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The Truth of Things: Liberal Arts and the Recovery of Reality


Publisher:Spence Publishing Company



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About the book:

Exposs of the politically correct university are a lively mainstay of recent nonfiction, but they usually focus on the surface conflict of the competing ideologies of the day. Montgomery reminds us that such squabbles have been with us ever since Socrates was sent to his death after the first negative student evaluation. Providing urgently needed historical and philosophical perspective, Montgomery reveals the roots of our educational chaos in the late Middle Ages and shows teacher and student a way out of the intellectual wilderness. Most observers have assumed that the current academic follies arose from the radicalism of the 1960's. Others, following Allan Bloom, go back as far as Rousseau and Nietzsche. But Montgomery traces the problem to the fourteenth century, when certain philosophical ideas, seemingly remote from ordinary life, began to alter men's understanding of reality. In time, the belief that nothing- not even man himself-is real outside the mind came to dominate Western culture.

No longer grounded in an understanding of man as a being of inherent worth, higher education ceased to be about the pursuit of wisdom and became merely a means for man's comfortable self-preservation. Montgomery, who detected the consequences of this flight from reality long before open attacks on the liberal arts tradition became common, points out that other critiques of contemporary higher education refuse to address the underlying philosophical issues and so partake of the very errors they criticize. With the vision of a poet and the precision of a philosopher, Montgomery unmasks the fallacy that education is justified only by its production of a conspicuous material reward, and he points the way toward a recovery of true education. There can be no reform, he insists, without a new openness to the "truth of things," which marks the character and work of the good teacher.

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