As Poetic Justice Warrior Heather Mac Donald proclaims, “Teaching the classics is the duty we owe these great works for giving us an experience of the sublime. Yet for decades, universities have drifted further and further away from their true purpose.” So how do university professors and administrators rationalize their abandonment of humanistic excellence? In his 1943 book on teaching, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis identifies this postmodern university pathology as moral subjectivism.
To America’s university administrators and humanities departments, the ancient and modern classics have no independent, objective value or beauty. Instead, value and beauty are subjective and determined by individual whim. As Mac Donald explains about academic deconstruction,
The academic obsession with identity is ironic, since its deconstruction roots lie in a philosophy that denied the very existence of the self. Linguistic signs were arbitrary, successful communication was said to be impossible. The human subject was declared to be a fiction, a mere play of rhetorical tropes.
This self-contradictory thinking explains the title of her recent bestseller, The Diversity Delusion.
Of Universities and Diversity
The fallacies of the diversity movement are stunning, and the fees universities charge for this crime are obscene. College should be a glorious opportunity for learning and inspiration. In fact, we live in the most open and tolerant society for self-creation the world has ever known. As Mac Donald says about Yale University,
Every faculty member is colorblind. These are some of the most open-minded individuals in human history, who want all of their students to succeed, especially underrepresented minorities. Every library is open. Every scientific laboratory seeks students who want to work hard. Yale’s resources for gaining knowledge are stupendous.
Similarly, Aristotle’s classical Greek university, known as the Peripatetic School, started with facts – basic concepts formed by actual experience and reason. Its purpose was the recognition of the “why” in all things. They worked to determine the unique identity of everything by induction; by drawing conclusions from the facts toward a universal truth. Hence the word university.
But the fundamentals behind diversity are the opposite – there are no universal truths, reality can’t be ascertained by human logic. After all, we can’t choose our parents, so genes and luck determine everything. Values and beauty are determined by subjective internal impressions and heredity. Accordingly, Yale’s students are in constant grievance mode, forming victimhood groups, and staging protests; all encouraged, supported, and defended by its president.
As Mac Donald laments, “It’s regrettable that president Salovey is so willing to sell out his faculty and his student body as racists in order to foreground his own moral righteousness.” This, and the violence it engenders among young people whose minds have been hijacked, is now common to nearly every publicly funded university in America.
Of Beauty and Beasts
As Mac Donald retells her experience visiting college campuses, “I received the walk out, the storm the stage strategy, and the blockade which prevented anyone from entering to hear my talk.” Its important to reiterate that in America, we have the right to act on our rational judgement. Only other people can prevent us from doing so. That is why we have objective law, to protect individuals from force. Force includes physical violence, the threat of violence, and fraud. The use of force at universities against classical liberal speakers has become universal. Where does this come from? What does this mean?
In ancient Chinese philosophy, Tao is the natural order of the universe. Reason must discern the character of this order to realize the potential for individual wisdom, and this takes effort. For example, the beauty of a waterfall, as C. S. Lewis discusses in The Abolition of Man, is objective. It is intrinsic to the waterfall and external to human existence. Our consciousness perceives its reality, our soul integrates its attributes and unique identity, our emotions value its beauty. As human beings, we are one integrated system. In Taoism, and to Lewis, the mind governs the emotions through the soul.
Like a waterfall, Mac Donald uses the example of the classic English literature,
I got to lose myself in beauty, greatness, and sublimity. But in the 1980s students were given a license for ignorance. The only thing they needed to know about a book was the race and gender of the author, and wallow in their own delusional oppression. Students today are being taught to hate the greatest works of Western Civilization and each other.
Without our souls we become instinctual animals without the benefit of instincts. The mind and emotions become disintegrated. Accordingly, many college students have embraced a war-like mob mentality. You are either an oppressor or a victim. Oppressors can only redeem themselves by becoming allies with the oppressed, like cowardly university presidents. This deconstruction process replaces the soul with irredeemable, floating, abstract concepts. To wit, on one campus visit, Mac Donald was accused of advocacy for,
Fascist white supremacist war hawks, and a trans-phobe, queer-phobe class system ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the legal conditions under which oppressed people are supposed to live.
According to Hillsdale College president Dr. Larry Arnn, this is what you get when you rip out of a human being its contact with things of real worth, objective standing, and universal value and beauty. Absent the soul, the gut is infected with destructive moral subjectivism. In her quest, Mac Donald only found a beast “being fed by a massive bureaucracy dedicated to cultivating this delusional sense of oppression.” As Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters novel projects, hell is a bureaucracy.
Of Depth of Soul and Depravity
Poetic Justice Warrior Lisa VanDamme‘s teaching mission for her grade school students is simply “raising children with exalted ambition and depth of soul.”
Our graduates draw inspiration from countless, beautiful works of literature. They have learned things in science where they can look at the world and see order and intelligibility. They have learned the stories and scope of history to understand some of the basic principles on which freedom and human flourishing depend. We don’t talk about college.
In reality, all living things grow and eventually rot. In between, they exhibit long lives of purpose. In the case of humanity, if we work at it, lives of meaning. For America’s college and trade school age young people, this is the stage where choices have life-long impact. Yet the diversity and inclusion officers in our universities exist only to accelerate the rotting process, ignoring the genius for human flourishing that lie in the stacks of our libraries. By repealing Aristotle’s Law of Identity, the humanities departments began deconstructing the souls of our young people. With human emotions disconnected from externally derived objective values, campuses are becoming decivilized.
As Poetic Justice Warrior Heather Mac Donald warns, “narcissistic victimology is rapidly spreading from academia to the rest of our culture.” Most recently, the NBA’s moral subjectivism disregards Hong Kong’s freedom, and the humanistic excellence of both modern western and ancient eastern philosophy. Instead, they deferred to the deadliest depravity and oppression in human history. You know, the one not taught in classrooms or discussed in polite company at America’s universities despite the murder of tens of millions of innocent souls – Communist China’s Great Leap Forward. That is the essence of progressivism.