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FALL, 1969 

NftBH'tGrvftH (XUi^ftis ^ 


This collection of statements by Faculty Members of Shlmer 
College Is intended to enrich some of the more generalieed state- 
ments concerning the Shlmer curriculum which appear In the catalog* 
The faculty statements were for the most part presented as bases 
for discussion at the Faculty Orientation program at the beginning 
of the 1969-70 academic year. 

The order of presentation begins each division with a catalog 
statement. Except for the first item on the curriculum in general , 
the catalog statements are the ones describing the area and inte- 
grative comprehensive examinations rather than the individual 
courses, but the courses are characterized by the faculty statements. 



(From the Shimer College Catalog) 

The distinction of the Shimer curriculum is achieved through 
a unique welding of general courses, comprehensive examinations, 
and epecialtzed courses into a complete academic experience, each 
element of which is essentially related to the whole. The faculty 
is selected for its commltjnent to the notion that the traditional 
scholarly disciplines are intagr^ted but not vitiated at the general 
education level. 



Denis Cowan 
Dean of Faculty, Shimer College 


Higher education relies upon the active mind. The active mind Is 
sharpened in the exchange of ideas. Therefore, a college should encourage 
the active mind to engage with ideas. 

College is a place where ideas come together. Ideas are not confined 
to immediate experience. Therefore, colleges should bring together ideas 
from the whole human adventure. 

The encouragement of the mind and the gathering of ideas are the shared 
endeavors of the students and the faculty. That one is more experienced than 
the other merely assures us that the voices of other minds than those actually 
present are heard and heard well. Thus the ideas of Thucydides, Shakespeare, 
Galileo, and Kant can be present and examined along with our own. 

Shimer College presents a curriculum wherein ideas are introduced, dis- 
covered, and criticized. To introduce ideas the faculty chooses very carefully 
some original writings which, in their considered judgment, satisfactorily 
engage with the kinds of knowledge that occupy our su&taitied attention. Choices 
change as options present themselves and as the faculty reflect upon the 
changing significance of subject matter in the relevant world at large. But 
freedom so to choose, with the concurrence of colleagues, is a guarantee to 
the teacher and the learner that what is introduced is not the choice of non- 
academic agencies, be they political, administrative, or religious. This 
guarantee is sheltered at Shimer College, but the choices of course material 
are not exempt from challenge by students and by faculty themselves. Such 
challenge may emerge in the whole context of the introductionj discovery, 
and criticism of ideas. 

Discovery occurs best within a mode of inquiry. There is a heavy 
reliance at Shimer College upon the mode of inquiry generated by discussion. 
Discussion presumes a willingn^e*- to c«nt-ei^ tiwr Ti±-s««»eion upon particular 
ideas, and particular ideas are introduced from readings. Thus preparation 
for discussion requires considerable reading before class in order that the 
deliberations may be substantive. At Shimer College sutdents are expected 
to read at least five or six hours every day of the week. With such an 
intake of ideas and data the discovery of fresh ideas and insights is induced. 
Discovery is the satisfaction of the inquiring mind, and its freshness is not 
a measure of its newness. Old ideas may be rediscovered or discovered to be 
other than what some presumed them to be. 

Criticism is the application of one set of ideas to another, thereby 
exposing weakness or strength in one of them in terms of the other. Criticism 
may be tentative or audacious, and the result of criticism may be sportive or 
definitive, but the atmosphere in which criticism is conducted is crucial 
to the outcome. Scholarly criticism depends upon investigation and reflection, 
and Shimer College recognizes that if criticism is to be effective there must 


be opportunity to establish critical modes outside of the classroom discussion. 
Therefore, examinations and theme writing are essential elements of the 
educational experience. Within the writing program and the examinations the 
student faces the task of supporting his discovered ideas and critical con- 
clusions with reasoned reflection. 

To enclose these volatile conditions within a fixed pattern of general 
courses is Shimer's concern. The pattern has three levels. The six basic 
courses are concerned with the development of the skills of analysis, of 
logic, and of rhetoric to the end that art, science, and society can be 
approached as intellectual and affective experiences. Ihe remaining seven 
area courses broaden the base of information and investigative method within 
the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The three integrative 
courses and the foreign language requirements expect some historical and 
philosophical principles to emerge as ways of understanding the nature of man. 

The demonstration by the student that something significant has happened 
to his own development is not limited to courses and their examinations. 
Comprehensive examinations at these three levels present relevant but fresh 
material to be prepared independently by the student. The result is that a 
student at Shlmer leaxus ta function intellectually bath in and oat. of class- 
room aituations . 



(From the Shimer College Catalog) 

The general courses in the humanities have three principal 
objectives. The first is to acquaint the student with a consid- 
erable body of the best works in literature, music, and the visual 
arts. The second is to develop skill in interpretation of these 
works- The third is to give the student an understanding of some 
of the general principles upon which critical judgments and eval- 
uations of the arts are made and to develop some skill in the 
written application of these principles. 

In each course the student is required to study a selection 
of works in addition to those discussed in class and to prepare 
himself for examination upon these. Although all works are chosen 
on the basis of their own merits, the essential aim of instruction 
is not to teach the specific works, but rather to use the works 
as a means of developing an understanding of various modes of 
interpreting and evaluating the products of all the arts. 

The Comprehensive Examination in Humanities seeks to test 
the student's ability to apply the skills in interpretation and 
evaluation which he acquires in the classroom to works which he 
studies independently, to make clear and to justify the critical 
position underlying his judgment of particular works, to exhibit 
a knowledge of some, representative- -works of art, music, and 
literature, to write purposefully and with style, as. developed 
in Humanities 1, 2, 3, and 4. 



Andrew F, H. Armstrong 

Rutgers University; Parsons School of Design; University of 
Chicago, A.B. (1958); Mexico City College; University of 
Chicago, M.A. (1959), Chairman of Humanities 2, 1969. Shimer 
College Faculty Member 1959- . 


The remarks that follow are meant to comprise a tentative, but only 
tentative, restatement of the purposes and ends of the general courses in 
the Humanities. The literature sequence of Humanities 2, 3, and 4 Is the 
central subject, but anything said here about Humanities 2 can be applied 
to Humanities 1, and the ideas related to Humanities 4-A can be linked 
without violence to the B and C variants. 

While Humanities 1 and 2 direct their attention to differing kinds 
of art, they share a basically identical method and goal. They move, through 
a structured analysis of form and content, of parts as related to the whole, 
toward a recognition and understanding of the artist's craft . Less than 
with what he has done in the plastic arts or in music or in literature, they 
are concerned with how he has done it. These courses make use of a special 
language for each, its terms rendering communicable the how brought to light 
through analysis. 

Humanities 3 turns from craft to criticism , on the premise that once 
the how of the artist is established, the what can be clarified. Humanities 3 
mounts interpretation on the analytical base supplied by the two earlier 
courses, adding the consideration of the work of art's meaning to that of 
its content and form. What the artist has done takes precedence over how 
he has done it, although the how is kept ever in view. If form-content 
can be said to serve as the focus for Humanities 1 and 2, form-content-meaning 
does the same for Humanities 3. 

One might reasonably expect that a sequence beginning with analysis and 
moving to Interpretation would inevitably settle on evaluation as the pivotal 
problem of the final course. While such a progression in theory may be 
architecturally satisfying, it tends to crumble In practice. Interpretive 
exercises and the study of contending aesthetic systems too often obscure 
the ground on which a work can be rated as good and successful or bad and 
a failure. Worth becomes increasingly a matter for subjective judgment; 
discussion breaks down. 

We know that analysis can be amicably practiced, as can interpretation, 
in the company of one's peers. Evaluation can not. One can argue form- 
content and meaning while appearing to retain an openminded humility, but 
evaluation demands larger, less retractable pronouncements at the borders 
of presumption. For the student, evaluation becomes more and more a process 
to handle alone. 


Should this reasoning so far prove soundj we cannot be expected to . 
proceed from the how the artist does it of Humanities 2, through the what 
the artist means by it of Humanities 3, to the how much it is worth of a 
workable Humanities 4. 

In our hunger, however, for order and symmetry, we cannot long be at 
ease with a Humanities 4 that is a mere extension of Humanities 3, simply 
"more of the same." If Humanities 4 is to hold its place in the curriculum, 
it must somehow acquire, for both instructors and students, a sharp yet 
meaningful difference from the other units in the sequence. 

A real possibility for such a difference may have arrived in the recent 
history of Humanities 4. Until three years ago, several features of this 
last general course set it somewhat apart from the others, if only in content. 
First, many of its readings were the work of still-living and even very 
young writers. Second, the course included a grouping of other authors, 
old and new, each drawing his inspiration from a common spring- -formerly 
the Don Juan legend now replaced by that of Faust. Third, a sizeable block 
of the calendar dealt with censorship, once a biting problem for the artist, 
but today an issue of rapidly shrinking size. 

When censorship, from the course as from the 20th Century, faded away, 
whatever value it carried as a synthesizing element, as a study of the-artist- 
and-his-social-relations, went with it. Other cultural concerns of the artist 
still visible in the balance of the readings quite obviously were not his 
alone, since all men, artists or not, take assurance of their individual 
reality from the people and things "out there." Moreover, the notion that 
art bestows aesthetic dimension on society's abrasiveness seems tritely 
axiomatic and therefore feeble in the incitement of arresting and thoughtful 

But our understandable lapse in attention to one integrative topic 
for the readings--society' s policing of art--in reducing our field of view 
to the Faustus "syndrome" and "the new writing," rather oddly turned the 
course toward cohesion, not away from it: the artist's creative response 
to irritation could now be seen to wing home with startling frequency, not 
on society's actions exclusively, but on art itself. 

