World, edited by Harris Wofford, Jr., Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, California, 1970.

Darkey, William (Editor et al): Three Dialogues on Liberal Education, St. John's College Press, 1979.

Erskine, John: My Life as a Teacher, J.B. Lippincott Co., 1948.Goldwin, Robert A. (Editor): Higher Education and Modern Democracy, Rand McNally and Co., 1967.

Grant, Gerald and David Reisman: The Perpetual Dream: Reform and Experiment in the American College, University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Harvard Committee Report: General Education in a Free Society , The University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1945.

Hutchins, Robert M.:
The Higher Learning in America, Yale University Press, 1936.
No Friendly Voice, Greenwood, 1936.
Education for Freedom, Louisiana State University Press, 1943.
The Conflict in Education in a Democratic Society, Harper and Brothers, 1953.
The University of Utopia, University of Chicago Press, 1953.
The Learning Society, Praeger, 1968.

Lewis, C. S.: The Abolition of Man, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1947.

Maritain, Jacques: Education at the Crossroads, Yale University Press, 1943.

Meiklejohn, Alexander: Education Between Two Worlds, Harper and Brothers, 1942.

Smith, J. Winfree: A Search for the Liberal College; The Beginning of the St. John's Program, St. John's College Press, 1983.

Van Doren, Mark: Liberal Education: Henry Holt and Co., 1944

June 15, 2005

Civilization of the Dialogue

The following is a transcription of a cassette recording I borrowed from the Greenfield Library at St. John's College, Annapolis during my period of study at their Graduate Institute in Liberal Education in the late 90s.

John Wilkinson, fellow of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, CA, reads his his essay Civilization of the Dialogue before his colleagues at the Center in 1972.
He is introduced by Center founder Robert M. Hutchins.

The essay was published in a rather different format in 1968 in the collection The Dissenting Academy, edited by Theodore Roszak (which makes me suspect the date of 1972 on the cassette was wrong).

The audio transcription is mine.

There is nothing inevitable about the decay of civilizations that have decayed in the past, and if our civilization decays it will be our own fault. We have a responsibility.

If you start with the idea that a political community is a community learning together how to govern itself, and if you say that the ideal community is a democratic community, what you mean is that a democracy is one in which all the citizens are effectively and actively engaged in the discussion by which political questions are determined. The formal political procedures employed in the society are not the determining factor as to whether the society is democratic or not. What is determining is this: every citizen must feel that he is taking part in important political decisions that affect his life.

An educational system that does not educate, a system of mass communications that does not communicate, means that the society is one in which effective discussion cannot take place. As a result of the educational system the people are not up to understanding the issues; as a result of the media of mass communication they have no way of getting the information that is necessary to pass on any current problem.

The task of those who are committed to political democracy is to discover how democracy can work in a technical-bureaucratic society in which all problems appear to be beyond the reach, to say nothing of the grasp, of the citizen. The task calls for more than haphazard thought and random discussion and the dusting off of ancient but irrelevant slogans. It requires prodigious effort of the best minds everywhere to restore the dialogue that is the basis of the political community.


The phrase "civilization of the dialogue," or some variant of it, has become a la mode. But since, more often than not, modish words and phrases, like the Phoenix, prove to be names without bodies, it seems reasonable to inquire whether this particular phrase is or is not in the same case as the Phoenix, especially as it is so often said that we are, or should be, living under the condition the phrase denotes.

The formula "civilization of the dialogue" seems to have been used first by the theologian Kierkegaard in the nineteenth century to describe the emergence of parliamentary democracy and by Camus in the twentieth century in a rather different sense. But the idea is an ancient one. It is to be found in Homer, whose heroes debated with each other and with the Gods, and would accurately describe the democracy of the Athenian and some other Greek city-states, not as they really became on many occasions between episodes of tyrants or oligarchs, but as they were ideally described by Plato, Aristotle, and some other rather less well known philosophers.

Dogmatic Christianity (when I speak of dogmatic Christianity I would like to make the sharpest possible distinction between dogmatic, ecclesiastical, diplomatic Christianity on the one hand, and the religion of Jesus: nearly everything the latter affirms the former denies. With the takeover of Caesaral papism in the Roman Empire, the practice of the religion of Jesus as it is found in great specificity in the New Testament became the heresy known as Montanism or, more quaintly, cataphrygianism) -- but dogmatic Christianity forced even the ideal of the dialogue out of existence except as it was sporadically incarnated in dubiously orthodox places like the medieval University of Paris, or the Platonic Academy at Florence which inaugurated the Renaissance with the aid of Greek refugees from the fallen Constantinople.

