Every year at this time I am privileged to appear as a guest lecturer for my friend Adam Daifallah’s course on the history of conservative thought at McGill University. Below are lightly edited excerpts from tonight’s lecture.
In his essay, “What are universities for?” philosopher Leszek Kolakowski writes: “The greatest danger is the invasion of an intellectual fashion which wants to abolish cognitive criteria of knowledge and truth itself. The humanities and social sciences have always succumbed to various fashions, and this seems inevitable. But this is probably the first time that we are dealing with a fashion, or rather fashions, according to which there are no generally valid intellectual criteria.”
The counter-culture of the 1960s drew a bright line between all past and present understanding of what universities were for. Standing on one leg, one might say that in the past universities felt it was their mission to teach students…
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