American withdrawal from Viet Nam has increasingly clarified the fact that the war in Asia was not really the prime cause of domestic unrest, even on the nation’s campuses. Liberal social critics routinely oversimplify the root dynamics of human behavior, concentrating on isolated issues and promoting short-range benefits. Soon radical activists will mass banners against some other ogre that presumably stands between us and utopia, and equally uncritically will blame this ogre in turn for the pervasive anarchy in modern life.

Such analysts take insufficient account of the totality of human experience. Their anguished concerns are too thin and narrow to cope with the main current of events. Demonstrative exercises in ego extraversion may attract gratifying media coverage, but they do not have a decisive influence upon the national mood.

University spokesmen today give multiple readings of the human predicament. But their verdicts lack a coherent view of the meaning, worth, and purpose of human existence. Campuses once offered students a persuasive and arresting life-and-world view. Today youth is trapped in a value-vacuum; integrating principles and ultimate purpose are largely forsaken concerns.

The universities themselves eclipse much of the knowledge available to man about his own nature and plight. Their approach to learning is mainly quantitative; students are caught in a data whirlpool and burdened with an overload of revisable information. The decline of intellectual tone on many campuses is attested by neglected library stacks and a growing faculty disposition to repeal many if not most fixed requirements for a degree, and even more by the evasive neglect of deeper questions of truth and value.

An inevitable result ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.