western civilization

Galileo and Viviana

It’s Time to Fight for Western Civilization

Soon after arriving at McGill University in 1968 from a year of ethnographic field research in Iran, I met an intelligent and sincere young man, an anthropology student, who told me that North American culture was the most corrupt culture in the world. I asked him where else he had been in the world, where […]

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Anselm_Feuerbach_-_Das_Gastmahl._Nach_Platon_(zweite_Fassung)_-_Google_Art_Project

When Students Kill Important College Courses

The Abolition of Man is the best refutation of moral relativism that has ever seen print (aside from the Bible, of course). In this short and cogent book, C.S. Lewis ponders what happens when human beings abrogate transcendent moral law and objective truth and begin to fashion their own guidelines for living. One argument that […]

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Liberal Talking Heads Turn Against the West

The liberal reaction to Donald Trump’s speech on Western civilization goes to show how much liberals played the fool way back in the 1980s. That’s when the debate over Western Civilization boiled over and traditionalists and multiculturalists vied for control of the humanities curriculum. Liberals didn’t fit easily in either camp. Most of them in the […]

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How Student Protesters Cheat Themselves

One common complaint of protesting students is the old multiculturalist argument that the curriculum is too white and male and Western.  The petition filed by students at Seattle University is a case in point. Once again, we have outlandish allegations of racism and harassment leveled against one of the most progressive enclaves on Planet Earth, […]

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Hey, Stanford: ‘Western Civ Has Gotta Grow’

Back in 1987, in a paroxysm of self-contradiction, Jesse Jackson engaged in what would have gotten him tossed in the clink had he done anything comparable in Djakarta or Chungking.  He led a crowd of banner-waving students at Stanford, taking advantage of a western nation’s heritage of free assembly and free speech, even when the […]

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The Mangling of American History

The evolution of the historical profession in the United States in the last fifty years provides much reason for celebration.  It provides even more reason for unhappiness and dread.  Never before has the profession seemed so intellectually vibrant.  An unprecedented amount of scholarship and teaching is being devoted to regions outside of the traditional American […]

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Jacques Barzun, 1907-2012

“Full of years.” I am not sure I know of anyone who better qualified for that Biblical epithet than Jacques Barzun, who died last week at the magnificent age of 104.  Born in France in 1907, Barzun had been a presence on the American intellectual and academic scene since the 1950s. From his perch at […]

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Capitalism and Western Civilization: Liberal Education

Speaking of business and management majors, Douglas Campbell and James E. Fletcher argue in A Better Way to Educate Professionals that their students “should have a strong base in the traditional liberal arts and the physical sciences….to effectively work with people to understand and solve problems as well as to accomplish individual, organizational, and social goals.” […]

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Why Study Western Civilization?

In predictable fashion, Inside Higher Ed has reported on “The Vanishing West,” the National Association of Scholars’ study on the virtual disappearance of Western Civ courses from our colleges, by quoting only critics.  But the criticisms are the same ones I’ve been hearing for the 20 years I’ve been in academia. Princeton Professor and president of the American Historical Association Anthony […]

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The Disappearance of Western Civ

If you happened to attend college back in the day, the term “Western Civilization” was common currency among most undergraduates: it was something you expected to wrestle with, usually during your freshman year.  In one way or another, “Western Civ.” covered the intellectual, cultural, artistic, religious and political heritage of European civilization, erected on the […]

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U.S. History as Taught at Bowdoin (Ugh)

“There are any number of courses that deal with some group aspect of America, but virtually none that deals with America as a whole. For example, there is African-American history from 1619 to 1865 and from 1865 to the present, but there is no comparable sequence on America. Every course is social or cultural history that looks at the world […]

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Reading Kant and Debating White Nationalists

The many surveys backing up what those of us in the academy know only too well—that liberals vastly outnumber conservatives—are used to bolster the idealistic argument for “intellectual diversity.” But a viewing of an incident at the recent CPAC conference and a video of a philosophy professor further confirmed my beliefs that it is not […]

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Edmundson on Students and Derrida on Tradition

University of Virginia English professor Mark Edmundson has a penetrating, but saddening article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week. It’s called “Narcissus Regards a Book”, and it laments a terrible outcome of the academic culture wars of the late-1980s and early-1990s. Edmunson recalls the infamous chant of students at Stanford—in his rendition, “Hey-ho, […]

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A Brighter Horizon In Texas

The University of Texas at Austin has just approved the formation of a field of study for the recently-established Program In Western Civilization and American Institutions. This enables the center to begin offering great books-based classes on Greek and Roman Philosophy, literature, and the American founding, among other topics. It’s a broad step forward for […]

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