Anti-intellectual intellectuals

Susan Jacoby wrote an op-ed piece, based on a book she is releasing, entitled The Dumbing Of America.  She decries the anti-intellectualism of America today, citing the rank ignorance about history and geography that is rampant today, as well as statistics such as 40% of Americans have never read a book in the last year.  She also discusses how our culture tends to denigrate intellectuals as “elitists,” as opposed to the down-home democratic ideal of average “folks.” What she neglects to address, though, is that when it comes to anti-intellectualism, our elites are the worst offenders!  It is precisely our intellectual elites–university professors, cutting-edge artists, culturally-in-tune authors–who are denying the efficacy of reason, insisting that truth is relative, and holding onto exploded ideas (such as Marxism and neo-Marxism) against all evidence.  Who is training the teachers and writing the curriculum that have gutted our young peoples’ education and deprived us of our knowledge base?  Who is denying that there is such thing as truth or goodness?  Who is denying the existence of beauty and purposefully making art that defies the canons of classical aesthetics?  Most common “folks” have better sense.  So I agree with the author in lamenting the dumbing down of our culture.  But until not just the “common people” but the intellectual elites who need to change their thinking.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fw

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/02/rep-lawrence-le.html

    “He’s (Lawrence Lessig) not in public life because he was charming and popular in high school, or to find some lobbying sinecure or because…

    … he is convinced the other side constitutes an American Taliban that must be shamed and then destroyed. Rather, Lessig is most concerned with preserving the immune system, the organic intellectual defenses, of a free and open society, something conservatives and liberals alike ought to care about very much.”

    Lessig is a reagan/conservative/libertarian turned obama liberal. There is common ground between this man´s thinking and men like Dr Vieth, if only we can move past bumper sticker issues back to causes rather than symptoms.

    It is the Conservative Lutheran Reformation´s shining focus on cause (lack of Gospel), singular focus undestracted by apparent urgencies, and just and respectful means, rather than all previous attempts at reform by treating symptoms (corruption and immorality) , with power, that won the day then.

    It will win the day now.

    It requires faith.

  • fw

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/02/rep-lawrence-le.html

    “He’s (Lawrence Lessig) not in public life because he was charming and popular in high school, or to find some lobbying sinecure or because…

    … he is convinced the other side constitutes an American Taliban that must be shamed and then destroyed. Rather, Lessig is most concerned with preserving the immune system, the organic intellectual defenses, of a free and open society, something conservatives and liberals alike ought to care about very much.”

    Lessig is a reagan/conservative/libertarian turned obama liberal. There is common ground between this man´s thinking and men like Dr Vieth, if only we can move past bumper sticker issues back to causes rather than symptoms.

    It is the Conservative Lutheran Reformation´s shining focus on cause (lack of Gospel), singular focus undestracted by apparent urgencies, and just and respectful means, rather than all previous attempts at reform by treating symptoms (corruption and immorality) , with power, that won the day then.

    It will win the day now.

    It requires faith.

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