Monday, February 21, 2005

Things we take for granted..

Richard Hofstadter's classic book Anti-intellectualism in American Life is a fascinating sweep through American history that provides a good answer for those who wail 'How could someone as (apparently) stupid as Bush get elected ?'. Another book, The Development of Academic Freedom in the United States with Walter P. Metzger, should be at the top of my list of reading, based solely on this review by Scott McLemee. An excerpt from the review (emphasis mine):

Condensing 500 pages into five paragraphs is a fool's errand, but here goes anyway.

The belief that only the community of scholars has the final authority to determine what counts as valid research or permissible speech has deep roots in the history of the university, going all the way back to its origins in medieval Europe. But it was extremely slow to develop in colonial and antebellum America, which had few institutions of higher learning that were anything but outgrowths of religious denominations.

How we take certain things for granted...
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