Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tales from the Ivory Tower.

First, this outrageous story from Columbia University:

The Tale of Two Columbias (WSJ Opinion Journal)

And then a review of the problems on campus and some cautious hope for change:

Retaking the Universities, by Roger Kimball (WSJ Extra)

The story of the "courageous" vote at Columbia butresses Trilling's claim of the "adversary culture of the intellectuals" - and scholarship's form of "diplomatic immunity" from consequences of actions. Kimball also reminds the reader of another component of the problem:

Academic life, like the rest of social life, unfolds within a frame of rules and permissions. At one end, there are things that one must (or must not) do; at the other end, there is rule of whim. The middle range, in which behavior is neither explicitly governed by rules but is not entirely free, is that realm governed by what the British jurist John Fletcher Moulton, writing in the early 1920s, called "Obedience to the Unenforceable." It is a realm in which not law, not caprice, but virtues such as duty, fairness, judgment and taste hold sway. In a word, it is the "domain of Manners," which "covers all cases of right doing where there is no one to make you do it but yourself."

In other words, a chaired professorship is no excuse for intellectual slovenliness.

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