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Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life Hardcover – September 25, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition Second Printing edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300122888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300122886
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kronman unfolds here a sustained argument marked by subtlety, force, nuance, and considerable appeal."—Francis Oakley, President Emeritus, Williams College

(Francis Oakley)

“In a brilliant, sustained argument that is as forthright, bold, and passionately felt as it is ideologically unclassifiable and original, Anthony Kronman leaps in a bound into the center of America’s cultural disputes, not to say cultural wars. Although Kronman’s specific area of concern is higher education, his argument will reach far beyond campus walls.”—Jonathan Schell, author of The Unconquerable World:  Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People
(Jonathan Schell)

"Just when we need them most, the humanities have relinquished their role at the heart of liberal education—helping students reflect on what makes life worth living. In this bold and provocative book, Anthony Kronman explains why the humanities have lost their way. With eloquence and passion, he argues that departments of literature, classics, and philosophy can recover their authority and prestige only by reviving their traditional focus on fundamental questions about the meaning of life."—Michael J. Sandel, author of The Case against Perfection and Public Philosophy
(Michael J. Sandel)

“No question that the humanities are in a bad way in education at the present, and this book offers not just an argument that they should be more highly prized, but a carefully reasoned position of what happened, why it did, and what needs and can be done about it.”—Alvin Kernan, author of In Plato’s Cave
(Alvin Kernan)

"An impassioned defense of the humanities."—Robert Messenger, Wall Street Journal
(Robert Messenger Wall Street Journal 2007-10-04)

"Kronman argues his case passionately. His discussion of the transformation of American higher education over the last century and a half is most illuminating."—George Leef, NationalReview.com
(George Leef NationalReview.com 2008-02-05)

"In Education's End Kronman succeeds remarkably well, even movingly, in conveying the intellectual and spiritual joy that a serious student can find by participating in the 'great conversation.'"—Ben Wildavsky, Commentary
(Ben Wildavsky Commentary 2008-04-01)

"Kronman's study is an important contribution to the discussion about what education is for, and where it is going."—David Clemens, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
(David Clemens Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies)

About the Author

Anthony T. Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School. Since stepping down as Dean of the Law School in 2004, he has been teaching in the Directed Studies Program at Yale and devoting himself to the humanities.


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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The book is topical, virile,and provoking.
F Lee. Cosgrove
And he fails to see that contact with cultures & histories & traditions other than western ones does not entail a loss to the existing tradition but an addition to it.
Doug Anderson
There is much in this book to like and appreciate, but approximately 3x too many words expressing it.
Zib Zob

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Avant on August 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Kronman's book fills a lamentable gap in the literature pertaining to higher education, to the extent that most of what is written on higher education today is rather empty. This is the kind of book that a thoughtful person, having finished college, would come across and, after having read it, would realize that they were utterly misguided in their undergraduate career. That being said, I feel the book should be required reading for anyone considering graduate school regardless of the field of study. His analysis of the "modern research ideal" seems to me right on. I would, however, agree with some previous reviewers that the book could have been shorter, and at times I found myself painfully aware that he was making a point he had aready sufficiently made. Nonetheless, the final chapter is quite profound and alone worth the cost of the book.

Yet, as a side note I find it striking that no mention of St. John's College in Sante Fe and Anapolis was made in the book. The "great books" programs at Yale, Columbia, etc simply cannot begin to compare with that of St. John's College. This omission is difficult to reconcile considering that the author sees the "great books" tradition and its secular humanism as the best way out of the current education crisis, and, quite simply, no other college or university better represents secular humanism than St. John's.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tojagi on April 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Everyone talks about nihilism, but no one does anything about it.

Kronman divides the history of the American university into three periods:

1.) Founding of Harvard in 1636 to the Antebellum period
2.) From the Antebellum period to the late Sixties
3.) From the late Sixties to the present

In the first period higher education was a very rigid curriculum primarily based on the Bible and the Classical authors. The second period Kronman calls the period of `secular humanism' in which the spirit of searching for profound Truth was kept alive but it wasn't necessarily anchored to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Of the final period, from the late Sixties to the present, Kronman writes:

"In this third phase, the question of life's meaning has ceased to be a recognized and valued subject of instruction even in the humanities. It has been expelled from our colleges and universities, under pressure from the research ideal and the demands of political correctness." (p46)

Kronman says this... and says this...and says this again... and then says it again. The most important ideas of the book are hammered home. I get the impression this is a lawyer writing to the general public, repeating everything he says four times as lawyers might do, so as not to be misconstrued, yet writing in plain English so civilized people like me can read it.

Nevertheless, it's a fine book with an important message. The idea that the humanities took a nosedive since the late Sixties is nothing new. Here is a quote by the scholar Joseph Campbell (1904 - 1987) who taught humanities at Sarah Lawrence College for thirty-eight years.

"For instance, in the colleges the liberal arts are sinking.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By F Lee. Cosgrove on April 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kronman writes a compelling argument as to why college humanities and traditional liberal arts programs should provide the necessary spiritual and moral direction for our maturing youth. The reader should expect his argument to be compelling, he was the Dean of the Yale Law School and he teaches the Directed Studies Program at Yale. The book is compelling and captivating. Most people would struggle with a book so focused on such a seemingly esoteric subject. But Kronman's subject is is compelling and while lengthy - his arguments are almost alarmist in tone. The reading flows rapidly along throughout most of the book!

Kronman takes on political correctness, constructivism, and religious fundamentalism (American grown as well as the Islamic brand), and warns us of the potential for threats to our culture and a more subtly, to civilization. While I don't question the validity of his arguments, I do question of the relevance of some of his points. He is advocating sandbagging, but the river is already out of its banks. He argues we could contain the crest of the flood despite the flooding today. (My simple and inelegant metaphor - not his).

His history and tracing of the evolution in collegiate philosophy and development are accurate and insightful. His assesment of the vacuum in spiritual teaching and direction on America's college campuses is on point and certain to irritate humanities professors across the nation (as well as evangelicals and a few priests). He avoided political connections that could be made,the facist nation state and Nazi Germany - but the connections are there for anyone with familiarity in German or European history. The book is topical, virile,and provoking. Humanities departments would be well served to devise a study of the book and include it in their course offerings! But make no mistake, it is more exciting than any college course book. It is worthy of your time and consumption ant any age.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Liechty on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kronman points to a very real and important trend in modern higher education. He gives a very cogent half-diagnosis of the source as well - that of the urge within humanities disciplines to ape the research methods of the natural sciences and thus exclude any sort of prescriptive 'values' from the research paradigm. However, Kronman underplays an even more important part of the source of the problem - the fact that a socially all-pervasive 'free market' mentality subtley and overtly pushes all that cannot be assigned a quantified ('bottom line') demarcation to the periphery of what is viewed as important, and finally legitimate, in human life. This is much more broadly manifested than in academia (witness how completely political legitimacy and fund-raising totals are equated in the current election cycle) but it is certainly also manifest in the concerns toward which Kronman points. Interesting is the fact that just as many in the 'hard' sciences, confronting the connections between their research and such realities as our genetic future, global warming, radical consumption inequality between and within societies, our continuing addiction to war and militarism, and so on, are beginning to recognize that the 'value-free' research model has always been more ideal than real, the humanities folks now jump on the same paradigmatic bandwagon. Kronman puts his finger on a real issue, but his analysis is arguably more focused on a case in point symptom than on the real source of the problem itself.
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