December 26, 2006

Liberal Education, Then and Now: J.S. Mill's idea of a university, and our own.

Peter Berkowitz, Hoover Institution Policy Review

December 18, 2006

Some reflections from a current student in the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults (Graham School of General Studies, University of Chicago).

December 11, 2006

Complete text of Robert Maynard Hutchins: A Memoir, by Milton Mayer.
The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent: essay ca. 1915 by John Erskine, early central figure in what has come to be known as the "Great Books movement" in the U.S.

December 04, 2006

Lion: A Memoir of Mark Van Doren  by Dan Wakefield (Ploughshares, Fall 1991)

November 20, 2006

One day I'll get round to these books by Susan Wise Bauer:

The Well-Educated Mind
A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had

The Well-Trained Mind
A Guide to Classical Education at Home
What Should College Teach?  Rountable discussion with distinguished professsors.  MP3 from .

November 07, 2006

Chapters One and Two of Robert M. Hutchins' Education for Freedom .

November 02, 2006

Complete text of the 1965 version of Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book (with Charles Van Doren).  The Jesus thing and the annoying language pack installation prompt?  No idea.

November 01, 2006

October 31, 2006

I feel as though I should have known about this essay before now:

The Lost Tools of Learning
by Dorothy Sayers

October 18, 2006

Education for Mutual Understanding?
Les Reid Jul 21, 04
Humanists and the Religious Education review in Northern Ireland

"Can believers and non-believers find common ground? In N Ireland we are so used to the perennial squabble between two varieties of Christianity that other forms of disagreement (and reconciliation, we hope) tend to be overlooked."
The End of Education
The Fragmentation of the American University
by Alasdair MacIntyre  

"What should be the distinctive calling of the American Catholic university or college here and now? It should be to challenge its secular counterparts by recovering both for them and for itself a less fragmented conception of what an education beyond high school should be, by identifying what has gone badly wrong with even the best of secular universities. From a Catholic point of view the contemporary secular university is not at fault because it is not Catholic. It is at fault insofar as it is not a university."
Sustainability: the Ultimate Liberal Art
October 20, 2006 issue of The Chronicle Review
By FRANK H.T. RHODES, president emeritus of Cornell University

"Ironic as it may now seem, the liberal arts of grammar, rhetoric, and logic were regarded by the ancient Greeks as practical and useful skills — so useful, in fact, that they were seen as the indispensable preparation for citizenship, for participation in a free society. And it was in Greece, the same Greece, that science was "invented." How doubly ironic, then, that in our science-driven age, we have so little place for the wisdom of Greece."

October 16, 2006

Noam Chomsky - Santa Fe in January 2005

September 14, 2006

"In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom said that the goal of a liberal education was to acquaint students with the real alternatives that have been offered to answer the question: "How should I live my life?"  That question is as much aesthetic as political, as much religious as social or intellectual.  At the deepest level, I suppose, we think of The New Criterion as a handmaiden in that never-ending task."  -- Interview with Roger Kimball, co-editor and publisher of the New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books

August 31, 2006

Famed First Amendment scholar Leonard W. Levy dies

By Ronald K.L. Collins
First Amendment Center scholar
Leonard Williams Levy, noted educator and American constitutional historian, died last week. His death, previously unreported, was confirmed by his friend and co-author, UCLA Law emeritus professor Kenneth L. Karst. Levy died at his home in Ashland, Ore.

. . .[His] Legacy of Suppression was commissioned by Robert Maynard Hutchins and the Fund for the Republic as a pamphlet; it was a revisionist interpretation of the speech and press clauses of the First Amendment. Levy argued, among other things, that freedom of the press as understood by the Framers meant merely the absence of prior restraints. Objecting to Levy's findings, Hutchins refused to print the work.

Years later, Levy noted that he published Legacy "to spite Hutchins and the Fund."

August 23, 2006

"Most [business or technology majors] are conservative, not in any intellectual sense, but in the sense (which they admit) of fearfully conforming to the political and economic status quo, to the attitudes that will be expected of them as compliant employees, and to the necessity of looking out for number one in the "Survivor" sweepstakes of the global economy. Such students are not likely to welcome the cognitive dissonance forced on them by humanities courses demanding Socratic self-questioning of their sociopolitical or religious dogmas."