The novelist reacts to music, and to Elizabeth-m drains.' s presentation 
of legend, as in Mann's Dr. Faustus . Tue poet reacts to painting, and to the 
ancient heritage of myth, as in Auden's "Icarus." T'^Hiile Keats stares through 
the ode at the urn, Ferlinghetti fixes his gaze, in "The Lonely and Isolate 
Satyrs," upon the monolithic newcomer-poets crowding the beach of current 
verse. Tlie twenty-odd-year-olds in a Liverpool cellar string syllables on 
amplified guitars. 

So we come- -at least for the moment, since the curriculum is alive and 
wide open to change--to source , the artist's source of irritation. Source 
as a simple rubric for Humanities 4 joins with criticism for Humanities 3 
^^■^ c^^^f fc for Humanities 1 and 2. 

An objection may arise that the idea of the artist stimulated by art itself 
is too narrow a consideration for a general course, that it tends to ignore his 
traditional preoccupation with mankind's war, inequities and other social enigmas 
In answer, one can argue that a semester devoted to art deriving from art, and 
thoughtfully planned as to reading content, will avoid sketchy historiographical 
interference, and give wider, more vigorous coverage to the purely aesthetic 



T. Nelson Magill 

Johns Hopkins, B.A. (1934); Cornell University, M.A. (1937), 
Ph.D. (1941); Juilliard Graduate School. Chairman Humanities 
Area, 1968- . Shimer College Faculty Member 1966- . 

The "idea of the humanities" (if I may be facetious about it) is a 
fiood idea! made completely respectable by Matthew Arnold's definition of 
Culture: the best that has been thought and said by Man since Man began-- 
or words to that effect. 

Mr. Armstrong has laid out for you a pattern of progressive, structured 
exposure to the Humanities chiefly as Literature, through the years of a 
student's relationship with humane studies .. .What I propose to talk about 
for a few minutes is, is there a signif icant--perhaps even necessary --relation- 
ship with a further curriculum, beyond the normal Humanities sequence? 

Having completed a sequential study in the Humanities, the student, 
usually in his third year, will have likewise completed a sequence in the 
Social Sciences and in the Natural Sciences. At this point, the student 
will normally concentrate in one or more of three areas... The student 
choosing Humanities will concentrate in Literature. Any conjunction with 
Music and Art will be only peripheral. But from his brief exposure to 
Humanities 1 the student may feel that Art or Music is to him more vital 
Humanities studies than singly literature. .. It is here that our "total 
liberal education" breaks down, as I see it. A "total liberal education" in 
the Humanities should provide the same kind of expansion beyond set guide- 
lines that is possible in the Natural Sciences, for example: "Science" 
means Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc., in concentration courses; by the 
same token, shouldn't "Humanities" mean Music, Theatre, Painting, Sculpture 
as well as Literature and History? 

With this in mind, Ben Kneale and I began working up a program of study 
we called CREATIVE ARTS. It was implemented into a working syllabus, after 
Ben's death, by other staff members and myself. The proposal was endorsed 
by the Board of Trustees, but suspended for lack of funds. (Could have paid 
for itself in one year!) 

Simple plan: a concentration beginning in the third year in a "creative" 
area: Painting and Sculpture, Creative Writing, Theatre. Professional 
instruction by a post-graduate fellowship holder in each area: he to be 
a performer^ and to teach one course in his speciality. (Room and board, 
Studio, $1500.) .. ."Learning" not only through instruction but also by example 
in performance: an actor in Theatre, a writer perhaps for that Theatre, 
a" painter and/or sculptor to have work constantly on exhibit. .. There is no 
recommendation for Creative Music here, for our program now comes to an 
abrupt and brutal halt by the first semester of the first year. This is 
unfortunate; because "Making-Music" was once as vital at Shimer as extra- 
curricular Theatre now is. Certainly I hope it can become integral to a 
Creative Arts program. 

Tell your Congressman to expedite CREATIVE ARTS at Shimeri 


P a in ting 

Students majoring in painting would take one course in their major 
each semester for a total of six courses. Two elective courses would be 
in sculpture, making a total of eight concentration courses in the field 
of the fine arts. 

There would be required readings in the history and aesthetics of art. 
The readings would be developed by the Department of Humanities. An examination 
in these readings would be given at the end of each year. 

In order to graduate students would have to demonstrate their ability 
to accurately render the figure, landscape and still life, and show proficiency 
in the following skills: oil painting, watercolor, lithograph, etching, 
wood cut and drawing in various media. They would also be expected to master 
certain elementary sculptural skills such as work in clay, plaster, wood and 

Sculptur e 

Students majoring in sculpture would take one course in their major each 
semester for a total of six courses. Two elective courses would be in painting, 
making a total of eight concentration courses in the fine arts. 

There would be required readings in the history and aesthetics of art. 
The list of readings would be developed by the Department of Humanities. An 
examination in these readings would be given at the end of each year. 

In order to graduate, students would have to demonstrate their ability 
to accurately render the figure as evidenced by a portrait, full-figure study 
and group of figures and show proficiency in the following skills; stonecarving, 
woodcarving, modelling in clay and wax, welding, bronze casting and work in 
fiberglass and plaster. They would also be expected to master certain 
elementary skills in two dimensional representation such as painting in oils, 
etching, woodcut and drawing in various media. 

The Creative Writing Program 

Those students in the Humanities Area who elect the concentration in 
creative writing must apply to the Writer- In-Residence for admission to the 
program. Admission will be highly selective; significant samples of each 
student's work must be submitted along with a statement of purpose. Due to 
the size of the first year's prografn, no more than twelve students may be 
admitted to the one concentration course in creative writing (the Writing 
Workshop) offered each semester. 

Each student must take four workshops in Creative Writing and two concen- 
trations in Literature. We recommend that his two electives be taken within 
the Humanities Area. Furthermore, to add critical depth to the program, we 
suggest that the Humanities Staff develop one course per semester that is 
designed to examine closely the technical problems involved in major works 
of poetry or fiction (such courses, entitled "craft" courses at some 
institutions, would be available to Humanities majors; they would be variations 
on the motifs present in the new Humanities concentrations program). 


Instruction in creative writing will take place in Writing Workshops. 
The workshop will be open to each duly admitted creative writing student ^ no 
matter the stage of his development or the level of his experience in writing. 
Since the workshops will grow from the technical and thematic problems of 
the students present, each workshop will present a new academic and artistic 
experience. Given a talented faculty member and searching students who have 
been developing through exposure and practice, simple repetition of subject 
matter seems unlikely. Similar workshop programs have been successful at 
Stanford and Dartmouth. Through this process the student will be exposed to 
the problems inherent in creating all the major forms of imaginative i-nriting 
as well as to the challenge of defending or attacking a wide variety of critical 
judgments on such work. 

The specific structure of each workshop will be determined by the Writer- 
in-Residence. Generally, each workshop will consist of instruction in technique 
and critical evaluation of original works submitted by students and the published 
works of professional vttI ters and critics. The Writer-in-Residence may supplement 
class meetings with individual conferences. 

At the end of the fourth workshop in Creative Writing the student must 
present to the Writer-in-Residence a thesis consisting of a collection of 
short stories, a group> of poems, a novella, a novel, or a play. The Writer- 
in-Residence must approve the thesis or the student will not be given full 
credit for his participation in the program. 

The Theatre Arts 

A realistic program in Theatre Arts (that could be offered by myself and 
an Actor-in-residence responsible for one course per semester) would consist 
of four concentrations, three of which would be required of all students in 
the program. The third semester would offer an elective choice. 

Semester 1: Introduction to the Art of the Theatre . (Required.) 

a. Aesthetics of the theatre, and the history of theatre. 
Form. Lectures and supplementary readings. 

b. Play Production : the fundamentals of technical theatre 
crafts, Including elementary stagecraft, lighting techniques, 
and scene design. Lectures and workshop. 

Semester 2: Fundamentals of Acting, Directing and Design . (Required.) 

a- A study of acting "Methods," with exercises, improvisations, 
and rehearsals designed to equip the actor with different 
approaches to the problem of characterization. Lectures 
and workshop. 

b. A study of techniques of aural and visual design through which 
the director shapes the performance. This examination will 
proceed along two lines: 1) study of the writings of leading 
theorists and practitioners, and, 2) preparation of scenes 
for class presentation and discussion. Lectures and workshop. 

c. Introductory Scene Design 


Semester 3: Advanced Acting (elective #1) 

Training in voice-production, body movement, period styles 
of acting, ensemble playing, and in-depth study of characterization. 
Related training in fencing and modern dance. 

Advanced Directing {elective #2) 

Teaching the actor to act: study of directorial techniques 
for assisting actors toward believable characterizations. 
Preparation of scenes for class discussion. "Prompt Book" 
analysis, and public performance, of a one-act play. 

Advanced Scene Design (elective #3) 

At the end of the third semester, the student shall submit a research paper 
or thesis relating his CREATIVE THEATRE ARTS study and training with his study 
of THEATRE LITERATURE in the general curriculum. 



