Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rorty on The Moral Purposes of Universities

Richard Rorty has written a number of thought-provoking essays about American universities. One of my favorites is "Education as Socialization and as Individualization," published in Philosophy and Social Hope.

I've recently come across another essay - and was it ever hard to get! I ordered it through Inter-Library Loan, and they're normally super fast, but this took 3 months to receive. Anyway, it's an article entitled "The Moral Purposes of the University" published in The Hedgehog Review (Fall 2000, pp, 106-119).

Rorty begins by arguing that very few religious communities qualify as "constructive subtraditions" in American society (apologies that these selections begin and end in mid-sentence):

Instead, it is universities that function as "the conscience of the nation":

So what's a professor to do?

That sound like a pretty modest proposal - but in Rorty's defense it may well be more than what many academics presently do. There are lots of important points in this essay.


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