Rethinking the Culture Wars — I
By Donald Lazere
Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 22 '06

August 22, 2006

"What happened to the precision, discrimination and critical humanism that we celebrate as the hallmarks of liberal education and the Western heritage?" asked the late Edward Said in the June '86 issue of The Nation. This in the context of terrorism, American foreign policy, consensus, and dissent.
"Universities may be churning out capable earners and consumers, says THOMAS HIBBS*, but they are failing to equip students for meaningful lives." (Dallas Morning News, 8/20/06)

* Philosopher and dean of the Honors College at Baylor University


-Harry Lewis' Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education -Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons
-Animal House!
-Happy Days!
-Madeleine Levine's The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material -Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
-Newman's The Idea of the University

. . .and more!
Appreciated seeing this editorial in the Seattle Times on the value of a liberal education.

Some of my recent iPod listening

Dallas Morning News piece in which former deep-sea diver recalls enrolling at Thomas Aquinas College* as "middle age was rapidly closing in."
* Catholic "great books" college in Santa Paula, CA modeled on the secular program at St. John's College.  Check out their reading lists:
Aspen Times article on the recent controversy surrounding the proposed renaming of the Paepcke Auditorium at the Aspen Institute to Resnick Auditorium, in recognition of a $4 million donation to upgrade the facility from Stewart and Lynda Resnick.
And some letters to the editor regarding same.

July 20, 2006

A wealth of Walter Kaufmann material I've not seen available online until now, including the complete text of the out-of-print Without Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to Autonomy.

June 16, 2006

Some thoughts on the work of Walter Kaufmann.

June 15, 2006

June 07, 2006

East Valley/ Scottsdale Tribune -- Fight for students goes old school

Fight for students goes old school
By Andrea Falkenhagen
An elite charter prep school wants to bring its traditional approach to education -Socrates, uniforms and all - to Scottsdale. More than 200 Scottsdale families have already shown interest in Scottsdale Preparatory Academy, which could open in fall 2008, said Daniel Scoggin, chief executive officer of Great Hearts Preparatory Academies,...

Click here to read the rest of the article.

May 24, 2006

Great Books and The Great Book

Marc Fisher over at the Washington Post remarks on the academic freedoms at Patrick Henry. Can a school study the scripture as well as Aristotle and what weight should be given to each text? Does having a statement of faith mean that you can’t learn and grow from the truths of non-biblical texts? (via scriptoriumdaily)

May 08, 2006

Sven Birkerts reviews The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read, By Stuart Kelly. (Boston Globe)

"Stories and legends are the meat of Kelly's book. Take the case of Aeschylus and the Ptolemys. It was Ptolemy I who traveled the known world with Alexander the Great, and later ruled Egypt, building there the monumental Alexandrian library. His grandson, Ptolemy III, devoted to the great institution, discovered 'an anomaly of unthinkable proportions' -- the lack of a complete text of the master Greek dramatist. The only extant version, in scrolls, was in Athens, so Ptolemy III arranged to borrow the text for copying purposes, leaving as collateral the staggering sum of 15 talents. A small amount to sacrifice, though, for what was known to be 'a unicum, a nonpareil, a one and only.'"

April 21, 2006

You have to love a page that begins "You may never have heard the name of the World's Smartest Man, Richard McKeon."

And, further: "To the best of my knowledge, he is the smartest man in known history. For a rough approximation of his brilliance, think of ArIstotle [sic], about 2,000 years SMARTER [sic]."

Wiki begins their entry with the rather more restrained "McKeon is a pivotal but neglected figure in 20th Century American Philosophy. In a career which spanned seven decades, he published 158 articles and 11 books. He received most of the honours possible for an American philosopher, including being given an invitation to deliver the Paul Carus Lectures in 1969."

One more about him.

March 22, 2006

The Trivium

Chapter One (pdf) of a book titled The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, by Sister Miriam Joseph. Originally published in the 1930s, an updated edition appeared in 2002, reformatted with extensive notes, references, and biographical information.

