Gift of the Interval

Gift of the Interval October 31, 2007

Michael Oakeshott says that the university provides one central gift, the “gift of the interval”:

Here was an opportunity to put aside the hot allegiances of youth without the necessity of acquiring new loyalties to take their place. Here was an interval in which a man might refuse to commit himself. Here was a break the tyrannical course of irreparable human events; a period in which to look round upon the world without the sense of an enemy at one’s back or the insistent pressure to make up one’s mind; a moment in which one was relieved of the necessity of ‘coming to terms with oneself’ or of entering the fiercely trivial partisan struggles of the world outside; a moment in which to taste the mystery without the necessity of at once seeking a solution . . . . One might, if one were so inclined, reduce this to a doctrine about the character of the university; one might call it the doctrine of the interim.”

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