Phi Beta Cons

Peter Wood on Camille Paglia

Peter Wood has an essay on that Salon piece by Camille Paglia I noted yesterday.

Regarding Peter’s essay, I must register a minor dissent from his statement that she is our

H. L. Mencken. Mencken was an unwavering individualist, opposing the government’s many intrusions into the realm of personal choice. As a self-proclaimed person of the Left, and someone who thinks that (until the Obama regime came along at least) the Democratic party was the party of freedom, Paglia presumably favors all manner of policies that whittle away at the realm of personal choice. The Democrats wear their egalitarianism on their sleeve, but I don’t think there was an egalitarian bone in Mencken’s body.  I simply don’t see much of Mencken in Paglia.

End of dissent. Now the concurrence. Peter mentions the curriculum at University of Detroit Mercy, with core requirements for students to learn logic. Wow! For years I have been saying that most schools should insist that their students master the art of thinking critically, and now I have an example to use.

The art of thinking critically is far removed from “critical thinking,” and that’s another important point Peter discusses. One of the big selling points of our colleges and universities (besides the vast increase in income a student will supposedly enjoy as a consequence of getting a degree) is that they allegedly teach “critical thinking” to students. We can’t blow the whistle on that bit of deceptive advertising often enough, and it’s very nice to have Paglia in our camp. At most schools, what they mean by “critical thinking” is that students learn that their professors are critical of capitalism, private property, the traditional family, etc., and regard anyone who disagrees with them as a fascist or a fool.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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