(From the Shiraer College Catalog) 

The natural sciences program has three aims. The first is to 
acquaint the student with some of the major solutions to problems 
that man has formulated concerning the physical and biological 
worlds. A second aim is to acquaint the student with representa- 
tive examples of different kinds of attack upon scientific problems, 
that is, with some of the patterns of inquiry which characterize 
the physical and biological sciences. The third aim is to develop 
in the student those skills and habits which are helpful in the 
comprehension and evaluation of scientific thought and conclusions. 

The Comprehensive Examination in Natural Sciences seeks to 
test the student's ability to formulate the grounds upon which valid 
conclusions are based as well as the complex of methods by which 
these conclusions are reached, to compare alternative theories 
in regard to their scope and adequacy, to utilize scientific 
concepts approrpriately in relation to the data for which they 
are intended, to deal wisely with scientific generalizations 
and with questions of the interrelationship of the sciences, to 
employ with understanding and with effect some of the principal 
conclusions concerning the natural world, as developed in Natural 
Sciences 1, 2, 3, and 4, and Mathematics 1. 



Don P. Moon 

Cornell University, B.E.P. (1957); New York University, M.N.E, 
(1958); Nashotah House, B.D. (1965). Shimer College Faculty 
Member 1967 . 

"We. suppose ourselves to possess unqualified scientific knowledge 
of a thing, as opposed to knowing it in the accidental way in 
which the sophist knows, when we think that we know the cause on 
which the fact depends - " 

So ArletQtle Informs us (in his Posterior Analytics). The central idea in 
Aristotle's conception of science was the reasoned fact. For an endeavor 
to be scientific not only must facts be observed but the facts must also 
be deducible from first principles (archai) inherent in the particular 
science. For Aristotle science vzas based upon a dialectical relationship 
between fact and principle using both induction and deduction. The 
principles central to a particular science were obtained inductively and 
observable facts deduced from them. 

Consider for a moment a person having a headache and a high temperature 
who, while sitting in the doctor's office, with one leg crossed upon the other, 
notices the fact that his foot goes to sleep more rapidly than would normally 
be the case. (There might be some doubt as to the factual nature of this 
observation by some scientists who would demand that a measurable physiological 
response be substituted for the "sleepy foot" feeling.) Even if it is a fact, 
however, it is not scientific fact in Aristotle's sense unless the "sleepy 
foot" is deducible from biological principles involving blood flow and other 
variables of which I will have to plead ignorance. 

A thorough- going Platonist might well chide me for my easy escape into 
ignorance, seeing in it the giving up of the ideal of the unification of 
all scientific knowledge into a single consistent system. Such an ideal 
was supported by the famous German physicist von Helmholtz (creator of the 
law of conservation of energy) in the following statement: 

"The appointed. .. task of physics is thus to refer natural phenomena 
to unchangeable attractive and repulsive forces, whose intensity 
depends upon distance. The solution of the problem is at the same 
time the prerequisite for a thorough understanding of nature... The 
work of science will have been so completed only when phenomena 
have been traced back to the simple forces, and when it can be shown 
also that the given account is the only possible one admitted by the 
phenomena. Then this would have been proven to be the necessary way 
of interpreting nature, and It would be the one to which objective 
truth should be ascribed." 

This unifying ideal of objective truth being finally obtainable in terms 
of forces between particles was of course at the center of the development 
of classical physics. This particular ideal has been discredited by the 
advent of quantum theory, not to mention non-mechanistic biological theories. 


But it is not only this particular ideal which has been brought into question 
but the Platonic notion of unified knowledge and the objective scientific 
knowledge of Aristotle. Gerald Holton, professor of physics at Harvard 
University, has stated the aim of 17th and 18th century science in the 
following way: 

"Coupled with the theme of universal accessibility of nature has been tne 
old motivating methological theme of an underlying — unity and singularity 
of natural knowledge- The paths to an understanding of nature may be 
infinite, .. .but all the paths have been vaguely thought to lead to a 
goal, an understanding of one nature. 

"These two connected themata of unlimited outer accessibility and 
delimited inner meaning can be vaguely depicted by the device of a 
maze having in its outer w^Hs innumerable entrances, through each 
of which one can hopefully reach, sooner or later, the one mystery 
which lies at the center." 

het us contrast this view with selected 20th century comments on science: 
J. Larmor (1905 -- Lucasian Prof, of Math at Cambridge) 

"There has been of late a growing trend of opinion, prompted in 
part by general philosophical views in the direction that the 
theoretical constructions of physical science are largely factitious, 
that instead of presenting a valid image of the relation of things 
on which further progress can be based, they are still little better 
than a mirage," 

Sigmund Freud (1932 -- writing to A. Einstein in the exchange of letters 

later published under the title Why War? ) 

"It may perhaps seem to you as though our theories are a kind of 
mythology and, in the present case^ not even an agreeable one. 
But does not every science come in the end to a kind of mythology 
like this? Cannot the same be said today of your own physics?" 

Warner Heisenberg (1958) 

In science "the object of research is no longer nature in itself 
but rather nature exposed to man's questioning, and to this extent 
man here also meets himself." 

Karl Popper (1959) 

"I think that we shall have to get accustomed to the idea that we 
must not look upon s.cience as a 'body of knowledge', but rather as 
a system of hypothesis; that is to say, as a system of guesses or 
anticipations which in principle cannot be justified, but with 
which we work as long as they stand up to tests, and of which we 
are never justified in saying that we know that they are 'true' 
or 'more or less certain' or even 'probable'." 

In the minds of many scientists and philosophers the center of the maze is 
either empty or contains a mirror in which we see our own image. 


One could go on developing and arguing the idea of the natural sciences 
and such a discussion might be valuable. Of more value^ I think, at this 
point, is to raise the question which is so often asked by students in the 
liberal arts when they are faced with quantum mechanics, with F = ma, or 
with the molecular theory of gasses: "What's the idea?" 

' In my experience most students, do not come to Shimer with a burning 
interest in the study of science. Science is not generally regarded as 
the path to the truth by Shimer students when they enter and I sometimes 
wonder how many have actually participated in it as a path to the truth 
by the time they leave. 

A quote from Andrew Greeley (a sociologist at the University of Chicago) 
in the Hew York Times Magazine of June 1, 1969, is to the point: 

"The extent and the depth of the revolts against positivism come as 
a considerable shock to those like myself whose training in the 
positive sciences took place in a time when they were totally 
unquestioned at the great universities. During the last winter 
quarter I put a statistical table on the blackboard and proceeded 
to explain the implications. One of my students respectfully but 
pointedly observed: 'Mr. Greeley, I think you're an empiricist. 
In fact, at times I even think you're a naive empiricist.' The 
accusation didn't surprise me because I guess I am an empiricist, 
but the tone did, for it was the tone of voice that used to be 
reserved for the accusation of being a 'clerical Fascist'. 

"The student then went on to deliver a fierce harangue against 
'the epistomology of science,' and to assert that the 'imperialism' 
of science by which it claimed to be the only valid form of knowledge 
...was completely unsatisfactory to his generation." 

The class was in complete agreement. 

We can of course defend the method and values of science against the 
student attacking them- -perhaps by pointing out the value of the scientific 
method for sharpening the mind in logical thinking, by quoting C.P. Snow 
to the effect that every cultured man should be acquainted with the second 
law of Thermodynamics, or by revealing the role played in science by the 
beautiful and by creative imagination. 

The points we might make in defense of science can in turn be criticized — 
in fact one or two of them I myself believe to be totally or partially wrong. 
But this would be beside the point because our defense does not really meet 
the students' basic concerns. In the minds of many students science already 
has two strikes against it: 1) its mathematical formalism and 2) its 
involvement in a technology which is seen as often dehumanizing. Shimer 
students then become involved In a profound critical approach--an approach 
which brings them face to face with the perhaps empty abyss at the center 
of the maze- All this before many students have experienced- -have participated 
in — the truth that does reside within the scientific community. , 

It seems to me that the only way the majority of students will be able 
to encounter this truth is if the endeavor which is science meets them on 
the level of their deepest needs--which is certainly not the second law of 
Thermodynamics . 


Let me quote Whitehead: 

"The solution which I am urging, is to eradicate the fatal disconnection 
of subjects which kills the vitality of our modern curriculum. There 
is only one subject-matter for education, and that is life in all its 
manifestations. Instead of this single unity, we offer children-- 
Algebra, from which nothing follows; Geometry, from which nothing 
follows; Science, from which nothing follows; History...." 

The study of Lif e--biology--can be the unifying discipline within 
the natural sciences and enable integration with the social sciences and 
the humanities. In particular that branch of biology called ecology-- 
namely the science of the mutual relationships of organisms with their 
environment and with one another--seems to me to be the key scientific 
discipline in which the needs and interests of the majority of students 
mesh with the truth there encountered. From the perspective of the 
natural sciences the basic problem confronting twentieth-century man 
is an ecological problem. (Sr , DDT, poluted air and water, people living 
together in community. . .) . 

But not only are the ecological problems significant in themselves, 
they lead naturally to considerations of more basic (from the standpoint 
of physics) scientific knowledge. 

Isotopes, radioactivity, -rays, quantum theory, calculus, periodic 
table, genetic transformations, statistical methods, food chains. 

