Philosophy Social Aspects

Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the by Kurt Spellmeyer

By Kurt Spellmeyer

Argues that greater schooling must abandon the "culture wars" if it hopes to handle the main crises of the century.

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It came quietly in the guise of confusion and unease. Children denounced their parents, and parents walked out on their children. Harvard professors on television celebrated psychedelic drugs while Life magazine ran feature stories on half-naked couples who had gone to live in caves. Blacks in berets were organizing private armies while bombs went off on colleges campuses. No one knew exactly what was happening, and everywhere people tried to make sense of things. One of those people was M. I. Finley, a well-known historian of the ancient world.

The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould would belong on the list, as would the physicist Carl Sagan, and the ecologists Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold. To these names I might add two biologists, Anne and Paul Ehrlich, authors of The Population Bomb; a psychiatrist, Robert Coles, who wrote the multivolume Children of Crisis; a psychologist, Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence; the political scientist Benjamin Barber and the management theorist Peter Drucker, whose books are too numerous to be named here.

And the Assembly always could, and on occasion did, abandon him. . ”4 But, as Finley argues, in America circa 1970 things were different. Many experts on politics believed that no one wanted direct democracy, even if it could be made workable somehow. What popular opinion expected, instead, was effective administration: a government for the people but not by the people themselves, operating under the guidance of the appropriate specialists. At that particular moment in our history, however, Finley’s contrast between the two societies struck a painful chord, especially when the discussion turned to the Athenian invasion of Sicily in 413, which had ended in the army’s utter defeat and the loss of 40,000 to 60,000 citizen-soldiers.

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