Abraham Flexner from 1939

Is it not a curious fact that in a world steeped in irrational hatreds which threaten civilization itself, men and women – old and young – detach themselves wholly or partly from the angry current of daily life to devote themselves to the cultivation of beauty, to the extension of knowledge, to the cure of disease, to the amelioration of suffering, just as though fanatics were not simultaneously engaged in spreading pain, ugliness, and suffering? The world has always been a sorry and confused sort of place – yet poets and artists and scientists have ignored the factors that would, if attended to, paralyze them.
— Abraham Flexner, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge,” Harpers, June/November 1939

Autumn Reading

So now that summer has come and gone, I still have a pile of books that I meant to read but didn’t get around to. I fear I will not get to this pile until next summer, and by then it will have grown even bigger. But yesterday I decided to dive into this little book (very short) by Louis Menand from 2010. It’s a must read for anyone considering a Ph.D. in the humanities or social sciences, and I think it helps outsiders understand the weird culture of academia.

It is the academic’s job in a free society to serve the public culture by asking questions the public doesn’t want to ask, investigating subjects it cannot or will not investigate, and accommodating voices it fails or refuses to accommodate.
— Louis Menand, The Marketplace of Ideas, 2010, page 156
Source: https://books.google.de/books/about/The_Ma...