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ERIC Number: EJ861160
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
Reclaiming the Intellectual Life for Posterity
De Botton, Alain
Liberal Education, v95 n2 p56-60 Spr 2009
The contemporary university is an uncomfortable amalgamation of ambitions once held by a variety of educational institutions. It owes debts to the philosophical schools of Ancient Greece and Rome, to the monasteries of the Middle Ages, to the theological colleges of Paris, Padua, and Bologna and to the research laboratories of early modern science. One of the legacies of this heterogeneous background is that academics in the humanities have been forced to disguise both from themselves and their students why their subjects really matter--for the sake of attracting money and prestige in a world obsessed by the achievements of science and unable to find a sensible way of assessing the value of a novel or a history book. The author dreams of an ideal new sort of institution which could welcome Montaigne, or indeed Nietzsche, Goethe, or Kierkegaard--a University of Life that would give students the tools to master their lives through the study of culture rather than using culture just for the sake of passing an exam. This ideal University of Life (which would be equipped with an elegant logo, cafeteria, and headquarters) would draw on traditional areas of knowledge (history, art, literature) but would angle its material toward active concerns (how to choose a career, conduct a relationship, sack someone, and get ready to die). The university would never take the importance of culture for granted. It would know that culture is kept alive by a constant respectful questioning--not by an excessive and snobbish attitude of respect. Students in the ideal University of Life would end up knowing much the same material as their colleagues in other institutions, they would simply have learned it under a very different set of headings. Too often, head-on assaults on the great questions are abandoned to the second-rate efforts of gurus and motivational speakers. The author contends that it is time for high culture to reappropriate them and to consider them with all the rigor and seriousness currently too often lavished on topics of minor relevance.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France; Greece; Italy; Spain