it—Darwin, Freud, Marx, to namenonly three — we must wonder whonneeds universities at all. For, cleariy, thengreat intellectual steps forward in thennatural and social sciences were takennsomewhere else, on the Beagle, or innthe imagination of a despised ViennesenJew, or in the hall of the BritishnMuseum, open to a lowly foreignnjournalist.nWhat marks the university as different?nIt is that we assemble here to treatnlearning as shared, plural, open, diverse.nWhat we institutionalize in universitiesnis the possibility of sharedndiscourse and public exchange ofnknowledge among different peoplenwho know different things and seek tonfind a language common to thosendifferent things.nWhat it means to study, in somenone place, mathematics and botany, ornsociology and religion, is that we judgenit better to study these things in onenplace than in many places. And in thenend that judgment addresses a deepernconcern for explaining many things inna few ways. If chemistry did not speaknto geology, or physics to mathematics,nor economics to political science, thennthe premise of the university that learningnmany things helps us to understandnthem all in some cogent way provesnflawed. But it is not flawed, for, as wenknow, economics without mathematics,nand political science without history,nand anthropology without psychology,nare not possible. Learning flowsnacross disciplinary lines, to the discomfortnof the limited and the specialized,nbecause humanity will not stay withinnbounds. In times past the analyticalnmind turned to measure the dimensionsnof God.nIn universities we draw togethernmany disciplines in quest for not infor­nmation but understanding. And by understandingnwe mean the capacity ofnmany things to find explanation in somenone way. What this means for thosenof us who study the particularities ofna single human group — the Jewsnthrough time, or the Classics, or thenanthropology of this tribe or the sociologynof that class or locus — is simple.nWe all learn a great deal about somenthing. But only when we can intelligiblynaddress others, who know a greatndeal about some other thing, are wenable to join in that mode of discoursenthat makes the university unique.nWhen we see what we know asnsuggestive, as data that serve as annexample of a condition to be explorednin diverse examples, and when we offernwhat we know as useful examples fornthe testing of hypotheses of commonninterest and concern, then we formnuniversities. For how we treat knowledgenindicates where we are. The entrynof any subject requires displaying anpassport: this is what I, knowing what Inknow, can teach you about you, knowingnwhat you know — and therefore Incan learn- from you as well.nThe framers of the Talmudic canonncompare to the builders of universitiesnin that they put together all knowledge,nas they identified worthwhile knowledge,nand explained everything theynknew in some one way. They producednnot an encyclopedia of knowledgenbut a single coherent statement ofnwhat they knew, set forth in a cogentnand proportioned way. It was theirntheory of the whole, all together and allnat once. When we can do that, we shallnalso have founded a tradition of learningnthat will endure, where it serves, asntheirs has endured.nJacob Neusner is a professor at Brown.nEdited by Jane Greer. Traditional poetic conventions used in vigorous,ncompelling new works. Heartening manifesto for SASE. $3.50/sample.nPlains Poetry Journal, P.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, ND 58502n46/CHRONICLESnnnLETTERSnThe Economicsnand Politics ofnBook Reviewingnby Jack MilesnSome months ago, Katherine Daltonnof Chronicles wrote an article innwhich, it seemed to me, she seriouslynexaggerated the leftist homogeneity ofnthe literary establishment and furthernoverestimated the hegemony of ThenNew York Times.nI begin with the question of thenhegemony of the Times, but my acknowledgmentnmust be larger than anynchallenge I can offer. The New YorknTimes Book Review is, quite simply,nboth the biggest and the best of thenweekly newspaper book sections.nQuantitatively, the Times publishesnmore reviews per week than any othernAmerican newspaper. On at least a fewnSundays in the year its quota of reviewsnwould equal that of the runners-up —nthe Washington Post, Los AngelesnTimes, and Chicago Tribune — combined.nQualitatively, too, the Times knowsnwhat it is talking about better than thencompetition does. In so saying, I alludento the fact that no book is reviewed innthe NYTBR that has not been read innits entirety by some member of thenbook review staff, a policy I recenflynconfirmed with editor Rebecca Sinkler.nNina King, editor of the WashingtonnPost Book World, says that the mostnany book reviewed in her supplementngets in the way of reading before then