Higher Education

The primary aims of the university, from its medieval foundations until about fifty years ago, were to prod a young person into doubting his youthful certainties, to shake the foundations of his most cherished and comforting assumptions, to push him into a vast, confusing marketplace of ideas and options, where, if he had the courage to venture forward and examine the wares of some of the strangely dressed vendors calling out for his attention, he might have his sensibilities enlivened and his sense engaged by mysterious treasures the likes of which he had barely imagined, a few of which, if his mind was open and his soul sufficiently intrepid, might even carry him far, and forever, beyond the world of simple and familiar gratifications and opinions he had previously mistaken for “the real world.”

Over the past fifty years, and increasingly so with each new cohort of students and professors, those aims have been reversed. The young student’s soul is now coercively turned back upon itself, actively barred from that colorful bazaar of strange ideas from foreign lands and distant times, discouraged from so much as imagining that meaning or morality could ever be found beyond the Now, and fit for a permanent intellectual and emotional filter that represents the entire cosmos outside of this moment as nothing but so many failed attempts to reach this moment, to be understood exclusively as evidence in favor of Us, in favor of Now, in favor of today’s most comforting assumptions.

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