Let me close with a quotation from Rene DuBos (professor in micro- 
biology) at the Rockefeller Institute: 

"Through its emphasis on over-simplified models, the scientific 
community is betraying the very spirit of its vocation — namely 
its professed concern with reality. Nature exists only in the 
form of complex ecosystems, and these constitute the environment 
which man perceives, and to which he responds. As human life 
becomes more dependent upon technology, it will become more 
vulnerable to the slightest miscarriage or unforseen consequence 
of innovations, hence the need for studies directed to the problems 
of interrelationships within complex ecosystems. Science will 
remain an effective method for the acquisition of knowledge 
meaningful to man, and consequently for social service only if 
its orthodox techniques can be supplemented by others which come 
closer to the human experience of reality, and to a kind of social 
action designed for fundamental human needs. 

"Only through a scientific knowledge of man's nature and of the 
ecosystems in which he functions can technology be usefully and 
safely woven into the fabric of society. Indeed a truly human 
concept of technology might well constitute the force which will 
make science once more part of the universal human discourse, 
because technology at its highest level must integrate knowledge 
of the external world and of man's nature." 



Jack L. Goldman. 

University of Chicago, B..A, B.S. (1958).; Loyola University, 
M.S. (1961), Ph.D. (1966). Chairman of Natural Sciences 1, 
1968- . Shimer College Faculty Member 1957- . 

How do we organize what we experience? What William James termed the 
"booming buzzing confusion" around us. Defining experience as everything of 
which we can possibly be aware, we shall limit ourselves to that cognitive 
experience which leads to knowledge. Sciencej art (esthetic activity), and 
religion are three examples of how we organize our cognitive experiences. 
Thus, science deals with the rational aspects, art with the emotive aspects, 
and religion with the transcendental aspects. 

Now, it is frequently claimed that science and common sense are diametrically 
opposed to each other. Such a claim then provides a good excuse (rather than 
a good reason) for "leaving it, i.e., science, to the experts" or for assuaging 
our possible feelings of guilt at not being "comfortable" with scientific ideas. 
However, if we can show students that science and common sense have a great 
deal in common with each other, although their purposes are quite different, 
then perhaps we have made a beginning at dispelling much of the mythical 
"strangeness" and mystery of science. 

The common sense that we are speaking of is not to be equated with 
horse sense, which someone once defined as "that which prevents horses from 
betting on people", but rather is to be identified as that capacity for learning 
from experience which most men have and use in their day-to-day living. The 
acquisition of common sense knowledge is for the purpose of survival. On the 
other hand, the purpose of science is to find a rational and comprehensive 
order in the natural world about us. Having identified what differentiates 
these two human endeavors we may proceed to their similarities. 

This can be done by considering a sequence of four mutually interacting 
stages in our organization of experience, as suggested by L. K. Nash. Three 
of these stages are common to both science and common sense, in their organ- 
ization of cognitive experience. The appearance of the fourth stage in 
science, as an unique characteristic of that human endeavor, provides then 
a convenient and fruitful source of questions for the student to ponder. 
The identification of discrete organizational levels does not imply in any 
sense that the stages actually operate sequentially but merely is a convenient 
and useful modality of analysis. 

The first stage is from stimuli to constructs, and involves active looking, 
i.e., "observation". We proceed from protocol experience, what Margenau 
has termed the p-plane to what he calls the c-field, the region of constructs. 
Because constructs, as their name implies, are made , constructs can be defined 
with a great deal of clarity. So as we pass from the p-plane, the continuum 
of our experience, to the c-field, on this first level of organization of our 
experience, we gain in exactness. Both science and common sense are active 
on this organizational level where much of the subjectivity of our protocol 
experience is removed. A common sense construct "woman"; a scientific construct 
"height of mercury column in a manometer" are illustrations of this first 
level . 


The second stage is from constructs to concepts. E.g., from "woman" 
we proceed to "mother"; from the previously indicated scientific concept 
we proceed to "pressure." It is here quite often, especially in the physical 
sciences, that we introduce the use of numbers. Even if we do not, we still 
achieve a greater clarity--a higher level of organization. Since concepts 
function primarily as tools to help us organize our experience, we can 
determine only whether they are appropriate or inappropriate, fruitful or 
not fruitful, rather than whether they are true or false. 

The third stage is from concepts to colligative relations, which latter 
are relations among the concepts. It is at this level that not only have we 
succeeded in achieving greater organization of past experience, but we now 
have the possibility of predicting future experience . An example of a 
colligative relation in the physical sciences is Boyle's Law. 

The fourth stage is from colligative relations to postulational systems 
or theories. The emergence of this fourth level is unique to science due to the 
fundamentally different purpose of scientific knowledge as compared to common 
sense knowledge. A rational comprehensive unity is the goal of science; the 
passage from a vast array of colligative relations to a postulational system- 
is the majestic unifying process. An example of this fourth stage is the 
Kinetic Theory of Gases. Now, all the individual relations (Boyle's Law, 
Charles' Law, Amontons' Law) appear as simple deductions from a relatively 
small set of postulates. It is at this level that we claim we "understand" 
or say we can "explain." It is here where the student encounters models and 
analogies, and attempts to gain an insight into their formulation and 
experimental verification or disproof. 

In its progress towards achieving its own Weltanschauung, science needs 
to rely on certain metaphysical principles--principles not amenable to 
experimental verification. This "leap of faith" is a necessary step in 
formulating just what data or subject matter will be acceptable for 
scientific consideration. Whether these principles be a set which includes 
invariance, simplicity, and causality or a set which includes determinism, 
continuity, and isolatibility , it is emphatically necessary to be not only 
aware of their existence but also of the way in x^hich they are used. 

It may therefore be expected that a student proceeding through the 
four courses of the Natural Sciences sequence will develop an appreciation 
and awareness of these principles and of their use. At the same time, he will 
be acquiring an understanding of how constructs, concepts, colligative relations, 
and theories are developed, tested, and judged. For he will have examined 
not only their relation to primary and immediate experience, but also their 
mutual interactions and interrelations. In this way, it is hoped that the 
student gradually begins to appreciate the dynamic nature of science, and 
may perhaps agree with Einstein: "I believe that it is better to know 
some of the problems than all of the answers." 



Philip S. Marcus 

University of Chicago, B.A. (1956), B.S. (1958), M.S. (1959); 
Illinois Institute of Technology, Ph.D. (1968). Chairman 

Natural Sciences Area, 1967-1968, 1969- . Shimer College 

Faculty Member 1966. 


Part of the integrated liberal arts curriculum of the University of 
Chicago College under Hutchins was an experimental math course developed by 
Eugene Northrop and his colleagues. I had the experience of teaching this 
course at Chicago in 1958 and 1959 as an undergraduate teaching assistant 
to Professor Alfred Putnam. This was in fact my first teaching experience. 
As I became familiar with the course at that time, it consisted of a first 
quarter in symbolic logic, a second quarter in analytic geometry (taught in 
a rigorous, careful way based on the preceeding quarter), and a final quarter 
on the study of some chosen axiomatic system, the choice of which varied 
from year to year. 

Shimer' s eventual adaptation of this course consisted of a one semester 
course devoted in its entirety to symbolic logic. By 1966, the faculty had 
concluded that this course just did not work. It was characterized by David 
Weiser, Nat. Sci. Chairman and former Dean of Faculty, as "an experiment 
that had failed." I personally did not agree with this, because I did not 
think that the truncated one semester course taught at Shimer was a fair 
version of the original experiment. Nevertheless, it was proposed at this 
time to scrap the math course entirely, and include math in the physical 
science course, Nat. Sci, 3, as needed there. 

It thus became necessary to convince the Faculty that mathematics was 
indeed a necessary part of an Integrated liberal arts curriculum, and to 
design a new math course that the Faculty would accept. A first, tentative 
version of this new math course has now been taught at Shimer for the last 
two years. It should be emphasized that the course as it has been taught 
for the last two years was never meant to be a final version, only a first 
step. It should also be mentioned that the course has not been taught and 
administered in the most efficient and well-organised way , but rather has 
been taught and administered in an open and exploratory way with an absolute 
minimum of staff discipline and an absolute maximum of freedom and creativity 
for the individual staff member. This is not to imply that there is great 
friction and divergence in the Math 1 staff! Quite the contrary, there 
has been a fine atmosphere of harmony, cooperation, and mutual respect. 
It is just that we realized that this was a nev?, untried course, that we 
didn' t have any final answers on it and that differences in individual 
approach would be a good way to explore the possible ways in which the 
course might work. 

The course, then, in its first tentative version, may now be described. 
It reflects its Shlmerian host environment in two significant ways: first, 
original readings are included (in translation) and form a basic part of the 
course; second, the intrinsic intellectual line of development contains a 
historical, even chronological dimension wit hout being a historical development. 
In broad outline, the couse starts with Euclid 


and the basic concepts of Euclidean geometry as a deductive discipline, , 
continues with Lobachevsky and the basic concepts of non-Euclidean geometry, 
continues with a non-Shimerian study of the computational techniques of 
analytic geometry (Descartes may or may not be read at this point), and 
concludes with a study of the mathematics behind special relativity (Einstein 

has not been read at this point, but he will be in the future his popular 

works, not his research papers). 

