Selected Writings of Richard Mckeon Volume 2: Culture, Education, and the Arts

Overview


Richard McKeon was a philosopher of extraordinary creativity who brought profoundly original ideas to bear on more standard ways of thinking and learning. A classicist, medievalist, and revolutionary intellectual, he fashioned an approach to philosophy as a plural conversation among varied traditions of thought, epochs, and civilizations. This second volume of McKeon's selected works demonstrates his approach to inquiry and practice in culture, education, and the...
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Overview


Richard McKeon was a philosopher of extraordinary creativity who brought profoundly original ideas to bear on more standard ways of thinking and learning. A classicist, medievalist, and revolutionary intellectual, he fashioned an approach to philosophy as a plural conversation among varied traditions of thought, epochs, and civilizations. This second volume of McKeon's selected works demonstrates his approach to inquiry and practice in culture, education, and the arts.

Together, the writings in this book show how McKeon reinvented the ancient arts of rhetoric, grammar, logic, and dialectic for the new circumstances of a global culture. In essays on creation and criticism, for instance, rhetoric is distinguished from grammar and shown to be the master art of invention, judgment, and pluralistic interpretation. Writings on themes of culture, meanwhile, explore the self-invention of mankind as justification for the arts, the development of the humanities, and the organization of the sciences. In the closing essays on education and philosophy, McKeon considers the implications of his ideas for the future of the liberal arts and higher learning.

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Editorial Reviews

Classical Bulletin

"In this second volume [is] a collection of esssays on culture, education, and the arts that continue to reveal McKeon's deep infusion into the American philosophical tradition. . . . McKeon's constribution to the study of the classics and to general education cannot be ignored. In no other figure does the intersection of American philosophy and classical literature play a more prominent role."

— Daniel B. Gallagher

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"A useful compilation of hard-to-find papers by a neglected scholar whose work still speaks to classicists, philosophers, intellectual historians, and educators. Students of pluralism, rhetoric, the history of ideas, education, and literary theory will find stimulating essays in this collection. The editors . . . have done a service to humansitic scholarship."

— William Michell

Classical Bulletin - Daniel B. Gallagher

"In this second volume [is] a collection of esssays on culture, education, and the arts that continue to reveal McKeon's deep infusion into the American philosophical tradition. . . . McKeon's constribution to the study of the classics and to general education cannot be ignored. In no other figure does the intersection of American philosophy and classical literature play a more prominent role."
Bryn Mawr Classical Review - William Michell

"A useful compilation of hard-to-find papers by a neglected scholar whose work still speaks to classicists, philosophers, intellectual historians, and educators. Students of pluralism, rhetoric, the history of ideas, education, and literary theory will find stimulating essays in this collection. The editors . . . have done a service to humansitic scholarship."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226560380
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Richard McKeon (1900–85) was the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy and Classics at the University of Chicago.
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Selected Writings of Richard McKeon
Volume 2 Culture, Education, and the Arts
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
Copyright © 2005
The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-56038-0


Chapter One Criticism and the Liberal Arts: The Chicago School of Criticism

I

I am often asked to speak on two subjects: the "Hutchins College" and the "Chicago school of criticism." I usually accept these invitations, because as one of the diminishing number of participant-witnesses of both I am distressed by the discrepancy between my memories of what went on and what I am told and asked. I always begin the promised talks by testifying that there was no such thing as a Hutchins College or a Chicago school of criticism.

There was no college in the sense of a fixed program of courses prescribed for a baccalaureate degree or in the sense of a designated faculty that had the status of a "ruling body" in the organization of the university. There were a dean of the college and a dean of students, who presided over the first two years of undergraduate studies. On the completion of that period of general studies, the student selected a department in one of the four graduate divisions of the university. The A.B. or Ph.B. or B.S. that the student received on the completion of two or more years of specialized study was signed by the dean of the appropriate division. There was a collegium, in the sense of an association of scholars and teachers in the divisions, which started, after Hutchins became president, a continuing process of discussion of doctrina and disciplina, what should be taught and what should be learned. A "new" college emerged every five or six years, and in that process "the" college was recalled from time to time, nostalgically as an ideal to be recovered or rediscovered or critically as an error to be avoided or corrected.