"Sister Miriam Joseph, the author, wrote the book from a strong academic perspective. Holding degrees from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, University of Notre Dame, and Columbia University, Sister spent her life supporting her belief that women could be fine journalists and that more quality writers with a Christian and Catholic faith would help to address the ills of society. When she began teaching as an English professor at Saint Mary’s in 1931, she was assigned the courses on rhetoric, grammar, and composition. In 1935 after hearing Mortimer Adler speak, Sister Miriam Joseph was asked to "revive the united Trivium again in the freshman class." After studying closely with Mortimer Adler for several months, Sister returned to Saint Mary’s to begin putting together the text, The Trivium in College Composition and Reading, to be used in her class, a required course for all freshmen." (via

Great Books Lists

March 03, 2006

Ancient Wisdom from Dead White Males

"We believe that the reduction of the citizen to an object of propaganda, private and public, is one of the greatest dangers to democracy. A prevalent notion is that the great mass of the people cannot understand and cannot form an independent judgment upon any matter; they cannot be educated, in the sense of developing their intellectual powers, but they can be bamboozled. The reiteration of slogans, the distortion of the news, the great storm of propaganda that beats upon the citizen twenty-four hours a day all his life long mean either that democracy must fall prey to the loudest and most persistent propagandists or that the people must save themselves by strengthening their minds so that they can appraise the issues for themselves."

From the preface of "The Great Conversation", book one of "Great Books of the Western World," edited by Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer J. Adler - December 1, 1951. (via Curmudgeon)

February 13, 2006

New York Times review of Happiness: A History, by Darrin M. McMahon
A brief recollection of Mark Van Doren.

A Q&A With Darrin M. McMahon of Happiness: A History

"In the 1990s, Darrin M. McMahon was teaching a "Great Books" course
at Columbia University ("from Plato to NATO," he calls it), and one
subject - happiness - 'was leaping off the page in all these major
texts'. . . .

"Times: Why did the ancient Greeks believe that you had to be dead if
you wanted to call yourself happy?"

February 03, 2006

Four Things Meme

Matt tagged me.

Four jobs I've had:
1. paper boy
2. fast food jockey
3. selling home stereo speakers out of a white van by flagging down other motorists
4. postproduction audio engineer for small broadcast TV studio

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Annie Hall
2. The Godfather
3. Barfly
4. Brazil

Four places I've lived:
1. Kansas City, MO
2. San Diego, CA
3. Pasadena, CA
4. Big Sandy, TX

Four TV shows I love:
1. The Sopranos
2. The Larry Sanders Show
3. The Office (BBC)
4. Home Movies

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Vail, CO
2. Jerusalem
3. Amman, Jordan
4. Some sugary white beach in Florida when I was a boy

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. potato leek soup
2. yer good ol' pepperoni pie
3. spicy Thai dishes
4. turkey 'n mashed taters

Four sites I visit daily:

Five places I would rather be right now:
1. in a bar
2. in the sack
3. somewhere far, far, away from computers with like babbling brooks and hiking trails and whatnot
4. on stage playing my drums
5. NYC
I tag  . . . wait I don't know any more bloggers.

January 31, 2006

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 30 (AScribe Newswire) -- The Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College announces the launch of the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education. This four-year, multi-million dollar program is one of the most comprehensive national studies of the effects of American higher education. The study will focus on the impact of liberal arts education, exploring how students develop during their college years and how key educational experiences promote this development.

January 25, 2006


"NITLE is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting liberal education. We provide opportunities for teachers in liberal arts contexts to create transformative learning experiences for and with their students by deploying emerging technologies in innovative, effective, and sustainable ways.

"Our mission is to catalyze innovative teaching to enrich and advance liberal education in the digital age."

“Freedom, Piety, and the Perpetuation of Our Institutions”

Keynote Address: American Academy of Liberal Education Annual Meeting
By Christopher B. Nelson, President,
St. John’s College i n Annapolis , MD
June 28, 2004

January 24, 2006

The American Academy for Liberal Education

The American Academy for Liberal Education is a national organization dedicated to strengthening and promoting liberal education through accreditation and research.

January 23, 2006

Eva Brann: Exploring Great Books

2005 National Humanities Medalist Eva Brann calls herself a latecomer to St. John's College and its great books program. "I've been here only forty-eight years," she says, laughing.

January 22, 2006

Bonanza for liberal arts

Christopher Pearson: Bonanza for liberal arts
Have your say, email The Forum
January 21, 2006
LAST week's column was a series of bleak reflections on the declining levels of literacy in Australian schools and universities. This column, in contrast, is about some welcome developments in tertiary education - the opening for business of Campion College in Sydney and its new degree course in the liberal arts.

A Small Niche for Great Books

An Armenian Studies professor's lonely accomplishment in general education
Published On Friday, January 20, 2006  12:01 AM []


January 17, 2006

"Someone to Read Up To"

-The Weekend Australian, 14 January 2006