Regular Friday Institute
May 7, 2010
Complimentary Buffet 6:30
(Please make reservation)
Macalester Board Room
Macalester College is at the intersection
of Snelling Ave. and Grand Ave. in Saint Paul.
for larger image
May 7, 2010 -
Because of an emergency Dr. David
will not be able to present at
The Institute this time.
look forward to having him in the future.
James will fill in for this week's presentation.
The topic is:
The Unconquerable World.
See notes on this presentation in the "Director's
Comments" column to the right.
Noble has watched the world change for more than half a century
and has illuminated these historic changes and developments to students
at the University of Minnesota.
An accurate perspective on David Noble’s
teaching and influence deserves time, thoughtfulness, reflection,
and vulnerability. His presentation and evening with The Institute
promises to be a rich sampling of his philosophy and teaching. This
remarkable professor and teacher (are they different?) will reveal
the pitfalls of the reigning political and economic philosophies
of our world. Hearing him think will remind one of the depth of
Reinhold Neibuhr’s Nature And Destiny Of Man, or Karl Barth’s
Nein!, both of which were responses to the utopianism coming from
the 19th century optimism that we were just about perfecting everything.
“Just one or two more distillations and we’ll have things
perfected!” was the spirit of the age before that was shattered
What of our own times? Can we extricate ourselves
from the maw of futile and lethal wars and commitments? Dr. Noble
is no utopian, and shows the folly of utopian orthodoxies. Do we
have orthodoxies, known and unacknowledged. What does a just society
look like? Dr. Noble has had a lengthy teaching career during which
to ponder, question, refine these concerns through the range of
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R. Alan James
Dr. Noble will not be able to present on Friday. The new program will
be entitled The Unconquerable World. The title suggests that conquering
is a major human enterprise, though normally people do not think their
minor conquests are a piece of a larger notion of "world conquering."
But how do we keep our conquests on a human scale? And who, indeed, wants
to be conquered, unless one were wanting to be conquered by a "benevolent"
ruler. Maybe this is where religion also gets grubby hands into the contest.
Well, that is a very brief beginning for the evening thoughts.... RAJ
The past three months we have obsessed
with education issues. Our country founders, most of whom did not have
schooling beyond eighth grade, believed that education was the route to
national development and civic decency. It was not a new idea historically,
but the zeal with which it has been pursued is without precedent, so far
as I can tell. We have believed that the public school would abridge class
stratification, because children who play and learn together can learn
common language, cooperation and grow into common civic cooperation. We
have come a long way, with at least 12 years of formal schooling virtually
guaranteed to every growing youth.
But what of the university? Universities have become huge scientific search
engines, and schools of social observation. Or perhaps social analysis.
Or even better, an enterprise bringing several disciplines together to
rehearse the human story, and distill the lessons of history, the arts
In March some severe questions of the purposes, ethics and expectations
of colleges were aired and discussed. In April, we are undertaking searching
questions about the relationships between the educational enterprise and
development into responsible adulthood. With Dr. Noble, we'll be looking
at the sweep of American life, expectations and achievements have developed,
shifted and sometimes staggered.
Distinguished Professor David Noble has virtually shaped the American
Studies program for the last fifty years. We'll learn how it is we live
with orthodoxies, and how they can become terrible.