This course serves several "integrative" purposes. First, by studying 
the logic of Euclid and the contrast of non-Euclidean geometry, we meet our 
obligations to the Logic Corap, or what is now the logic component of the 
basic ALR Comp. It is true we spend less time on this than the previous 
course, since we are also doing other things. It is also true that the 
present course does not maintain a connection with rhetoric as did the 
previous course. However, I take the Faculty approval of this nexj course 
to indicate a judgement by the Faculty that the connection between mathematics 

and rhetoric was net impoitanc enough to preserve the prefious course. I 
myself feel that any connection between raatematics and rhetoric is necessarily 
forced and artificial, unlike the relationship between mathematics and logic, 
or, for that matter, between mathematics and natural science, or even between 
mathematics and metaphysics, epistemology, and ontology. 

Second, the study of the mathematics of special relativity is very 
useful background for Nat. Sci. 3 and Philosophy 5, as special relativity 
is considered in both these courses. I have not yet gotten any report or 
consensus on the effect of the new Math 1 on these two courses. 

Third, the Inclusion of analytic geometry makes the course a more honest 
and useful prerequisite for Math 11 (calculus) and further xrork in mathematics 
or science. 

Wow, the present status of Math 1 has been described. But it has been 
stressed that this status is temporary, and that this is only the first stage 
of the experiment. I assume that the experiment has been successful these 
last two years, and that the basic idea of the course has faculty approval. 
But what of the future development of the course? 

For the immediate future, I see simply a deepening and refinement of 
the treatment of the basic, unifying concept of the course---the concept 
of "transformation". Don't forget, the course has essentially been changed 
from a logic course to a geometry course. That the transformation concept 
Is the most basic concept in geometry is a view first taken by Felix Klein 
in his famous Erlangen lectures of 1871. In those lectures, he gave his 
famous definition of geometry as the study of invariance under transfor- 
mation. This point of view has become increasingly influential in both 
mathematics and physics since that time. 

This deepening and refinement implies the addition of two new topics. 
First, projective transformations (these have already been tried out in the 
course by Tom- Burgess) :- Projective transformations arise naturally from 
the Renaissance creation of the theory of perspective in painting. The 
basic problem is: How do you convincingly represent three-dimensional space 
oh?'a two-dimensional piece of canvas? Note that distance does not remain 
invariant. Neither does parallellism. What does? Euclid goes out the 
window. An entirely new geometry is created projective geometry. 


Second, the explicit study of transformations, or "transformation 
geometry" (Euclidean) : Transformations have been "behind the scenes" all 
throughout this course, but have not always been dragged onstage and made 
explicit. For example, Euclid's theory of congruent triangles involves the 
"method of superposition" in which he "places one triangle on top of another" 
---without any axiomatic justification! There is a famous quote from Bertrand 
Russell: "Superposition strikes every intelligent schoolboy as a dishonest 
juggle." What Euclid is really doing, although he may not have realized it, 
is transforming one triangle into another by a translation and rotation (and 
possibly a reflection). But these translations and rotations, and reflections 
are themselves worth studying explicitly. They are more interesting (and 
more important) than triangles! 

Finally, there will be a slightly different approach to special 
relativity. There will be new readings in which Lorentz transformations 
are emphasized even more than they are now. 

This is for the immediate future. But there are many different possible 
directions for long range future development. I will discuss just some 
of them. 

First, there has been a certain "popular ground swell" for the reinclusion 
of symbolic logic. This comes especially from students and faculty not familiar 
with the previous course and not acquainted with Faculty action with respect to 
the previous course. In fact, this is not out of the question, and Tom Burgess 
has moved the course a step in this direction by trying out original readings 
In George Boole, one of the creators of symbolic logic. 

There would actually be a very nice way of tying symbolic logic into the 
course. The course starts with Euclid's axiomatic method. If the course 
concluded with the Nagel-Kewmann popularization of Godel's proof, then the 
course would appropriately conclude with the twentieth-century discovery of 
basic limitations in Euclid's axiomatic method. But there is a danger in 
this approach. 

The danger is that if the course tries to do many things in a limited 
amount of time, it may become a cafeteria-type survey in which everything 
is done superficially and no time can be taken to do one thing well. I do 
think that if the existing geometric content of the course were efficiently 
compressed, it would be possible to include such a really new topic without 
losing what we already have and dissolving the bonds of unity which now tie 
the topics of the course together. But this cannot be done right away. It 
requires a period of efficient consolidation of the existing topic content. 

A second tempting future possibility for the course would be to try to 
do quantum mechanics as well as special relativity! This would be of great 
benefit to Nat. Sci. 4 as well as Philosophy 5, and so would tie the course 
even more closely Into the rest of the curriculum. I do not think that anyone 
has ever successfully taught the mathematics of quantum mechanics to non- 
mathematicians. All the more reason to try it at Shimer! In fact, I think 
there may be a nice way to do it with 2x2 matrices. Michel Nicola and I may 
look into this. Needless to say, this is all highly speculative! 

A third possibility which would appeal to the Social Sciences is to 
bring in probability and statistics. It is not at all clear how this would 
fit into the present course, but it is certainly worth thinking about. 

Finally, it is always a temptation in a first general course to try and 
do an introduction to calculus. There are many ways to approach this, and any 
one of them would fit well with Nat, Sci. 3, although Nat. Sci. 3 seems at 
present to be moving away from this direction. 

This is perhaps enough to indicate that the course is flexible and open, 
and that the version taught these past two years is only meant as a foundation 
for the future. It would of course be easy to do all these things at once 
with a full year course rather than the present one semester. But I am firmly 
committed to the present one semester requirement, because any expansion^ of 
the general program means less room for concentration courses, and this is 
unfair to the professional preparation of many students. I am on record as 
believing that the professional preparation provided by concentration courses 
is equally as important for Shimer as the intellectual orientation provided 
by the general courses . 



(From the Shimer College Catalog) 

The four general courses in this area are designed to acquaint 
the student with the major methods and results of the study of man 
in society and to train him to apply this knowledge to rational 
deliberation about social policy. One purpose of the social sciences 
curriculum is to give the student a scientific understanding of his 
own and other cultures and of how the individual comes personally 
to learn and embody the norms of a given culture. A second purpose 
is to teach something of the historical development of democratic 
institutions, ideas, and values. A third purpose is to analyze 
and clarify the kinds of problems involved when society or the 
individual tries to apply theoretical knowledge to social actions. 
Although each of the courses contributes something to the achieve- 
ment of these major purposes, they are so arranged as to make the 
student's progress both cumulative and cyclical. The several 
disciplines of the social sciences and of social and political 
philosophy are drawn upon throughout the sequence. 

The Comprehensive Examination in Social Sciences seeks to 
test the student's ability to analyze accurately some important 
events and issues In American history and in the situation of the 
United States today, to employ objectively and effectively a 
variety of conceptions dealing with personality formation and 
cultural constraints, to judge the relevance of social science 
knowledge to policy action and to the rational choice of ends, 
to deal critically with the theory and practice of alternative 
social systems in their Implications for freedom, for unity of 
purpose, for formulation and Implementation of public opinion, 
and for economic action, as developed in Social Sciences 1, 2, 
3, and 4. 



Barbara Bowdery 

North Central College, B.A. (1939); University of Illinois, M.A, 
(1940); Columbia University, Ph.D. (1951). Chairman of Social 
Sciences 3, 1969. Shimer College Faculty Member, 1964- . 


The Shimer College commitment to general education in the social sciences 
as in other areas Is clear. In this commitment and in this tradition are found 
the distinctiveness of a Shimer education and an important source of loyalty 
to the college. 

This paper is an attempt to distinguish some goals or purposes by which 
general education is justified and then to comment upon the Shimer general 
education courses in the social sciences in terms of these goals and purposes. 

Any analysis and evaluation of general education in the social sciences 
must necessarily occur within the context of the goals and aims by which 
general education, as opposed to education in a discipline, is justified. 
The comments comprising this paper will focus on three sets of goals or 
aims: 1) the value of imparting a humane tradition of learning about 
society, of men's relations to each other, 2) the undesirability of teaching 
factual knowledge which will rapidly become outdated or even obsolete and 
the desirability of teaching the intellectual skills appropriate to present 
and yet-to-be-discovered knowledge, and 3) the importance of education for 
life--for citizenship in a society in which ordinary citizens are called 
upon to form and express opinions upon a variety of issues. 

1. It has been suggested that a civilized and cultivated man should 
have some acquaintance with some of the great ideas which have helped to 
shape modern society. Furthermore, it has been asserted that the wise and 
cultivated man should be aware of significant issues confronting our society, 
and in addition he should be able to recognize valid evidence relevant to a 
particular issue and to make judgments, wise ones, about them. This view 
assumes that there is a traditional core of significant ideas and issues 
which have shaped history. 

Certainly the Shimer student has the opportunity and is invited to 
share in this heritage by reading and discussing some of the great ideas 
and works in political and social theory. The contributions of Aristotle, 
Rousseau, Locke, the Federalist Papers, Tocqueville are examples of works 
with which a well-educated and cultivated person should be acquainted. 
The relations between an individual and his society manifested negatively 
in the breakdown of 'community' and the rise of 'mass society,' especially 
in the urban environment, in 'alienation,' in the 'generation gap' are 
inescapable issues in many forms confronting society. Problems of inter- 
national relation, of government in economic life, of the role of pressure 
groups in the body politic are surely among the most pressing of our times, 
as well as of times past. The ability to discourse intelligently about 
these matters, from both theoretical and practical standpoints, distinguishes 
the liberally educated person. 