It is tautologically true that civilization exists as long as there are men and they live in cities. Most persons including even some anthropologists use the word 'civilization' in a panegyric way that is notably unclear. Of these accounts we need take no notice.

The burden of inquiry falls rather on the analysis of the noun 'dialogue.' It is this word or some variant of it -- like, say, 'achievement of consensus,' 'the great debate,' and so on -- which has become fashionable in philosophy, theology, and politics, and which I shall argue is absent from any observable reality.

The corresponding Greek adjective 'dialectic' is more often used pejoratively than panegyrically. Indeed, the word has even become unfashionable and disreputable partly in remembrance of useless scholastic disputes and partly because of the way dogmatic Marxists appropriated a perfectly respectable philosophical term from Hegel in order to designate a theory which, among its many sins against reason, dictated imperiously and a priori to science and history what they ought to discover but what, unfortunately for the theory, they never did discover.

It seems impossible not to allow a very great measure of a posteriori schematic value to Marxist dialectics - a value, I may say, which it hardly enjoys any more after Lysenko and people like that among serious scientists even in the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, the pseudo-dialectics of the Church and the Communists has conspired to make difficult the use of an indispensable term and, what is even worse, have greatly impaired the operation of the dialogue itself.

There are, of course, other reasons why the word that describes the very process of thought has become fashionable among propagandists and other frauds. Men of course have not stopped thinking, but I believe that I am not exaggerating in holding that critical thought about thinking has been done a disservice by the desuetude into which the whole philosophic vocabulary has progressively been forced. If you want another example you might compare the misuse that has been made of the notion 'intuition' -- a highly necessary term that has been so exploited by brummagem theology that its use nearly always raises the hackles of intelligent men, and that to such a degree that it has become suspect even to think of what the term denotes.

There are hard and soft versions of the dialogue. The hardest would presumably be that which would, in the words of Plato, convince the gods themselves.

Adam Schaff, professor of philosophy and president of the Polish Academy of Scientists, is a very good example of a protagonist of what I have called the "soft dialogue." Professor Schaff holds that it is unnecessary to agree ideologically. Dialogue according to him may be instituted for limited objectives, for example the coexistence required by the emergence of nuclear weapons. Now of course many people have announced similar principles but in the sequel prove unwilling or unable to agree to the conditions sine qua non by making any concession at all to rigid structures of thought and habit. Excluding those who are merely confused, it is clear that they are merely palavering to gain time or to make propaganda. Schaff is noteworthy because his brilliant exposition up and down the length of Europe and at the Center's convocation Pacem in Terris of the principles of limited dialogue and, furthermore, of the willingness to make the necessary concessions.

But even the softest versions must imply, at the minimum, interaction of meaningful words including the so-called invented words of mathematics, science, and logic; and this with a view to rational approximation to the truth, however truth may be conceived. Special pleading, dogmatic statements, the lies of politicians and publicists are not dialogue, whatever other edifying or useful qualities they may occasionally possess. At the most their propositions enter negatively into dialogue only insofar as dialogue mercilessly exposes them by testing their pretensions against the evidence available to any man who takes care to examine it.

It is true that different cultures elaborate widely different criteria of truth, rationality, and persuasive evidence. And it may well be that an inability to reach any tentative agreement on any kind of fundamental sometimes makes dialogue impossible even to begin or being begun to continue. My own experience has been that these differences most often prove to be much less pronounced than usually imagined, and even when I have debated issues with members of non-Western cultures we have usually reached some agreement.

Consensus, as Martin Buber has emphasized, never means the suppression of individual and cultural differences. It means rather that the dialogue that generated it had been able to elaborate a spectrum of alternative available beliefs or strategies, regardless of where the center of gravity within this spectrum may lie for a given person. It would be unthinkable to find any Moslem, for example, who could plausibly deny that the sun rose this morning and will almost certainly set tonight. But we would have very much more difficulty in agreeing that Guatama Buddha found enlightenment beneath a certain tree, and nearly no one at all could be brought to agree that the learned and pious Sheikh Abdullah could really fly, except perhaps in the biographies of him composed by his disciples.

Even those Moslems who preferred in conversation with me to affirm that the Sheik could fly always readily granted that this belief was not founded in reason and therefore afforded no easily visible basis for activity with respect to the future. On the other hand, they readily asserted this belief as a component of their own loyalty system, of whose truth they could not expect me or any other nonmember of the community to be rationally persuaded. Of course, had I become a member of the community, I too would have been expected to affirm it.

