- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (Sept. 23 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300143141
- ISBN-13: 978-0300143140
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 363 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,040,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life Paperback – Sep 23 2008
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"Among the more formidable attempts to help higher education address life's big questions was the Great Books movement . . . . Anthony T. Kronman, former dean of the Law School at Yale, makes a laudable attempt to revive this Great Conversation approach in Education's End . . . . I found myself returning to his pages to read again his rationale, to get lost in the helpful details of his footnotes, and to try to figure out what we have in common in using many of the same great books to understand the human condition."―Jerry Pattengale, Books & Culture
"Just when we need them most, the humanities have relinquished their role at the heart of liberal education—helping students reflect on what makes life worth living. In this bold and provocative book, Anthony Kronman explains why the humanities have lost their way. With eloquence and passion, he argues that departments of literature, classics, and philosophy can recover their authority and prestige only by reviving their traditional focus on fundamental questions about the meaning of life."—Michael J. Sandel, author of The Case against Perfection and Public Philosophy
About the Author
Anthony T. Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School. Since stepping down as Dean of the Law School in 2004, he has been teaching in the Directed Studies Program at Yale and devoting himself to the humanities.
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But that is my only real complaint, and this is something that one should get past when reading this book because it is important. The author's main thesis is that the colleges and universities have abandoned the task of equipping the students to answer life's big questions in any thoughtful way. The author traces the history of the modern day university back to a time when the idea of becoming an expert in a field and building on the work of your predecessors (the research ideal) was unknown. Rather, a university professor was able to teach all courses, and the purposes of those courses was to make you a well-rounded and educated human being by teaching within the framework of the meaning of life. The author refers to this as "secular humanism" and upholds it as the proper lens by which the university should be teaching. At some point, the research ideal because the dominating mark of the university, the glory of the humanities were destroyed by what the author calls "political correctness", science because the ultimate arbitrator of truth, and the idea that you could look to your university for morals or life's big questions fell by the wayside. This is unfortunate because, amongst other reasons, a young person looking to wrestle with life's big questions only has religion to turn to for answers. Because I am Catholic it may seem that this fact would please me, but this is certainly not the case. I very much encourage rational inquiry and study of the best minds history has to offer. I believe that such a study can lead one into the Catholic faith. I am all for full disclosure and for struggling with the big questions in a serious way, and the university is a good place for this. Although many professors take advantage of that by attempting to undermine the faith of their students, the author of the book seems to take the proper attitude of openness to what the religions of the world have to say while still holding their claims to the same level of scrutiny as other philosophical claims throughout history. There ought not be any special (better or worse) treatment for one worldview over another, so that there is a proper role for this kind of study in the academy.
While the author laments that the lose of a sense of meaning in the universities, he is quick to point out that there are schools (such as his university Yale) that has "great books" courses which deal with these kinds of questions. I am proud to say that my own college has such a course which I taught while reading this book, and the book made me appreciate my course and what my school was doing much more. The book offers an important message for today, and thus should be considered by those in the academy as well as those who are about to enter college or who have children ready to enter college.
Also, the book suffers from a lot of general talk. Even though I agree with his core points, I found my eyes glazing over at times. He should have used more specific examples to liven things up.
If this were turned in in one of my classes, I would deduct points for the student's not having structured his argument efficiently! You could have cut at least 100 pages.