The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

46
PHILOSOPHY IN THE MODERN CURRICULUM

WHEN THE OPENING of one of our largest western universities was planned in the early nineties, the president decided to dispense with any department of philosophy. Logic was to be taught by the department of mathematics, psychology by the department of physiology, esthetics by the department of art, ethics in part by the department of economics and in part by the divinity school (courses in sociology and philanthropy were not then generally given). The divinity school could also teach metaphysics; and the history of philosophy was to be better taught, as a part of the history of civilization, by the department of history. For a university president not especially trained in philosophy, this suggestion showed rare insight into the modern status of philosophical studies. In a thoroughly departmentalized university, there is really no room for philosophy, any more than there is room for information in general in an alphabetic encyclopedia. Yet our university president's brilliant and economical schemes failed, and he finally found himself compelled to call in a famous eastern philosopher to help him build up what is now a regular and flourishing department of philosophy. Without pressing any inquiry into the exact circumstances of the case, this incident suggests significant reflections.

Philosophy, as is well known, began among the ancient Greeks as the sum of all theoretic knowledge, i.e., as the totality of

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Published in City College Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 4 ( October 1921).

-408-

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