This state of affairs is of course not completely unexpected, except perhaps to more or less orthodox Jews and Christians. No Moslem dreams of setting up a separate system of mosques for the worship of the different sects of the community no matter how violently divergent may be their theological conceptions. The Moslem sects of the Sufis and the Sunnis, comparable perhaps to Protestants and Roman Catholics, worship Allah side by side. And it is well to recall in this connection that the two-truth theory, according to which truth of inquiry may even totally contradict the truth of religion, is philosophically well-established in Islam. More important, it seems that it is well-established almost everywhere else except among the Jews and Christians. It was the early Christians who manufactured from the Greek word *haeresis* -- which among the Greeks simply designated a school of philosophy -- our word 'heresy,' a state of mind worthy only of damnation in the next world and extirpation from this. And they did this from their various beginnings.

Now the point I have been attempting to make, perhaps too laboriously, is simply that the dialogue becomes impossible when it is overlaid with some concept of orthodoxy, secular or religious. Every man has the natural right and even the duty to contrive himself a home in the different hostile times, places, and circumstances of this world. But he makes life difficult for himself and nearly impossible for everyone else when he refuses to engage in colloquy with those who may think differently from himself in important matters. The uncommitted nations always seem particularly incensed by the dogmatism of the claims of Christendom and its progeny Communism. Nehru is once reported to have murmured--using Cromwell's formula--to a meeting of certain uncommitted nations and intransigent Marxists, "Bethink you, by the bowels of Marx, you may be wrong!"

The motto of the dialogue might well be St. Augustine's words Si non rogas intellego (that is to say, "If you don't ask me, I know"). Otherwise formulated, this perhaps most important result of Augustine's philosophy means that dialogue must take seriously any allegation of fact or value put forth by anyone who is not obviously a madman or a liar. And I might add to take them seriously even so, if we reflect how often the epithets madman and genius have been interchanged in the vicissitudes of history. Facts and values lose their privileged status the moment they are challenged, no matter how true or sacred they may previously have been held to be. They may of course be reestablished--they often are-- and it is the function of the dialogue to perform this task if it can. But more often than not a reasonable challenge leads to a radical reformulation which incorporates the previous eternal verities as special cases. The shift may of course be very slight, or, on the other hand, it may be very great.

According to one philosopher, "time makes ancient good uncouth," and according to another, it "makes more converts than reason." But even so, a dialect of history is no dialogue at all except insofar as any force majeure or compelling historical event is rendered symbolic. Compulsive non-symbolic forces of many kinds act to change men's actions and minds. But they do so not in the ordered and rational way based on values explicitly formulated - which is the way of the dialogue.

There are in the Western world a small number of institutions in which something approaching a dialogue is being carried on. Surprisingly enough, the British House of Lords, but not the House of Commons, is often such. In France, Bertrand de Jouvenel, in his regular meetings called Futuribles, and Pierre Masse, along with a number of his associates in the Plan, notably Bernard Caze, seem, from a distance, to engage in a genuine dialogue. In Holland, the group centering about Arendt Th. van Leeuwen, and in Germany the Sozialforschungsstelle under the sociologist Schelsky, as well as a group of evangelical theologians associated with Heinz Kloppenburg, seem to do the same.

I have to admit that one's judgments of foreign institutions are reached largely at second hand, even if one has traveled extensively in the countries concerned. But as far as the United States is concerned, I am sure that the dialogue is proceeding only in three places: the Supreme Court, on the couches of some psychoanalysts, and a the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. The outward forms of the dialogue are cultivated elsewhere, but the tendentious character of the institutions concerned, which receive their support from mission-oriented bodies, to use Gerard Piel's rather too urbane words, make their operations into arms of war hot or cold, or a business enterprise for profit. How useful such ends may be, they are not the end of dialogue which is truth and justice. And even when this tendentious character is not clearly marked, most other American attempts at dialogue are too sporadic to be useful.

It might be worthwhile to examine some of the loci where dialogue is thought to be instituted in the United States, in order to examine by indirection the Center's claim to uniqueness. Take American universities. These universities, with their overspecialized faculties and untaught bodies of students, are no longer centers of any sort of dialogue, even if we improbably suppose that they ever were. The bottom half of them, as usually ranked, are unworthy of notice; and most of the upper moiety can scarcely be considered as anything other than proving grounds for the military establishment and industry, especially the former. Nearly all the top-twenty multiversities - a phrase which was suggested by one of their most distinguished presidents and was later emended to "multi-disciplinary university" as a rhetorical flourish to combat student unrest expressed in rather violent riots - are arms factories which would have staggered the imagination of Herr Krupp or Sir Basil Zaharoff. No scheme for the destruction of the human race is wanting in their so-called programs of research. It is, of course, not completely excluded that certain social benefits may emerge; but these are mostly by-products, fallout, spin-off, which the government or other funding agency did not conceive of and certainly did not mean to pay for.

