Read God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom' by William F. Buckley Jr. Free Online
Book Title: God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom'|
The author of the book: William F. Buckley Jr.
ISBN 13: 9780895266927
Edition: Gateway Editions
Date of issue: January 1st 1986
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 734 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.5
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This is a marvelous expose by Buckley and one I wish I had read before writing my own university-slammer, The Bubble Boys. Buckley's main concerns are that under the guise of "academic freedom" many faculty at Yale in the early 1950s were pushing ideas which were consistent with totalitarianism--against which the United States was at war then, against Korea, as it had been for half the preceding decade against Germany and Italy--and antithetical to the old American values of individualism and Judeo-Christianity. He cites specific courses and instructors across several departments whose lectures were inappropriate or simply pointed students in questionable directions, both as regards religion and economics. He also explored how the textbooks used in basic economics classes were universally Keynesian and pushed towards collectivism, and how social clubs which were ostensibly Christian in nature were beginning to have leaders who were atheist, pushing the fervent believer to the margins. He explored the fact that Yale's alumni--donations from whom made up a goodly portion of Yale's financial subsistence--were opposed to this kind of teaching, and, while encouraging them to withhold money from the institutions, explained that too many of them did not take these matters seriously enough. He points out that the administration at Yale, while claiming they were opposed to the doctrines preached in the classroom, refused to interfere on the grounds that they would thereby be violating academic freedom.
What would initially appear to be a simple extension of academic freedom, however, Buckley exposes to be a ludicrous tool used by academics when it suits them and to their own advantage. Buckley points out that an instructor who held views on the supremacy of the Arian race would not be accepted on a university campus--not be "academically free"--which implies that academic freedom lies within certain bounds. Buckley then argues that when a careful distinction is made between the profession of the scholar and the profession of the teacher, academic freedom should be restricted within much narrower bounds, not extended to wider application. He goes beyond this to even argue that if one's scholarly interests are in topics that are not conducive to teaching ideas which are consistent with what has been shown to be the best truths in practice, he may find a place elsewhere, but should not be teaching at Yale, since it is too likely that his interests will pervade his teaching. Buckley's reasoning is that democracy and the ideas beind Judeo-Christianity have proven to be the best possible institutional foundations, and that to teach Communism and collectivism, both of which had proven to be terrible in various manifestations through history, was not to pursue truth under academic freedom but to encourage error through carelessness.
Buckley's argument is extremely compelling and, bluntly, he is right. The loss of individual spirit in this country has done more damage and will continue to do more damage for the foreseeable future. The loss of religion as a binding factor in American culture is also proving to be dangerous. Since Yale alumni bear a disproportionate role in leading the world relative to their numbers, one has to consider that many of the social trends of the past half-century are due to exactly what Buckley describes here. This is easily one of the best books I've read in some time. It is concise and written with the hand of a maestro.
Oddly, I must admit, it has increased the likelihood that, should I get into Yale and the University of Chicago for graduate school, I consider Yale. THis is because the quality of education presented here--though it bears criticism and negative attention--is so far better than the quality of education at public schools in the state of California, which is at the forefront of the collectivist and anti-religious trend, that it is almost sickening.
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Read information about the authorWilliam Frank Buckley, Jr. was an American author and conservative commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing style was famed for its erudition, wit, and use of uncommon words.
Buckley was "arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century," according to George H. Nash, a historian of the modern American conservative movement. "For an entire generation he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure." Buckley's primary intellectual achievement was to fuse traditional American political conservatism with economic libertarianism and anti-communism, laying the groundwork for the modern American conservatism of US Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and US President Ronald Reagan.
Buckley came on the public scene with his critical book God and Man at Yale (1951); among over fifty further books on writing, speaking, history, politics and sailing, were a series of novels featuring CIA agent Blackford Oakes. Buckley referred to himself "on and off" as either libertarian or conservative. He resided in New York City and Stamford, Connecticut, and often signed his name as "WFB." He was a practicing Catholic, regularly attending the traditional Latin Mass in Connecticut.