William Deresiewicz on the Neoliberal Arts

An extreme example, to be sure, but one that could not have emerged except on the basis of an already diminished culture:

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, [Wisconsin governor] Walker “proposed striking language about public service and improving the human condition, and deleting the phrase: ‘Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.’” The university’s mission would henceforth be to “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

What to think, though, of a president of a leading liberal arts school who claims not to know the meaning of “liberal arts”?

[H]e said, a bit belligerently, “I’ve been here five months, and no one has been able to give me a satisfactory definition of ‘the liberal arts.’” … “So what do you think the college should be about?” I finally asked him. “Leadership,” he said.

Plato offers us some ideas about leadership, too. But they do not suit the contemporary soul.

The article.


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