Is There Truth In Academia?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A Jesuit who taught in Georgetown, and is in a position to know, says the quest will be more difficult than in generations past. “I am in fact skeptical about it all,” James V. Schall writes in The Intercollegiate Review. “Political correctness is pretty widespread.”

Schall taught at Georgetown for 40 years. “I believe that it is practically impossible to obtain an education in the highest things in most existing universities,” he writes. “I do not say that especially loudly, and it is not necessarily a cry of despair.”

“But the first thing one must notice about today’s schools, if he is to begin at all, is that students have little real confrontation with the highest things, including the truths of revelation. But perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. For doesn’t spending so much effort in obtaining a genuine education distract us from more important things, like helping the poor? But the poor cannot be helped unless we know what it is that causes wealth in the first place. Good will or bad ideology is not enough. And on this issue, I fear, most universities are long both on good will and bad ideology.”

As you may have guessed, Schall is rather an old-fashioned Jesuit. This means, at least, that you can learn a bit of history from him: “Augustine was aware that the pursuit of truth would, for the most part, appear to be ‘laughable,’ particularly that truth that caused a Walker Percy to ask, ‘What else is there?’ But Percy’s is a good question. You won’t find it asked much in universities, but still, ask it—no matter what college sticker you put on your car’s rear window.”