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3/26/09

Colleges Ignore Life's Biggest Questions

Why are we here? Don't even ask, say some. They believe the question is sophomoric, the stuff of naive young minds. Anthony Kronman does not agree. I am reminded of Einstein, who had such a "silly, childish" idea as to try to imagine what it would be like to ride a beam of light.

"In a shift of historic importance, America's colleges and universities have largely abandoned the idea that life's most important question is an appropriate subject for the classroom. In doing so, they have betrayed their students by depriving them of the chance to explore it in an organized way, before they are caught up in their careers and preoccupied with the urgent business of living itself. . . . Over the past century and a half, our top universities have embraced a research-driven ideal that has squeezed the question of life's meaning from the college curriculum. . . . [Alexander Meiklejohn] thought it vital that students also explore what he called "the art of living," the spiritual question of how they ought to live their lives. He defended the idea of spiritual seriousness in a nonreligious age, and thought it could be studied without dogmatic commitments.

Our culture may be spiritually impoverished, but what it needs is not more religion. What it needs is an alternative to religion, for colleges and universities to become again the places they once were--spiritually serious but nondogmatic, concerned with the soul but agnostic about God." More at The Boston Globe.

Anthony Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale and author of Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life.
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On a wholly different note here is this cat, which seems quite happy sitting inside a container.

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