Sunday, September 30, 2007
In recent days, we (along with folks at America magazine, at the Commonweal blog, etc.) have been talking about ye olde topic, "the identity of Catholic universities". Of course, it's not just those of us who are into the "Catholic university thing" who are hang-wringing about the state of our project; lovers of the university-enterprise generally are uneasy. See, for example, the new book by my law-school teacher and former dean, Anthony Kronman: Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life.
In the Yale alumni magazine, there's a short essay adapted from the book, called "Against political correctness: a liberal's cri de coeur." (Kronman, it should be emphasized, writes and worries as a liberal and a "secular humanist."). Kronman writes:
[W]hen a presumptive commitment to the values of political liberalism begins to constrain the exploration of the personal question of life's meaning -- when the expectation that everyone shares these values comes to place implicit limits on the alternatives that may be considered and how seriously they are to be taken -- the enterprise itself loses much of its power and poignancy for the students involved and their teachers lose their authority to lead it. . . .
Today's idea of diversity is so limited that one might with justification call it a sham diversity, whose real goal is the promotion of a moral and spiritual uniformity instead. It has no room for the soldier who values honor above equality, the poet who believes that beauty is more important than justice, or the thinker who regards with disinterest or contempt the concerns of political life. . . .