MIND IN THE MODERN WORLD  by Lionel Trilling

MIND IN THE MODERN WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the first of the annual Thomas Jefferson lectures, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, in which distinguished thinkers of various stripes and specializations attempt to "bridge the gap between learning and public affairs." Trilling, biographer of Arnold and old guard survivor of the 1968 student insurrection at Columbia, enters the breach where one used to find the traditional Western concept of "mind" -- that crowning human faculty in which all our hopes were vested -- and considers the causes of its present submersion. Most of his contentions are unarguable: that the current intellectual frontiers are well beyond the reach of respectable general intelligence; that the intellectuals themselves are undergoing a crisis of confidence; that political concerns tend to erode the classical integrity of the university; even that the mind's own elitism and technological excesses have helped to discredit it. All well and good, or rather, terrible but true; but behind the reasonable posture and rhetorical cogency there is a stubborn refusal to distinguish "mind" from "the organized intellectual life of our day," that is to say the university. This doesn't exactly clarify the issues, but at least we know which side Trilling is on, if we didn't already. His conclusions are hedged but hopeful, his implied advice -- change your head, but not fundamentally. Obviously, he will have readers and probably quoters.
Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1972
ISBN: 0670003778
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1972




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