When I came to the University of Chicago in 1934, I joined in the work on what mimeographed memoranda called the "new new college." The new college that emerged from this discussion was a college as the old college had not been. The new college was a ruling body. It had an independent faculty, the members of which could not hold appointments in other divisions or schools. It had a four-year program of "general education," which students might begin after two years of high school study and might (but seldom did) complete at the end of what had been the sophomore year in the old college. It granted baccalaureate degrees that were signed by the dean of the college. The program of general education was designed to remedy the fragmentation of courses and of departments of the "free elective" system. General education was to be general in three respects-it was to be an education for everyone, an introduction to all knowledge, and an ordering force in individual life and character.

The foundations of general education were laid in one-year courses in four fields: the humanities, the social sciences, the biological sciences, and the physical sciences. They were at first called "survey" courses, and they "covered" their fields in three lectures and one supplementary question-and-answer session each week. These courses were slowly transformed into general or comprehensive courses designed not to "cover" fields but to form disciplines and to construct applied ideas: the basic ideas and methods of inquiry that have entered daily life and nonspecialized culture from the progress of the natural sciences; the associations of communities and the virtues of individuals that have resulted from the formation of new institutions and from the recognition of new rights and the extension of old and new rights to newly recognized underprivileged groups studied in the social sciences; and the extension of acquaintance with and appreciation of the achievements of the arts and cultures and the acquisition of the arts of criticizing and judging art objects and cultural products in the humanities. The general or comprehensive courses provided bases for core courses in which the disciplines were applied to small groups of problems and experiences, and the core courses in turn prepared for specialized courses in which general education was brought to bear on the disciplines of particular arts and sciences. Integrative courses, like history and OII, Observation, Interpretation, and Integration (which later became OMP, Organizations, Methods, and Principles of Knowledge), explored interrelations among the ideas and disciplines that had been acquired at earlier stages of the program. Degrees were granted on the basis of comprehensive examinations that could be taken with or without course work or course grades. There were no course requirements except for the determination of fees.

It had been anticipated that the initial difficulties in planning and teaching general education by a faculty that had not itself had such an education would lessen or disappear in a second generation of teachers so educated. But since new appointments were made largely from Ph.D.'s of other universities, who thought of education as concentrations and distributions of departmental courses, and since our graduates encountered difficulties when they sought admission to graduate and professional schools of other universities, the next "new" college introduced diversity into the structure of the organization and returned to the traditional four-year period following graduation from high school. The college was divided into five collegiate divisions, four corresponding to the four graduate divisions and the fifth an interdisciplinary division. It retained one dean but acquired five masters. It continued to be an independent ruling body. However, in the previous college, to ensure the independence of the faculty of the college and to protect it from pressures that might divert it from the purposes of general education, a member of the faculty of the college could not hold a joint appointment in another school or division; in the new college, joint appointments were encouraged to provide evidence that candidates were competent, in the judgment of members of the graduate faculties, in the fields of the collegiate divisions and the graduate divisions. Course examinations took a place among the requirements for degrees, and comprehensive examinations approximated more closely the contents of the comprehensive courses.

There was no "school of criticism" in the sense of a body of principles, maxims, or rules of interpretation and judgment accepted, promulgated, and applied, but there was a schola in the sense of a learned conversation or disputation based on agreement concerning what to talk about, which seldom led to agreement concerning what to say about it, except insofar as the discussion led to agreement concerning where the discussion had led and what should be discussed next. The interest was in the analysis and understanding of what was discussed, not in the agreements and disagreements of those who discussed it. The discussion centered on the what, the hoti, not on the why, the dioti, and therefore the school sought to understand what "literature" and "criticism" are in any statement of what they are, before choosing among statements and designing courses to advance appreciation of literature and use of criticism so understood. Like discussions were in progress in each of the graduate divisions, concerning the nature, ideas, and methods of the social sciences, the biological sciences, and the physical sciences. There were connections between the discussions in the college and the discussions in the divisions. Both sets of discussions were interdisciplinary; both used disciplines to distinguish and relate subject matters. The subject matter examined by what came to be called the Chicago school of criticism was the humanities; the methods employed and developed were the liberal arts. The discussion was pluralistic-the varieties of things taken to be the humanities were sought and the varieties of liberal arts used for the interpretation of the humanities were sought. The discussion in the college was innovative-it was directed to choices among the varieties and to the construction of new courses to open up new approaches and insights into named and recognized subject matters. The innovations of the new courses in the college would have lacked direction or interrelation without the schematic pluralisms of the divisional explorations of matters and methods, sciences and arts. The pluralisms of the "Chicago school of criticism" would have been abstract and vacuous without the innovations of the college that translated them into particular perceptions, preferences, and judgments.

