imposed upon the literary and historical texts of ourncivilization. Methodology comes first and the reading of thenbasic Western texts, second.nLukacs put “method itself at the center of our educationalnwork.” A report (released on October 1, 1984) of thenWorkshop on Interpreting the Humanities sponsored by thenWoodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation atnPrinceton appears to echo Lukacs in its total concentrationnon methodology as opposed to subject matter. Not a word isnsaid about which works of our rich heritage should benstudied. Instead, the report concentrates on the epistemologicalnideas of recent philosophers which have barelyncongealed in the research journals. The organizers make nonbones about what they wanted to achieve: instead of tryingnto “reclaim the humanistic legacy,” as did the recent NEHnreport, they set out to interpret. To interpret what? Presumablynwhat they call “the traditional canons . . . riddled withnhidden prejudices and blind spots.” They had learned thenconclusions of their interpretations in advance. The participantsnwere 28 college teachers representing a variety ofninstitutions, and they read works by Richard Rorty, CliffordnGeertz, Thomas Kuhn, Stanley Fish, and other recentninterpreters of humanities and social sciences.nThe conclusion offers a consensus that:nThere is a need to broaden , . . the humanities bynintegrating class, gender, race, and non-Western cultureninto the curriculum. . . . Strategies . . . need tonbe pursued … to teach [students] to be not consumersnbut creators of knowledge.nAccording to the report, the participants were deeplynconcerned about “the danger of moral indoctrination” atncolleges and universities. They sympathetically considerednRichard Rorty’s nonfoundationalist view of knowledge andnthe possibility that “knowledge [may be] a social artifactndetermined by the ethos of a given community.”nWhat was the goal of the workshop? According to thenreport, it was “to empower participants as agents of changenon their own campuses.” The workshop has generated “annetwork of dedicated teachers who can share informationnabout courses and methods with each other. The reportnconcludes with a suggestion that the networking might benextended to include “teachers at the secondary and juniorncollege level as well.”nWhile this workshop was sufficiently academic to steernclear of political engagement, Reading Lists in RadicalnSocial Sciences (The Union for Radical Political Economics,n1982) plunges directly into political controversy. Itnconsists of 180 pages of mostly Marxist works recommendednfor courses ranging from history and education to medicinenand health. The books are arranged into syllabi that havenalready been used at Harvard, the University of Massachusetts,nBrown University, Rutgers University, Smith College,nthe New School for Social Research, and at many othernplaces. For instance, Transition to Socialism I: RevolutionarynMovements, offered in the Spring of 1980 at the StatenUniversity of New York-Binghamton in the department ofnsociology, begins with “the classical Marxist writings onnnational and social revolutions,” then moves on to the casenstudies and ends with “the relationship of classes to politicalnorganization [as] a central ingredient to the process ofnchange which is envisioned as occurring within a worldnhistoric framework.” I wonder whether the taxpayers in thenstate of New York are really interested in having thisnrevolutionary lore propagandized at their expense.nMy 20 years’ teaching experience at American universitiesnindicates that many university professors feel that therenis something wrong with this kind of emphasis in undergraduateneducation and that the vision of the world advancednby the new intellectuals does not correspond tontheirs. They are, however, intimidated and unsure ofnthemselves. They are afraid of being lumped together withnthe know-nothings who blithely ignore the life of the mindnof the last hundred years. Temperamentally, they are oftennunsuited for political fights. They used to think that therenexisted a gendemen’s agreement about what should bentaught to undergraduates and what should be left forndiscussion in research journals. Now they find out that thenhighly debatable ideas which made their way into thenconsciousness of the new intellectuals are to be passed on tonundergraduate students (and even to high school students)nas tried and true.nObjections to the takeover of undergraduate teaching innthe humanities and social sciences by the new intellectualsnoften shipwreck on those parts of the “new intellectualism”nwhich sound perfecdy logical and unobjectionable whennpresented out of context. For instance, among the conclusionsnof the Workshop on Interpretation are such hoaryntruths as “learning is an active, not a passive exercise . . .nmoral reasoning [is] an integral part of humanihes . . .nassumptions shape definitions of truth.” Is there anyonenwho would deny any of these propositions? To take on thenthird proposition, one’s conception of truth obviouslyndepends on one’s a priori views. What the workshopnoverlooked, however, was the fact that throughout thenmillennia of Western history we have shared certain verynfundamental assumptions about reality, and that the teachingnof them should come first, and the questioning of them,nsecond. From the fact that these assumptions have beennabandoned by some recent philosophers, it does not follownthat Western history and culture should be taught “from thenoutside,” as if its assumptions had long been proven false ornas if they were no better than, say, the assumptionsnunderlying the culture of the Mongols or that of thenOttoman Empire. The time to introduce Richard Rorty tonstudents (not to speak of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche)nis not in introductory humanities courses.nBut the report, the readings, and many programs whichnbelong to the same network do not concern themselvesnwith the tradition. They propose first to introduce tonstudents those philosophers who are skeptical of the Westernntradition, and then, when the students’ mental habitsnhave been established, perhaps to return to the “traditionalncanons.”nCommon sense and long practice have taught us that onenshould first teach chronological history, mainstream philosophy,nand the masterpieces of native literature beforenbranching out to other points of view. This unwrittennagreement is being resolutely attacked by those who promotenthe new intellectualism. The general public oftenn(Continued on page 23)nnnAPRIL 1985/5n