Of course there are differences of opinion about the particular ideas 
or issues which are most important. The content of Shiraer College general 
courses in the social sciences necessarily reflects the judgment of those 
teaching the courses concerning the importance and relevance of particular 
issues and ideas. Within the area there is always some diversity of views 
on these matters; the final selection of issues and ideas to be included 
involves compromise and adjustment among faculty. Nevertheless, I believe 
the Shimer general courses in the social sciences admirably fill the function 
of acquainting the student with many of the important issuss and ideas and 
of enabling him to recognize and analyse valid evidence concerning them. 
General education in the social sciences at Shimer can indeed be justified 
as a means of sharing in this civilized tradition. 

2. Many educators assert that the knowledge 'explosion' is so rapid 
that it is impossible to keep pace ^^?ith it; facts learned in college may 
be superseded by new knowledge and new facts by the time the student reaches 
graduate school. Therefore, it is reasoned, the important thing is not to 
teach facts which will rapidly become obsolete, but rather to teach a 
student how to arrive at new theories, how to analyze, evaluate, ask 
questions, judge competing sets of evidence and explanation. Put somewhat 
differently, undergraduate education is not intended to impart specialized 
knowledge, but rather it should equip a student to deal intelligently and 
effectively with specialized knowledge in graduate school or at some other 
later date. One should learn how to learn. Given this justification for 
general education, do the Shimer general courses effectively fulfill this 

Of course a definitive answer to this question would involve extensive 
inquiry into educational techniques, perhaps including experimentation, 
over a considerable period of time. Here one can only offer brief comments 
and suggestions. 

New knowledge is built upon old knowledge; the' discovery of new 
knowledge and the invention of new theories do not occur in isolation 
from what others have already done. Therefore,, understanding and mastery 
of existing learning in particular areas is essential preparation for 
inquiry at the frontiers of knowledge. 

Some educators assert that a distinctive function of general education 
at the undergraduate level is training in the skills of inquiry. The study 
of method, of theory construction, of the roles of competing theories enable 
a student better to understand processes of generalization concerning 
empirical data- This sort of study, when applied to already existing theory, 
is held to be particularly useful in preparing a student effectively to 
handle the rapid increase in knowledge in his ?Later specialized courses or 
research in a discipline. 

How do the social sciences area general courses fulfill these goals? 
Insofar as rapidly increasing new knowled;5e Is built upon already existing know- 
ledge, the Shimer general education cour.'jes do indeed satisfy this requirement 
for later specialization. Insofar as general education should encourage the 
development of the skills and methods of inquiry for later specialization, the 
situation in the social sciences is somewhat different from that in the natural 
sciences. The social sciences possess a smaller body of abstract and univer- 
sally accepted theory than the natural sciences. It is perhaps more important 
for the understanding of societal changes, of particular situations in some 
area of society now and in the future to acquire some generalized comprehension 
of the institutional framework, now and in the past, of particular elements 


I'he problem of selecting the particular areas or institutions of a 
society for more intensive study in the general courses then arises. The 
particular areas of society which are in fact incorporated into the Shimer 
general courses reflect the best judgments achieved through compromise and 
consensus, of those teaching the courses at any given time. 

General education in the social sciences at Shimer includes little 
current systematic theory, except in Social Sciences 3 in which a modest 
amount of current systematic economic theory has recently been incorporated. 
Perhaps it would be useful to experiment a bit in this direction: an increase 
in the amount of more conventional and widely accepted systematic theory 
introduced into the social sciences general courses may well prove to enhance 
the analytical ability of students when they confront particular issues in 
social, economic, and political life. Abstract theory may well be highly 
relevant to present and future social, economic, political situations and 
problems. It is, however, difficult for an area staff to make the kinds of 
deletions of existing course readings in order to make room for even a small 
amount of more systematic, and conventional, theory in the social sciences. 

3. Another justification for general education in the social sciences 
is embodied in the education-for-life view. It is asserted that the real 
purpose of education is to prepare the individual for life -^to enable the 
student to develop into a humane and civilized citizen. Obviously this goal 
is broad and demanding, and many words could be written to develop this view. 
I should like to confine my comments to two points. First of all, for the 
encouragement of the p,ersonal qualities of character which are humane and 
civilized the tradition of liberal learning embodied in the Shimer social 
sciences general courses is particularly relevant. There is a cogent case 
to be made for the study of some of the great ideas of political philosophy 
and of theories concerning the relation of the individual person to the 
social structure in which he finds himself. Such study can have a civilizing 
and humane influence upon young men and women. These intellectual traditions, 
in the social sciences as in the natural sciences and humanities, mark the 
cultured man of liberal education. Such an 'education-for-life' is appropriate 
for one in any profession or occupation and is independent of particular skills 
or specialized knowledge such a cultured man may develop. It is perhaps 
important to note in this connection that this education is not to be confused 
with a tendency to dilettantism or amateurism. 

This view of education for a civilized &nd humane life as a general 
goal of liberal learning is actually closely related to the function of 
imparting a tradition of liberal learning in the social sciences discussed 

A second comment I should like to make concerns the education-for-life 
of a citizen in a basically democratic state. The citizen is called upon 
through his vote and in other ways to make known his position upon particular 
issues as they arise. Should slums be cleared and high rise public housing, 
set in large grassy areas, be built? Should we always strive for a balanced 
federal budget--or, if not, why not and when not? Can the balance of power 
concept usefully be applied to the situation in southeast Asia, and, if so, 
what consequences would likely follow? These are examples of the vast range 


of questions about which citizens are called upon to have an opinion. 
Unless there is some factual information and basic conceptual knowledge 
available to the citizen he has little foundation upon which to take an ' .., 
intelligent position on public issues. 

One of the criteria used by the social sciences area staff in selecting 
subject-matter for inclusion in the general courses is in fact their relevance 
to contemporary public problems or issues. This is, of course, not to say 
that this is the only or the most important criterion of selection of 
materials, nor is it to say that all the most important issues at a particular 
time are directly studied. But the notion of education for intelligent 
citizenship is an important justification for general education in the 
social sciences, and does in fact inform the Shimer program of general 
education in the social sciences. 

This paper has commented upon the Shimer program of general education 
in the social sciences in terms of three basic goals or functions- Other 
analysts may justify general education in other terras, or they may wish to 
redirect the perspectives embodied here. However, any discussion must take 
account of the particular social and historical situation in which it finds 
itself. This is the reason for the emphasis that the particular ideas, 
concepts, and issues included in the Shimer courses are a product of adjust- 
ments and compromises on the part of the area and course staffs. Continuous 
critical assessment of particular content selected for inclusion in any 
program of general education in the social sciences is essential. Only in 
this way can general education remain relevant, alive, and a truly humane 
and civilizing force. 

Two questions form an appendix to these remarks: 

1. What is the proper proportion of a) general education and 
b) specialized education in a discipline? 

2. How intensive should general education be? Are large assignments, 
with emphasis upon general ideas and concepts preferable, or should one 
engage in relatively more exhaustive analyses of fewer readings? 



(From the Shitner College Catalog) 

The integration courses are designed to guide the student to 
the realization that his world extends beyond his immediate environ- 
ment of time and thought. The object is not to indoctrinate the 
student to any one attitude, but to provide him with the problems, 
materials, and variety of viewpoints with which civilized man, 
throughout history, has had to work in arriving at relevant notions 
of order. 

The role of history in the general curriculum is not confined 
to the courses in History. Some problems of political and social 
history are involved in Social Science 2, the historical develop- 
ment of the arts is not neglected in Humanities 1, and the discip- 
linary history is deliberately a part of the structure of Natural 
Sciences 1 and 2. Moreover, the analytical skills developed in 
Social Sciences 1 and Humanities 2 are appropriate tools in the 
study of history. 

The Comprehensive Examination in History seeks to test the 
student's ability to discuss critically some important epochs in 
the growth of Western civilization, to compare particular formu- 
lations of history, to analyze chronological and casual relation- 
ships, to maintain and defend a valid viewpoint concerning historical 
situations of which he is expected to have adequate knowledge, as 
developed iri History 5 and 6, in Social Sciences 1 and 2, Natural 
Sciences 1 and 2, and Humanities 1 and 2. 



Stephen V. Fulkerson 

University of California at Los Angeles, A.B. (1941); University 
of Chicago, A.H. (1947), Ph.D. (1952). Chairman of History 5, 
1969. Shimer College Faculty Member 1967- . 

The topic here being The Idea of History , I. am somewhat anxious lest 
one of you, one day in the library (not altogether a strange place for anyone 
in this audience to find himself) come across R. G. Collingwood' s book of 
the same name and conclude he has been stealing my ideas. And so I wish 
to absolve him of such a crime--since he ;^n:ote the book thirty years ago! 

Around a college, history may be thought of as another subject like 
accounting--to be learned ; or something like "moral philosophy," not just 
to be learned but to be studied for reasons outside itself. Perhaps the 
difference lies in whether history is an end or a means to something--a 
vehicle for improving one's understanding, for instilling nationalism. 
Protestantism, liberalism--or rationalism; and the opportunities for abuse 
become enormous. When anyone starts claiming that "history proves," almost 
anything can be proven! 

If we seek to avoid this morass and limit history as accounting is-- 
a subject to be learned--we face immediately two difficulties. One is the 
vocational one, namely that our students gain a right to expect employment 
when we are through with them, and this has a distorting effect on our 
subject. We find ourselves teaching what the student wants- -or anyhow 
what his employer wants--irrespective of truth or accuracy. 

This is not unassociated with the second, namely that we do not have 
anything in history like basic principles--as in accounting- -universally 
agreed to; and hence, almost anything can be offered in the classroom and 
defended as history--or condemned as unhistorical by such a character as 
Max Rafferty, whose preference I judge it would be to have the Veterans 
of Foreign Wars take over the responsibility for managing the content of 
history courses. 

We might ask, "How did this come about?" and explain very simply that 
at every turn we have two histories, which may be something in the nature 
of having two wives. The very devices used to keep one amenable are exactly 
what disconcerts the other one! 

First, we have history in the sense of what happened, with the historian 
the person who studies it. He is the counterpart of the paleontologist 
studying paleontology, whose problem is to find enough material--and gain 
enough experience handling it--to be able to describe the course of events 
and at least in some measure to explain them. 

Second, we have history as a work of art, the counterpart of Michelangelo's 
portrait of Moses with its tendency to crowd out all other representations-- 
not, however by reason of its accuracy but because of its appeal . And, just 
as none can say how Moses appeared in reality, none can say that your or my 
picture of him is inaccurate or does him an injustice; and similarly, none 
can say concerning thousands of instances that have got into HISTORY whether 
these are more than the work of a skilled contriver which "make sense" and 
"seem real-" 


For the reason that the causes of those developments the paleontologist 
studies lie wholly in the realm of nature, he very seldom, perhaps never, has 
to meet the problems the historian does--who only now and then can account 
for what occurred through an earthquake, a plague, a shipx^nreck, a severe winter, 
and the like. Instead, the events we call "historical" took place in a man- 
made environment not subject to laws and regularities and generally not under- 
standable at all except as the artist functioning in a historical guise contrives 
some species of structure and backdrop and dreams up rationalizations Clever 
enough so most of us feel foolish if we challenge him. 

It is true that other scholars, working in the social environment- -which 
is the world men make for themselves- -face the irrationalities and uncertainties 
of people. But not essentially in the past. The anthropologist may contrive 
for us an account of the Hopi Indians; but the Hopi still exist and are avail- 
able to further study--as a check upon both fantasy and exaggeration- -whereas 
the restrictions upon what an author may say about a medieval manor leave him 
some large liberties which the absence of manors in this day and age do not 
prevent . 

So then, what history must we be concerned with in a college such as 
Shimer? If we reject history-as-accounting, then we must face the reasons 
why we bother with it at all--and the question, why not eliminate it? 

We bother with it because we see it as a means to perhaps more than one 
thing--an awareness of its pitfalls, some measure of wisdom in the evaluation 
' of human motivation, skill at juggling more variables than anyone can really 
handle in a formal system. We also bother because we know that to abandon 
history is equivalent to throwing the law out of the window--it mil bring 
more evils than we now have. 

In addition we are committed to the proposition that history is a ser- 
viceable vehicle of integration; besides being a subject for study in itself, 
it gives us a way of study for use in approaching other fields. Hopefully, 
because it is an art while at the same time making much of its regard for 
objectivity and of its claim to certain knowledge, because it employs 
scientific data where it can come by them and enjoys a measure of prestige 
among political scientists who borrow some of its mythology and findings- - 
and it could be also because historians avoid offending important people; 
hopefully I say, to employ a current solecism, we have seized upon history 
as a sort of scholastic arche-type. We have a belief that students can 
exhibit here, better than in certain other areas, a wide diversity of learning. 



(Prom the Shimer College Catalog) 

The integration courses are designed to refine the student in. 
certain disciplines of thought which are more general than those with 
which the area courses are concerned. These disciplines therefore 
are capable of performing an integrative function. Nevertheless, 
sound pedagogy requires that the principal attention in these courses 
be given, not to individualistic personal integration, not to sweeping 
intellectual integration, but simply to the precise application of 
the discipline under consideration. 

Works written by philosophers are studied throughout the curriculum, 
appearing, for instance, in Natural Sciences 1 and 4, in Social Sciences .- 
2 and 4, in Humanities 3 and 4. In all general courses appear situations 
rich enough for philosophic analysis. In orienting himself philosophically, 
the student's task is to build a comprehensive view of all of his college 
work. To assist in making this possible, Philosophy 5 is offered only in 
the fall term, while the comprehensive examination is given only in May. 
A special reading list calls the student's attention to materials from 
the whole curriculum which should be given emphasis in his preparation 
for the examination. 

The Comprehensive Examination in Philosophy seeks to test the stu- 
dent's ability to adopt for himself an Intellectual stance and a philosophic 
mode which can ably deal with the assumptions, the comparisons, and the 
consequences, Implied and explicit, surrounding major works of the 
philosophic enterprise. The examination presumes experiences in dealing 
with the organization, methods, and principles of knowledge as developed 
in Philosophy 5 and in all of the area general courses. 



Denis Cowan 

University of Chicago, A.M. (1942), Ph.D. (1960). Chairman 

of Philosophy 5, 1969 „ Dean of Faculty 1966- . Shimer 

College Faculty Member 1962- . 

The integrative course in philosophy, entitled Organization, Methods 
and Principles of Knowledge is a direct descendant of the longer course at 
The University of Chicago of the same name. Like Mathematics 1 it was in 
recent years subjected to revision in the face of a threat to its continuation 
in the general program. In 1966-67 it was offered under a new structure 
which was to introduce chosen topics of time, space, and causality presented 
by modern thinkers and then in each case followed by ancient and classic 
treatments of the same topics. This renovation of procedure changed, not 
so much the actual readings, but their order and emphasis. Essentially it 
remained a kind of philosophy of science course. 

Building upon the renovations, the current form of Philosophy 5 adopted 
more carefully the principle of beginning each topic with a modern thinker. 
Rather than maintaining a largely scientific concern this formulation of the 
study has turned toward three general points of view commonly occurring in 
the philosophic enterprize, ontology, epistemology, and cosmology. In 
recognizing the similarity between this division and those attributed to 
philosophic practice by such divergent minds as Kant and Carnap, the course 
could further qualify ontology as the study of affective being, epistemology 
as the study of perceptive reason, and the study of cosmology as speculative 
universality. Another way of characterizing the different topics is to 
suggest that our attention in the first instance is directed to the giveness 
which conditions our experience, in the second to the structure of the 
experience itself, and in the third to the implications of structured 
experience beyond itself. 

The three topics are recurring. That is, the course normally deals 
with three presentations of the topic, moves to the second with three and 
then to the third with three presentations. Thus the first topic, ontology, 
includes Buber's, I and Thou , Aristotle's, Metaphysics , Book IV, and Descarte*s, 
Meditations . The second grouping for epistemology includes Russell's, Our 
Knowledge of the External World , Aristotle's, On the Soul , Book III, and 
Hume's, Treatise of Human Nature (selections). The third grouping for 
cosmology includes Einstein's, Relativity , Aristotle's, Physics , Book VIII, 
and Newton's, Scholium along with Heisenberg on the Quantum Theory . The 
three topics are then repeated. Ontology confronts the Abraham paradox 
of Kierkegaard, the Symposium of Plato, and Kant's, Metaphysics of Morals . 
Epistemology is studied in Kant and the Symbolism of Whitehead, Einstein 
and the Meno of Plato, and Kant's, Critique of Pure Reason. ■ Cosmology is 
approached through Whitehead's philosophy as described in Part III of 
Adventures of Ideas , the Timaeus of Plato, and Kant's, Prolegomena to any 
Future Metaphysics . The final two sections, are not as clearly differentiated 
because they concentrate on the writings of Peirce, Bergson, James, and 
Whitehead without so much topical polarity as the others. 


With regard to the philosophy course's function as integrative for 
the curriculum this is perhaps better said in its relationship to the 
philosophy comprehensive examination. The course itself requires as 
prerequisites the entire span of area sequence courses in Humanities, 
Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. This in itself indicates that the 
generalizations and abstractions appropriate to philosophy must, after all, 
be derived from and consistent with more particular knowledge. The expec- 
tation is for some assured and independent skill in moving through philosophical 
problems. The comprehensive examination goes beyond the course requirements 
and examination, however, and it is in the preparation of and involvment with 
the comprehensive examination in philosophy that the college faculty examines 
the ability of the student to deal independently with philosophy in its 
relation to areas of social, scientific, and artistic thought. To do this 
probably requires that faculty members from area staffs be added to the 
committee preparing and grading the philosophy comprehensive examination. 



(From the Shlmer College Catalog) 

The integration courses are designed to give the student perspective 
into himself and his culture. Such perspective is given depth by giving 
it contrast. Through the study of a foreign language the student receives 
a fresh view, not only of the linguisitc base of culture, but also of the 
thought of a people. Perspective, of course, is not easily taught, but 
it is the purpose of the integrative courses to provide vantage points 
which may evoke that perspective. 

The Comprehensive Examination in Foreign Languages seeks to test 
the student's ability to read the language with intelligent comprehension, 
and to place the language and its related culture in a framework, as devel- 
oped in Foreign Language 1, 2, 3, and 4. 



Dennis Wickman 

St. Olaf College; Reed College, B.A, (1963); Cornell University, 
M.A- (1966); Freie Universitat Berlin. Chairman of German 1, 
1969. Shimer College Faculty Member, 1969- . 



Lass die Sprache dlr sein, was der K'o'rper den Liebenden; er nur 
Ists, der die Wesen trennt und der die Wesen vereint. 

If I begin by quoting Goethe's and Schiller's Xenle "An den Dichter," 
I ara not doing so only to show off my German. Nor do I think that the Weimar 
Classicists' view that language, like the body for lovers, is the only thing 
which separates people's essential beings but also the only thing which unites 
them, somehow clarifies the nature of all disagreements which may divide the 
Shimer faculty. The problem of the foreign languages is surely not the only 
thing upon which faculty members disagree, and its successful resolution would 
also probably not unite them in complete harmony. 

Goethe's and Schiller's advice to the poet has even a broader relevance 
than that. The researches of structural linguistics and anthropology, the 
assumptions (or, to some, biasses) of some schools of modern psychology and 
philosophy, and the perennial orientation of literary scholars all seem to 
support the notion that not only poetry but all serious intellectual progress 
in the humanities and social sciences and perhaps in other disciplines as 
well Is impossible without some precise notion not only of the cultural 
relativity and somewhat arbitrary structure of language in general but also 
of the peculiar qualities of the language in which work is being done. It 
is a nice irony that a great deal of the support for this idea has proceeded 
directly from impulses provided by those archrivals of Weimar Classicism, 
the German Romantics--people whom Goethe was fond of describing as "sick." 
You never know, I guess, what may turn out to be relevant in the end. 

I do not believe that it is possible to know much of the peculiar 
qualities of one's own language without some active, practical knowledge of 
a second. To quote Goethe again, "Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiss 
nichts von seiner eigenen." If language is the body of thought, the vehicle 
to which thought must continually subject itself but without which it would 
be impossible, the awareness of one's own language which comes from a practical 
knowledge of it alone is, however useful, somewhat limiting. How can you 
come to know your own sexual identity if you have never been exposed to the 
opposite sex? Even if it should turn out in the end that he doesn't care to 
take up with women, I think every boy should meet at least one girl in his 
lifetime, and vice versa. 


How many people, you may well ask, must be forced to subject themselves 
to the charms of the opposite sex? Well, how many Europeans have to be con- 
vinced that the knowledge of a foreign language is an important intellectual 
acquisition? There are probably about the same number of people in each group. 
American linguistic isolation may explain the rough going language learning 
has had in this country over the years. I believe it is a form of provincialism 
which, because of progress in travel and communication, is rapidly disappearing. 
Theoretical resistance to the language requirement seems, from my limited 
experience, to be far more prevalent among Shimer faculty members than among 
Shimer students. Try, on the other hand, to get some Shimer students actually 
to study a language. But that is no argument. Try to get some Shimer students 
to run around the block. 

Is requiring a language a good idea? I am not personally sure that 
requiring anything in an absolute fashion is always a good idea, but in a 
context in which every other study is required, 1 do not think that there is 
any other way to keep any department operating. Languages are, on a day-to-day 
basis, often more onerous to students than other kinds of work. X think the 
actual requirement of language learning should only be discussed in the frame- 
work of the general issue of the harm or good done by requiring courses in any 
field. Consensus at Shimer seems to be that it is a good thing; therefore, 
requiring some practical confrontation with some foreign language, if you are 
going to offer foreign languages at all, is probably also a good thing. 

Of what kind should this confrontation be? I do not find the two main 
utilitarian approaches very satisfying even on a theoretical level. The view 
that foreign languages and mathematics are good intellectual disciplines 
sraaks to me too much of the philosophy, "I had to do such-and-such when I was 
a kid, and, by God, it won't hurt you to do it either." Most mathematicians 
I know feel the same way about this justification of mathematics. 

It is true that some experience with a foreign language is useful for 
admission to and success in graduate school. Scholarly work is aided and 
abetted in most fields by being able to read at least French, German and 
Russian. Yet I do not think this should be the primary aim of language 
learning. "By their fruits ye shall know them," but in the beginning, it is 
best to attend to the needs of the tree. Itmight, for example, be a good idea 
to adopt the ETS language testing service, not primarily because it may meet 
with some recognition from graduate schools but more because it can separate 
the testing from the teaching process in a one-man department. It can also 
help to provide the teacher with a realistic set of objectives which optimism 
might place too high or defeat and despair might place below the level of 
acceptability. But the actual nature of the confrontation with the language 
should not be determined by this kind of consideration. I do not believe it 
is used in setting up general courses in other fields, and it would be illogical 
and inconsistent to argue for this academic course alone as a means to a 
post-Shimerian end when all others are treated as something of potential value 
to the students so long as foreign language learning actually can (and, I think, 
does) have some intrinsic value. 

"Discipline" is a word vjhich has, in any case, been somewhat corrupted 
since the sado-masochists have begun using it in classified advertisements. 


Thus, a modern language teacher who has studied the language himself 
because he finds it not only useful but also interesting and important, will 
find it frustrating and self-defeating to teach a student "how to read," 
i.e. ) how to translate. For most non-artistic products which the student might 
actually end up reading, there are decent translations available. A professional 
translation of even works of art is usually better than what a student may come 
up with after two short years of translation exercises. This approach to 
language teaching is like asking an artist to organize a course in painting 
abound a paint-by-number program. You'll end up with a lot of pictures hanging 
around, but it might be reasonably argued that the student has missed the 
point. Likewise, I think It is better to have language students reach a level 
at which they can actively use the language as it is spoken than to have them 
produce refined imitations of translations which are done by someone who 
really knows the language. Wot that translation cannot be at times a pedagogical 
necessity; it is as an aim that it is inferior. "^^e student should be pursuing 
carnal, not abstract, knowledge of the language. 

To continue the erotic imagery, a Shimer student is not likely, after two 
short years of study, to end up in the form of psychological wedlock known as 
bi-lingualism. Yet he can learn the basic structure of the language, acquire 
a minimal active vocabulary, and come to know whether further work with the 
language is desirable for him. He should be able to read most scholarly prose 
with a dictionary. He will have read some literature in his beginning courses. 
Hfewill be able to go on to read more, should he so desire, with some knowledge 
of the difficulties involved and the means of solving them. He will be very 
suspicious of translations, as a rule. He will be existentially , as opposed 
to abstractly, aware of the arbitrary, if systematic, nature of linguistic 
structure and should be a bit more conscious of the limitations and possibilities 
of his own language. Should he really get involved with the foreign language 
he may end up writing worse English prose than before. You can't have everything, 

A foreign language is a very intricate and complex thing. I was once 
told by a student, "I have studied German, but I just hated learning the 
grammar. I'd like to learn some more, but I only want to read the literature. 
I want absolutely nothing more to do with German syntax." Another suggested 
that language teachers could easily save pain by working around the exigencies 
of syntax. "I spoke German not absolutely correctly in my last course, but 
you could understand me if you put your mind to it, and this teacher really 
annoyed me by continually pointing out that I didn't know the grammar." With 
no knowlege of the personal situations out of which these comments emerged- - 
there may have been some bad teaching at work in both cases--! should say that 
the views represented are charming in their naivite but not much to work with 
as educational principles. There are better and worse ways of teaching syntax, 
but it has to be done somehow. A working vocabulary must be acquired. And I 
know of no effective method of attaining either end that does not take time. 

Shimer is comparatively stingy in the amount of time it gives its required 
language courses. It make up for this by being generous with claims made for 
the courses' contents. I am not suggesting that either must be changed--no 
one seems really to have enough time, and, students, required to take a 
language, are usually happy if they don't have to do everything the catalog 
claims they'll be doing,. None of my students in German 3 has, at least, 
approached me with the complaint, "I^Jhen are we going to start doing our selected 
readings about life and culture? Why are you going over the grammar and 
vocabulary of German 21" In any case, the frequent use of "selected" and "some" 
makes the catalog descriptions flexible enough to counter this kind of criticism 
f artlv adeauatelv . 

- JO- 

Faculty expectations, however, should be modest. In two three-hour year 
courses, a student may be expected to get some fundamental knowledge of a 
language which may not be either terminal or all-embracing. If he can 
understand most of what is said to him in conversations, understand everything 
he reads, given a dictionary and plenty of time, and say almost everything 
he wants to say without making so many errors that a native speaker would have 
no idea what he is talking about, that is already a great deal. I hope I have 
clarified what the wider significance of this practical knowledge should be 
at the beginning of this report. And I think that this broader significance 
permeates to some degree many aspects of the student's thought processes, 
if neither so immediately nor so obviously as, say, a reading of a play by 
Shakespeare in a humanities course may contribute to some understanding of 
an existential philosopher or a historical movement. 

On the other hand, some students do, after two years, have a working 
knowledge of the language. It seems a shame not to use it. There might be 
ways of doing so in formal course work in other fields which would be profitable 
for both the student's knowledge of the language and for his work in the 
second field. The specialty for which the carnal knowledge of a foreign 
language is most esseiitial is literature, followed at a short distance by 
philosophy and history. At Reed College when I was a student, all literature 
and humanities students were required to take a third-year concentration 
course in the literature of the studied language, A required third-year literature 
course for humanties students .might have the added, advantage of expanding the 
course offerings somewhat, which seems to be a most effective way of expanding 
the scope of intellectual work that goes on at Shimer. Language teachers can 
also be recruited to teach something else as well. Even this simple personnel 
overlap can do much toward integrating one study with another as it seems to 
have done in other fields at Shimer.