Since there was no "Chicago school of criticism" in any sense in which a doctrine or a position might be attributed to it, I shall not try to report the discussions of the humanities and the liberal arts that took place as a background to the planning of general education courses in the humanities. Instead, I shall try to reanimate questions that grew out of the problems encountered in those discussions. I shall try to tell you what the participants talked about without concentrating attention on what they said about it. The account will be one-sided in emphasizing questions that I think are of continuing importance and neglecting other questions that received as much or more attention in the discussions. It is apt to be an account of what I said and thought-as indeed it would have been even if I had tried to present a more objective report.

I first participated in the program of the University of Chicago as a visiting external examiner for the great books courses in 1931-33. During the 1920s and 1930s, experiments were carried on in general education at Amherst College, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago. These experiments took the form of setting up general education courses covering large fields in classical civilization, contemporary civilization, the natural sciences, and the humanities. The courses were based on reading selected great books. In addition, there were elective courses based on general education courses and on great books courses. At Amherst College, under Alexander Meikeljohn, a two-year course on classical civilization was made the unifying basis for undergraduate education. At Columbia University required courses in history, philosophy, and economics were combined in a single course on contemporary civilization; a like course in the humanities was planned and put into effect years later; and a like course in the natural sciences was planned but not approved by the faculty of the college. At the University of Chicago a series of general lectures on the natural sciences was followed by four general courses in the humanities, the social sciences, the biological sciences, and the physical sciences. At Columbia University a general honors course for juniors and seniors, to be added to the special honors courses of the departments, was planned and organized by John Erskine. It met once a week, on Wednesday evenings, with two members of the faculty to discuss one book for two hours. Selections in the two years ran from Homer and the Old Testament to Freud. A syllabus of readings, entitled "Classics of the Western World," was later republished by the New York Public Libraries. (It was not a list of one hundred great books or of one hundred great authors.) The list was used in New York in adult education courses carried on in branch public libraries, YMCAs, and churches. The course was adopted at the University of Chicago, where a team of external examiners was brought in at the end of each year to test the skills of the students in interpreting books and to separate competence in disciplines from contents of memories.

The history department, in reviewing its program, raised questions about the intellectual and theoretic dimensions of history. Should not education in history include the history of ideas and ideas of history? I was invited to contribute to that inquiry as visiting professor of history in 1934 -35. I gave a year-long course on the intellectual history of Western Europe and three seminars, one on the philosophy of history, one on the methods of history, and one on the history of ideas. As a student at Columbia I had taken courses with James Harvey Robinson on the intellectual history of Western Europe and on the new history. He had traced intellectual history as stages in the emergence and enlargement of the methods and instruments of empirical scientific investigation; I sought to trace the continuity and variety of methods in successive stages of inquiry and action. The new history as Robinson presented it was a product of the accumulation of knowledge that uncovered new characterizations of past ages; I sought to differentiate the varieties of perspectives from which the past can be viewed and characterized at any time or at successive times. Ronald S. Crane joined me in conducting the seminar on the philosophy of history. We differentiated four kinds of history in accordance with four philosophical principles or causes: (1) epochal history organized according to comprehensive formal principles that determined the characteristics of all aspects of an epoch or culture, such as Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, medieval, Renaissance, baroque, rococco; (2) causal history organized according to simple material principles into lines of causes and effects in human actions and natural events-political, military, economic, social, cultural; (3) exemplary history organized according to operational efficient causes and concerned with the results of the influence of great men on cultures, communities, and ideas, such as Suetonius' De Viris Illustribus; Hellenistic successions and ideas of philosophers; two works of Jerome's demonstrating that Christians too had great men: De Viris Illustribus, which came to be called De Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis, and De Vitis Apostolorum; Petrarch's De Viris Illustribus; and Carlyle's Heroes and Hero-Worship; (4) disciplinary history organized according to reflexive, purpose-oriented principles of bodies of knowledge, institutions of communities, and developments of literature, art, science, philosophy, civility, polity.

