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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Facts are anti-intellectual?

From Brendan Boyle in City Journal http://www.city-journal.org/2009/bc0116bb.html comes this quote of the day about Robert Hutchins, a past president of the University of Chicago.

 

“Technical knowledge was to be strenuously avoided: “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum,” he observed. “Facts do not solve problems. . . . The gadgeteers and the data collectors have threatened to become the supreme chieftains of the scholarly world.” The true stewards of the university, said the career administrator, should be those who deal with the most fundamental problems: metaphysicians.”

 

 I couldn’t disagree more. Facts are the constraints of thought, preventing thought from just wandering off in all sorts of different and unproductive directions. Without facts to constrain and test thought, we would have thought that was no more coherent than dreams, and of no more value.

 

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