Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently re-reading Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hofstadter, Chapter 5: Two steps forward, one step back

I'm about a dozen pages into chapter 5.  To recap what came before, in the 18th century American colleges became more open to working and studying across denominational lines.  This coincided with the Founding of a secular Republic by men who were inspired by Enlightenment thinkers and were largely Deist in their personal views.

So of course the 19th century ushered in plenty of colleges devoted to upholding sectarian doctrines and preventing their youth from being exposed to the wrong ideas.  This phenomenon occurred in both the new colleges being created along the frontier and also in revivals of denominational identity in established colleges.  Figures.

Also, Hofstadter has (on page 212) a great quote from Philip Lindsley, a Princeton scholar who eventually became President of Cumberland College (later renamed University of Nashville, and now apparently only existant through some heir institutions):
Our people, at first, oppose all distinctions whatever as odious  and aristocratical [sic]; and then, presently, seek with avidity [sic] such as remain accessible.  At first they denounce colleges; and then choose to have a college in every district or county, or for every sect and party--and to boast of a college education, and to sport with high sounding literary titles--as if these imparted sense or wisdom or knowledge.
I think he's summed up America's conflicted views on class and education, and the Underpants Gnomes views that Americans have concerning the value and meaning of a college degree.

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