When I accepted a permanent appointment to the faculty of the University of Chicago, it was as a member of the Department of Greek. The department sought ways to close the breach in the teaching of ancient philosophy in modern universities. Two Platos and two Aristotles exist and flourish, one pair in classics departments, the other in philosophy departments. The one pair has Greek texts to be construed but no philosophy to be discussed; the other has philosophies closely akin to the modern philosophies in the languages into which they were translated but not always easily retranslated into idiomatic Greek. I offered courses that were attended in almost equal numbers by students of philosophy, who were required to attend the discussion and translation of the Greek texts and to acquire a vocabulary of about a hundred Greek substantives, and by students of Greek, who were required to attend the discussions of philosophy. The amalgamation of the two parts of the class into one usually began at the end of two weeks or so, when the Greek students entered into the philosophical discussion by observing, diffidently at first, that the text did not support the positions being attributed to Plato or Aristotle. Many of the philosophy students went on to study Greek and to use that language in their inquiries into philosophy and the history of philosophy.

Crane and I collaborated on a course in the history of literary criticism for several years. I participated in establishing interdisciplinary committees in the division of the humanities; these committees grew out of discussions among representatives from the thirteen departments of the humanities to determine what disciplines they shared in common. Four such disciplines were found and four interdisciplinary degree-granting committees were established: (1) a committee on humanistic linguistics, since all departments develop a technical language for the investigation and analysis of their subject matter; (2) a committee on comparative studies of art and literature, since all departments construct and analyze a body of artfully contrived expositions; (3) a committee on the history of culture, since the subject matters studied in all departments undergo a historical development; and (4) a committee on the analysis of ideas and the study of methods, since all inquiries are guided by philosophical principles and ideas. I gave lectures and courses in the undergraduate committee on general studies in the humanities, organized by Norman Maclean to present a program of studies that united and formed the humanities. I joined the Department of Philosophy and the Committee on Ideas and Methods to help relate and distinguish the study of philosophy in philosophical problems and the study of philosophy in other subjects, and I became a member of the committee on the history of culture to relate and distinguish the history of ideas as such and the history of ideas in their embodiments and applications.

(Continues...)




Excerpted from Selected Writings of Richard McKeon Copyright © 2005 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents


Foreword by William G. Swenson
Acknowledgments
Introduction to Volume 2 by Wayne C. Booth
Part I: Creation and Criticism
1. Criticism and the Liberal Arts: The Chicago School of Criticism
2. Creativity and the Commonplace
3. Pluralism of Interpretations and Pluralism of Objects, Actions, and Statements Interpreted
4. Pride and Prejudice: Thought, Character, Argument, and Plot
5. The Judgment of "Judgment"
6. The Methods of Rhetoric and Philosophy: Invention and Judgment
Part II: Arts and Themes of Cultures
7. Man and Mankind in the Development of Culture and the Humanities
8. The Organization of Sciences and the Relations of Cultures in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
9. Discourse, Demonstration, Verification, and Justification
10. The Uses of Rhetoric in a Technological Age: Architectonic Productive Arts
Part III: Education and Philosophy for the New Culture
11. The Battle of the Books
12. The Nature and Teaching of the Humanities
13. The Liberating Arts and the Humanizing Arts in Education
14. The Future of the Liberal Arts
15. Character and the Arts and Disciplines
16. Love and Wisdom: The Teaching of Philosophy
17. Philosophy of Communications and the Arts
Name and Title Index
Subject Index
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