Open University

What's Lockian About The Liberal Arts


by Eric Rauchway
After this week's congressional action on our civil liberties, can we dispense for good and all with the idea of Lockian limits on American politics? In any case, those of us who care about procedural liberalism will have to find it somewhere else--like in the universities.

If you're familiar with Michael Bérubé's self-described "happy-go-lucky mockery blog" you don't need to be told that he's a sharp, funny guy, but you might like to know that his new book, What's Liberal about the Liberal Arts, is a lot soberer than the blog, and a sight more deliberative too, which is a point in favor of buying and reading it.

If you're not familiar with Bérubé already, you might want to have a look at his case for academic freedom to get a sense of him; you might also want to look at Scott McLemee's piece on Inside Higher Ed, which comes with a podcast interview. The sound quality isn't great, but I thought it was worth listening to. I was pleased to hear Bérubé say that the key to the book is the section on postmodernism and liberal discussion, which is the part I singled out for analysis here.

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