Philosophy@Utah State

Home » Uncategorized » Barzun’s ‘The House of Intellect’

Barzun’s ‘The House of Intellect’

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 98 other followers

Old Main, USU

T-shirts


You need a Philosophy T-shirt! For more information, please click here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

* Interested in presenting a paper at an UNDERGRADUATE PHILOSOPHY CONFERENCE or publishing in an UNDERGRADUATE PHILOSOPHY JOURNAL? You should consider it! To see what options are available, both in state and out of state, click here.

PHILOSOPHY BOWLING RESULTS

• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

Blog Stats

  • 192,567 hits

I first read Barzun’s book ‘The House of Intellect’ in college, on the recommendation of a Politics professor of mine who was advising me on my academic future.  The House of Intellect has incredible foresight – written in 1959 but one would think it was written last year.

I still reference the book on some occasion when I teach.  One of my primary pet peeves with my students is their tendency to put ‘I feel’ in front of everything they say.  My response: ‘Don’t be such a wuss.  Assert what you think is the case, if you are wrong don’t worry, someone will tell you!’  I also still get annoyed at the nearly exclusive emphasis on teaching technique (‘engaging the students’) and a corresponding decline in attention paid to the actual content of courses.  I don’t know if I am a good teacher, but I know I teach great books.  If everyone did that, I think we’d be in better shape.

Here is a recent review of the old book.  The book is worth reading for those interested in education in America (and the anti-intellectualism it has helped foster).

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Huenemann says:

    I think you know I share a lot of Barzun’s concerns. I haven’t read the book, but I will. Still, just to argue the other side, I wonder if there is something to the idea of school serving a “socialization” function. It is good for kids to learn about sharing, and reading each others’ feelings, and having good self-esteem, and so on. I hasten to add: not to the point of not learning anything!

    Like

  2. Kleiner says:

    Yes. This socialization was probably done at home a few generations ago. While I wish more parents took responsibility for it now, it is probably necessary in a post-industrial workforce to have schools play a part in the socialization of students.

    Like

  3. Mike says:

    My response: ‘Don’t be such a wuss. Assert what you think is the case, if you are wrong don’t worry, someone will tell you!’

    My response: ‘but, the meek will inherit the earth!’

    Kidding aside, I agree with that basic point. Whenever you state something, “I think” or “I feel” is implied. And education these days has a lot of wuss to it. I heard somewhere that while the literacy rate in the US has gone up over time, the complex literacy rate (whatever that is) in the US has gone down. Incidentally, when I was an undergrad I switched from english to philosophy mostly because of wishy-washy/touchy-feely profs. I didn’t have that problem with the CS department. Vicki Allen in particular wields the staff (brilliant lady).

    I had a friend who got a paper back from Charlie once that said “D, Nice Try”. True story. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t just being lazy either, I think he really did try on that paper.

    I also appreciate it when a prof can look at a student’s attempt to actually learn vs. a student’s attempt to jump through the correct hoops to get the relevant piece of paper.

    Like

  4. Huenemann says:

    Geez, what an ass I am!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: