McKeon, Adler and Hutchins

A bit of a brain dump after following the new Adler link from Jorn in the previous post. All old ground, but suggesting Pirsig missed aspects of McKeon as the “Chairman” in ZMM.

Richard Peter McKeon (1900 – 1985) Columbia – Woodbridge & Dewey AB’20, AM’20, PhD’22, Sorbonne, Columbia’25, Hutchins – Chicago’35, Dean’36-’48, Ideas & Methods 211 (Room Cobb 112 first floor corner), Retd’74, (Bibliography)

Mortimer J Adler (1902 – 2001) – Columbia PhD’22(approx), Chicago’30 Law’31 (Great Books / Synopticon ’52)

Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899 – 1977) Yale AB’21, LLB’25, Law Dean’27, Chicago President’29-’51, (World constitution – post Hiroshima)

Charles Hartshorne (1897 – 2000) Chicago’28-’55

In the polarizing battles surrounding the general-education movement at Chicago, McKeon was often stereotyped as a Great Books advocate, an Ancient (vs. the progressive Moderns), and a strict Aristotelian who analyzed texts based on the requirements laid down in the Poetics. His schematism made it possible to appreciate the philosophy of the past without taking sides.

Common themes – The Great Books, Liberal Education, Ford Foundation, Encyclopeadia Brittanica.

Frederick J E Woodbridge
John Dewey
George Anastaplo
Richard Rorty – McKeon AM’49, AB’52
Robert Pirsig – Minneapolis BA’50, MA’58, Chicago McKeon Ideas&Methods’61
Doug Mitchell – McKeon AB’65 (book)
Zahava McKeon (his wife) – McKeon PhD’74
David Owen – McKeon AM’66, AB’80, PhD’84
Milton S Mayer (1908 – 1986) – McKeon
Robert Coover – McKeon AM’65
Susan Sontag – McKeon AB’51
Paul Goodman – Mckeon PhD’54
Paul Rabinov – Mckeon AM’65, AB’67, PhD’70
Wayne C Booth – McKeon AM’57, PhD’50
Morman McLean – McKeon Phd’40
William McNeill – Mckeon AB’38, AM’39 (Book – Hutchin’s University)
Richard Buchanan – McKeon AB’68, PhD’73

With thanks to Andrew Chrucky’s “In Search of the Real University of Chicago” for the many direct and secondary links.

Robert Maynard …. both Hutchins & Pirsig – spooky.

“Our erroneous notion of progress,” Hutchins writes, “has thrown the classics and the liberal arts out of the curriculum, overemphasized the empirical sciences, and made education the servant of any contemporary movements in society, no matter how superficial.” Consequently, a student who entered the university would find a “vast number of departments and professional schools all anxious to give him the latest information about a tremendous variety of subjects, some important, some trivial, some indifferent. He would find that democracy, liberalism, and academic freedom meant that all these subjects and fractions of subjects must be regarded as equally valuable. It would not be democratic to hint that Scandinavian was not as significant as law or that methods of lumbering was not as fundamental as astronomy. He would find a complete and thoroughgoing disorder.” Hutchins advocates at the collegiate level “a course of study consisting of the greatest books of the western world and the arts of reading, writing, thinking, and speaking, together with mathematics, the best exemplar of the processes of human reason.

That’s a plea for values in my book, shared with Adler and KcKeon I’d guess. Can’t see Pirsig would disagree ?

Mortimer Adler dropped out of school at 14 years of age and went to work as a secretary and copy boy at the New York Sun, hoping to become a journalist. After a year, he took night classes at Columbia University to improve his writing. A biography Pirsig would recognise !

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