The setup of the American universities does not absolutely exclude that some sort of a discussion may sometimes go on. I've never observed it, or seldom observed it, but if it does it is usually in a very desultory fashion in the local airport which has become the true faculty club. Since Ph.D.'s have been systematically trained in American graduate schools to talk exclusively with their fellow specialists, and to the national and even international fraternity to which they owe their only fealty, it seems unlikely that they have the vocabulary, even if they had the desire, to do more than exchange commonplaces with their colleagues in other disciplines as they wing their way to Washington and other places to give expert advice on how to end the human race. Some of the monies, enlarged by government handout, naturally trickles down to the professors of the humanities, very few of whom are yet of much use in planning holocausts. But it must not be imagined that for lack of better these humanists willingly consent to be thrown back on instructing students. The publish or perish regime -- in addition to what I suspect to be a fact: that there is something naturally repulsive in the process of teaching students whose lips move when they read -- makes these second-class academics as loathe to suffer contact with students as their more highly advantaged confreres in the so-called hard sciences. They prefer, and indeed are forced, to attempt to emulate the scientists. Often this takes the form of applying the methods of the more prestigious natural sciences to realms of discourse in which these methods obviously cannot apply. What can these poor humanists do when they are continually challenged to justify their slots according to the test, "What have you to contribute to General Motors?" I have not invented this quotation. It is taken verbatim from an allocution of the head of a large American university to his department of English. This latter-day square [one wonders whether he meant to say"squire"] should have been forthwith driven out of his [unintelligible]-hall with rods. Instead, being answered with servility, he was encouraged to repeat his question to the Greek department.

Most of these institutions have set up inexpensive and I believe little-patronized programs in the liberal arts. It is possible some of these programs are meant seriously. But the obvious intent behind most of them is quite clearly to silence dissatisfied students, dissatisfied parents, and rampaging legislatures whenever it becomes clear to them that nothing remotely describable as education is going forward.

As for the students themselves, my thesis is simple indeed. They cannot enter into any conceivable dialogue because their vocabularies are so exiguous that the necessary conditions for dialogue, as distinguished from a mere bull session, are lacking. English of any literary merit can be read by these students only with the aid of a kind of translation into a sort of basic English. For example, in that university where the welfare of General Motors is the criterion of excellence, translations of Shakespeare into just such a basic English are actually on sale in the University bookstore.

I am sorry to say, and I would be glad to be convinced otherwise, that I am unable to believe that more than one-, at the most two percent of, say, the students in the Berkeley uproars had any serious purpose. The rest came along to avoid the boredom and apathy of college life. Most interestingly, the number of students admitted to student clinics at Berkeley fell to nothing during the riots -- much as the way the number of suicides declines in wartime.

Now, I am very far from supposing that American students are born less capable than the Athenians of carrying on a dialogue. Paraphrasing St. Matthew, one might say that they were not born stupid from their mothers' wombs, but that they had become so for General Motors' sake. I have no objective measurements, but I have a very strong subjective impression that ten years after graduation the vocabularies of these students [are] even smaller.

This intuition is in part confirmed by analyses of the vocabularies used in the mass media - television, newspapers, and so on. It would be fatuous indeed, therefore, to suppose that the great majority of Americans are in a position to deliberate about issues for which they have no words.

Another locus is political discussion; here it is supposed that dialogue is often carried on. American political scientists, who prove seldom to have read more of Aristotle than the Politics and perhaps the Ethics, often quote with evident self-satisfaction Aristotle's remarks to the effect that man is a political animal, or that politics is the architectonic science. They've even taught practicing politicians, at least those few who are capable of pentasyllabic words, to quack forth these slogans too.

But Aristotle is not speaking of that modern political opportunism which is more aptly described as the art of the possible, understanding this last phrase in the most pejorative sense conceivable to include every shabby trick to get into office and stay there, with nothing more sublime in mind than to have a preferred place at the trough.

Aristotle meant by politics the difficult philosophic science and art of living, and living well, in the polis, a collection of villages -- some of which may even have coalesced into an Athens -- organically and harmoniously related to its rural hinterland.

Aristotle's politician, which we might better perhaps render in English by the word "statesman," had to be a philosopher who knew rationally how to persuade those who were capable of reason of the best course to be followed, and debated law, ethics (which was for Aristotle a part of politics), religion, and even medicine. A sophist might cajole the people into following a certain course - likely suicidal - by rhetorical tricks, but such a fellow was a mere demagogue like Alcibiades.

