THE IDEAL OF THE UNIVERSITY by Robert Paul Wolff

THE IDEAL OF THE UNIVERSITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Wolff, a Columbia University professor of philosophy with what he calls leftish leanings, presents four models of the university, examines principles of university government, discusses such educational issues as grading, tenure and college admissions, argues that ""the University"" (the institution? certain groups within it?) stands in the progressive vanguard, calls for student-faculty power, and makes a rather perfunctory criticism of the pluralistic doctrine of the multiversity in lieu of pursuing the implications of The Poverty of Liberalism (1968). The ""sanctuary of scholarship"" model is bracketed with self-irony; the objective basis of the overlapping models of ""professional training camp,"" ""social service station,"" and ""assembly line for establishment men"" is neglected for the sake of Scorching straw men. Especially in its treatment of training, certification and learning, the book is insistently reasonable in the best sense -- but also in the sense of a ""practicality"" whose defects Wolff recognizes and tries to balance with ideal constructions, only to quail at the dangers of mock-purity. This vibration between utopianism and small-spirited pragmatism may represent a prospectively fruitful tension rather than the classic bind of tinkering reformers. Meanwhile, owing to Wolff's commanding intelligence, there is more in the footnotes than in the whole of such ragbaggy collections as Boorstin's Decline of Radicalism (1969, p. 810) and, if less developed, the same fundamental sympathy with students as Duberman's The Uncompleted Past (1969, p. 816).

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1969
ISBN: 156000603X
Publisher: Beacon