Aristotle seemed to have made a more favorable assessment than Plato did of democracy, and he preferred the word "deliberation" to the word "dialogue." But notwithstanding great differences in terminology, both of these philosophers, and the Greeks in general, held the life of the polis to reside in rational deliberation and persuasion as opposed to polemic. Just how far our modern kakistocracy has strayed from the Greek ideal of politics as rational persuasion of those capable of it to the hegemony of the base and the ignorant by the base and the ignorant is demonstrated by the triune component parts of Greek justice, which was the end of the polis and which it seems to me was very like the conception of our Founding Fathers: One must know what one is doing, one must rationally choose to do it for its own sake, and what is done should be the result of a settled moral state. In Augustine's words, Remota iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia? which is to say, if there is no justice, what are states except great bands of robbers?

Political dialogue is, if not dead, moribund. The American republic is running on the momentum given it by a galaxy of political virtuosi nearly two centuries ago who may have rivaled Athens itself.

Now, it is vain to rail against any one thing or any one group of persons as the cause of our loss of political momentum. What is perhaps most at fault is the degrading tendency of Americans to assess the worth of everything by purely quantitative yardsticks like money. We need not believe that there has been some conspiracy. It is tempting, but not necessary, to suppose that our oligarchs meet secretly (as Aristotle said some Greeks did), swearing to do everything in their power to harm the people; but the effect is the same as if they had.

If democracy is the civilization of the dialogue, - if, as Scott Buchanan has held, persuasion is the life of politics, - if, as Robert M. Hutchins has written, within an educational system that does not educate and a system of mass communications that does not communicate, we have become incapable of the discussion by which political issues are determined - then it is easy to see why a self-styled political elite must be a kakistocracy, the rule of the worst, if there not be a single one among them and very few among their advisors who could bring forth a clear and distinct idea or even a felicitous phrase if he lived as long and wrote as much as Varro himself.

The Vietnamese war represents the final result of substituting the manipulation of images for the political dialogue. Where images have no referents, and where any set of words and ideas is as good as any other--that is to say where thought has ceased--we can blame no one who votes for a presidential candidate who promises, probably sincerely, not to escalate the war in Vietnam while in fact he is being forced to do so; for a man who, the instant following a point in time when he was ignorant of foreign policy, was forced to become omniscient of it (and for lack of a better was delivered over to the dialectic of the military, who really have something going resembling a lopsided and truncated dialogue), and doing this because he had none of his own.

Now, this infernal military dialectic might be described briefly as follows: If we do not use power, we do not know if we have it; if we don't continue to use it, we don't know if we continue to have it. The military, therefore, found it necessary to escalate some war somewhere as a proving ground for their armamentarium. But the question remains: Do we have power or do we not? The quantitative military mentality can probably solve this problem to their satisfaction only by escalating right up to the use of the ultimate weapon.

And the sole duty of the nominal commander in chief is to provide so-called political support for this operation as well as he can. The President announces every possible position on every possible subject connected with the Vietnamese war. Contraries and even flat contradictions are successively put to the people, sometimes in the same speech, but these are mere trial balloons launched to see which ones the Gallup poll, or something like it, will shoot down.

Some Americans think the whole crew of political and military instigators of the war would look more at home in the dock at Nuremberg than in the seats of power in Washington or in the executive suites of the great foundations, but this unjust. In the quantitative society, those who are supposed to control our destinies have no more real power of decision or knowledge of the situation than you or I. Only the mathematically skilled can hope to have any power, and the way things are accelerating even they cannot be expected to have it very much longer.
Civilly and militarily, the only answer to anything is More of the Same, which is the reductio ad absurdum of the dialogue.

It is my fancy that the majority of opponents of American involvement have come to have a strange facial resemblance to the apes Schopenhauer saw and described in the zoo, who, according to him, were vainly longing (he saw it in their eyes) to be rational, but had not the understanding to bring it off. I imagine Mr. Johnson must be suffering from the same malaise; imagine being involved in a war where victory or anything else is indefinable.

Charles Dickens wrote in a letter to John Forster from America, "I do fear that the heaviest blow ever dealt at liberty will be dealt by this country in the failure of its example to the earth." Dickens in 1842 was referring to the imminent War Between the States which opposed two absolutely intransigent parties. Much the same phrasing applies to the war in Vietnam.

If the dialogue fails now--and I feel that it must--the hopes of democracy must be tenuous indeed.